Needle breaking

Old 11-14-2011, 03:18 AM
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Default Needle breaking

I have a "new to me" Elna that is about 40-years old. I had some trouble with her missing stitches (not catching the bobbin thread) but I think we've worked that out. She's been in storage for a week or so and last night, I dug her out of the cabinet.
I'm new to FMQ, and I bought Elna specifically for FMQ. She has a slow and a fast setting. The slow setting is too slow even for me, so I put her on fast, but I can't put the pedel to the metal yet. So I try to keep her at a nice, steady slow-ish pace. She will go really fast, if you let her!
Anyway, last night, I'd only been working on her for 2-3 minutes and the needle broke! I grumbled and picked the needle out of the quilt and found the pack of needles and put in a new one. Then I picked up where I left off and it broke too!! I left the quilt where it was and picked the needle out and went to bed. At this point, I'm thinking hand-quilting is quicker.
Because I'm not used to her, I still have to use the manual when I put the bobbin in and I know I'm putting the needle in correctly (flat side to the back!). I bought the "right" kind of needles and bobbin just for her. (I can't remember the brand of needle, but it starts with an "S" and isn't "Singer"!)
Is it something "I'm" doing? or is it the machine? I like the machine just fine, but I'm not married to it, and I don't want to buy stock in the "S-something needle factory" to keep playing with it. And I don't want "crappy machine syndrome" to keep me from trying something the way my grandmother's old Singer that wanted to eat my fingers kept me from sewing when I was younger. But I don't know if it's me or Elna.

Advice?!
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:25 AM
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it sounds to me like the timing might be off. If you have the manual try to redo the timing. When all else fails, get an old 'Singer"! LOVE them! Good luck!
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Old 11-14-2011, 04:41 AM
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This is an unedited account of a machine that was breaking thread constantly. Glen is wonderful for trouble shooting as you can see. Maybe some of this conversation will help you. I pulled it off of a bazillion posts from the Vintage Sewing Machine Shop:

Moving on to my next problem child machine. I have a 15 clone. Some times it goes 1 or 2 stitches and snaps the thread then if I'm lucky it will go 3 inches and snap. SO I re-threaded left to right and right to left... which ever - one of them doesn't work. Then I played with the upper threading - I think I've had everything right from the start. I put in a new needle - experimented with which way it goes. I had it right. I played with the tension. Then I swapped a face plate off another machine. It is not tension. It is not threading. It is not the needle. Then I took out the bobbin hook. I polished it with a crumpled up piece of aluminum foil just to make sure there aren't any burrs. Still snaps thread. I took off the presser foot. The needle does not hit the plate but it comes close. That needle hole looks like a star from all the needle hitting going on. I'm wondering if it is tearing up the thread at that spot. I can't seem to see it happen. I left my long screw driver at the shop and the screw is in too tight to get with a skinny little Susy Homemaker screw driver. I was thinking maybe pull the plate and swap it out with the other clone or maybe polish it up a bit - stuck until I come up with some other brilliant idea. The Singer manual I found on line does not match my machine. I wonder if I need a service manual to figure out how to center the needle a bit better in the hole. That needle all but hits the hole.

Miriam it could also be a problem with your needle clamp or the needle bar twisted out of alignment.

Open the face plate and the needle bar should have a screw to loosen the shaft so it can be turned but make sure it does not slip up or down. It may be a allen type screw. It will be very tight to get loose Check the needle clamp first to see that it is on right

Thanks. I've done timing on other machines. I think I'm going to sleep on it for tonight though - it sure isn't going anywhere. I think that needle bar is slightly cocked. Probably why somebody didn't sew much with that machine.

You are right - messing with that bar can be a b*itch. Maybe I should remove the needle clamp and put it back on. Thanks. I have some emery string over at the shop of course...

Well, Glen you are right. I took off the clamp and that bar is visibly cocked - the clamp screw is forward - it fits in a hole so I'm sure it is off. I could not find an adjustment screw at all. I should not fix this tonight. The only tool I can think of is a hammer. I so do not want a parts machine. NOT TWO IN ONE DAY. There has to be some kind of adjustment for that shaft.

Miriam please no hammer. Post a pic for tomorrow so I can see the needle bar scince this is a clone it may not have an adjustment that can be seen visible. I have one other solution but want to see a pic first before I tell you. Not a secret but don't want you try it until I see it first.
Glenn

If there is no screw on the front or side of the needle bar then you do have to go to thru the back hole and make the adjustment. It has been a long time since I have done this because you very seldom see this problem. I can't remember if is it allen or flat head screw. Just barley loosen it and turn the bar in the direction you need to go the bar should line up with the hole. the screw will be very tight. And try not to move the bar up or down. It is easier to do with needle in and you use the needle as a quide to insure it is not hitting the face plate or the foot when you make this adjustment.

It is a flat screw. I can see it. I think I will wait for DH to lend a hand. This is going to take the right screw driver for sure. I also found a service manual showed access to that screw. They don't seem to make that adjustment screw particularly easy to access do they? This machine has some paint gouges probably from the foot control but no wear. I bet it came that way and no one used the machine. What a pity.

I found a service manual and it was very helpful. http://parts.singerco.com/IPinstManuals/15-91.pdf
It even has motor info. I found the adjustment hole and am waiting for DH to come home. I found a screw driver to fit the space. I cut my finger tip pretty bad - it sure did bleed. Bummed out for working on anything for a few days though.

At any rate, I want to share with you how Glen helped me figure this one out.

I have two 15 clones that are breaking upper thread - one has that needle bar turned wrong the other will stitch by hand crank or will stitch a few with power and then break. I'm wondering if the tension is working right. Maybe the pin. I'm thinking after supper I might swap the plate if it will go on.

Make sure the feed dogs on the clones are tight and not sloppy in movement.

I would concentrate on the tension of the bobbin and check the bobbin case other than that I am at a lost. But it is usually something simple and that is the hardest problem to solve. I wonder if the needlebar is not set to high or to low. Is there any burrs under the foot?

Thanks, I will be checking. I'm thinking about trying the bobbin case that I know works out of the other machine.

I put in a bobbin case I know works. Nadda. I pulled off the pressure foot and sanded off some good burrs. Then for good measure I used a foot off another machine that I know works. Nadda. I've played with the upper tension. Nadda. I do know the upper tension is working though. I can see it move and I can feel changes. I checked the needle hole - no burrs. This is the second machine in a row that does not appear to have been used much. The face is torn up on each one - probably from the foot control rattling around inside in transit. I pulled out the hook and cleaned up that area. I am wondering if it is something going around somewhere that I'm missing. You are right it is usually something incredibly small. I have 4 clones. One was a neighbor lady's wedding present back when those were new. It is a Sears Commander. She never learned to sew on electric- she preferred a treadle - it is virtually a new machine and sews perfect. Then I have a rescue from a flood. It is missing a tension and has a bit of rust in places. I should put a face place on it and see if it sews. Then I have two more I found in the last couple weeks. These both are breaking upper thread after about an inch. Makes me wonder a lot.

Is the upper thread or lower thread breaking or is it both? This should give us a clue to where the problem is

upper only is breaking. The needle is sliding down on the foot

I am wondering if you don't have a bad hood since the upper thread is breaking. Bent needle, try a larger size needle, upper tension to tight. I am running out of fixes here.

I can't imagine timing would be off on both of them???

You never know. People do try to pull things through. I'm wondering If I have a bent foot bar on one - the foot is crooked on the feed dogs and the needle hits the foot sort of.

What do you mean sliding down on the foot. The clamp is not holding the needle or is it touching the foot on the down.

The clamps are on tight. The needle touches the foot and the hole on the way down.

I had the needles in backwards on both machines. They now work!!! WOW these are nice. At least they are clean and there are no burrs on the feet now. Next the one needs a big sticker removed.

It is always the simple things that get us into trouble. I have been going over 40 pages of repair notes and about to pull my hair out. I am very glad you have found the problem. I was running out of repair notes. Great work out today huh!! enjoy your machines.
glenn

Thanks so much Glen. I always learn from the stupid things though. I should make some notes on this - you were excellent. This is one I should have known. I think I've used way too many 403s of late. NOW, I remember the old repair once man said the needle curf goes toward the bobbin and for some reason I managed to listen to someone say the needle is shaped like the plate and should go that way. The repair man was right. I should have turned that needle yesterday.

That is perfectly alright I needed to refresh my repair tech and this was a good day.

I believe I learned a WHOLE lot - THANK YOU. I feel like you are a good tutor.

You are most welcome, I just made suggestions you did the work. Thank you again and if you need anymore help you know where I am. Now relax and play with those nice machines.
Glenn

Well, DUMB me. I've been racking my pea brain and driving Glen nutty too trying to figure out how come my newly acquired 15 clones both break stitches. Well, DUH - I had the needles in backwards. The needles would hit something and break the thread. Drove me nutty. Now that they are working they are VERY nice machines. What fun when you think you know what you are doing EH??? ops: ops: ops: ops: ops:
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:06 AM
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I believe Glen may know some about Elna machines. You might pm with him.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:41 AM
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Some more info on thread breaking:

80% of the time, when the thread keeps breaking, it is because the needle has a rough spot or it is in backwards. If it is in forwards, replace the needle. It can also be a burr some place.

15% of the time it's because someone left the thread on a windowsill and the light "ate" the thread until it was weak. If your thread has rotted, roll off two whole outside layers of the spool and try again. If the spool has been in sunlight too long, you may need a new spool of thread altogether.

5% of the time thread breaks because the "timing" of the machine is off. Industrials usually include retiming instructions in the manual of operation. Home machines usually require a trip to the shop to fix this.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:59 AM
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Thank you, Miriam. The thread isn't breaking. It's hanging in there just fine lol! And I didn't check to see if there was anything funky going on under the quilt, but other than the needle breaking, no problems. Tension seemed good and everything seemed to be going right, mechanically, until SNAP!
Maybe I'm just pulling the fabric too much? I'd much rather hear the problem is with me than the machine!
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by AshleyR
Thank you, Miriam. The thread isn't breaking. It's hanging in there just fine lol! And I didn't check to see if there was anything funky going on under the quilt, but other than the needle breaking, no problems. Tension seemed good and everything seemed to be going right, mechanically, until SNAP!
Maybe I'm just pulling the fabric too much? I'd much rather hear the problem is with me than the machine!
have you dropped feed dogs or covered them?
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by miriam
have you dropped feed dogs or covered them?
I don't think so. I haven't messed with the feed dogs at all, so I'm going to say "no". Do older machines offer that? I'll look in my book when I get home and see if it can be done. If not, you can just cover them? With tape?

Would love it if this is the "fix"! Thanks so much!
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:10 AM
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Check what size needle your machine requires. Maybe it's too long so it's crashing into the bobbin case.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:20 AM
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Grrrrr! It did it again! I took the bobbin and thread out and cleaned out that area under the plate and bobbin area. I neatly covered the feed dogs with painter's tape (can't be dropped in this model). I sewed perfectly for about 4 minutes then SNAP! I am afraid this issue might come with speed. When I picked up the pace a little, that's when it broke. Maybe I need to just keep it on slow and try. But first, I have to buy another pack of needles. Good thing I have a 40% off coupon.
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