Model 66 - retaining bolt for the hook

Running out of Time

Timing series part 5:  Examples

Note: The 401A and 201 timing directions have been updated.  My apologies for the previous mistake.  I’m not really sure what I was thinking when I put those directions in, they were just plain wrong.  They should be correct now.

Note:  Never run the machine with the pedal If you suspect that the timing is off, while checking or after adjusting the timing until you’ve determined that the setting was correct.  Running it at speed if the timing is off can cause massive damage to the hook, bobbin case and also smash the needle which can lead to shards flying around.

Note: The process I show for adjusting timing doesn’t necessarily work for newer machines that are set up a little differently, but the process of checking it still applies.   And if your machine is on warranty, please just take it in and have it fixed.  Some dealers / manufacturers will void your warranty if you try to change anything.

In order to demonstrate setting the timing on a machine, I’m going to show a series of photos.  The first is the location of the timing lines on the machine, if applicable.  The next is the location of the screws / nuts / bolts you need to loosen to time it.  As needed, I will provide further explanation.  For the technical explanation, please refer back to this post: Making Time

Note: These images will be easiest to understand if you click on them to make them larger.

Timing a Slant-O-Matic:

We’ve been using a recently restored 401A for this series, so we’ll continue with it.

The location of the timing lines, as shown previously in the series:


The screws that must be loosened to adjust timing:

Singer 401A – hook gear set screws – one shown with red arrow.

Once you loosen these screws (there are 2 of them on the same collar), you will slide the gear to the left to disengage the gears in order to turn the hook.  When you have the hook in position to catch the thread, slide the gear back to the right and mesh it with the other gear. 

As a general rule, the reason we don’t time using the set of gears closer to the hook is that the shaft that the gear tightens onto has a flat spot on this set of gears.  It should only ever tighten down at two different settings.  We typically need fairly “infinite” adjustment to get timing accurate.

The gears right under the hook on a 401A . We don’t time here because of the flat spot on the shaft that the red arrow indicates.

Timing a Model 66 / 99/ 185 / 192 (Spartan):

The location of the timing lines.  The 99 looks a little bit different, but reading this series, I’m sure you’ll recognize them when you see them.:

Model 66 - timing lines
Model 66 – timing lines

 The screw that must be loosened to adjust timing:

Model 66 - bottom of the hook
Model 66 – bottom of the hook  The red arrow points to the bottom of the hook.   The blue arrow shows you the screw that you will loosen as seen from below.
Model 66 - retaining bolt for the hook
Model 66 – retaining bolt for the hook.  This is the screw you would loosen.  Most of time it’s unnecessary to remove the screw altogether, just make sure that it isn’t creating any friction on the shaft.

Timing a Model Model 27/28 Variable shuttle style machine:

The location of the timing lines:

Singer Model 27 / 28 / 127 / 128 - timing line
Singer Model 27 / 28 / 127 / 128 – timing line.  The red arrow shows the timing line, and the blue one shows the indentation where the needle travels for reference.

 The nut that must be loosened to adjust timing:

Singer Model 27 / 28 / 127 / 128 - bolt to loosen to adjust timing
Singer Model 27 / 28 / 127 / 128 – nut to loosen to adjust timing
Singer Model 27 / 28 / 127 / 128 - bolt to loosen to adjust timing (close up)
Singer Model 27 / 28 / 127 / 128 – nut to loosen to adjust timing (close up)

Timing a Featherweight:

The location of the timing lines:

Featherweight 221 - timing lines
Featherweight 221 – timing lines

 The screws that must be loosened to adjust timing:

Featherweight 221 - Hook Gear set screws
Featherweight 221 – Hook Gear set screws.  Loosen the two screws with the arrows pointing to them.  Once the gear is loose, turn the shaft to time the hook.  Tighten the set screws and test.

One thing to note, on the Model 222 that I picked up this month, the screws in the photo below were loose, which affected the timing. ergo, it may be another viable way to adjust timing without sliding a gear. This would be another situation as above where if the feed dog timing is correct, it would be OK to time from here, especially if you found these set screws loose when you acquired the machine, as I did.  If the feed dog timing is incorrect, time from the back,  where the adjuster’s manual says to.  This general rule would apply to pretty much any machine that has been tampered with or found with screws that have been loosened.

Featherweight 221 - hook set screw #1
Featherweight 221 – hook set screw #1
Featherweight 221 - hook set screw #1
Featherweight 221 – hook set screw #2


Timing a Model 201:

The location of the timing lines:

Model 201 -Timing Lines
Model 201 -Timing Lines

The screws that must be loosened to adjust timing live under a “cup” that needs to be removed for access.  The Red arrow points to one of these two screws.  The other one will be on the same shaft, seen only if you rotate the handwheel.:


You may have noticed that we timed on a gear that has a flat spot on the shaft it tightens onto.  This is how the Singer Service manual indicates it’s supposed to be done.  I can’t offer you a better explanation than that.  It’s counter-intuitive and if I didn’t have the manual available to me, I would have timed from the back like with most other machines.

It would appear that I misread the manual.  The 201 is timed using the screws on the vertical gear at the front of the machine.  Not the horizontal gear, and not from the back.  Thanks to Rene for pointing that out!

This is a small deviation from a lot of the other machines you will run into.


Timing a Model 15:

The location of the timing lines:

Model 15 -Timing Lines
Model 15 -Timing Lines

The screws that must be loosened to adjust timing:

Note, the Model 15 is a little bit unique in that according to the manual, the timing is permanently set at the factory.  It does not specify a way to time it.  If it needed to be done, other than during the replacement of the hook shaft, I would do it this way, but I’ve never had to time one.

Model 15 -Hook timing set screw
Model 15 -Hook timing set screw
Model 15 -Hook timing set screw (close up)
Model 15 -Hook timing set screw (close up)

Timing a class 15 clone:

The location of the timing lines:

On the clone that I have here, there are no timing lines.  This is a perfect example of why I suggest timing “by eye” rather than using specific marks on the needlebar.  We know that the needle has to be on the rise when the hook comes around.  We know that the hook point should be behind the needle’s eye when the needlebar has risen approximately 3/32″, and above the needle’s eye by about 1/64″ . Knowing this, you can time any machine without timing lines.

Clone Needlebar
Clone Needlebar
Clone - top of Needlebar
Clone – top of Needlebar – you may want to use this as a reference for measuring the 3/32″ to check the timing. Otherwise, you can measure from the needle clamp, or any other reliable part of the needlebar.

The screws that must be loosened to adjust timing:

Timing is accomplished in the same way as with the Singer model 15

Clone - Timing Set Screw


Did this help you out??  Does your machine work now?  Did it not work?  I’d like to know.  Let me know below.

14 thoughts on “Running out of Time”

  1. I did it! My mother-in-law gave us a Singer 411 about 17 years ago, and it had become unusable. I had no idea what was wrong, but I’m handy enough so I searched the web and found your site. Thanks so much for this series of posts on timing. The timing is not quite perfect (a little advanced) but now it does stitch 75% of the time instead of none of the time. I found it was quite late before I started. I’ve got to work it around to get it right, but now there is hope once again for this old machine.

  2. I was given a featherweight by a guy who had dismantled the ma hine then did not know how to put it back together, so it did not sew, it will now

    1. Yes, I did but it’s not really relevant to hook and needle timing which was the point of this series of posts. My goal with the timing series was to de-boogieman timing. 🙂

      Timing cam stacks is whole other can of worms and beyond the scope of what I really want to tackle on the blog. Singer cam stacks are a breeze to time compared to some of the other brands.

  3. Thank you so much for writing these articles! I was cleaning my 201 machine and took off the bottom gear–which needed cleaning, true, but also completely tanked the timing. These articles have helped me tremendously. I did download the Singer Service and Adjuster’s Manual that gave a good idea of what needed to be done, but the illustrations are..well…sketchy. Having a pic of what it needed to look like was quite helpful. Just to let you know…in the manual I have, the diagram seems to indicate that the screws you refer to adjust the timing on the 201 are used to remove the bottom gear, so that the bobbin race can be removed. To adjust the timing, they have you remove two screws in the gear at right angles to that gear, which releases the gear from the rod and lets you rotate the rod to any point needed. At least, that’s what it looked like and the illustrations are a bit iffy. I tried that though and it seemed to work. Of course, it seems like you need three hands and an eyestalk to get the timing right and then hold the rod where it needs to be while getting the screws back in(perhaps they could just be loosened?) but there you go.

    1. Argh…I hit post a bit too soon and I can’t edit it. The screws in question are behind the top red arrow in your pic.

      1. Hi Rene! Thanks for pointing this out! I had a mental note to correct that part of the post, then the day I went to look at it and revise it, I looked at the service manual and apparently read it wrong and corrected incorrectly! I have made the changes and added a screenie of the service manual to boot. 🙂

        You are correct, we almost never remove those set screws altogether, just loosen them until the shaft will rotate without the gear rotating with it,

        I’m glad to hear that the theory about timing has been helping you!

  4. I love all these tutes. I have read others as well. I have successfully cleaned up machines but what I wonder is what tool do you use to measure things like 5/64ths?
    Thanks, m

    1. Hey Mary,

      Thanks for coming by and for commenting! 🙂 To be honest, a lot of sewing machine stuff is very much “ballpark” science. I have used feeler gauges, and calipers for measurement, but even a good measuring tape that you could stick in there would work. There are measuring tapes that are marked in 1/16ths. 5/64’s is a smidgen over 1/16th. If the eye of the needle is in place a tiny bit past the 1/16ths mark, it’s probably fine.

      The reason I call it a ballpark science is because when you re-mesh the gears at the bottom of the hook, you’ll find that because they’re angled, that they will shift the position of the hook a tiny bit in either direction. I guess I’m saying there tends to be a little fudge room. 🙂 This is also likely why Singer recommended checking timing a minimum of 8 times before calling it good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *