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Kenmore 158: Bobbin Winder Tires

The bobbin winder atop the Kenmore 158 sewing machine has a rubber tire that contacts a ribbed ring on the inside surface of the handwheel; the clutch knob disengages the main shaft and you run the motor at top speed. As you’d expect, both age and wear take their toll on the rubber, to the extent that the winder on Mary’s machine stopped turning. I swapped it for the slightly less decrepit winder on the Crash Test Dummy, but that was obviously a stop-gap measure.

I mistakenly thought the metal wheel consisted of two plates that clamped a rubber disk in place, with no possibility of removal:

Bobbin Winder - old tire

Bobbin Winder – old tire

The fact that the spare parts list didn’t include the rubber disk helped convince me.

Eventually, I stumbled over replacement “tires” on, of course, eBay that suggested how to dismount them:

Bobbin Winder - wheel and tires

Bobbin Winder – wheel and tires

Yup, that sucker slides right off.

Anyhow, the replacements seem to be standard industrial O-rings, rather than the original tire with a flattened rim:

Bobbin Winder - old vs new tire

Bobbin Winder – old vs new tire

The new tires measure 28.94 mm OD on the bench (I don’t trust that last digit, either) and 29.56 mm OD installed. The (hardened and cracked) old tires measure 29.94, 30.06, and 30.28 mm OD on the bench; that’s a radius anywhere from 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm larger. The winder’s mounting screws provide a very small adjustment range that helps a bit.

Knowing that I needed an O-ring, I checked the assortment of “standard size” O-rings I bought many, many years ago, which once again failed to offer up anything suitable. To the best of my knowledge, that kit has never had the right size; apparently, every application uses a different standard.

The O-ring definitely puts less rubber on the handwheel than the tire, but seems to drive the bobbin winder well enough to fill a handful of bobbins without any of the previous drama.

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  1. #1 by Daniel B. Martin on 2015-02-23 - 10:14

    Anyhow, the replacements seem to be standard industrial O-rings,
    rather than the original tire with a flattened rim …
    Don’t be impatient. After ten years of use that new tire will have a flattened tread surface.

    • #2 by Ed on 2015-02-23 - 13:13

      If the LEDs and controls last that long, I’ll be doing the happy dance regardless of what happens to those tires!

  2. #3 by Jason Doege on 2015-02-23 - 11:03

    You could 3D print your own using some flexible filament… :-D

    • #4 by Ed on 2015-02-23 - 13:16

      1. Conquer Ninjaflex
      2. Print custom tires
      3. Etsy
      4. Profit!

      Yeah, I can see that happening…

      • #5 by david on 2015-02-24 - 23:53

        I do have a friend who was looking for medical-grade silicone tires, for a bonsai tree sized tire swing for an aquarium… there’s at least some market! :)

        • #6 by Ed on 2015-02-25 - 06:45

          And the weird thing is, in this day and age, that might actually be a decent market…

          A while ago, somebody built an RTV silicone extruder that worked just about as well as you’d expect: recognizable objects, but rather blurry. Not medical grade, of course, although after the acetic acid dissipates it’d probably be OK.

          Maybe this is a job for Sugru and some clever moldmaking?

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