Thursday, April 14, 2011

Betsy Got Stuck...

Last night I was working on "Stars in Stripes" and WHAM!!  Betsy just stopped.  She stopped so hard she jumped up off the table.  I have had the needle hit the under carriage before, but the needle was fully upright, and the stop was so sudden and violent, it actually made me jump!

She has been running a little rough recently and I was planning on taking her in for a checkup, but I NEED to get this quilt done.  So, I decided to undress her and see what was going on.  I just did a thorough cleaning two weeks ago, so I didn't find a lot of lint and dust, but what I did find is extremely perplexing...

Betsy with her top removed and all of her privates
exposed for the world to see.

The culprit.
This little piece was lodged around the shaft of the needle,
and had lodged itself in such a way that it completely prevented
the shaft and therefor the needle from moving at all. 
I worked the piece loose fairly easily, and it pretty much fell out
when I pushed on it horizontally, but vertically (the motion
of the needle) it would not budge.

This is where it was lodged.  Over and under that square piece
with the screw.  Once I pushed it toward the back, it literally
almost fell out of the machine.
And this is where it gets really weird...

I looked all though this cavity on the end of the machine where all the workings for moving the needle are, and there is nowhere that this piece could have come from.  That hole in the culprit piece is the exact diameter of the shaft seen above, but there is no way that piece was around that shaft at one point.  (Unless some little gremlins came in, disassembled the entire shaft assembly, removed the piece and then reassembled the shaft assembly!)

So, then I thought that maybe the piece had been held in place by a bolt that had wiggled loose.  I mean, she has been vibrating a slight bit more than usual, and maybe the vibration had worked loose that which was holding that little bugger in place.  But there is not one place in the entire machine where there is a hole that is missing a bolt... Nor is there a loose floating bolt anywhere in my machine.  So, where did this piece come from and what did it do!?

I decided to try one more thing...  I turned the manual knob.  I watched the gears and the levers very carefully, and nothing seemed out of place, nor did it seem like there was anything missing.  So, I tried every adjustment I could possibly think of, stitch width, needle position, needle up, needle down... I spent an hour making adjustments (only in ways I could if she were fully covered) and NOTHING seemed to be wrong.  In fact, she seemed much easier to manipulate than normal.  SO, after an hour, I got brave and plugged her in.

I drove her slowly at first, very slowly, but again, absolutely nothing seemed amiss.  So, I slowly got faster, and faster, with no thread of course, and the needle removed, but she was running beautifully.  After adding the needle, another run at slow, medium, fast, and peddle to the floor fast was as smooth as anything, no needle knicks, nothing, just a nice quiet hummmmmmm.

I am very perplexed.  I found another piece in the gearing that looks very similar to this culprit, however it is definitely not the same piece.  I am beginning to wonder if during assembly this piece got left in my machine somehow.  I wonder if it is A) a piece from a different model that a tech tried to install and realized it wasn't right, set it down, grabbed the right piece and moved on, forgetting to remove the wrong piece... or B) is this some sort of "template tool" used during assembly to set some distance measurement or what not that got left behind.

She has always from day one made a slight ticking sound, but she ran just fine, she was just a little noisy.  Recently she has gotten noisier the faster I sew, so I have adjusted to her... almost sub-consciously.  I am wondering if maybe this piece didn't belong here from the beginning and it has slowly but surely worked its way around the innards of Betsy until falling into the shaft assembly and getting lodged.

After re-dressing her, I threaded her, and broke out some scrap fabric and started sewing...  It's almost like I have a new machine.  She is quiet, she runs very smoothly, and her stitches are nice and uniform.  I finished the block I was working on... I only had about 28" of seam left to sew, and then I put her away for the night.

I am going to try to find a part schematic and figure out if that piece belongs to Betsy or not.  On one hand, I feel like I just saved myself $100 or more at the repair shop, on the other, I wonder if I am creating a larger problem down the road...

Any ideas???

Until Next Time...


  1. At first guess, and based on having taken a few machines apart, I would have called that part of the presser foot assembly. Your presser foot lift handle is one piece, then I would expect to see something like this mystery piece that would connect the handle to the shaft that actually holds the presser foot. But, since you didn't remark that the foot wouldn't stay up or go down, it would have to be an extra piece for that guess to work. The great news is that removing it seems to have made your machine run better. I would periodically open up her needle end and check for scratches or dark marks which would be signs that damage is occuring. Lane

  2. Lane... That was my thought exactly. And there is a lever that looks similar to this that lifts the needle shaft assembly when I lift the foot lever.

    As a follow up, I found a parts schematic for my machine online, downloaded it, printed it and looked over it at lunch. This "part" is nowhere in that schematic. On a positive note, every other part in the schematic looked familiar to me, so I guess I did a very thorough job of looking over the machine...

    I think I will sew as normal this evening, and then at least once a week for the next month or so, do as you suggested and take a look inside. It's only three screws and a little pressure tab, so it's not hard or time consuming. I'll keep everyone updated.


  3. You are amazing and just saved yourself a ton of money!!

  4. I'm not sure I'd take the machine back to where you last had it serviced. If that piece isn't part of the machine, but was left inside it during repairs, the technician is either incompetent, forgetful or a saboteur.

    I second Lane's advice to look for wear marks or scratches around all of the moving parts of your machine (right now and periodically in the future.)

  5. I'm in amazed. .I've never considered getting into my machine. I hope this means you fixed your Betsy.


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