Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Singer Bobbin Winder Clutch (model 30920)

I've had a request to show how to repair a Singer (model 57825C) Bobbin Winder Clutch.  There were a few Singers with this rocker-type bobbin winder clutch.  There's not much to them, and they're a lot different than the typical handwheel-type clutch.

Let's take a look at the outside first.

When you're sewing, the clutch would look like this.

When you're winding a bobbin, push the clutch in on the indentation.

Here's the top shaft of the bobbin winder.

Here's what the bobbin winder looks like underneath.

Before you do anything else, check to make sure that the rubber O-ring (or tire) on the big round hub is in place, and is in good condition.  It should be supple, and have no cracks.  This can easily be replaced, and usually costs less than a dollar.

Also (as Ryan pointed out below), you'll want to make sure the spindle will turn easily.  If it's frozen, you can try two things.  First, I usually put some WD-40 in the cracks and work it until it's loose.  Always blow the WD-40 out with an air compressor or canned air.  Then re-oil.  If that fails, you can pop the c-clamp off, disassemble the bobbin winder, clean it, and put some oil on the shaft directly.  Then put it back together.

Next, we'll take a look at the inside of the clutch.  You can carefully pry off the rocker with a screwdriver.

Inside the handwheel, you'll see the center shaft, and the notches along the outer portion of the handwheel.

If the notches are damaged, the handwheel would need to be replaced.  If that's the case, you'd be better off putting your money into a new sewing machine.

This is what the underside of the rocker looks like.

If the metal clip or the plastic that holds the metal clip are broken, it would need to be replaced.  Once again, you may be better off putting your money into a new sewing machine.


  1. You do whatever else, check to ensure that the elastic tire on the huge round center point is set up, and is in great condition. It ought to be supple, and have no breaks. This can without much of a stretch be supplanted, and normally costs not exactly this blog.

  2. My wife was complaining this morning that her bobbin winder on her Singer machine wouldn't turn. The needle would disengage but the bobbin winder wouldn't turn. You could turn it by hand but it was still stiff and would barely turn.

    I pulled out the bobbin winder as shown here (thanks for the directions). There is a C clip on the shaft. I pulled that off and pushed up the plastic washer (I think it's a cover for the shaft) and put a drop of oil where the shaft goes into the holder. Before that, it turned very hard and you couldn't slide the shaft back and forth (without the C clip installed) but it freed up almost immediately with the oil.

    I put everything back together and it's working perfectly. I thought I would mention this in case someone else was in the same boat. Thank you for heading me in that direction. The pictures were very helpful.

  3. Thanks, Ryan. I kinda skipped that part. I'll add some info about getting the spindle to turn. You're a good man to help your wife with her sewing machine.

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  6. can you tell me how to replace the O-ring on my Kenmore Model 158.161? I don't know which screw to unscrew? Big or little? or just pop it off?

  7. Hi Dee Mae,

    Just pop it off. They can be a little tight, but it should come off.

  8. so no screws to be undone? OK I'll give it a try !! I'm at work now, so I'll have to try later.
    Thank You

  9. Hey Annette
    First of all thanks a lot for this blog, all sewers definitely need to know how to fix their sewing machines.

    Secondly, I was having problems with my sewing machine and was wondering if you could help ?
    I have a brother GS2700, that I used only a couple of times and it was working perfectly. Then, I didn't use it for about 2 months over the winter. When I started using it again a very strange issue appeared: stopping bobbing winding vs. stopping needle was swapped. What I mean is the following: when I try to wind the bobbin, the needle bar works instead and the bobbin doesn't move. When I move the bobbin winder so that the needle should be moving freely, the handwheel is completely stuck. But actually it should be the opposite. All online tutorials fixing such an issue deal with older machine models that have a set screw in the handwheel. But the brother GS2700 just has a simple handwheel that I wasn't able to open. Would you please tell me if you have any clue what could be wrong with the machine ? I would really appreciate your help and can provide pictures of the inside of the machine.
    Thanks a lot for reading my long message :)

  10. On these machines, the clutch has two components. One part is on the inside of the handwheel. The handwheel just pulls off. Then there’s a screw in the center to remove. When you get that open, there’s a greasy spring, Pay attention to how it goes back together. Take pictures if you can. Clean all of that up with WD-40, remove the WD-40 and re-oil with clear sewing machine oil. Then there’s a plastic arm that reacts with the outside of the handwheel. Thinking about it…. I suspect that is the culprit. Sometimes it gets out of position. I wish I had one in front of me… It’s supposed to react with the molded bumps on the outside, of the inside of the handwheel. So when the outside-most handwheel cover is removed. Then you can see what I’m talking about. If you can get that plastic arm to connect with those bumps, I think that’s what needs to be done.

    Let me know if you’re able to get it figured out. Been at the store since 9 am, and just got home about ½ hour ago. I’ll be back at work in the morning, and can take one apart and get you more info if you need it.

  11. Thanks a lot for your reply, I really appreciate it.
    Well, I tried to pull the handwheel off but it's too tight. How can I remove it easily ?
    Please also check the pictures of the machine from the inside (copy and past the links in your browser to view):
    In bobbin winding mode:
    In machine sewing mode:
    Sorry, for some reason the images are rotated. I would appreciate if you would download them, rotate and take a look at them.
    Thanks again !

  12. I didn’t have a Brother machine in the shop today. But I did look up the parts on the Brewer catalog. It looks like the clutch is inside the handwheel. In your pictures I can see openings in the handwheel from the inside, behind the white plastic disk. If it was me, I’d spray some WD-40 in there. I think it would loosen some junk, and let things work like they should. The thing with WD-40 is that you have to remove it all after you spray it in there. We use an air compressor and flannel rags.

    Let me know if that works.

  13. Thank you so much for your help, that's really generous from you.
    Well, I tried what you said but I found out I was completely wrong about my first diagnosis ! The shifting between bobbin winding and sewing was not swapped or anything, it works fine when the machine is operated using the motor. I discovered the culprit was something else: I tried to run the machine using the motor when the cover was open and saw that there was a shaft that was rotating only very slowly, no matter how much I pressed on the foot pedal. All I did was the following: I sprayed some WD-40 at both ends of the shaft that comes out of the motor and to which the fan of the motor is attached. It worked like a charm ! Hope my experience helps someone out !
    By the way, I 've always had this question and never found an answer to it: what's the difference between no-oil or self oiling machines and regular ones? Are self-oiling machines really never oiled, does this even exist ?
    Again thanks and wish you all the best :)

  14. Hi Annette,
    I have two questions on two different machines.

    1. I just bought a Singer 6233 for $10 at a thrift store. Sews nicely, the only thing wrong seems to the needle shaft will not disegage when winding a bobbin. The bobbin winder clutch assembly looks exactly what you show here for the 30920. I have tried to pry off the rocker off, but no there any trick to getting it off? I don't want to break it.

    2. I also recently inherited a Singer Featherweight 221, but the bobbin case is missing. I have researched it extensively on the internet, and found that an original bobbin case is $90, and a reproduction bobbin case is anywhere from $64 to $39. I read that there is only one reproduction case currently being made, so don't know why the price difference. The sellers of these reproduction bobbin cases claim they will work in the Featherweight 221, 222 and 301, but Featherweight "experts" say otherwise, that the vast majority of reproduction bobbin cases will not work in the Featherweight 221 and in fact could damage the machine. This machine was made in 1935, and appears to operate (needle shank goes up & down, bobbin winder works well, and the motor is smooth and quiet. But without a bobbin case to keep the bobbin in place, it will not sew. My question for you is: do you think the reproduction bobbin case will work or not? Thanks!

    1. Hi Regina,

      #1: That part is really tough. Just give it your full strength.

      #2: On the featherweight bobbin case, Here’s what it says in the Brewer parts catalog: “Part #45751T -- Original Singer no longer available. Fits replica 221 Featherweights, also some original Singer 221 Featherweights but not all. If original Singer case is stamped 45750 the 45751T will hang the thread occasionally. It will not work in a 301 Singer.”

  15. Also, can you explain how to remove the top casing from my Singer 6233? I have removed all the screws, but still can't get it off in order to look at the underneath of the bobbin winder, thanks again

    1. sorry, didn't see your response until now. in the meantime, I transported the Singer 6233 to my daughter in New Hampshire so I will send your response to her. we might just leave it alone since everything else works fine and this is not a fatal flaw. thanks for your reply!

  16. Hi Regina,

    There’s an arm that comes down from the top lid, that screws in underneath. If you take the left side cover off the machine and look in from that side, you can see it. It just needs to be loosened, not removed.

  17. Hi,

    Thanks for the blog. I have been trying to find solutions for my Singer sewing machine 8974. Odd that I cannot find any links. My dad bought it for my wife in Malaysia in early 2003 and its a solid metal build. Hate to see it go into the landfill.

    Problem is during transport to Australia some parts seem to have broken.
    1. The rocker switch is of a different construct than what you have posted. Its got a plastic pin and hinge assembly. Its held through two arms at the ends (in the underside of the rocker) and in the centre goes through another arm (on the machine) The side arm on the rocker seems to have cracked and given away. How do I access the underside of the rocker switch?
    2. The presser/lifter bar has broken.

    Any idea where I can source these from?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    Best regards,

  18. Hi Nada,

    I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with that particular machine, and can’t find a picture on Google Search. However, there are a few people at this link: who know the old Singer machines very well. They may have an answer for you.

    Good Luck to you!

  19. I have a thrift store 4562T with this sort of bobbin clutch and this post was very helpful. My issue: push in the bobbin winder clutch and the needle remains engaged. Your photo shows why: the motor turns the belt that engages the handwheel. The castellations inside the handwheel engage the bobbin clutch when it's in the 'normal' position - flush with the handwheel. The clutch engages the horizontal shaft that runs across the top of the machine to the needle mechanism. The shaft was gluey with old sticky grease, and so the handwheel sleeve was engaging the shaft regardless of the position of the clutch.

    This called for pulling the handwheel to clean that shaft. First, I had to pull the clutch, and that was hard! I pushed it in and pried with a screwdriver at the raised portion, but I was using so much force that I was afraid I would split the handwheel. So I made a loop of wire, slipped that behind the clutch and pulled it that way. Still hard, but at least I wasn't prying against the handwheel.

    Once the clutch was off the shaft, I pulled the C-clip that holds the handwheel in. Even that was sticky with old grease. With the C-clip out, the handwheel was theoretically able to come off the shaft, but it was gluey, and required a fair amount of twisting.

    I removed the top arm cover off so I could see the other side of the handwheel. I spritzed a tiny amount of WD-40 on the inside (belt side) of the handwheel sleeve, where it touched the bearing and that was enough to get it started. I didn't want to bathe the belt in WD-40, so I used a very small amount to reduce overspray. There's a thin washer on the inside - don't lose it when the handwheel pops off.

    Once off, some 92% isopropyl alcohol on everything and a scant drop of light oil on the inside of the handwheel sleeve and it spun freely of the shaft. Put the thin washer on the shaft, then the handwheel. Put the belt back on the teeth as the handwheel comes back into position. The C-clip wasn't too hard to put back; I put a scant drop of oil on it, then used long needle-nosed pliers with one leg on the shaft and the other on the farthest part of the 'C' and drew it on. Finally, the clutch. It pops on easily if you install it as though you'd pushed the dimple in already.

    Once together, the handwheel and bobbin clutch were once again independent of each other. In the 'operate' position, the needle works as expected, and in the 'bobbin winder' position, only the handwheel turns; the needle is stationary.

    Thank you for your blog, and for this post in particular. I use WD-40 as a solvent in my other hobbies, so I'd like to lend my support to its use here, as well as the admonition to remove it (ie don't leave a solvent where you need lubrication!)

    Kudos, and thank you for sharing.

  20. I have an Alfa 950 with two problems:
    One - Bobbin winder shaft is frozen solid, WD40 and pliers will not shift it, O ring in good condition.
    Two - Disconnection of needle drive, having turned the appropriate knob, does not happen. When in this configuration, I start the motor, I get a rattling noise.

    I will be very pleased with any help you can give me with these two issues.

    Many thanks.

  21. Hello,

    When it’s frozen that tight, sometimes heating it up will help. Try heating it up with a hair blow drier. We’ve recently discovered that “Kano Aereoil” works better than WD-40.

    If you’re getting a rattling noise when you start the motor, I wonder if the belt is loose or worn, or if the belt pulley is frozen. Also, you’ve got to get the handwheel off and clean the shaft and inside the handwheel.

    Good Luck to You!