Also applies to the 185, 192 (Spartan), 285 and 292 models.
Probably one of the most neglected areas of a sewing machine is the bobbin area.
We stick a bobbin in, sew, replace the bobbin, sew some more.
It’s often not until one day when we’re sewing and suddenly there’s a nest underneath the needle plate (throat plate) that we have to cut out, or worse, the needle breaks and now we have to dig the shrapnel out.
You remove the slide plate, and the needle plate and horror of horrors, you find you’ve been knitting felt and birthing thread bunnies underneath there. Maybe even worse, the bobbin case just won’t come out, no matter how you wiggle it.
Today I’m going to address how to clean this area on a Class 66 style machine. I will take photos and post a tutorial on a class 15, Featherweight, and other styles of bobbin cases as opportunity arises. The basic premise is the same, the execution differs somewhat.
OK,.. let’s start from the beginning.
Tools you’ll require:
- stubby blade screwdriver or long shank screwdriver
- some sort of awl or pointy device
- cleaning brush
- sewing machine oil
- Disconnect the power, or if you’re working on a treadle, throw the belt or keep your feet away from the pedal.
- To remove the slide plate the singer 99k owner’s manual says:
Raise the needle to its highest position by turning the hand wheel over toward you. Draw the slide plate slightly to the left, then lift its right hand end and draw it toward the needle until it is disengaged from the spring in the bed of the machine.
This assumes that the machine is facing the operator, as if to sew. I’ll assume this works, neither of my 99s have a slide plate, and the one on order will likely be here next week.
- I like to remove the needle and presser foot at this point, for clearance, and because I try to limit my stab wounds to one a day. Make sure you note which way the flat of the needle sits in the needle clamp. Both of my machines are Needle Flat Right.
- Next, remove the needle plate. This is done by removing the 2 screws on the top of it and just lifting it out of the way. I find that a screwdriver with a really long (8″ plus) shank on it, or a stubby (1-2″ shank) work the best here. An average length screwdriver sits at an awkward angle, and can cause you to strip the head of the screw. This is also a good time to inspect the needle plate for burrs or other damage where the needle passes through the plate. Some burrs can be smoothed out with a bit of abrasive cord.
- Now if this is the first time you’ve done this, and the machine hasn’t been professionally serviced recently, there’s a good chance you’ll see a bunch of felt between your feed dogs. No, the machine did not ship from the factory this way. Remove it with your tweezers or a pointy object of some sort.
Once the feed dog area is clean, it’s time to focus on the bobbin case area.
To remove the bobbin case, the manual says:
Insert the forefinger of the left hand under the latch, raise the latch just high enough to clear the edge and then move the latch toward you.
Under no circumstances must the (bobbin position bracket) screw be loosened. The loosening of this screw will change the clearance for the thread between the bobbin case and the bobbin position bracket.
In practice, I find that the next step tends to read easier than it’s done. It does work, eventually, but it’s worth trying this a different way if you have trouble with their method.
Singer’s method: Hold the bobbin case between the forefinger and the thumb of the left hand. Tilt the bobbin case to the left and at the same time slightly turn the right or forked end toward you so that it is moved out of engagement with the sewing hook. Then tilt the bobbin case toward the right and remove it.
- My method:
- Turn the machine so that the hand wheel faces away from you, this puts the business end toward you, and gives you better leverage.
- Put your left finger in the left center of the bobbin case.
- Put your right finger in the right side of the bobbin case.
- While pulling to the left with your left finger, wiggle a little and pull up with your right finger. Though crowded, you should be able to fit both in here.
- The case will come up and out. While the case is out, take this time if you want to set the tension on the bobbin case, instructions here.
Now that the hook area is exposed, clean everything that you see. Make sure you don’t miss this area, it’s easy to mistake the fuzz for something that belongs there. This is also where you’ll find that errant thread that may be causing your machine to not stitch correctly. Don’t be afraid to move the positioning finger around to get to everything. Note: Leave the red felt in the top corner of the hook in place.
Put a drop of oil where the bobbin case mates to the hook
Place a drop of oil on the red felt, maybe 2 if it looks really dry
To reinstall the bobbin case:
- Singer says: Hold the bobbin case between the forefinger and thumb of the left hand. Insert the forked end of the bobbin case under the throat plate so that the fork straddles the end of the bobbin case position bracket. Then, with a slight twisting motion of the bobbin case to the left and to the back, lightly press it downward until the edge of the sewing hook engages in the groove under the rim of the bobbin case.
- In practice, I find it easier to do this in reverse. I push the bobbin case to the back, but don’t try to seat it at the positioning pin. Then I align the left side, so that it’s flush with the hook, meaning that the hook is sitting in between the groove on the bobbin case, then give it a gentle push downward while pulling back, which seats the bobbin case around the finger (currently hidden under the feed dogs.)
Once everything is turning the way it should, reinstall the needle plate and the slide plate (make sure that the two ends of the spring enter the grooves on the underside of the slide plate) by reversing the steps you did to remove them.
That’s it. Once you’ve done it once, it will seem easy. No more reasons to avoid it.