Posted by Stephen Taylor on


I have just finished working on a Brother Innov-is 55FE machine brought in to the shop for attention.

This particular machine belongs to a regular customer of ours  and is only 7 month old. Last year she was thinking of buying a new machine and came in to look. and after Claire had shown her several, and explained the benefits of buying from us she had settled on probably having the 55FE but needed to think about it, A week or so later she went to the Festival of Quilts and while she was there she saw the machine and unfortunately was persuaded to buy it there as it was on a special offer which as only available at the show. In fact she could have got the same offer from us! She was quite upset when she found out.

Bringing the story up to date, she decided, after sewing some rather fluffy fabric, to clean out the bobbin area of the machine and so she took out the plate and bobbin case. The trouble was, she couldn’t work out how to put it back properly. If she had bought the machine from us we would have shown her how to do this as she would have been entitled to unlimited free tuition, as is anyone who buys a machine from us.

The lady lives about 35 miles away, so she went to a sewing machine repairer she had heard of, near her home, who works at his home, and asked him if he could show her how to put the bits back together. He insisted on servicing the machine, which it did not need, in view of its age and that it had had relatively light use. She agreed, reluctantly to this and left the machine.

Unfortunately, when she took the machine home she was not happy. She tried to do some free hand sewing, which she had done before and the stitching was horrendous, pulling all the thread to the back (see pictures of front & back). Also the machine was depositing black oil spots on the work.


These pictures show the front and back of the free hand stitcing

Note the oil spot.

This was where I came in to the story. when a very upset lady brought the machine into our shop to be put right. I’m afraid I couldn’t  start on it straight away because, as usual, I had a queue of machines waiting.

I put the machine on my bench when it reached the top of the list and got the covers off to find out exactly what was wrong and to start putting things to rights.

One thing which did amuse me was the description the other guy had put on the receipt. He had written, ‘Janome Brother Innovis 55’. To put Janome Brother is like saying IBM Macbook or ford Vauxhall, or even Samsung iPhone. Janome and Brother are not only two entirely separate companies, they are two of the biggest rivals in the sewing machine business!

Taking out the bobbin case showed me one cause of the trouble. The seal had been broken on the bobbin tension adjuster, something that is almost never necessary on invoice machines, especially one as new as this one.(The receipt said ‘Balance tension units which was ominous)


This picture shows the green seal missing from the bobbin case screw.

I had touched the needle bar before I started and my fingers got very oily and when I looked at the mechanism my worse fear was realised as it was covered with far too much oil. The thread guide at the top of the needle had actually filled up with oil which had run down the needle bar, a sign that the machine is overflowing with oil (this can be seen just below the figure 6 in the photo).


When I looked at the ticket which had been put under the presser foot when the machine came in, I noticed this oil mark where the oil had run down the needle during the few days between it arriving and me starting work. The hole is where the needle was.


This can be very detrimental to an electronic machine, as it can short out the printed circuit boards if it gets on them. I once had to replace the the main PCB on a Janome Memorycraft 10000embroidery machine, when just this situation had happened, which cost several hundred pounds to put right. Fortunately it hadn’t come to that this time. This meant that my first task was to clean out all the oil I possibly could, for all I knew it might even be the wrong type of oil (There are 5 different specified lubricants for this model of machine, none of which are interchangeable)

This picture shows the oil coating the machine mechanism.Note the shiny

blob of oil on the whie assembly to the right and the oil splatters on the

presser foot holder top left.

The next stage was to re-lubricate where needed and in appropriate quantities before looking at the stitching.

I found that both top and bobbin tensions were way off what they should be and so I set about putting them right , bobbin first and then top tension and, once I had got the stitch just right’ I applied a new seal to the bobbin case.

I then put the covers back on, fit a new needle and stitched out some tests.


Picture of my free hand swing on red compared to the previous stitching.

Unfortunately this is a situation which occurs quite frequently, when I have to put right a machine that has been to another repairer.

I am trained and authorised repair engineer for Brother machines, as well as several other makes, am also a member of the Sewing Machine Trade Association and have been doing this job for almost 40 years. I’m afraid not everyone is so qualified. This may be why I am always so busy, 23 machines have come in this week.

The annoying thing in this case is that no work was necessary, all the customer needed was to be shown how to put her machine back together. She now knows this as I have shown her.

 Steve Taylor.

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