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Thread: My dream 301A is a nightmare

  1. #26
    Junior Member Watson58's Avatar
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    when I got my 301a a couple of yrs ago it also had tension problems. found that if I put the bobbin case from my FW in all was good. so for a long time I switched that bobbin back & forth between the two machines, then I finally invested in a new bobbin from NovaMontgomery.com who specializes in FWs. Do not buy the reproduction bobbin. that's what I had that did not work. I believe it cost $70, but decided I deserved the best! I really wanted to use that machine!
    Good Luck, Jeanie in MO

    PS. If you have a friend with a FW, you might see if you could try their bobbin in your 301. and find out if that fixes your problem
    Last edited by Watson58; 03-14-2014 at 06:16 AM.

  2. #27
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I sure hope that's $70 for the bobbin case, not a bobbin. Even for an original bobbin case that's high.

    People like Glenn Williams in Florida sells them for under $50. http://pages.suddenlink.net/joyof301s/glenn.htm

    Additionally, a well tested replacement case works properly as well. For instance, Sew-Classic sells tested ones and offers a satisfaction guarantee: http://shop.sew-classic.com/Bobbin-C...-SCBC45751.htm

    I've bought from both and have nothing but good experiences with them.

  3. #28
    Super Member oldsewnsew's Avatar
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    Tammi thanks for that feedback on those newer bobbin cases. I've wondered but was reluctant to try one.
    Jim

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

  4. #29
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    One thing that was discussed here a while back is the fact that there are 2 different bobbin cases for the 301 / FW. It looks like one superceded the other (45750 and 45751). I suspect that what happened is that the replacement case was modeled on one or the other case, and the machines that have trouble are the machines that prefer the other case, but I've never been able to confirm because all of the FWs I've had here have always had the older of the 2 part numbers.

    ETA: Some portion of the trouble can also be user error. Failure to properly adjust the tension - and I've had bobbin cases come from the supplier adjusted wrong - will look like a problem bobbin case, especially for someone who's never adjusted bobbin tension.

  5. #30
    Super Member Cogito's Avatar
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    MamaKitty,
    i have several 301's (don't ask how many or you will KNOW I am eccentric) and I love these machines! I would be willing to send you one of my verified working bobbin cases (they are all originals) on loan so you can rule that aspect out if that would help? I believe anyone who would quote Leonard Cohan AND have kitty in her name is completely trustworthy. Lol! I know you will return it when you have figured out whether that was the issue.
    I love this quilting board! Give a holler either here on this topic or you can just pm me your address if you want to try it? And yes, don't give up! These are bar none fabulous machines! I would trade any of my featherweights for them, lol!
    The expert's mind has no room to learn while the beginner's mind is free to know everything....

  6. #31
    Junior Member sjdal's Avatar
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    I, too, have one of these problem children. When you find your answer, please share. I'll do the same. Thanks to everyone who responded with possible solutions.

  7. #32
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    Y'all are amazing! I'll be back tomorrow to try the newest suggestions.
    Dorothy in Denver
    Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen


  8. #33
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    First, an apology for not getting back on this sooner. Real Life(tm) reared its sometimes ugly head.

    Tammi, your site was one of the first I found when researching the problem with the 301A. Great information and I have followed your suggestions. Here are several pictures of the bobbin case area. Hope you see something obvious and fixable. I added more shots than you asked about but since a picture shows more than I can describe thought it may help. And the part number on the bobbin case is 45750.
    Name:  301A-1.jpg
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Size:  41.4 KB Name:  301A-3.jpg
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Size:  39.8 KB Name:  301A-4.jpg
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    Cogito, what a wonderful offer. I may have to take you up on it if the above pix don't show anything.

    sjdal, I hope some of the information I'm getting here helps with your problem child, too.
    Dorothy in Denver
    Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen


  9. #34
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Is that bobbin case coated in dried oil? Does that come off with a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a Q tip or is that just the lighting? I would be cleaning that up and clean up the little spring, too before I did anything more. If rubbing alcohol doesn't work maybe naptha. Some times the dried up oil doesn't come off that easily. It also looks like the tension might be tight but if you pull that spring off it and clean it inside and out, then put it back on according to Tammi's instructions you should end up with a good bobbin case.
    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. #35
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    No, the goldish color is with the photo. It's nice and silvery chrome shiny. I've already soaked it in rubbing alcohol and scrubbed it with a toothbrush and dried it well before trying to use it again. I've looked under the spring with a 10X loupe and there doesn't seem to be any dirt. But I can take it apart anyway just in case.
    Dorothy in Denver
    Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen


  11. #36
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    If you take the spring off you will need to reset the tension. resetting the bobbin tension may go a long ways to fixing your problem. Tammi has some good info here:
    http://www.archaicarcane.com/bobbin-...obbin-tension/
    she explains it much better than I can. It is easy to do. It would be where I would start. I didn't mean to insult you - the pics just look kind of dried oil colored. I know some times a light coating of dried up oil will keep things from moving correctly. I would also wind a new thread on a new bobbin to make sure everything is in good order. Then I would put in a new needle. Make sure the needle in in the right direction. The flat side goes away from the machine - grooved side toward the machine. Then thread from right to left. Use a good spool of thread. I had fits one day when I used an old spool of thread and the thread caught on a rough place. Tammi also has good info on the upper tension on her same web page. Check that out as well. Keep posting and we will see what will work for you.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  12. #37
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    Oh, goodness, not insulted at all. I'm open to any suggestions and sorry if my reply led you to believe there was a problem. The Singer 128 I rehabbed was a beautiful gold color where things were supposed to be nice and shiny silver color. I think it was a combo of dried machine oil and nicotine. YUK!

    I'll work with the leaf spring tomorrow and let you know what happens.
    Dorothy in Denver
    Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen


  13. #38
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Did you ever take apart and rebuild the upper tension? It is very easy to do - Tammi has probably the best info on that. Here is some more info: http://www.sewusa.com/Sewing_Machine...Singer_301.htm
    When I rebuild I pull the whole mess out and clean the inner pin - some times it can be a bit gooey and not want to function right. Dried up oil, lint, nicotine, some times fuel oil residue from the furnace... sticky hands, lunch Clean it all off and then adjust.
    Last edited by miriam; 03-24-2014 at 07:02 PM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  14. #39
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    Yes, I have dis- and re-assembled the upper tension according to the user's manual. Looking at the SewUSA link, seems to be the same thing. And, even though the instructions say it's not necessary, I did remove the stud and clean that area. All in all the machine was in very clean condition which was one of the things I checked as well as possible before I bid on it. Actually had a screwdriver with me and took off the top and face plate to look there. Was almost expecting to get my wrist slapped by the auction house as we had never been there before LOL
    Dorothy in Denver
    Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen


  15. #40
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    K, just a quick one before I go to bed, then I'll think on it a little more:
    1. Here's bobbin case dis-assembly, on a FW case, so it's identical. Bonus http://www.archaicarcane.com/tear-it...e-maintenance/
    2. I like Jamie Wallen's troubleshooting for bobbin cases and tension problems as well, it goes a step further than my blog does, and if you use the pin like he does, you might get away with not disassembling. It's for longarms, but works perfectly fine for domestics as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM
    3. I have noticed that there are a lot of things not mentioned in upper tension rebuild instructions. Try these videos (mine) that I did last week. It's a 201, but the internals and operation should be identical. The first 2 videos cover some slightly different things (I expand more on some things than on others in each) which makes them both worth watching.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guYToL6Gegs - ON Machine
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzFXRdNE_1s - Off machine assembly
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxtQO2XSB4s - Fast tension test (This is a visual of what I describe on my blog)
    4. Try changing the bobbin you're using. Wind another one and make sure the bobbin case snaps into place. Something about that bobbin is bothering me, but I can't put my finger on it. Does it sit flush in the case when it's installed into the bobbin case?

    After this, I will wait for your responses and think of where we need to go from here.

  16. #41
    Senior Member Cecilia S.'s Avatar
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    MamaKitty, you are doing a noble job of this. I am very happy that you are sticking with it! You will get this stitcher up and running - that is a given. Hang in there :-)
    -Cecilia. Tinkering more than stitching, really.

  17. #42
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    I love my 301A s. It will be well worth the hassle when you get it going. I am sure you will eventually. My first 301A came from a thrift store for $10. They were holding it for me and told me that hadn't tested it. It was on my wishlist and I figured whatever it was, it could be fixed. It did not have a good life before coming here. It was in a cabinet. It was absolutely filthy. The tensioner was in pieces, but luckly all the pieces were there. My best guess is they changed the needle and it wouldn't sew (because they put the needle in wrong........and yes you can put the needle in wrong, because they did it). So then they took apart the tensioner. Then they couldn't put it back together (even though they had the manual). So then it was sentenced to live out the remainder of it's time in prison (aka the damp basement) where the cabinet became all moldy. Evidenlty someone got tired of walking around it, or someone passed away and it went to the thrift store where I got it. I use it almost every day and it is loved......so much so that I got another one just like it (but clean) from an antique mall. The moldy cabinet got ditched though. My machine also came with lots of goodies. Good luck!!!!

  18. #43
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    One thing nobody has mentioned. Are there any burrs on the throat plate, the hook or the bobbin?
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  19. #44
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    Tammi, this is what I have done today:

    1. Thread (top and bottom) - previously using Gutermann 100% cotton. Today changed to Coats & Clark Cotton


    2. Needle - previously changed needle that came with machine to a new Dritz universal 14. Today changed to a new Dritz universal 11. Flat side has always been to the left. Needle has always been threaded right to left.


    3. Bobbin Case cleaning - tried Jamie Wallen's tip of using pin under leaf spring. No lint/dirt but went ahead and read your instructions to disassemble unit. Cleaned with isopropyl alcohol and Q-Tip. No dirt came off on Q-Tip so I guess the first time I cleaned it without disassembling the unit it got clean.


    4. Bobbin Case tension - used Jamie Wallen's tip of having the tension set so the bobbin will stand up in your hand but not lift up. I had previously used the "bounce test" others recommend. Tried test sews with tension changed the width of the screw slot each time.


    5. Bobbin - Sits flush in bobbin case. Isn't warped (checked with digital caliper). Unfortuantely, it's the only one I have of the correct size. If anyone can recommend a reliable brand I can get at Joann's or maybe a LQS, I'll run out tomorrow and get some.


    6. Upper tension - Had previously dis- and reassembled unit per instructions in user's manual. Decided once more couldn't hurt. Watched your ON machine video and followed step by step. Did the Fast tension test and got the same results as your video.

    After all that, and in sew testing during adjustment of the bobbin case tension, there is no difference in the stitches. Still look like those in my original post with bobbin thread showing on top of fabric.

    Miriam, I have checked for burrs on throat plate, hook and bobbin. Also checked the guides through which the thread runs. Nothing.

    Prim Quilts, this one was in such better condition to start with than your poor first 301A that it should appreciate its life now and straighten up and fly/stitch right!

    Cecilia, you have no idea how much I needed to hear that right now Every time I say I'm gonna put this thing on the curb, my husband just laughs. He's a retired auto mechanic and used to fiddling with little bits and pieces that don't want to play nice together. I think he's getting quite a kick out of watching me and this machine. I've restored a 15-88 and a 128 previously with no problem. This one is not going to get the best of me. Well, it was until I read your comment but I guess I have another round or two in me.
    Dorothy in Denver
    Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen


  20. #45
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MamaKitty View Post
    1. Thread (top and bottom) - previously using Gutermann 100% cotton. Today changed to Coats & Clark Cotton

    2. Needle - previously changed needle that came with machine to a new Dritz universal 14. Today changed to a new Dritz universal 11. Flat side has always been to the left. Needle has always been threaded right to left.
    Both Gutermann's Cotton and the Coats and clark are usually at least a 50wt. What does the C&C thread say for weight? The one I have here is a 50wt but lots are 40wt. The lower the number, the thicker the thread.

    As a general starting place - 50wt = 80/12 or a 90/14 needle, 40wt may do OK with a 90/14, but you may need a 100/16. Definitely don't go down a needle size when you go up a size in thread.

    You're better off with a 90/14, and I would suggest Schmetz or Organ needles. They're usually a known good needle. Dritz, I can't say I know anyone who uses them. Singer needles are also not what they once were.

    Going down a needle size will cause the same effect of tighter tension in some ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by MamaKitty View Post
    3. Bobbin Case cleaning - tried Jamie Wallen's tip of using pin under leaf spring. No lint/dirt but went ahead and read your instructions to disassemble unit. Cleaned with isopropyl alcohol and Q-Tip. No dirt came off on Q-Tip so I guess the first time I cleaned it without disassembling the unit it got clean.

    4. Bobbin Case tension - used Jamie Wallen's tip of having the tension set so the bobbin will stand up in your hand but not lift up. I had previously used the "bounce test" others recommend. Tried test sews with tension changed the width of the screw slot each time.
    With the bobbin tension a little looser, as per the way that Jamie suggests it, you may want your upper tension set a little lower than usual. Instead of about a 4-5, maybe a 3 - 4.

    Quote Originally Posted by MamaKitty View Post
    5. Bobbin - Sits flush in bobbin case. Isn't warped (checked with digital caliper). Unfortuantely, it's the only one I have of the correct size. If anyone can recommend a reliable brand I can get at Joann's or maybe a LQS, I'll run out tomorrow and get some.
    I can't name a single LQS around here that carries featherweight bobbins. Typically for local, you'll need to go to a Singer shop. Otherwise, if you're in the states (Which I think you are, by the Joann reference), I'd say Sew-Classic is your best bet.

    Quote Originally Posted by MamaKitty View Post
    6. Upper tension - Had previously dis- and reassembled unit per instructions in user's manual. Decided once more couldn't hurt. Watched your ON machine video and followed step by step. Did the Fast tension test and got the same results as your video.
    If that's the case, you should have pretty reasonable tension between 3 and 5. Try it at about 3.5 ish because of where we put the tension on the bobbin case.

    Quote Originally Posted by MamaKitty View Post
    After all that, and in sew testing during adjustment of the bobbin case tension, there is no difference in the stitches. Still look like those in my original post with bobbin thread showing on top of fabric.
    In your original post - post 7 in this thread? With the tension jacked to 9 as it was, I would expect your bobbin thread to show on the top. When we talk of loops on the top, it's actual loops. What you're seeing at 9 in that photo is only a little tighter than "the top of the bald headed man" as Jamie Wallen will say. (Was that in the video, or did I learn that in class with him?) That's an indication that your top tension is likely too tight or bobbin tension is too loose - at 9, your top tension is significantly too tight, as we'd expect. It's rare to get true loops on top. What gives the "top tension too tight away" is the fact that the top thread is laying on top of the fabric.

    So, and I mean no offense with the following, since you say you're not a seamstress, I'd like to know the exact settings you have on your bobbin case and upper tension.

    How many turns from tight is the bobbin case tension screw?
    What is the number on the upper tension after you've done the reassemble and the fast tension test?

    Here's what I think should give you pretty good stitches, since your machine is basically set up to my specs now

    Needle: 90/14
    Thread: 50wt Cotton
    Upper Tension: 3
    Bobbin Tension: about 1/2 - 3/4 turn from full tight

    That should give you a result similar to this:
    Top side:
    Name:  301Teststitch.jpg
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    Bottom Side:
    Name:  301Teststitch2.jpg
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    You'll notice that on the top stitch line of stitching shows "the bald headed man" (tan thread is bottom thread) - that was the setting at 3.5 for my machine.

    The second row of stitching is a little below 3 for me. This machine was set up before I figured out the "2" setting rule that I talk about in the video, so it might be a little off from what yours is, but it shouldn't be by much.

    Notice though that if we turn it over, the stitching has switched, the bald headed man shows up on the bottom row of stitches. That means that "perfect" tension with these 2 threads would have been somewhere between 3.5 and 2.75ish. This is also somewhat affected by the fact that my bobbin thread is Aurifil and therefore very light compared to the weight of the C&C in the top, so properly matched threads might require slightly higher top tension.

  21. #46
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I need to mention that I went down to check the tensioner on my 301 and noticed that the shorter tensioners (the 301 and the FW for instance) don't have their tension posts flush with the knurled nut until they're about full tight, so roughly 9 - 10. Set like that you get full range of movement. If you set it so the nut and post are flush at 2, you get adjustment from 1 - 3 max.

    Other than that, my machine is set per Jamie's video and my posts and videos.

  22. #47
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    My abject apologies for seeming to have abandoned this thread. Silly little thing like a heart attack got in the way of progress on this project. All's better now and I'm back to it. Decided that since the only thing I hadn't touched on it is the bobbin case, I'd see if there was possibly a problem there. Removed it and found a whole squirrels' nest of thread. Cleaned that up, replaced it and it sews like a dream. I'm eternally grateful for all the assistance I have received and if I ever learn enough will attempt to pass on the good karma
    Dorothy in Denver
    Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen


  23. #48
    Super Member Mrs. SewNSew's Avatar
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    Oh my Lord! I love the way you just dropped that right in there..a heart attack! I hope it wasn't the machine that gave it to you! I'm glad to see you are still with us and got your machine fixed too. Now sit back, relaaaax and sew something.
    Christy
    Starting the year out fresh

  24. #49
    Senior Member Cecilia S.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MamaKitty View Post
    My abject apologies for seeming to have abandoned this thread. Silly little thing like a heart attack got in the way of progress on this project. All's better now and I'm back to it. Decided that since the only thing I hadn't touched on it is the bobbin case, I'd see if there was possibly a problem there. Removed it and found a whole squirrels' nest of thread. Cleaned that up, replaced it and it sews like a dream. I'm eternally grateful for all the assistance I have received and if I ever learn enough will attempt to pass on the good karma
    Mama Kitty!

    I hope you are okay!

    Happy Healing.
    -Cecilia. Tinkering more than stitching, really.

  25. #50
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    MamaKitty: So glad you are okay. I've been reading all these things from everyone trying to help you find your problem. I've just never seen so much help and so intense. It's just wonderful from all of you.

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