Monday, 25 April 2016

Singer 201 Faulty Knee Controller


Have been making a pair of baby quilts over the weekend.  Pieced the quilts on my Singer Featherweight, she is such a great machine to sew on but when it comes to machine quilting I change over to the Singer 201.

I have been having a bit of problem with the 201, the knee controller kept sticking on a bit and therefore the machine didn't stop when I wanted it to.  Tricky, so I put it away in disgrace after checking the mechanism and not finding anything obvious wrong with it.  Looked on Ebay I was lucky enough to find a complete system so I could have a proper go at fixing it.  Have been putting it off for a few weeks but after sewing the quilt this morning, enough was enough so out came the screwdriver.  Being Singer, I just needed one size.

The knee leaver fits in a hole on the side of the machine, the motor controller is under the black cover.

The knee lever goes into the round shaped bit and that revolves, which moves the linkage bit with the big screw, then that pulls on a plunger switch in the motor controller (hope that makes sense).   When you stop pushing the knee lever the plunger switch is supposed to go back in switching off the motor but on mine it was sticking slightly open.  Tried oiling the linkage but no joy (never put oil in the controller itself).

The next thing I did was try the new knee lever in case my old one was worn, no that wasn't it. So changing the parts was the next thing to try.  Scary or what.

To remove, take the screws out on the linkage. 

The turn the machine on its back, being careful to keep fingers out of the way cos its extremely heavy   There are 5 screws, the top two hold the linkage in place and the other three the controller.

The linkage and controller lift out together, the finger on the linkage fits onto a loop on the plunger switch.  I took the cover off the controller by removing 2 screws underneath.

Comparing the two controllers, I thought I had found what was wrong, the white controller is mine, the back pad (which is like a back stop for the plunger when its pulled out) was worn on the edge.  So I swapped the controllers over.

I compared the my linkage with the new one, exactly the same so I put the old one back on.  You have to link the two parts together, slide the back of the linkage into the hole in the base, keep the controller level when you drop them both into place, you have to jiggle it a bit.  Then put the 2 screws in on the linkage, then carefully turn the machine on its back and put the screws in underneath.  Just hold the controller in place while you locate the first screw hole in the base of the controller, then the others are easy to screw up.

Switched the machine back on, it was a little better but still stuck on a bit.  So had to repeat the whole process again and take them both out.  Swapped the linkage for the new one and put it back together again.Yippee, it works.  Should have tried the changing the linkage first then I wouldn't have had to change the controller, doh.  Still can't find whats wrong with the linkage, its exactly the same as the other one.

A useful thing to stop you loosing the screws is a magnetic pin tray, if you haven't got one, then a dish to put screws in is essential, trust me, screws are tricky little blighters who like to hide from you!

Above is the offending linkage.  Afterwards I thought of an easy fix if you haven't got new parts.  Just tie a piece of fabric around you leg and put the tip of the knee lever into it, then you take your leg off the lever, it will pull it back into the stop position, just don't forget you are tied to the machine hee hee.

Its best to switch off these old machines when you have stopped sewing.  I take out the knee lever as once I forgot to unplug the machine and left lever in place.  It dropped down and slightly switched the controller on which then got quite hot!  Luckily I found it in time before it went up in smoke.



  1. Great machine. My 201k is treadle powered but I've always fancied having a go on a knee controller just to see what they're like to sew with. It's great you made a repair rather than ripping out the controller and replacing it with a modern foot pedal. Happy sewing!

    1. Thanks Gavin, I like the knee control, the clever people at Singer designed it so that you are sitting exactly in the correct position in front of the machine when you are using it. When I use the other machines with a foot control it creeps across the floor away from me which is annoying. I haven't used a treadle since I was a kid, it was my sisters and she put a needle through a finger (hers) with it. owwww!