Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fixing My Sewing Machine

Fixing the bobbin pin drive mechanism of my (yes, my, not my wife's) brother sewing machine

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

The final stage of my Backyard Sun Shade Pergola project required me to sew the shade cloth to size which wouldn't have been a problem except for somehow my sewing machine stopped working. For those that don't know how to use a sewing machine, there are two places where the thread goes:

1. At the top on the actual spool
2. At the bottom in the bobbin

So when I wanted to transfer some of the uv-resistant thread to the bobbin, I put it on the bobbin pin, engaged the machine and although I could hear the machine spinning, the actual bobbin didn't spin.

After some investigation I found that somehow (and this is really weird), the rubber wheel that made a connection with the drive gear seemed to have melted off. I know it didn't actually melt because the machine never got hot enough. It almost looked like the rubber of the wheel was dissolved and dripped down into the machine. It was very sticky and gooey, kind of like asphalt. Because of that, it wasn't making proper contact with the drive wheel anymore and prevented me from filling up the bobbin with the thread I needed to sew the shade cloth.

The trickiest part was to find all the screws that held the two halves of the machine together, take those apart and then remove the drive wheel.

Once I had the bobbin pin out, I found a rubber seal/gasket that fit from one of my multi-purpose gasket kits, slipped it onto the bobbin pin and put it all back together.

After the two halves were separated
The bobbin pin from the top
The rubber wheel that somehow dissolved or melted
A close-up of the bobbin pin rubber wheel
Once the bobbin pin was removed
The rubber washer I put on the bobbin pin
A close-up of the new rubber "wheel"
Once the bobbin pin was installed again
Sewing the shade cloth for my backyard sun shade (link at top)
Close-up of the sun shade being sewn

Philips screwdriver
Flat-head screwdriver
Needle nose pliers

1 rubber gasket


1.5 hrs

Not sure, but probably at least $100 bucks

Works like a charm and the shade cloth is now all done

Backyard Sun Shade Pergola

Building a sun shade pergola in our back yard for my wife

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

My wife has always wanted some sort of a sun shade area in our back yard so she can watch the kids play and since our girl is still a bit too little to stay on our property without constant supervision, watching her from the deck just wasn't so practical.

I had been planning this for quite some time now, composed a sketch, got Mel's stamp of approval and then put together the lumber order.

This long weekend was a long-awaited (and I must say well-deserved) get-away trip for my wife and her sister. They were gone from Thursday afternoon until Monday evening all by themselves, no kids and I thought this would be the best time to surprise her with a fully finished shade area now that the weather is finally getting a bit nicer.

After they left I called the home depot to deliver my lumber just to find out that they couldn't do it until after the weekend so I had to improvise by packing up the 3 kiddos and lugging the lumber home in a few trips in the back of the van. NOT exactly what I had envisioned but once I got a project in the "GO" stage there's no stopping.

Thursday: After the first load of lumber was at my house and the girls were in bed I built a rigid frame and got my son to help me use a laser level (once it got a bit darker) to mark the 4 corners of the pergola perfectly level.

I dug out some 16"x12" pits, 8" deep and filled them up with 4" of gravel topped by 4" of concrete to the perfect height the back posts needed to be. Then I dug 4 holes (by hand, with the help of my neighbor's manual post hole digger and the kids who loved playing in the dirt), two feet deep and filled them with 4" of gravel and a 4" concrete base.

Friday: The next day, After another trip to the home depot with all the kids, I had the materials to get the basic frame started. I put up the posts and the support beams that would hold the rafters onto the concrete pads that had hardened enough to support their weight.

Once that was all done, I bundled up the girls (Nate stayed with a friend at his house), and drove up to Goguen Lumber in Cocagne to pick up the lumber for the roof as well as the railing because it literally saved me about $400 bucks than buying the lumber from the home depot. I should mention though that the price comparison is not quite "fair" as the home depot lumber would have been pressure treated whereas the lumber from Cocagne was not.

Once I had all the lumber at home and all the kids fed, bathed and put to bed I continued building the roof, then packed up for the night around 9:30

Saturday: After breakfast, while the girls were sleeping I spent about an hour in the shop cutting up the 4x2's into 2x2's and dato'ed the bottom and top plates for the railing. Once that was all done and the kids were fed I took them outside with me. While they played Nate and I finished the top of the roof and prepared the railing.

Once the girls were in bed (around 6:30) I put together the railing, the support struts for the roof, cleaned everything up and called it a night, again, around 9:30.

Monday: After a wonderful day off on Sunday and a great breakfast on Monday morning I filled in the area around the posts and cut up the shade cloth that I had ordered a few years ago for another one of my projects. Once I had it all cut to proper size, I wanted to sew up the edges nice and clean just to find out that something was wrong with my sewing machine so I had to Fix My Sewing Machine first. After that was done, all I had to do was put some hooks in the corners of the pergola and hang up the shade cloth. I am very pleased with how it turned out and my wife was very surprised and very happy with it.


A sketch of what I envisioned
After I dug out the 3 patches for the rear posts
After the 8" holes were filled with 4" of gravel
Getting the kids to dig in the dirt for the front holes (they loved it)
First trip to home depot with the kids
After the vertical braces were installed for levelling
Installing the front 4x4 posts
The van loaded with lumber
After the roof rafters were installed
Getting ready for the 2x2s at the top
The kids observing
Half-way done with the 2x2s
After the 2x2s were installed
A view from the deck
Getting ready to install the railing
After the railing was almost done
All done
A view from the top bedroom
Close-up of sewing the shade cloth
After the shade cloth was hung up
Another view from the inside of the pergola

Pick ax
Wheel barrow
Angle grinder with diamond blade
Chop saw
Manual post hole digger
Table saw with regular and dato blade
Chalk line
Air nailer
Framing nailer
Extension chords
2' step ladder
6' step ladder
16' extension ladder
Measuring tape

3 - 4x4-8' pressure treated (pt)
4 - 4x4-10 pt
2 - 2x8-24' pt2 bags of portland cement
2 wheel barrows of gravel
1 wheel barrow of sand
13 - 2x6-12'
20 - 2x4-8'
35 - 1x6 fence boards
10 - 2x4-10' pt
4 - 2x4-8' pt
2 - 4x8 sheets of "privacy plus" lattice
Galvanized 3-1/4" nails
3" Screws
6 - 6" lag bolts with washers
6 hooks
10'x14' shade cloth (80%)
1-1/4" staples for privacy lattice


25 hrs

Probably at least $1000 to $1500

It's really idyllic