Singer 206, 306, 319, 320 Alternative Bobbin Case Available

See previous related article:

Further information regarding bobbin case modification of Singer 206, 306, 319 and 320 swing needle machines to allow the use of standard needles. Please note that this article is rather long and possibly boring, unless you own or use one of these machines.

No need to be MacGyver!  An alternative bobbin case is available that doesn’t require modification.

I recently posted about modifying the bobbin cases for these machines to allow the use of ‘standard’ needles.  There has recently been some discussion on the ISMACS forum regarding factors that cause the stitch length regulator on various machines to move while sewing.  Since I had observed this during tests with my swing needle machines while experimenting with standard needles, I raised it on ISMACS.  This resulted in some further information being shared.

The short and long of it is that an alternative bobbin case can be used in these machines, which doesn’t require any modifications to allow the use of standard needles.

Below is the gist of that exchange with additional information that was kindly provided.

Edited extract from ISMACS Digest of 3 October 2014

In reference to the 206/306 bobbin case and enlarging the 
opening there is no need to do that. The 206/306 and some 319's use a 
common Industrial bobbin case and bobbins. There are plenty on the 
market that have a larger front well. Some Riccars that use this bobbin 
case style have a large squared opening instead of the rounded opening. I 
use a bobbin case from a Riccar 806 in my Singer 306 and it provides 
plenty of clearance on each side for the full swing of the needle. No need 
to alter a bobbin case when there are so many out there and they are very 
reasonably priced. The main problem with using the 15x1 needle in these 
machines is often the tip of the needle has not completely exited the 
fabric before the feed dogs start to move the fabric or the needle tip has 
just started to enter the fabric and the feed dogs are still just slightly 
moving the fabric.

My email to the author of the above:

Hello and thank you for your contribution on the ISMACS forum regarding 
> this matter.
> I have produced an article on my blog, outlining the modification that I 
> made to my machines and I would appreciate your permission to append 
> your comments to that article. Also, if you would like to be credited 
> with that information, could you please let me know to whom credit 
> should be given?
> I imagine that many readers would much prefer to purchase an alternative 
> bobbin case, rather than mess around with modifying an existing one. In 
> my case, the actual modification of each bobbin case took approximately 
> five minutes and it was extremely simple. Given that I had a suitable 
> grinder and that its such a simple modification, it was a no brainer for 
> me. But I enjoy tinkering.
> With regard to the comments about the longer needles entering the fabric 
> too soon or remaining too late and interfering with the operation of the 
> feed dogs, I can only say that I haven't observed that problem with my 
> own machines(two 306's and a 320). I did try sewing eight layers of 
> heavy denim at once. That was attempted to test the theory of the 
> longer needles causing that problem. In my case, the stitch length 
> lever moved slightly off the maximum stitch length but I assumed it was 
> caused by the excessive thickness of the material under the presser foot 
> interfering with the free movement of the feed dogs. There was no 
> indication of the needle being deflected and the stitch quality was 
> unaffected. I use my machines quite a lot (although I'd never normally 
> try to sew such thick stack of fabric). I haven't observed any problems 
> when using the longer needles and I am wondering if you have had a 
> different experience?
> Anyhow, thank you very much for the info you posted on ISMACS. With your 
> consent, I'd like to include it on my blog.

And finally, the response which was provided by ‘V.J.’ for which I am most grateful:

“Hi Andrew, You can use the information I supplied and no need to credit me for it, I actually learned it from someone else, As far as the needles deflecting because they have not fully exited the fabric before the feed dogs have not fully stopped moving or have started moving before the needle is fully up I have never experienced that either but I have heard others speak of it and I do have several 206/306/319 needle plates that show evidence of needle strike at the back side of the needle slot but that can also be attributed to the users pulling the fabric thru thus causing the needle strike.”

There seems little impediment to users who would like to try standard needles in the relevant machines.  Just go on an Ebay hunt for the alternative bobbin case.

This issue for me, highlights the best and the worst of internet sharing.  The knowledge regarding the alternative bobbin case is likely to be ‘gold’ for anyone who would like to extend the use of their early swing needle Singer.  The matter of the needle strike on the other hand, raises some doubts in my mind.  Both VJ and I seem to have extensive use of these machines.  Both of us has heard about the ‘problem’ of the longer needles causing needle strike.  Neither of us has actually observed it for ourselves.  I’ve even conducted experiments to help me to understand the issue.  While I’m not stating categorically that the information is invalid, it does raise a very real doubt in my mind.  Much of what we read on the internet is heresay and forums are awash with ‘experts’, all keen to share their wisdom and show off their knowledge.  I’d suggest that unless it is first hand knowledge and experience that is being shared (and clearly stated as such) you should, at the very least, regard it with an open mind.

The trouble with heresay is that fact becomes confused with ‘fact’ …. a situation in which the world can be flat and you really can sail off the edge!  I wonder how many owners of these wonderful machines might be put off from making these simple modifictions and extending the scope of their use, because they too have heard about the problem of needle strike and, like a flat earth, it seems to make sense.  I’d be very keen to hear from other owners of these machines who have firsthand experience of needle strike issues.  Just like VJ, at least one of my machines shows evidence of needle strike on the needle plate.  But, as suggested by VJ, I suspect that its a result of users pulling on fabric, instead of allowing it to feed through the machine normally.  Being swing needle machines, perhaps they are less forgiving than straight stitchers.  If you can shed further light on the issue, please email me and I’ll append any relevant information to this post.

I hope this article will be of help to other owners of these machines.  They really do occupy a unique and special niche in the Singer lineup, in my opinion.

Andrew Caddle 2014-10-05



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7 thoughts on “Singer 206, 306, 319, 320 Alternative Bobbin Case Available

  1. Pingback: Singer 306K/320K Using standard needles - With Pictures -

  2. Thank you very much for the information on bobbin cases. I replaced my dead fancy computerised sewing machine with a 306K late last year and it came with a pack of 15×1 needles and an old style bobbin case. I’ve ordered a new case so I can use all the stitch cams.

    Is it safe to stitch straight stitch with the 15×1 needles and the old bobbin case while I wait for the new one to arrive? Luckily the seller is pretty local so I won’t have to wait for long.

    • Hello Sarah and thanks for your question. Unfortunately, I don’t have an original Singer 306K bobbin case on hand. According to the parts list that I checked, it is Simanco Part # 173054. You can easily answer your own question though. Leave your machine unplugged and instal a 15X1 needle, making sure that it’s installed correctly in the needle bar and pushed all the way home. Make sure that the machine is set for straight stitch only. Leave your bobbin case installed but don’t have the machine threaded. Tilt the machine back on its hinges and observe the bobbin case while your turn the balance wheel by hand. You will see the needle descend in front of the bobbin case. Observe the clearance when the needle reaches its lowest point. If you have a reasonable clearance between the needle tip and the metal of the bobbin case (say 1.5 mm), you will have no trouble whatever using straight stitch with the standard needles.

      I’m sorry I can’t give you a definite yes or no but I did drag out one of my 306K’s and the only bobbin case I could find that looked like it might be like the original was a #52237. That case is listed as fitting the 306K and you can check the number on your own bobbin case to see if it is the same. If so, you can definitely use your standard needles if you only straight stitch. That particular bobbin case had a good 2 mm of clearance when the needle reached its lowest point.

      If you have the original 173054 case, you will need to perform the little test that I’ve outlined and I’d be grateful to know the result.

      I really do admire those early swing needle Singers and if looked after, yours should serve you very well indeed. If I can help you out with your machine in any way at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      With kind regards,

      Andrew Caddle

  3. My bobbin the original is the number above and used my dremel on the bobbin as it had needle strike marks on bobbin case so it’s all good now should have taken different angle pics before and after, never mind here is the pic prior to grinding that strike area down

  4. hi there!
    Thank you so much for this fabulous research. May I ask which exact manufacturer model #s of bobbin case you have found to work with the Singer 206/306/319? A search for cases for the Riccar model 806, the only one mentioned here, turns up a few different types. Thank you!

    • Hello Ellen. I’m afraid I can’t be of much help regarding brand names and specific manufacturers. The bobbin cases that I’ve purchased from the one Ebay supplier that I know of, don’t have a brand name or manufacturer’s stamp. I assume that they are of Chinese manufacture but I am only guessing. I do know that they work flawlessly.

      Likewise, the reference to using a Riccar bobbin case is very much ‘second hand’ and I have no personal experience with those.

      Given the ready availability of alternative bobbin cases here in Australia and the ease with which an existing bobbin case can be modified to work with standard needles, I’ve never felt the need to explore the Riccar bobbin case issue.

      Pretty much all of the information that I am able to provide is already covered in the articles on my blog and in the comments attached to those.

      Kind regards,

      Andrew Caddle.

  5. Thank you very much for your very clear and detailed posts about the swing needle conversions. I have a lovely 306k that has been waiting too long for the change (and a stitch length regulator lever)! I have linked both of your posts to my blog, so when I finally do it, I’ll know where to find direction. I don’t have many readers, but it’s possible the links to you might help someone else out.

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