ScrapHappy November 2021: O Brother, where art thy service manual?

He ain't heavy, he's my Brother - well, it is quite heavy and it isn't mine so...

He ain’t heavy, he’s my Brother – well, it is quite heavy and it isn’t mine so…

Last week (or about a thousand years ago if you are an archaeologist and have discovered and managed to figure out how to read the hard drive in the WordPress server), the Snail returned from a friend’s with a broken sewing machine. This is a slight role reversal (I have been known to return from friends with all sorts of scrap with a capital “C”), although this sewing machine did basically work, bar for one tiny annoying thing – the feeder dog* wouldn’t lift up properly. It sounded as if a bit had come loose or fallen off, so I decided that acquiring a service manual for the machine would be a good first step.

Well, it turns out, that Brother no longer appear to supply the service manual, not even as a download. There are sites that sell them for this machine, but they don’t actually have any (which is odd as some claimed it to available as a PDF download). Weird – and not very #righttorepair friendly, either.

Time to figure out how to take the case off…


Only a few tools needed (!)

The base plate needed to be removed in order to unclip the plastic tag on the actual case without snapping it. The base plate was then held, completely in the way of everything else, by a couple of cables, only one of which could be removed without the aid of either a) a lot of luck or b) a service manual. D’oh! Two screws were cunningly hidden behind the carrying handle so were the last to be removed, once all other possibilities for why the casing still wouldn’t come off were exhausted. In fact, there weren’t too many screws to undo, although they required three different screwdriver heads – yes, you can remove all of them but what’s wrong with one type? Three of them (on the base plate) used a star-shaped screwdriver head and there is no reason I can see for that nonsense.


What’s needed to screw it up properly

The mechanism seemed to be that a spring pushes the plastic gizmo back in place once the feeder dog has been lowered. That spring now seems to have about as much energy as me after lunch, so once the dog is lowered, it can’t be raised again (again, a bit like me after lunch). The mechanism makes no sense to me, it doesn’t appear to be missing a part and nothing looks broken, but the raise/lower switch isn’t permanently attached to the rest of the mechanism (hence the assumption that the spring does all the work).


Spring has not sprung

So, what makes this a ScrapHappy post rather than a Mend It Monday missive? It turns out that the owner of this machine doesn’t want to be able to lower the feeder dog – indeed, this may well be what has caused the problem, as the spring has been held in the same position for many years. So, what we want to do is effectively disable the control that would knock the mechanism out of place. Easy! The fix comes in the guise of a piece of sheathing from a scrapped piece of mains cabling. The sheathing is easy to cut and, in such a short length, is not compressible at all. Perfect!


Scrappy sheath

Now to fit the piece of sheathing into the mechanism…


In a jam (and not the yummy kind)

Eh, voila! Better put the machine back together again…

Everything seems to work, and they are no screws left so that’s a bonus. Hopefully the fix will remain in place for years to come.


* A thing that feeds the dog, er, fabric through. So I’m told…

Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJule,
Gwen, Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Esther

Categories: repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “ScrapHappy November 2021: O Brother, where art thy service manual?

  1. that’s ace. Quite possibly the smallest bit of sCrap used though, so I think you should win this month’s prize!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A brilliant scrappy fix

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So, clearly the owner isn’t a quilter. Brilliant bit of improvising, that man. Also a lot quicker, cheaper and easier to instal than a new spring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, the owner is not quilty (I’ll get me coat). You are right, it was a lot easier than fitting a new spring, particularly given that I have no idea how to remove the bits to fit one without permanently consigning the machine to the scrap pile! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  4. claire93

    you’ll soon be able to hire your services out as local sewing machine repair bod!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Susan Nixon

    Wow, you are a genius of repair and figgerin’ out!


  6. Many more miles of sewing in the offing, hooray for guerilla scrap mending!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. oh my goodness, what a performance I’ve owned my own machine for approx. 65 years but don’t understand half of what you are talking about. Fantastic fix. Hate companies that don’t supply comprehensive manuals, should be illegal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t worry, I don’t understand half of what I am talking about either! I still don’t fully understand how the mechanism works, only how to jam it in one position which is good enough for the machine’s owner so I am happy too! 😁


  8. Can you please move into my neighbourhood? I could really use a neighbour that can fix my sewing machines 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Going Batty in Wales

    A man of many talents! I might give you my iron to repair – like the sewing machine I’m sure it is a simple fix but the screws I need to remove defy all my tools. Why do manufacturers do this? Grrr!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bear

    And, that is precisely why I returned the brother machine, bought a Singer… which is still in the box most of the time and has only been used twice. I was able to download the singer user manual which was about as helpful as a handful of dryer lint. In the end, I went back to hand sewing, less stress and sturdier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hand sewing certainly uses a more maintainable machine! Actually, the Snail’s Bernina comes with a complete service manual and is designed to be kept running – hence the older ones are much sort after. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations on keeping it running! Another expensive machine kept from the scrap pile and fixed with no expensive fees! Loving it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: ScrapHappy December 2021: Repair, Reuse, REVIEW | writinghouse

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