Sewing Machine Maintenance: Timing


I’ve got a good buddy who is a fellow sewing
machine technician and he’s got a great shirt. And it says, Timing isn’t Everything.
And I have to say I agree. Most sewing machines the problem is usually user error related
and/or thread and needle. But there are times when there are timing issues. Today I want
you to learn the difference between when it’s time for a technical service and when it’s
time to get back to quilting. The first thing we need to do when we’re
getting ready to check our timing is we’re going to do a test sample sewing. Now timing
is kind of two-fold. It is side to side and it’s also front to back with our needle
and our hook. I know it sounds technical. Check this out. The first timing adjustment
I’m going to do is I am going to set my machine for its widest possible zig zag. So
I”m stroking my needle on both sides. And I’ve already loosened my tension down to
a three. If you’ve watched the tension video that we have available for you, I’m talking
about loosening our threads on the upper tension for when we’re doing extremely wide sewing
because it helps us let the thread move. If we don’t loosen we might get a misread.
So the first thing we’re doing is checking to make sure that we can pick up a stitch
on both sides of the needle. So we’re not worrying about any decorative stitching. We’re
just running this through. And I’m going to run my zig zag for quite a distance. I
want to make sure I never miss a stitch. That’s probably good, ok? Oop, I’ve got my needle
down. And we’re going to pick that up there, oop. I’m hitting the wrong button. I’m
not paying attention to the machine. I’m thinking about what I want to show you right
here instead. So if you look at my samples, I ran both a narrow zig zag and a wide zig
zag. Why are we running a zig zag to test the timing? Because the needle has to stroke
on both sides. The way a stitch is formed is as the needle comes down the hook passes
right behind it. The needle actually comes down and comes back up and there’s a loop
of thread that is picked up by the hook itself. The hook goes around the bobbin. Come in close with me to this machine. I am
holding my thread, and I’ve got the machine powered off but as the machine comes around,
we’re going to see on the extreme side of the needle that the thread was picked up.
And if you’re concerned you’re having problems with your timing you can certainly
do this with the machine powered off and the silver stitch plate off of the machine. And
it comes around and I can see that the something is formed. And then I can see that the needle
over to the other side. And I’m going to come down and I can see that that loop is
being caught or that stitch is being formed on both of the extreme sides of the zig zag.
So at this moment I now know that my sewing machine is at least in good enough time that
it will limp down the road. So it may not be perfect but it’s picking up its stitch
on both sides which means I really don’t have a timing issue that is extreme. I may
have a slight timing issue. And the time you’re going to see that the most is when you’re
doing free motion machine quilting because the effect of that stroke sometimes give us
an erratic looking stitch with our body mechanics. So it would sew beautifully until we get into
free motion and that timing might be slightly off. But what we find more so is that folks think
they’re out of time and they run in for a service and they haven’t done some of
the basic fixes. So if you think you’re out of time, what do you do? Very first thing
is grab a fresh needle. Put a brand new needle in your machine and check your timing with
that extremely wide zig zag all over again. I like doing it on a machine that is up and
running so I’ve got a fresh needle in there. Now, and I don’t mean to sound negative
because you know I’m not a negative dude, every now and again you can get a bad needle
fresh out of the package. So instead of stopping quilting all day, I put a fresh needle in
to test the timing. If it doesn’t work, I take another fresh needle. Put that in.
If that doesn’t work, I’m not taking three strikes. I am going in for a service. But
if the first needle didn’t work I’m still checking the second needle just to make sure
that it really is the machine and not the needle. Now there’s another kind of timing issue
that we have. And this is the one that really affects our machine sewing and our shredding
of threads and our breaking of needles and all around stitch quality. And it is what
we call the hook to needle relationship. So again as the needle drops, the hook comes
around. And this timing now isn’t whether it is coming together this way, it’s if
it’s coming together this way. So how close is the needle to the hook. The easiest way
to see it is over here on my Jane. I’ve already parked my hook right behind the needle
so the first test, by hand take a stitch or a half a stitch so that your needle and your
hook are not quite touching each other. And then I literally am going to push into my
needle bar or push into my needle. I want to see my needle flex a little bit until it
hits against the, the back of the needle hits against the front of the hook. The technical
adjustment is about the thickness of a piece of cardstock. Hey as a matter of fact if you
will send me a fifty dollar bill, I can fold that and show you the exact adjustment you
need. So make sure you all send your fifty dollar bills in so I can get that adjustment
just right. I’m kidding. Now the reason that that is so important though is if the
hook and the needle are rubbing your stitch is just not going to look very pretty. And
you can actually hear that one often. So what I do, I zip it. I be quiet and I literally
stroke the needle a couple of times through the cycle of the machine waiting to hear if
I hear that tick tick sound. If you think you hear a tick, then you go back and forth
once the needle’s down and you would be hearing tick, tick, tick, tick. Here I’ll
put the microphone close. Of course that’s me causing the machine to do it by making
it move fast and slow. So at any rate the reason that that timing
adjustment is so important. And I again need to make sure that I’m being fair to everybody.
These are adjustments that you cannot really fix yourself. So you need to have a good relationship
with your local dealership and know that you can get in there and you can trust them. So
that when you go in for a cleaning you get a cleaning. When you go in for a timing adjustment
you get a timing adjustment. A lot of electronical machines nowadays, the way that they function
is that they have little motors that move all of the mechanical parts around. So if
your machine is able to move the needle from side to side, it is not having a problem with
its circuitry, it’s having a problem with its mechanical timing so you need a timing
adjustment not a new circuit board. If you put your machine in zig zag and it doesn’t
move side to side it’s actually, yes it’s a timing issue but you really need new circuitry
first to correct the motors that are moving. I know that sounds technical. And I really
hope that you got a bunch of great information out of our cleaning and our general maintenance
and our troubleshooting videos and our thread tension videos, that’s really good. But
I know that a lot of you had questions on timing. There’s not much I can show you
about timing except for how to know when your machine is and is not in proper time so that
you spend more time quilting than you do driving back and forth to your local dealerships.
And with that said, I’ve got some quilting to do. So we’ll see you next time at Man
Sewing.