My main and most used machine is a 1930 Adler 87. It uses proprietary bobbins and old style needles, both impossible to find today, but it sews so well that it’s worth while for me to address these issues.
I still have a lot of needles for it (70+), so there is no pressing urgency there, but I only have 6 original bobbins which is very meager and really not enough.
This machine is based on Wheeler & Wilson D9 and uses similar donut-shaped bobbins.
This looks like a D9 bobbin and bobbin case but it’s not – it is larger. The bobbin is 24mm in diametre and 9.28mm thick, but the donut shape means that flat-sided bobbins of, say, 9mm in diametre don’t fit at the edges. Smaller bobbins do fit but they jam very quickly – the thread gets caught on the bobbin and entangles.
I looked around the internet and found one or the other person offering new old stock bobbins for £50 each. The cheek of it!! No, thank you.
And then I thought: bobbins can be plastic. It means they can be reproduced on a 3D printer.
Behold 62 3D printed bobbins reproduced from the original by The 3D Print Shop (www.the3dprintshop.co.uk). This company not only produces 3D printed items, but more importantly they also do CAD design based on your original. Highly recommended! My personal thanks to Mark Bryant who handled my order. 👍
They could fit 20 bobbins in a batch, so I ordered 3 batches. The price per bobbin goes down dramatically with each extra batch, so in my order it worked out at about £2.25 a bobbin, and I now have enough to satisfy my most immediate needs. 😉
The reason I got 62 bobbins though was that they did a test run first just to make sure the bobbins worked properly. I was amazed both by the level of care and the quality of the product. 🤩 Mark said that first he reproduced the original bobbin exactly, but the printed bobbin came out visibly warped – the walls were too thin. Of course, the original is made of steel and you can get away with much thinner walls than on plastic. Mark then contacted me to see how the design could be modified to solve the issue. That’s easy enough – make the walls a bit thicker by adding materials on the inside. The bobbin takes a little less thread but still works perfectly.
You can see how well the bobbin fits into the bobbin case.
The bobbins are smooth and work beautifully. The only very minor point is that because they were made in a batch, there are tiny specks on the edges – you can see them in the photo. Easily filed off in about 5 seconds. 😁
Mark told me that they keep design files for past orders, which means that should anyone else want to order reproduction bobbins for Adler 87 or 187, the design is already done and tested. But think also of all these other machines based on the D9, for example Jones Spool, Singer W9, Mewa Freya, and D9 itself of course – their bobbins vary in size but are still of the same donut shape. I’m sure adapting an existing design will be easier than starting from scratch again.
Go go bobbins! 💃