Singer · Vibrating shuttle

What’s new in Singer 127

Singer 127/128 models were an upgrade to Singer 27/28. Let’s see what has changed and whether it is possible to apply new features of 127 to your favourite 27.

First to recap: the 27/127 models were full size (bed size 14″), while the 28/125 were 3/4 sized versions of the same thing (bed size 12″), with the same mechanism as their respective big sisters.

The balance wheel and the bobbin winder

Left is a 1908 Singer 27K, right is a 1914 Singer 127K. Six years and one model upgrade between them.

First, for the obvious bits.

The Singer badge was moved from the bottom of the column to the middle, so it is no longer covering up that nice decal. πŸ™‚

The balance wheel was changed from a 12-spoke plain steel one to a lighter 9-spoke nickel-plated one.

The bobbin winder also moved up, it is now mounted on the balance wheel guard, has a smaller wheel and touches the balance wheel near the treadle belt, not at the handwheel.


You could easily swap the balance wheel, the belt guard and the bobbin winder from 27 to 127, and I would do them together. I think that the rubber of the low placed bobbin winder might damage the nickel coating of the new wheel. On the other hand, the new high placed bobbin winder would not work with the old balance wheel because that wheel does not have a track for the bobbin winder next to the belt groove.

However, you cannot use the old bits from a 27 on a 127 body because it no longer has the arm for mounting the bobbin winder.

The upper tension mechanism looks different, but let’s examine it in detail.

The upper tension mechanism

The 27 has a manual release button, while the 127 releases thread tension automatically when the presser bar is raised. To do this, they’ve added a fork inside the head, with a groove and a hole in the cast iron body.​

Drilling a hole is not such a problem, but I’m not so sure about that groove. So I would say it is probably not possible to upgrade the tension unit, however you can easily use the old unit from a 27 on a 127 because the 127 still has the little hole for the release disk above the unit.​

The differences in the unit itself are: 1) the manual release disk with a button is replaced by an automatic release disk with a cross bar, and 2) the central pin is now hollow and supplemented by the release rod.

If you were to put a 27 unit into a 127 head, I would not bother removing that fork since it would not interfere with anything and would simply have no effect.

The shuttle carrier and the shuttle

The most important upgrade is, in my opinion, in a much improved shuttle carrier and a lighter shuttle.​

The new shuttle has a dimple on its gliding surface for catching and redistributing oil – the new shuttle race allows for less frequent oiling. The body has cut-outs making the shuttle lighter and quieter. Plus, you can now see whether there’s still any thread on the bobbin! πŸ™‚

Because the shuttles are the same size, you can swap them any way you like.

The shuttle carrier looks quite different:​


Where on a 27 you were struggling to get the shuttle out of the cradle without touching the spring, on a 127 you now have a button on the carrier arm – press that, and the shuttle is pushed up, easy to remove.

The cradle itself is now lined with a spring that holds the shuttle tighter, making for quiter sewing.

The whole carrier unit is easy to swap between the machines: behold a large screw on the bottom. ​

The best bits

In my opinion, the best bits between the two models are the new shuttle carrier and shuttle, the old low mounted bobbin winder (personal preference) and the new lighter balance wheel (less inertia when using a motor).

Too bad I cannot easily install the old bobbin winder on my 127K. But may be I’ll think of something. ;-)​

Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee πŸ™‚


7 thoughts on “What’s new in Singer 127

  1. Very interesting Singer antique machine history. They are so beautiful, I mean I love my modern Bernina sewing machine but nothing come closes to the elegance and beauty of antique sewing machines!


    1. You said it. πŸ™‚ I must admit, however, that I have become very partial to the vibrating shuttle mechanism as such. My small VS machine makes a better stitch than any other, because it allows for much lower tension on the bobbin thread than any of the round bobbin machines I’ve worked with, including Bernina. I think it has to do with the mechanism, not the make. But the VS also can handle high tension, so all together it gives a greater versatility. That’s why I wanted a full sized VS machine with a nice big harp space – another thing you don’t get these days except in special “quilter’s” extra large machines. But if you talk to the actual human quilters, you’ll find they often prefer the old Singers too. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never thought about harp space (or knew what it was called) until recently. I was making quite a few large stiff bags for musical instruments, and getting them done on a regular sized sewing machine was more than a pain – they would get stuck under the arm. 😐 So I started looking for a solution and found either huge industrial machines or special “quilter’s” long arm machines, all much too big and much too expensive for me. So I just continued struggling. Ditto when making a fur coat of particularly fluffy and dense synthetic fur. And then later when trying to quilt a king size quilt (2.2m square) and not being able to get to the centre because the rolled up half would not fit under the arm. So when I bought my first old full sized machine (Singer 66K), which was only very recently, I was completely amazed, awed and overwhelmed by the possibilities of that HUGE harp space! And as always, once you’ve tried something good, you never want to go back. So I started paying close attention to harp space. Found a few quilters’ forums – ah yes, they talk about it all the time! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I just bought a 1909 Singer 27 with Pheasant decals. The decals are 99% intact with very little silvering. My singer is a β€œhybrid” of the 27 and 127. My singer badge is in the center of the pillar, the bobbin winder is low and the balance wheel is 6 spoke with nickel plating. It still has the manual release button on the upper tension and the older style carrier. Your machines were 27k and 127k made in Glasgow. Mine was made in NJ, USA. Maybe that’s why mine is a hybrid. Your machines are very nice. It has been hard to find a site about the 27’s. Glad I found yours. I will be making modifications to change over to the 127 shuttle and carrier arm button.


    1. This is interesting. I suppose there could have been “intermediate” models made in Scotland as well, but I chanced upon those two. I find it remarkable that Singer didn’t find it necessary to introduce reverse on their machines until so much later, while German manufacturers have been doing it since about 1900. They also had an improved carrier and tension unit, both with release mechanisms, and a better shuttle – all the improvements made in 127K (but done differently, of course). The Singers are nice, but I kept the German machines because of the reverse. πŸ™‚


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