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Thread: Singer 201 thread breaks at tension mechanism.

  1. #1
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    Singer 201 thread breaks at tension mechanism.

    Last week, I bought my first vintage sewing machine. I spent several days cleaning it up. I didn't want to take the thread tensioner apart. It seems too complex. However, when I tried out the machine the thread didn't want to flow smoothly through the tensioning mechanism.

    With some help from a couple of really good Youtube videos, I broke it all down and cleaned out a good deal of grit. I also cleaned up the little thread holder part of take up spring, which was rusty, with emery paper. I put it back together, and everything seemed to be working pretty well.

    Today, I did some real sewing with the machine. All in all, this is the best machine I have every used. However, every once in awhile the thread would break because it got stuck/too tight at the tensioner. It also seemed to me that the tension dial would go from 2 (where I wanted it) to 1 or lower on it's own.

    My gut tells me there is something wrong with the spring, but before I send for a new one, I thought I'd check with some of you more experienced people to see what your advice would be.

  2. #2
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I'm hoping the video you watched was our own Tammi. Here is a link to her wonderful videos.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzFX...AyBQ2l-Mzkw7ew
    I'm not sure what is going on with your tension but a little bit of something or a burr that snags thread can put things out of kilter. It kind of sounds like it isn't put back together quite right. I know the first time you do one it can be a little scary. But take it apart and get all the rust out. Watch/feel for burrs. A short soak in vinegar might get some rust off loose parts but I wouldn't put any vinegar on the machine. If you soak too long it will rust it more. I've had luck with bicycle chain oil. It has a detergent that works on the rust. I wouldn't use it anywhere there isn't rust though. It is kind of heavy. Be sure to put it all back the way Tammi shows on her video. I think she has another video similar. If you post more questions here she most likely will reply here.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  3. #3
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    Miriam, thanks for that video link. I'll be sure to check it out as, greenwillow, I am terrified about taking the tension mechanism apart for my 66. It desperately needs to be done and hopefully I will get to it sooner rather than later now.

  4. #4
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    The 66 is much easier to take apart and re-assemble. Do you see that dirty old tension in my avatar? My grand daughter took it apart, cleaned it and reassembled it. she was 7 years old at the time. I doubt if you should have any problems. The first one I did was 45 years ago. No Utube. I had to try to figure it out from the owners manual. I got it to work though. There are a lot of parts. Keep track of them and don't forget to clean the pin that goes in the post and don't lose it. Some owners manuals have a blown up picture of how it goes. That is very helpful.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    The Youtube videos were first-rate!
    I will take the tension mechanism apart and put it back together again to be sure I didn't mess that up.
    The tension spring had no spring when I first tried it. After I cleaned it up, it had some but not what I think I need. I'm also going to take a look at the thread holder and try putting a little felt underneath it, just in case the problem originates there.

  6. #6
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Another resource is the TFSR manual. Look in the sticky notes under resources or google Tools For Self Reliance and look for the sewing machine info. It should have info for the 201 and various other machines including the 66. IMHO you just didn't have the spring set right. Unless someone has sprung it, likely it is in ok shape. They are available and cheap if you do need to replace it. Some times I take a piece of aluminum foil, roll it up and use it to rub off any dried oil or rust accumulated on the spring a little. Remember to clean the center pin. Rubbing alcohol or naphtha will clean it but will also change the shellac on the machine. Search through Rain Noe's blog for a lot of info about the 201. I would not want a 201 as my first machine to repair. That 66 is much simpler.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  7. #7
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    Problem corrected! I am not positive of which of my changes made the difference.
    I took the tensioner apart again and recleaned everything.
    I put a small pad of felt under the thread holder.
    Most likely though, was that I discovered the screw that holds the presser foot onto the machine was very loose. Part of that mechanism also pushes against a spring that (I'm guessing-couldn't actually see it) pushes and releases tension on the thread tensioner. With the screw tightened, there was more force on that spring.
    In any case, I had two hours of lovely, frustration-free sewing and the thread tension feels right.

  8. #8
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    That's interesting. I've found the 201 pretty simple to understand. I learned to sew on a White of the same vintage, so perhaps that helped.

  9. #9
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I'm glad you got it figured out. It is nice to win one.
    N J Quilter I'm looking forward to hearing that you tackled that 66. If you can read a pattern you can fix that tension.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  10. #10
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    The same resources for instructions apply.
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

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