How To Clean And Oil The Bobbin Area

Nothing is more important for achieving a quality stitch than keeping the bobbin and feed-dog area cleaned and oiled.  Below, you will find instructions on how to do that, for 4 different types of sewing machines.  


 How to Clean and Oil the Bobbin and Feed Dog Area on an Oscillating Hook System:


1.  You will need the brush that came with your machine, or a stiff paint brush or toothbrush.  You will also need clear “sewing machine” oil.
2.  Remove the bobbin case, take the bobbin out and clean the inside of the bobbin case with your brush.  Inspect the tension spring and make sure there isn't any lint underneath it.
3.  Remove, or release the retention ring and brush it off.
4.  Remove the hook and brush it off, inside and out.  Inspect for burrs on the point.  These may be removed by sanding very gently, with a very fine sandpaper (500 grit).
5.  Remove the needle plate.  Inspect for burrs.  These burrs may also be sanded off.
6.  Then sweep all the lint out of the feed dog and bobbin area, from top to  bottom.  Brush it towards the front of the machine, to keep it out of the gears.
7.  Inspect the race (the ledge that the hook sits on) for lint or embedded needle fragments.  Use a big pin or small screw driver to remove any particles.
8.  Put only 1 drop of oil on the race.
9.  Put it back together.  When you look into your bobbin area, you will see the “driver,” which creates a half-circle.  The hook completes the other half of the circle, and just sits on the ledge; it doesn’t snap in.  Replace the retention ring and needle plate.
10.  Before you sew on your project, sew on a scrap of flannel to remove any excess oil.


 How to Clean and Oil the Bobbin and Feed Dog Area on a Drop-in Bobbin System:

 
1.  You will need the brush that came with your machine, or a stiff paint brush or toothbrush.  You will also need clear “sewing machine” oil.
2.  Remove the bobbin.
3.  Remove the needle plate.  Some needle plates have a metal bobbin cover that slides forward, but doesn’t come all the way out.  Inspect for burrs.  These burrs may be sanded off with a very fine sandpaper — about 500 grit.
4.  Remove the bobbin case.  Singers have a retention finger that twists out of the way with a screwdriver.  Others have screws that shouldn’t need to be unscrewed.  The bobbin case needs to have a little side-to-side “play” to let the thread through at the spring.  Brush off the inside and outside of the bobbin case.
5.  Inspect the bobbin case for cuts, plastic fuzz or needle holes.  A plastic bobbin case can be gently sanded with very fine sandpaper — about 500 grit.  However, sometimes sanding will just make things worse.  You may try to remove a burr with a razor blade, which may only be marginally effective.   Replace the bobbin case if it is too badly  damaged.
6.  Inspect the hook for burrs.  The hook is the pointed part of the ring that rotates around the bobbin case.  It’s important to sand any burrs off of the hook—only with a very fine sand paper. 
7.  Sweep all the lint out of the feed dog and bobbin area. 
8.  Put a drop of oil in the center hole.  Some will have a “wick,” in the center hole, that looks like a tiny stick of felt.  It will keep the oil going where it’s needed.  If there is a moving ring around the center hole, put a drop of oil   between the stationary part and the rotating part.
9.  Check the spring.  When this spring is bent out of shape, the machine will make a loud thumping sound.  You may try to gently bend it back into shape, if it needs it.  Or it may be necessary to replace it. 
10.  Put it back together.  The bobbin case sits on a ledge in the hole, with the tension screw to the front.  Singer bobbin cases sit on a ledge, then put the retention finger back into place.  Remember that there should be a little “play” to let the thread go through at the spring.  Replace the needle plate.
11.  Before you sew on your project, sew on a scrap of flannel to remove any excess oil. 



 How to Clean and Oil the Bobbin and Feed Dog Area of a Stationary Rotary Hook System:




1.  You will need the brush that came with your machine, or a stiff paint brush or toothbrush.  You will also need clear “sewing machine” oil.
2.  Remove the bobbin case, take the bobbin out and clean the inside of the bobbin case with your brush.
3.  Remove the needle plate.  Inspect for burrs on the needle plate and also on the point of the hook.  These burrs may be gently sanded off with a very fine sandpaper — about 500 grit.
4.  Sweep all the lint out of the feed dog and bobbin area, from top to bottom.  There may be threads tangled behind the hook assembly, which should be removed.  You may need to remove the throat plate to get to that area.  However, not all machines have a throat plate that is removable. Please don’t remove the front or back of your machine.  Use tweezers and a hooked seam ripper to remove these threads, only if that area is accessible.  This is something you may want your sewing machine     mechanic to do. 
5.  Put a drop of oil in between the part of the hook that rotates, and the part that is stationary.  Then put another drop on the center post.
6.  Put it back together.  Replace the throat plate and/or needle plate.
7.  Before you sew on your project, sew on a scrap of flannel to remove any excess oil.


 How to Clean and Oil the Bobbin and Feed Dog Area of a Floating Rotary Hook System:



1.  You will need the brush that came with your machine, or a stiff paint brush or toothbrush.  You will also need clear “sewing machine” oil.
2.  Remove the bobbin case, take the bobbin out and clean the inside of the bobbin case with your brush.
3.  Remove the screws that hold the retention piece in place. Remove the retention piece and brush it clean.
4.  Remove the hook and brush it clean, inside and out.  Inspect for burrs or a broken point.  The rough spot may be gently sanded off with a very fine sandpaper -- about 500 gritt.
5.  Remove the needle plate, or throat plate if it is removable.  Inspect for burrs on the needle plate.  These burrs may also be gently sanded off with a very fine sandpaper. 
6.  Sweep all the lint out of the feed dog and bobbin area, from top to  bottom.  There may be threads tangled behind the hook assembly, which should be removed.  You may need to remove the throat plate to get to that area.  However, not all machines have a throat plate that is removable. Please don’t remove the front or back of your machine.  Use tweezers and a hooked seam ripper to remove these threads, only if that area is accessible.  This is something you may want your sewing machine mechanic to do. 
7.  Put a drop of oil on the center post only.  Do not put oil on the plastic driver.
8.  Put it back together.  You’ll need to tilt the machine back so you’ll have gravity on your side.  Replace the hook.  The back of the hook has a nub that fits into a dent in the driver.  Replace the retention piece, throat plate and/or needle plate.
9.  Before you sew on your project, sew on a scrap of flannel to remove any excess oil.

20 comments:

  1. Great information! I read/saw on your home page that you can't always get your hands clean. Rub Vaseline into them. The grease dirt will lift out. You might want to put it on at night then check the next day. In my past life I was a printmaker and I was always dealing with getting oil based ink out of my hands.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there. I was given this old brother sewing machine from my sister. I just got done oiling it, and proceeded to clean it with vinegar to get all the excess oil and debris from it. My rag got stuck just under the bobbin. I looked to see what it was stuck on, and it had caught onto a spring! Where does this spring go? I noticed that there is another one in there, too. Can you help me? Thanks..Patty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you saying the spring came off? If you don't receive a reply here, go to yahoo groups and join the wefixit and Brother sewing machine groups. A lot of experts there!

      Delete
  3. I emailed Patty privately. I might have to check out the wefixit group. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just inherited two 1947 Singer Featherweight Sewing Machines that haven't been used in modern times. They are full of gunk and smell horrible. What can I use to get rid of the gunk from the gears, levers and other openings and clean up the paint without damaging any of it? Someone told me to use Turtle wax bug and tar remover, and another person said to use WD-40 but I am concerned about getting any moisture into the gears. Q-tips just get stuck in the gunk and are making things worse. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Those Featherweights are great little machines!

    I do use WD-40 to remove the old greasy gunk. But you have to be able to remove the W-40 completely. There’s a post about how to use it on the front page of my blog. At the shop, we generally don’t remove the grease if it is still doing it’s job – it hasn’t turned into a solid or waxy substance. The motor takes a special grease that is just for Singer Featherweight motors, and is a different grease than what goes on the gear. So leave the grease alone if you can. It should be fine.

    Usually, just rubbing the outside with sewing machine oil will clean up the outside of a Featherweight. The smell generally comes from the tray on the bottom of the machine. Some people remove the tray completely, or just the padding on the inside. And you can try putting a couple charcoal briquettes inside the case (with the machine still inside), and let it sit for a week.

    Good Luck with your machine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your FEATHERWEIGHT sewing machine has been used in modern times dear, it has attachments that beats a modern singer all to h--,it can sew what mostly only industrial machines can do-just use right needle. My grandmother made my wedding dress and maternity clothes and all my school clothes on her, it's now mine and though it won't zig zag it sews rings around my singer simple.

      Delete
    2. Amen! The Featherweight and the Singer Simple don't even compare. But if you can't afford anything fancy, the Singer Simple has the metal bobbin case and oscillating hook that beats the tar out of a cheap plastic drop-in.

      Delete
  6. bobbin cases sit on a ledge, then put the retention finger back into place. Remember ... ssewingmachine.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. The hook sits on the ledge (race), then the bobbin case goes onto the center post of the hook.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think the driver quit on my front loading White 268 sewing machine. The shuttle just stopped moving the bobbin and the hand wheel doesn't budge it either. Is there something I can tighten to make the driver active again? since I moved the lever that controls zig zag stitch to straight stitch is when the incident happened. It hadnt been moved in years.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My other email that I use more frequently is hollyrose@roadrunner.com. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  10. without a doubt one of the best informational sewing machine sites I've ever seen. I wish you were my mechanic.
    Ellen Anne Eddy Author of Thread Magic and Thread Magic Garden

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just bought a Sonata sew-ease 6621 sewing machine at a garage sale. It had no manual. I have not been able to find a free manual to download and I just can't seem to figure out the bobbin mechanism. There is a little metal nub that appears to be for the hole in the bobbin, but it isn't attached. Seems to be a magnetic pull, but it keeps moving and tipping. I can take it right out. Also have trouble moving the bobbin thread in the way it shows to on the machine. Any ideas how to work this crazy thing??? Sure would appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Judy,

    Your Sonata sew-ease 6621 seems to be a pretty basic machine. I have seen the magnetic nub for the bobbin in other machines. If it’s moving and tipping without the bobbin, try turning the nub over. If it’s moving and tipping with the bobbin, the bobbin needs to be bigger. It’s important to have the right bobbin for the machine.

    When you put a drop-in bobbin in and pull the thread, the bobbin should turn counter-clock-wise. First pull the thread into the front-most slot, then to the left under the tension spring. The trick is to put your finger on the bobbin to hold it tight as you pull the thread in. On most drop-ins, you continue to pull the thread around to the left side of the needle plate and into a little cutter. This step may be skipped. Sometimes the cutter has some lint stuck in it, and won’t let go of the thread when you start sewing. It’s best to just draw the bobbin thread up with the top thread before you start sewing. Always hold the thread tails for the first 2 or 3 stitches to prevent the tangle at the beginning.

    It looks like the stitch selector is on the right end, under the handwheel. And you don’t have an adjustment for stitch width or needle bar position. You do have some “stretch” stitches. To get to them, turn your stitch length knob to zero, then keep turning the same direction, past the zero until you get to the “S.” That will put it into the forward/backward movement.

    As for a manual, I couldn’t find one either. I’ve actually never heard of a Sonata sew-ease before. It kinda looks like a Janome or Brother knock-off. I searched to see if I could find a look-alike with the same model number, but didn’t find too much. It’s OK to turn the knobs and experiment -- you can’t break it that way.

    Good Luck, and please feel free to ask more questions.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for this post! My machine was up and runnin' a few minutes after reading this. Very informative! Glad you included the details for different sewing machines!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Super blog and it's very informative and useful detail in your blog about the sewing machine,nice work.
    compare sewing machine

    ReplyDelete
  15. These are very comprehensive, but wondering if they apply to vintage only? Some newer machines manuals do not recommend oiling??

    ReplyDelete
  16. All sewing machines are “machines,” and need oiling. The newer machines aren’t user friendly when it comes to oiling. So the consumer doesn’t do the oiling, they are expected to take it to the shop regularly for a deep clean and oil. All sewing machines need to have the bobbin and feed dog area cleaned by the consumer. When you clean that area, there are a couple spots in the drop-in bobbin area that need oil – in the center hole under the bobbin case, and the feed dog joints.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is really nice post. It helped me sort out many things. Best Sewing Machine for Beginners

    ReplyDelete