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Thread: My dream 301A is a nightmare

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    My dream 301A is a nightmare

    Got a Singer 301A short bed, LBOW at a local auction recently for $100. Looked to be in very good, clean condition and the motor sounded nice and strong. Got it home, cleaned, oiled the appropriate metal places and greased the gears (appropriate Triflow products for both). It purrs now. One BIG problem: I cannot get the tension adjusted. I've used the info in the instruction book with it to determine the little loops on the top of the fabric are too heavy tension on the top thread or too light tension on the bobbin thread. I have spent days adjusting both and nothing changes. First, I tried not changing the bobbin screw's adjustment and sewing a line with each setting of the top tension from 0 to 9. There was no change from one number to another so I set the top on four and made minute adjustments to the bobbin screw, sewed a line of stitches with no change regardless of where I moved the bobbin adjusting screw. Then I changed the top tension to each of the other numbers before again adjusting the bobbin case screw a tiny bit. No change. The threading is exactly like the book shows. I've replaced the needle and it is seated properly. Using brand new Gutterman thread in both top and bobbin. Black on top and white in bobbin to make it easy to see the problem.

    I am not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination so I rely on the manual, online groups like this one and Treadle On and online searches to show me what the stitches should look like. I have a Singer 15-88 that I inherited 50 years ago that I've played about with making curtains and baby things 45 years or so ago. I decided I wanted to learn to clean up that machine since it had been in storage for almost 20 years. Managed to get her sewing like a charm and picked up a Singer 128 for $9.99 at a Goodwill auction online described as "for parts only". Local pick up so I had nothing to lose and tore her down and reconditioned everything including refinishing the bentwood case. She sews beautifully so in my hubris I jumped at the chance to get this 301A. Big mistake so far

    What else can I try before I send this thing to Craig's List?

    Dorothy in Denver
    Last edited by MamaKitty; 03-12-2014 at 11:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    dallas tx.
    Blog Entries
    Does it have the little spring on the tensioner?

  3. #3
    Super Member amyjo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    North Dakota
    Blog Entries
    post some pics so we can see what is happening. I have cleaned up 3 of them and no problems. are you threading the needle in the right direction?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cecilia S.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Dear MamaKitty, hang in there. We'll get the old stitcher going!

    I am no expert, but I have sometimes found that disassembling and cleaning and reassembling the upper tension can do wonders. Sometimes it is gunked up and therefore even though you are changing the dial, there is no effect.

    Photos of the stitches you have sewn will also help; photograph both the upper and the lower stitches for us if you can.

    -Cecilia. Tinkering more than stitching, really.

  5. #5
    Super Member ThayerRags's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Frederick, OK
    Sounds like maybe the tension release pin may be missing in your upper tension. Set the tension to “9”, then lift and lower the presser foot. You should see some movement of the tension discs in the upper tension.

    Without the pin inside the upper tension, the thread never gets down into the tension discs when the machine is threaded.

    CD in Oklahoma
    "I sew, I sew, so it's off to work I go!!!"
    ThayerRags Fabric Center

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    barny, yes, the takeup spring is on the tensioner:
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    amyjo and Cecilia S., here are pix of the stitches. Black is the upper thread. top row is with tension set at 9. bottom row is set at 4.
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    Cecilia S., the only thing I haven't done is to disassemble the upper tension unit. May be a last resort!

    CD, I tried your suggestion of setting tension at 9 and lift/lower the presser foot. There is obvious movement of the discs when that is done.

    Y'all are great. I'll try anything at this point.

    Edited to add: Yes, the thread path is exactly as shown in the user manual.

    Dorothy in Denver

  7. #7
    Super Member oldsewnsew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Springfield Oregon
    im not the expert here, OP says loops on top. if you get loops on top it's the bobbin tension is significantly lighter than the top. Does the bobbin case have a deformed leaf spring? have you carefully so as to not loose the 2 tiny screws that hold it on and make sure there is no buildup holding it out? try the yo yo test to see if it drops, but only a little. are you using same thread top and bottom.

    "What do you mean worrying doesn't help? Everything I ever worried about...never happened!"
    quote by __________ I forget who.

  8. #8
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Outer Space
    Is the bobbin case also threaded like the book shows? Double check this as putting in the bobbin backwarcs will cause problems.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Jim, I am going by the info in the manual that says "Needle thread lies straight along tip side of material, caused by too heavy tension on needle thread or too light tension on bobbin thread..." That's why I have tried both reducing needle thread tension and tightening bobbin tension (in about 1/8 turn increments each time and then doing a test sew). The leaf spring appears to be undamaged. Has no buildup and seems to work correctly when the adjusting screw is is loosened/tightened. Yo yo tested and bobbin only barely drops. Both top and bottom thread are brand new spools of Gutermann 100% cotton.

    Candace, the bobbin case is threaded exactly as the book shows. When I hold the bobbin in my right hand, the thread comes over the top toward me. The bobbin case latches securely when put on the stud. And the position finger is in place in the notch of the position plate.

    Keep the ideas coming. I'm taking the time to look at the manual's illustrations and double checking everything before I answer your questions.

    SewButch, I have the user's manual and even found and printed out the adjuster's manual. Okay, I'm off to disassemble the needle thread tension assembly. Wish me luck!

    Dorothy in Denver

  10. #10
    Super Member Sunflowerzz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Far Northern California
    It may be simple to you but for me personally I hate taking them apart and I also leave it for the last thing to do and I have been known to buy one 'whole' unit and just replace the unit rather than taking it apart. Just my preference and my bugaboo so I understand where the OP is coming from.

    Quote Originally Posted by SewButch View Post
    Why haven't you tried taking the upper tension assembly apart yet? Why would that be a last resort?
    It's very simple.
    I took mine apart, simply laying each piece down in a row in the order that they came off.
    There was a little schmo on the tension plates, as well as a bit of fuzz here & there, but I suspect polishing the plates/discs to a slippery chrome-like shine did the most good. They were a bit oxidized and "flat", which was probably creating a little drag.
    Following the instructions in my manual, it was easy putting it all back on. Now it works like a dream. I just set it on 4 and it's always happy. (you'd almost think it was a Kenmore. *snort*)
    Do you need an instruction manual? I can send you a scan of the page you need if you'd like.
    I have a 15-125, but the tensioner looks similar enough.
    Creativity needs focus and application...

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