Introduction: How to Remove Covers From Pfaff 1214/1213/1222E Sewing Machine

About: Over the hill coffin-dodging retired technical writer.

One of the harder things about sewing machine repairs is removing the covers to get to the insides. The user manuals don't tell you how because they don't want you messing with the innards, while the repair manuals don't tell you how because they assume you already know how.

This instructable is for the 1970s-80s Pfaff 1200 series free-arm sewing machines. It might work on other Pfaff machines; at least it gives you an idea of where they might hide the screws.

I will also tell what parts are hidden behind each cover.


  • Medium to largish straight-bladed screwdriver.
  • Tiny bladed straight screwdriver with a long shaft for the front cover removal
  • Small ziplock bags and masking tape or transparent tape
  • Optional assistant


  • If you spread a towel or fleece blanket on the work surface, small screws are less likely to bounce off the table.
  • As you remove each cover plate, drop the screws into a ziplock bag and tape them to the plate.
  • Use tuna to lure your assistant away from the work area.

Step 1: Removing the Top Cover

This cover has no screws. You have to remove this cover to remove some other covers. They overlap in a specific sequence.

  1. Rotate the spool holder into the sewing position.
  2. Grab the cover from the top between your thumbs and fingers, one hand at each end.
  3. Rotate the cover up and to the rear and it should come off.
  4. Lift the thread holder straight up to remove it.

Attached to the inside of the top cover:

  • The "doughnut" rubber wheel of the bobbin winder.
  • The screw that holds one of the thread guides in place

Parts accessible inside the top cover:

  • The set screws that hold the front cover on
  • The cam wheels that change needle position and do zig-zag stitch
  • The push buttons and cam wheels for the fancy stitches
  • The drive shaft and the mechanisms for the upper stitchmaking

Step 2: Removing the Front Cover

This is the cover you need to remove to change the light bulb. It is held on two pegs, with set screws keeping it on the pegs.

TOOL NEEDED: small-bladed straight screwdriver with a long shaft.

  1. Remove the top cover as explained earlier.
  2. At the left (needle end) there are two holes.
  3. Insert the screwdriver and fiddle around until you have the screwdriver blade in the slot of the set screw.
    "Righty-tighty, Lefty-loosy" ... as if you were looking straight down on the screw's head.
    Turning the screwdriver to your left (counterclockwise) will loosen the set screw.

    CAUTION: Just loosen it, don't unscrew it all the way. If it falls out the bottom you unscrewed it too far.
  5. When the screws are loose, pull the front cover away from the machine.

Attached to the front cover:

  • Nothing

Parts accessible inside the front cover:

  • The light bulb
  • Some of the thread tension control
  • The needle threader height adjustment
  • The presser foot lifting mechanism and adjustments
  • The up/down movement drive shafts

Step 3: Removing the Motor Cover

This is the cover you need to remove to mess with the drive belt tension, the motor and the power inputs.

TOOL NEEDED: straight medium-blade screwdriver

  1. Remove the top cover as explained earlier.
  2. Remove the screw near the bottom center of the cover plate
  3. Pull the bottom of the motor cover slightly down and towards you to clear the hand wheel and remove the cover.

Attached to the motor cover:

  • Nothing

Parts accessible inside the motor cover:

  • Chain drive and tension adjustments
  • The motor
  • Whatever is hiding behind the hand wheel
  • The screws that hold the power input box to the frame.

Step 4: Removing the Bottom Covers

These are the covers you need to remove to replace the light switch push button, and mess with the power supply, the lower stitch mechanisms and the bobbin holder.

TOOL NEEDED: straight medium-blade screwdriver

  1. Remove the top cover and the motor cover as explained earlier.
  2. Remove FIVE (5) screws, the 4 big ones and the smaller one hiding in the hole.
    NOTE: My machine is a free-arm. The bottom of a standard machine may be different.
  3. Remove the screw in the bottom of the free arm.

Attached to the bottom covers:

  • Nothing

Parts accessible inside the bottom covers:

  • The power inputs
    NOTE: One or more of this series has a line of electrical connections outside the power box. Good luck.
    CAUTION: To remove the power input box, do not remove the screw on the bottom of the box. Things will fall out. Remove the two screws inside the motor cover plate (see the previous step) and push the box into the base of the machine.
    If you need access to the inside of the power input box, place the box with the screw facing UP, remove the screw and immediately take some pictures and label the wires. I didn't when I opened it and it took my far too long to put it back together.
  • The light switch push button.
  • Feed dog movers
  • Bobbin and hook movers

Step 5: Putting It Back Together

In reverse order, using the screws you bagged and taped to each cover, reattach the covers:

  1. The freearm cover
  2. The base cover
  3. The motor cover
  4. The front cover, remembering to tighten the set screws
  5. Re-insert the thread holder
  6. Snap the top cover on