Divy’ing It Up

Apologies all around in advance for not addressing industrial sewing machine issues lately. For now the Brother DB2-B791-015 has been a workhorse with close to no bugs for working out, which makes for a pretty bland series of product entries (posts), instead of interesting investigations of these dense contraptions. Fortunately, older topics have not been forgotten: we will still revisit the thread discussion soon, as many images have been taken to help with the visual aid side of things, and then after that, hopefully it will be time to get to the other two sections of the Brother DB2-B791-015 parts book. Also there may be updates on industrial sewing machine shops in the Chicago (IL) area, with possible new information leaking from these retailers, into the category of Brother Feet.

In the meantime, some passing thoughts on needle gauge and heavy vs. light-weight vs. heavy vs. light-weight.

First off, two new packs of needles were purchased recently, a set of #19 gauge needles and a set of #21 gauge needles. The #19 needles were purchased to use with the Gütermann “heavy duty” & silk threads (used for the recent pair of jeans) – these #19’s are still in the box. The #21 needles were more or less purchased for the same reason, except they would be used to test out the heaviest weight Coats&Clark “button & carpet” thread, which we have never had much luck with here – around the DB2, or with the old Singer 600WI. So, with the heavy thread in mind, and the new #21 needles, a material situation had to come about. With the last two Dow bags (the “messenger”-style and the walking bag) finalized, ideas for the next generation of bag brought up a good scenario to test the new needles and thread to see what the Brother would do. Is everyone still on target? – As this conversation is going back and forth between heavy thread/needle, and older bags making way for new ideas (which will test this needle-thread combo). The new bag will be calling for a shoulder strap system, that will hopefully use “dive” belt webbing as the main strap. However, “dive” belt webbing has provided many obstacles in the past. Unlike seat-belt webbing which has become somewhat of a standard material for shoulder straps in “messenger” bag production circle’s – “dive” belt webbing is much more dense, and stiff. Such, could be why seat-belt webbing has become the norm for these recent bags, it is soft and flexible, and easy to work with*. But “dive” belt webbing seems to have better load distribution qualities, and is also inherently stronger, and can withstand much more abrasion – thus it may be a better material for the job. The difference being (to bring the mono-conversation back) it takes more umph (technical term) to sew through “dive” belt webbing. This is where the #21 needles come in, surely, the Brother will be able to feed the material’s thickness, but it is the puncturing, and thread allowances that have hampered the process in the past. Also, the needles added thickness will provide a more accurate feed, as the needle will flex less when pulling the material, so there will be less lag time (and more consistent stitching). Now, to the thread side of things, in the past when trying to (always un-succesfully) sew through “dive” belt webbing, we have used the Gütermann “extra strong” thread, and inevitably it would break at some point in the run of the stitch, but not due to core strength, but rather abrasion, from being passed through such a dense, coarse, stiff material, the strap’s fibers are more than likely actually harder – equalling rougher areas to pass the thread through. Anywho, the Coats&Clark “button & carpet” thread was chosen, this is/was the densest/hardest thread available (at the moment) and would ideally be more abrasion resistant (imagine a climbers top-rope hanging from a mountain rubbing against the rock). Long story short, success, the coupling of the needle and the thread has alieviated any pains or concerns, the pass took two layers of “dive” belt webbing, plus two layers of vinyl coated nylon. Whilst not the most exciting thing or controversial result, it seemed like news around here.

Another topic, about heavy vs. light-weight came up after making the walking bag, and wondering what it would take to make something very light-weight. Obviously light materials would be a start, however this means a slight re-tooling of the Brother, the challenge is then, how light can it go? For the most part industrial sewing machines only do one thing well, and that is whatever it has been delegated to do. But, maybe the Brother could sew some light nylons too with a little attention to it’s internals – needle-bar-height adjustments, a finer feed-dog, and maybe even a different hook. The lesson being proposed, when do you decide to move to lighter materials, and does the machine influence a resistance to this?

Your patience is appreciated, and concerns heard.

*One thing to note, is that the companies that almost strictly use seat-belt webbing, usually incorporate some kind of additional padding system, what this is to accomplish can be mysterious (old-timers will probably tell you this is unnecessary hoo-ha), it could be to distribute load more effectively due to the very pliable nature of seat-belt webbing which could use added stiffness, or maybe it is just to be gentler on the body?

Click Clack

The Brother DB2-B791-015 was having some maintenance issues while finishing up the skunk and the NFCO. Or at least it was making some noise while the stitching for the main strap(s) were being sewn in. Of course this is probably the heaviest stitching that takes place on the Brother due to the 2″ dive belt webbing which is used – in conjunction with the Coats&Clark “button&carpet” thread, and the #21 gauge needle. These materials together take a lot of punching power and require a heavy press of the foot too, which is partly why it was so alarming that the Brother would be making the clickity clacking noise. You would think that even if something were loose, that under that much pressure it would not have that much room to wiggle. Not so, the machine was definitely making a noise that needed to be found. Essentially it sounded like the feed dog was loose, and rattling while it fed the material: or the feed dog was somehow out of adjustment and actually hitting the bottom side of the throat plate on it’s upswing. However, if the feed dog was hitting the bottom side of the throat plate it would not be a rattle-like noise, but instead a thud (if you will). Also, the throat plate was clearly tight, so it wasn’t that.

The first thing to come off was the face plate on the end of the DB2 head. Behind this plate, is the needlebar, and the presser (foot) bar, with their assorted clamps and driving mechanisms – all of this seemed to be tight and secure, so the face plate was re-installed. Now it was time to dig in a little and lift the massive (in terms of density at least) Brother DB2-B791-015 head off the table and take a closer look. The approach was to take torque-inventory from the inside, moving out, to be as thorough as possible: in other words, all the accessible nuts, bolts, screws, hex’s, etc. were checked for proper torque starting from as far away the hand could reach, slowly moving in towards the feed dog and throat plate. No time like the present. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there was not a loose screw to be found. Even getting into the feed dog and feed bracket, everything was tight. The only thing that had any play in it was the carriage for the bobbin case, which is situated within the rotary hook assembly. This little bit of play was quite small, and seems like it couldn’t have made the rattling that was heard, not to mention – all of the screws around this were quite tight. The other thing about the carriage for the bobbin case is that it is free-floating (so it can spin) which means that it always has a little bit of play.

That said. It is hard to say, just where this noise was coming from. Maybe it was a matter of stress on the machine? Maybe it is time for the Needlefeed & Company to think about a walking-foot? Since the tear down, the noise has been pretty much non-existent, which we can only conclude that it was simply the strain between the dive belt webbing and heavy needle’ing. This kind of situational rattling may take place again, but as long as we know that everything is tight and together, then maybe there is no need for alarm.


The Brother received a rather jarring and disruptive blow this weekend. Perhaps this was a glaring moment of communication on the part of the Brother. With the last few projects being alterations, this abrupt ending could have been a call to begin again from scratch. A moment of due force and deliberate gesture composing all of the Brothers being into a powerful expressive code. Corralling and instigating all the most macro waves of the machine into a severe display of energy. This instance cajoled by a determined mind of heavy thread and a heavy needle weaving their way through an area of well mannered but unpredictable denim. Thus resulting in a massive jam between the feed-dog and throat-plate. It was quite obvious at first that the needle was well situated between something, or had somehow pierced the material layers, broken and then pulled back up like a grappling hook into the most peculiar of nooks – as the needle pulled free of the needle-bar marking the anchor between the two, submissive by pressure. It was surely a high sign of ultimate and searing tension between componentries when even the mightiest combination of hand and pliers could not move the needle away and free of the denim folds. With the presser foot detached for ease of repair, the only resort was to cut the needle out. A quick diagonal shearing of the top side of the needle was made and the denim carried away to expose a huge amount of potential radiating from an amalgamation of throat-plate, needle, and feed-dog. Upon this generous action, this clash, this cramming of abject courses, which brought the Brother to such a catastrophic halt, the needle had swayed wayside, avoiding the central positioning and in one giant punch managed to wedge itself with the utmost strength between the two single mechanisms. After excising the throat-plate and freeing the bit of remaining needle the flexibility of the materials at hand became immediately apparent. For it was luck that only the throat-plate made the move to allow the needle to settle in such a violent way, maybe the feed-dog was the most stubborn after all. What had once seemed like an unrelenting structure – now permitted itself to show lenient character – tolerable of its environment in full. Only a small amount of interaction was needed to situate the throat-plates tracking elements back to approximate their original position, questioning the spring like quality of what was perceived to be a perfect harmony of rigid tooling for fluctuating machinery.