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My embroidery machine wont turn!


Main Motor Lock. or Main Shaft Error. or My embroidery machine wont turn. My machine does not stop at 100!

This is a very common error that you may get with an embroidery machine is when the main shaft does not rotate. follow the steps to diagnose and remedy this error.

One very common error that you may get with a embroidery machine is when the main shaft does not rotate. You will get any number of error codes and phrases such as Main Motor Lock, Main Shaft Error, Sewing Motor Lock, and Z-axis not work.

This error is common in most embroidery machines including Avance', Barudan, Butterfly, Dublin, Feiya, Happy, Highland, Melco, Mesa, Meistergram, Pantograms, Pro Capsule, Ricoma, SWF, Tajima, Toyota, and ZSK.

 The base problem you have when you get this error is the main motor or sewing motor is not turning as it should. This could be the motor going out however it is very rare that the motors fail on these machines. The vast majority of the time the issue will be a broken needle jammed in the Rotary Hook. So this is how I diagnose the issue.

Tajima Error codes

error 211 - A fixed position signal is not detected. (Main shaft Z signal) - Return the main shaft to the fixed position. Check the encoder signal

error 311 - *Encoder A signal status does not change for 5 seconds, *Motor or belt failure - *Check the main shaft driver for excitation *Check encoder and encoder signal lines,




Read the article below and follow the steps to diagnose and remedy Main Motor Lock or Main Shaft Error








Is this a physical error, hardware breakdown, or a software issue?

The first thing you should do is check the machine to see if it will turn past 360 degrees.

Turn off the machine.

Depending on your machine use the handle, knob, Allen wrench, etc. to see if your machine can turn all the way around. Watch the rotary hook and look for the following things:

  • is the rotary hook rotating all the way around? The rotary hook rotates twice every time the needle comes down once.
  • is everything moving smoothly? You are looking for resistance.
  • If the machine is off and the turns easily then you probably do not a physical error.





What may cause a sewing motor lock? Here are the most common list of components:

  • lubrication
  • rotary hook
  • broken needle
  • birds nest
  • thread wrapped around the axis
  • take up lever driver
  • loose screw or part
  • encoder
  • "0" position sensor
  • motor driver
  • motor
  • power supply
  • worn bushings
  • defective bearings




If you do have resistance:

  • Look for a wad of thread (Birds Nest) at the top of the rotary hook under the needle plate that my be keeping it from turning.
  • Look inside the rotary hook for pieces of broken needles, thread, or other debris that may be wedged int he rotary hook.
  • check behind the rotary hook for thread building up. Sometimes thread gets wrapped around the main shaft behind the rotary hook and can cause problems.
  • Polyester thread and Rayon thread are basically plastic. if it gets hot it will melt and can jam your machine.

 Here is a video I made about clearing the rotary hook.



Piece of needle stuck in the rotary hook.

  • Look inside the rotary hook for pieces of broken needles, thread, or other debris that may be wedged int he rotary hook.
  • Remove the Rotary Hook Support (pictured to the right and below Item #18). See if you can turn the machine. Some brands of embroidery machines call them fingers or holders. There purpose is to hold the center of the rotary hook still when the outside of the hook rotates. If the machine rotates after removing the support you most probably have a piece of needle stuck in the rotary hook.






Takeup Lever Drive Lever Malfunction


Another common reason for a Main Motor Lock or Main Shaft Error, or My embroidery machine wont turn! is the drive lever malfunction.

  •  Are all your takeup levers lined up. The picture to the right shows takeup levers. When the machine is at its  starting point the take up levers should be lined up.
  • If one of your take up levers is up by just a few milimeters this could jam up the machine.
  • The most common cause for this error is the Takeup Lever Drive Lever (pictured below right as part #33) being damaged or out of adjustment.




Worn bearing or bushings.

Sometimes your machine may stall because the bushings are worn and sieze. Here is some information on bearings an bushings

What is a bearing and what is a bushing?

Bushings, also called sleeve bearings, slide over smooth rods and provide an extremely low friction motion which minimizes power consumption, noise, and wear on parts. Bushings look like plain metal tubes


Product Spotlight: Aluminum Bronze Toggle Bushings - National Bronze ...



Rolling (Ball) Bearings

A bearing is a mechanical component that usually possesses a rolling or sliding component that further reduces the friction between the moving shaft and the stationary hole or reference point. The most common and easily identifiable type of bearing is probably the ball or roller bearing.

 Many commercial single-head embroidery machines are copied from the Toyota and Tajima models including Avance', Butterfly, Dublin, Highland, Mesa, Meistergram, Pantograms, Pro Capsule, Prodigi, Ricoma, and many others. This was a remarkably successful design and proved to be economical and very sturdy.

 Most of these machines probably have bushings on the upper and lower shafts which are sleeves made from bronze or some other soft metal. When oil dries it sometimes hardens and or becomes sticky. This can cause the shafts that pass through the bushings to create friction and can cause the main motor to stall.


ZrO2 zirconia ceramic radial ball bearings - Bearing Tips










The procedure below helps free the bushings if you are getting a main motor lock. This may not be exactly the same for all machines but should give you an idea of how to free bushings if this is the issue.


You will need to use some type of penetrating oil to free up the bearing/bushing.

Grease in a can


Remove these 2 screws and this cover to gain access to the Bushing Top Oiling Spot.

Cover to remove for upper bushing oiling spot

   Oil the points shown in the three photos below. You may want to turn off the Thread Break Sensor and run the machine for several minutes as you drip oil into the holes and on the bearings/bushings.
Bushing top oiling spot upper shaft bearing Thrust Bearing
    Complete the procedure by oiling the remaining oiling points on your machine.





Videos and PDFs from other sites: