Thursday, May 21, 2015

Removing Thread from the Upper Tension Unit on Brother PE-770

After almost three months of excitement over the wonders of my embroidery machine, a Brother PE-770, something happened.  I looked up to see that my thread had shredded and was knotted up and had magically disappeared in my machine.  I was stunned.  And I was in denial.

I re-threaded, and kept sewing... and noticed some stitch quality issues. Realizing that thread doesn't simply disappear, I tried the "use unwaxed dental floss" method that is often suggested on the Facebook Embroidery Message Boards, and still nothing.  So I kept sewing, in my child-like hope that stuff will just work itself out, until I couldn't deny it any more.  I had a problem.  I just didn't know where the thread was.  Similar stitch quality issues posted on the embroidery message boards kept insisting the problem had to do with the bobbin case.

So I took off the throat plate, since I knew how to do that, using a penny to unscrew it, and peered down.  I found one of the tiny threads that posters are always showing as the culprit.  I knew this was not my problem.  My problem was red thread, a big glob of it, that disappeared at the top of my machine.  Despite that, I lifted out the bobbin case and vacuumed the area.

In desperation, I even used canned air despite the warnings on the message boards not to.  I used a mirror and tried to look up the machine from the needle, hoping to see the thread dangling from a mysteriously hidden place.  Nothing. I changed my needle, my bobbin, I re-threaded... and re-threaded again.  I just wanted to see inside but was afraid to do anything that would "hurt" my machine or make things worse!

Finally, I contacted my favorite machine repairman, Nelson Maynard, who worked at Baer Fabrics for many years as a repair technician during some of the same years I worked there.  Baer's had a Bernina and Babylock dealership for decades.

Nelson started his own repair service after the store closed so I trusted his opinion on this and I was just desperate enough to ask the favor of what he suggested I do.  This was his response:

That was magical information!!  Once he said I could check on that myself, I had some courage. Following his advice....I found the screw hole he mentioned.  The screw is tiny and set in deeply.

And I removed the cover over the tension unit as he suggested.  I immediately saw the red thread!!

I lifted the presser foot as instructed.  That opens the tension discs so that the thread slides right off.  I removed the thread using the long tweezers that I use for my serger.

I replaced the cover and then tested the stitching.  You can see the letter "D" that I did earlier before removing the thread and all the loops and horrible, sloppy stitches.  Then you can see the letter "N" that I stitched AFTER removing the thread!  

This is the back of my stitching.  You can really see how much thread was looping up under the hoop before removing the thread.  The letter "N" shows that the stitching is normal again AFTER removing the thread in the tension unit.

And now this statement from me to you:
This solved my problem!  I am not suggesting you do this.  I am only sharing what I did to solve my stitch quality issues in this instance.  Also if your machine is under warranty, you will want to consider that Brother says the warranty is void if you open the machine in any way.  If you are in doubt, you should contact the Brother Corporation or your local authorized repair person.

If you are looking for a repair person, and are not too far from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, check out Nelson Maynard Sewing Machine Service and Repair (click here) or contact him via email at nkmaynard2 at gmail dot com.  He has experience with all sorts of machines (check out the photos on his Facebook page!) and he has tuned up my sewing machine and serger for many years when I worked at Baer's (which means it has been too long since my last tune-up!)  Nelson is a real character, usually donning denim overalls but can occasionally be spotted in his kilt.  He is also a writer and an all-around good guy and totally trust-worthy.  And nope, he didn't pay me a thing to say this nor did he ask me to!

And now this statement from Nelson to you:
"There are a couple of good reasons that this sewing machine repair man feels that every home sewer should keep her (or his) machine in the good condition.

For one thing, it's a lot easier to work on a machine that has been well maintained than on one that has been neglected; I can turn around a machine a lot more quickly if I don't have to clear out wound-up thread from the shafts or evict small animals from the undercarriage.

For another, while I am happy to work on my customers' machines if they have significant mechanical problems, I don't want you to have to do without your machines for a week or two (or three, depending on my backlog) only to find out that there wasn't any significant problem to start with, and that a little bit of home diagnostics would have saved you  the time and expense of having your machines serviced.  (So, for instance, you bring me your machine, describe your problem, and put it on the table; I look at it, take the needle out, turn it around, and say, "Here ya go; that'll be eight-five dollars."  No, there's no way for that to be anything but awkward...)

So, while I'd suggest regular tune-ups to keep your machine in fighting trim, I think we are all well-served by watching out for your machine's well-being between visits."

And...he had this to add to me so I thought I would pass it along too because qualified and trusted free advice is rare....

Thanks for checking out out my post today!  I hope it was helpful to you.  Check out my Embrilliance Software and Machine Embroidery page here on my blog (see the tab above or click the link) for my previous posts on embroidery, lists of my resources for learning and supplies with direct links, and my notes.

Links to all my pages, including my paper-crafting Project Gallery, are on the tabs under the header of my blog.

Coming soon:  Baby Embroidery Gift Set Tutorials!


Ohhh Snap said...

Well Done!! You did : D. Nadia the Riveter poster in my head lol.

Anonymous said...

I have seen the remarks on the Facebook pages/groups too. I have PE500 and they are similar.
. My nearest authorized brother repairs should is 60 miles away and it is $150 just to walk in the door. So knowledge is a wonderful way to keep the machine going . Perhaps you could share your blog Post with the brother embroidery group on Facebook.

Margo said...

Interesting, Nadia. Thanks for sharing all the informative sewing machine advice.

cdm317 said...

This is so interesting. Thank you for the great post. Now I just need a machine so I can put your advice and knowledge to work.

Unknown said...

Can you do a tutorial on when and how to oil our machines?

Nadia ( said...

Brother says not to oil your machine. I have a link on my embroidery page from Brother that explains. :)

Sandy Abernathy said...

You saved me a trip to the repair shop! One inch piece of thread was wreaking havoc on all my embroidery. Thank you.

Lindsay Schich said...

Thank you so much. I did what you did with re-threading, changing bobbins, changing the needle but with no luck. Found this last night and tried it today. I had a small piece of thread and lint stuck and now my machine is working again. What a relieft. Thank you again and thank your friend.

Bowmom said...

I found info on your blog in one of the Facebook groups I joined after the recent purchase of a Brother PE770. I enjoy it very much. Just reading through some older entries and I see this one....when I got to the part with Nelson's name and Baer's, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I was a regular customer there and not a week goes by that I don't have a thought of Baer's and wishing it was still open. I ran into my dear friends from there, Michelle S. and Mark H. a few years back at Panera but I haven't seen them since then. I am SO happy to see contact info for a wonderful, wonderful repairman! I am beyond excited over this post!!!

Thank you.

Nadia ( said...

Bowmom! I know, it breaks my heart every time we go over the new bridge and pass what used to be Baer's! Mark is now at Z Salon. Not sure whatever happened to Michelle. Nelson will travel a bit to pick up a machine and is in Louisville often if that is where you are. So glad you found my blog.

Bowmom said...

Southern Indiana. I knew Mark was at Z, but I've only been there once. I use the 64 bridge more often, but drive around the old building now and again when I go to the new Wild Eggs. I never stop hoping another store like it will come along someday, but I believe the era has gone. We never knew how lucky we were until it was gone!

I am LOVING the blog and your site. I haven't had time to read it all yet, but I will. Keep up the great work!

Unknown said...

Thanks!!!! I had the same problem. Found your post yesterday. Dreamed about it last night. Lol opened it up and found my green blob of thread!!!!

Reacea2 said...

Thank God for yer friend and yer post. I was so frustrated. I fixed it and I am tickled, I also have a PE 500 I need instructions on the same thing. Is there a chance for pictures on this model also?

Maria said...

Nadia, this post saved my project today, and probably my sanity! I was able to get the cover off and found a wad of purple thread tangled in the tension disc. I can't even remember the last time I used purple thread! It was a little tricky getting the cover back on, but once I did the machine started stitching just fine and I finished my projects. A huge thank you for this post and all your wonderful tutorials. Next up, burp cloths!

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!