Adjusting timing · Vibrating shuttle

Adjusting timing on a vibrating shuttle machine

I chanced upon a very well preserved 1914 Singer 127K with sphinx decals that usually rub off very quickly. So why was this machine sitting in a cupboard all these decennia instead of sewing? Because it doesn’t sew. 😦

When the shuttle approaches the needle to catch the thread, the needle is too high, so the shuttle misses the loop. A typical timing problem.

First of all, it is worth while to check that the timing is not actually off. It is very difficult to knock it out of alignment on a vibrating shuttle machine because it is fixed in the joints, and I would not know where to begin fixing that.

But the check is very simple. Remove the face plate and rotate the balance wheel so that the needle is nearly at its lowest point. The mark should come into view. It should simply align with the tip of the shoulder on the right at about 14 minutes past the hour position. It won’t be very precise because there is a little play in that V-shaped driver.


Basically, as long as the mark is not horribly off, the mechanism should work.

The fact that the mark is in the right place on my unwilling to sew machine means that the shuttle carrier brings the shuttle to the meeting with the needle at the right time, yet a stitch cannot be formed. So the problem must lie with the shuttle or its cradle.

Of course now that I put the right and wrong pictures side by side, it is pretty obvious: the shuttle is too low.

The Singer 127K shuttle cradle is lined with a spring, so I thought perhaps the nose side of it had sagged?​

I bent it up a bit, and things improved, but only for the first stitch. As soon as the thread was coming out of the shuttle, it was pulling the back bit up lowering the nose, and again we missed the loop.

I could not improve the cradle any further, so I turned to the shuttle. All Singer parts always have a Simanco part number engraved on them (Simanco stands for Singer Manufacturing Company), but this shuttle didn’t have such a number, although the spring did. This was the wrong shuttle!

Here is a comparison of the Singer 27K shuttle (Simanco part 8301), the mystery shuttle and a 1905 German Stoewer VS shuttle.​


The mystery shuttle is the shortest of the three! It also has a rounded point instead of a sharp one. The German shuttle is very similar in shape to the original Singer 8301, but is almost a millimeter longer.

Both the Singer 8301 and the German shuttle work in the 127K. The short mystery shuttle also works in the Stoewer VS, but not quite as reliably as its own shuttle (some stitches get skipped). So for now I can use the German shuttle, but I’ve just ordered an original Singer shuttle for 127K, Simanco part 54504. We’ll see how that fares!


Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee πŸ™‚


7 thoughts on “Adjusting timing on a vibrating shuttle machine

  1. It seems that my mystery shuttle is one of those replacements mentioned in the Wiki page. Well, it doesn’t work! I’ve also just got out a 1933 Vesta VS3 (very rusty but working – 3-in-1 did its magic), and its shuttle is in length between the Stoewer and the Singer 8301, but it jams Singer 127K and does not work at all. A close inspection shows that it has a thicker nose, so it does not lie in Singer’s cradle properly.
    Just goes to show how precise those measurements have to be!


  2. I just got my grandmothers old Singer out of barn and someone has robbed the shuttles, etc. I’m so glad I finally looked long enough to find this blog. I know which machine it is now because of the shuttle holder. Thank you so much for posting. I hope I can find a shuttle. I remember my mom sewing on a treadle machine and I have done so. Brings back a lot of memories and now my 32 year old daughter is interested. GREAT!!!!


    1. This is very exciting, thank you for sharing! Original Singer shuttles are very common, have a look on eBay or at Helen Howes’ shop: Both the new and the old versions work. And there is now even a reproduction shuttle available, brand new. πŸ™‚ Also bobbins are common, original and reproduction. Nothing will stop you now! πŸ™‚


  3. I thought there was a problem with my 127 (the shuttle and carrier are both from a 27 – probably a fusion/intermediate machine). I could not get the bobbin thread up. Finally, twisting myself upside down to look at things as they moved, I realised that my needle (just a modern universal) was too short, so I dropped it down a bit until it reached about the bottom of the needle slot in the underneath (there’s probably a technical term for that) and bingo! everything’s just peachy now. So sometimes it’s not really the timing, nor the shuttle, but something as simple and fixable as a too short modern needle. Had me wondering and mucking about for near a week though!


    1. It’s true, we often suspect something fundamental as timing when in fact the solution is much simpler. Well, it all has to work together, so any of the parts could be causing the problem! It is not always easy to see it though. πŸ™‚


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