Singer 128 – Fixing a Malfunctioning Bobbin-Winder

For fifteen quid, you don’t expect much and don’t generally get much in return. Such was the case when I purchased a “display-purposes only” interwar-era Singer 128 vibrating-shuttle machine in London.

Over the last year or so I’ve been steadily sorting it out, bit by bit. Finding slide-plates, keys, extra bobbins, even a case-lid and attachments. But for all my progress, one problem eluded all my attempts to fix it.

The bobbin-winder.

The offending bobbin-winder!

I had tried cleaning, oiling, tightening, loosening, disassembly, reassembly…I’d just about given up hope of ever getting it working. But the problem is, it’s a huge pain in the ass winding a bobbin on these antique long-bobbin machines, without the bobbin-winder.

The Problem

The issue was that every time the winder was engaged and was operating, the large, central screw (in the middle of the heart-cam) would rotate and shift, and either become too loose, or too tight against the winder. This creates a lot of friction, jamming or disengaging the winding-mechanism as a result. The only way for the mechanism to work was to hold the screw in-place, with a screwdriver, while you operated the crank. Hardly an ideal situation.

The Solution

If the screw holding the bobbin-winder could be placed in its optimum position, and be induced to STAY there, then the jamming and friction would cease to be an issue. All previous attempts to address this issue had failed. Until today.

Taking a closer look at the mechanism, I determined that this big central screw is held in-place on the machine via a nut at the back, which holds it onto the winder-body. If I could adjust the nut (which is fiddly, because it’s right at the back, where you can’t see it. You can only feel it with your fingers), then the screw at the front would cease to move. Problem solved!

So, I positioned the screw in its ideal position. I held it in-place with a screwdriver while I tightened and loosened the nut behind it, with a pair of pliers. I was doing this entirely by trial and error, trying to get the right tension on the screw and nut. It has to be loose enough that the wheel and heart-cam spin smoothly, but not so loose that the wheel doesn’t engage the winding-thread connected to the bobbin-wheel.

The Result

It took a while, but I finally got it! Now, I can run the bobbin-winder without it jamming. The winder-arm now runs smoothly from the right…

…to the left…

…and back again, over and over and over, without the screw coming loose, turning around, and jamming up the works anymore! The addition of a bobbin and a spool of thread to the equation causes no problems at all!

Winding a Bobbin on a V.S. Machine

Winding a bobbin on a vibrating-shuttle machine is a minor adventure.

Unlike later round-bobbin machines (Singer 99, 66, 201, 15, etc), which have automatic-stop toggles built into the winders, V.S. machines (27, 28 & variants) simply wind the bobbin. They don’t do anything else.

Round-bobbin machines have toggles or catches built into the winder. As the bobbin fills with thread, it presses against the toggle. When the bobbin is full, the thread forces the toggle back, disengaging the winder automatically.

Some GERMAN vibrating-shuttle machines came with mechanisms such as this, and I believe, so did some American ones. But as a rule, Singer vibrating-shuttle machines did not. So when you wind a bobbin on one of these machines, you have to be careful not to over-wind it. Otherwise the bobbin will be so full of thread, you won’t fit it into the shuttle!

 

9 thoughts on “Singer 128 – Fixing a Malfunctioning Bobbin-Winder

  1. […] A while back, I made this post about trying to fix the malfunctioning bobbin-winder on my antique Singer sewing machine. […]

     
  2. […] A while back, I made this post about trying to fix the malfunctioning bobbin-winder on my antique Singer sewing machine. […]

     
  3. The Mule aka MelanieV says:

    Thank you, Thank you! This was my exact issue. I was ready to tear my hair out. New belts, oiled up (probably to excess), everything I could think of. Holding a screwdriver in place was not an option I wanted to choose. Now my little “Myrtle” is winding bobbins, sewing patches and quilting like a dream.

     
  4. The Mule aka MelanieV says:

    Thank you, Thank you! This was my exact issue. I was ready to tear my hair out. New belts, oiled up (probably to excess), everything I could think of. Holding a screwdriver in place was not an option I wanted to choose. Now my little “Myrtle” is winding bobbins, sewing patches and quilting like a dream.

     
  5. Claire says:

    I have this same problem! My bobbin winder was working fine, and I took it apart to clean it, as the you tube videos say to do . That screw was jammed and I was so happy to finally get it apart so I could clean it. Now I wish it was still jammed, because I can’t get it right. It seems if it’s tight, the thing wont turn, so it needs to be loose. But then it tightens up as it winds. I really don’t know what to do. I know you say what to do, but I still don’t really get it. Should the screw be tight? Should I use a wrench on the back?

     
  6. Claire says:

    I have this same problem! My bobbin winder was working fine, and I took it apart to clean it, as the you tube videos say to do . That screw was jammed and I was so happy to finally get it apart so I could clean it. Now I wish it was still jammed, because I can’t get it right. It seems if it’s tight, the thing wont turn, so it needs to be loose. But then it tightens up as it winds. I really don’t know what to do. I know you say what to do, but I still don’t really get it. Should the screw be tight? Should I use a wrench on the back?

     
  7. Linda Edwards says:

    Where is the follow up post? When I clicked on the ping back it was a dead end.

     

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