Bernina 1230 Reverse Button Fix

Reverse Button Problem

Reverse Button

The Bernina 1230 is one of the classic sewing machines that helped build Bernina’s great reputation. According to my Bernina Tree poster, the 1230 was first made in 1989. Today, you might find one of these machines on ebay selling for about the same amount that you would have purchased one for in 1989. They’ve really held on to their value, as have most of the 1000 series machines. I’ve been working on Bernina machines for almost 11 years, and have taken apart almost everything there is to take apart on a 1230. Except for the circuit boards, if your 1230 needs to be repaired, you can count on me to fix it in my shop. If your 1230 has circuit board problems, I send the boards to Bernina to have them fixed.

Reverse Button Cap

Reverse Button Cap

Like any sewing machine, there are some common problems with the Bernina 1230. While working on a 1230 today, I came across a problem that I had never seen before. The reverse button of the 1230 had been pulled or popped out of the body of the machine far enough that it looked like the button was going to fall off. I don’t know how this could have happened. Perhaps a garment or a quilt snagged the button when the owner was pulling it out of the arm area. There would have had to have been a significant force pulling on the reverse button to get it to pop out, because when I fixed this issue, the parts that make up the reverse button were very tightly put together. I enjoy new and challenging repairs, so while not a major issue, I was still going to have some fun to work on today.

Exploded Parts

Exploded Parts

During a standard annual service, I’d normally take out either the head frame of the machine, or the carrier unit (which is the lower half of the machine). Since the reverse button lives in the head frame area, I took out the head frame, and could see the part of the reverse button that touches the circuit board with the reverse switch. So, after taking out the head frame, and that little circuit board, I had access to work on the reverse button.

Reverse Button Close-up

Reverse Button Close-up

The reverse button only consists of three parts; the button body, a cylindrical spring, and a cap. In this case, the cap seemed to have moved backwards on the shaft of the button body, and that’s why it looked like the button was about to fall off. All I had to do to fix the button was to hold the button in, and then push the cap forward.

So if you have a Bernina 1000 series machine like the 1230, and the reverse button looks like it is about to fall off, then you might want to bring it in for repair. You shouldn’t need any parts, and if this is the case, I’ll fix it for free during your annual service.

Posted in

Reader Comments (54)

Jannel on 4/4/11 @ 6:55pm

My 1120 Bernina reverse button will not work and the person who works on Berninas is afraid to pop it off and see what the problem is. Can it be fixed?

b.gottier on 4/5/11 @ 6:43pm

Hi Jannel,

1000-Series machines, like your 1120, are my specialty. I can fix your reverse button, but you would have to send the machine to me. If I'm not in your neighborhood, you might try looking for another sewing machine repair person in a nearby city or county.

Carolyn Whitley on 6/16/12 @ 2:23pm

I have paid twice to have my 1230 repaired. The problem were that the reverse was not working and the stitch length was also not working. The machine is exactly as I took it in. One additional repairman said that Bernina 1230's seem to have a sensor that stops working on the reverse. What do you think I should do next?

b.gottier on 6/18/12 @ 4:21pm

Carolyn, without servicing your machine, it's hard to say exactly what is wrong. I'm working on a 1230 right now that has a stitch length crank block that is seizing due to lack of lubrication, but the problem could also be that the feed dogs aren't adjusted correctly, or there may even be a problem with one of the circuit boards. I think you need to send your machine to me or somebody else that specializes in the older Bernina machines. You could even have your local dealer send the machine to Bernina for a service.

Jan on 5/15/13 @ 11:41pm

My reverse button does not work on my Bernina 1230. My husband is a fix anything man. What would he do to fix it?

b.gottier on 5/16/13 @ 11:59am

Jan, it could be that he needs to replace the electronic part of the reverse button, but this comes as an assembly with the buttonholer sensor, and isn't something that I could recommend he try doing. A significant amount of the machine needs to be disassembled, and there are service related functions that need to be performed by a qualified sewing machine repair person. I think you will need to bring the machine to your local Bernina dealer.

Bobbie on 7/28/13 @ 8:28am

I have just inherited my mother's Bernina 1230. I do a LOT of quilting and am wondering (she doesn't seem to have the books) if there is a way to move the needle over so that I can sew an exact 1/4 seam. My Singer Quantam will move the needle in either direction so I can sew exactly the width seam I need. Also, is there a button to push for auto cutting of the thread or do you have to take the material out and cut it each time? It saves a lot of thread if the machine will cut the threads when you are stopping and starting a lot.

b.gottier on 8/6/13 @ 12:37pm

Yes, there is a needle position adjustment. It may not give you an exact quarter inch seam, which is why it is better to have the Bernina foot #37.

Peggy Brooks on 8/12/13 @ 7:13pm

I have a similar problem with my 1230...When I use the reverse it will only sew in reverse until I lift up my presser foot & drop it back down & then it will sew forward...but then if I need to use other stitches on my machine it will NOT let me change anything ....nothing ...I cant even move the needle position.... HELP !!!! I dearly love my machine...I have taken it 2 times to a dealer & the technician said there is nothing wrong with your machine....When I get it home...the same thing over again....I am sick..machine is surely sick !!!!!

b.gottier on 8/29/13 @ 10:40am

Peggy, you'll need to bring your machine to your local dealer. If they don't have somebody that is capable of fixing the machine, tell them you want to ship it back to Bernina.

Jason M on 8/30/13 @ 10:50am

Hi I have been told that Bernina can no longer repair boards for these machines as the only person at bernina who can repair does at Xmas . Is this true?(I have my eye on an 1130 on eBay)


b.gottier on 8/30/13 @ 3:29pm

We haven't been a Bernina dealer since ~ February of this year. As far as I know Bernina can still repair 1130 circuit boards. You probably have somebody trying to persuade you to purchase a different sewing machine, am I right? Call Bernina if you want to know: (800) 877-0477

KW on 9/22/13 @ 9:45am

Recently purchased a Bernina 1120 used. It sewed great for the first few times--hemmed some pants, played with some stitches and buttonholes, etc.-- but now the needle bar has stopped moving up and down to stitch. Is this a common problem? I added this machine to my collection because I own a 1090 which is very similar and I love it. Wanted to have a machine to teach my daughter on that was much the same as mine and the 1120 has a couple features my 1090 doesn't.

b.gottier on 9/25/13 @ 9:26am

KW, if the handwheel is not binding, the problem is probably the basting clutch device in the head frame. This is something that Temecula Valley Sewing Center would fix as part of an annual service, which is currently $114.95 for Bernina 1000 series machines. If the handwheel is binding, you've got a bigger problem that may require replacement of either the take-up lever linkage, or perhaps the upper shaft and bushing(s).

David Irwin on 10/26/14 @ 4:24pm

On my Bernina 1230 when I put it in reverse with the button, it does not come out of reverse until I turn the machine totally off. When I turn it back on it will go forward until I push the reverse button again. I have the back off and inspected the button and push length and clearance and it seems ok in making contact and releasing with the Circuit board push button on the small PC board behind the plunger button. I am capable and willing to go deeper but would like some suggestions. The machine was purchased new and occasionally taken in for professional cleaning.

b.gottier on 10/26/14 @ 4:50pm

Based on what you are describing, it seems that the machine has a circuit board problem. What board I don't know, but since the button is mechanically fine, all that's left is the circuit boards. If it's the reverse button's board, then it should be easy to replace. If it's the main board of the machine, then your local Bernina dealer is going to need to send the board to Bernina for repair.

C on 1/8/15 @ 4:23pm

I have a1230 will not do any stitches but straight stitch. I unplugged and re plugged to boot with no luck. Also the needle sticks in the right hand position, Any suggestions?

b.gottier on 1/11/15 @ 10:07am

It sounds like the zig zag motion is frozen, and the head frame needs to be cleaned and lubed. You will for sure need to bring the machine to your local Bernina dealer to have this fixed.

Sai on 8/3/15 @ 2:22pm

Got a question. Will a 1230 circuit board work on a 1130? My regular repair shop said that they could not repair the 1130 board.
Thanks in advance.

b.gottier on 8/6/15 @ 12:25am

A real Bernina dealer should have the option to send the circuit board to Bernina for repair. If your regular repair shop isn't a Bernina dealer, then you'll need to find one that is. If they are a Bernina dealer, ask them to remove the circuit board from the machine and send it to Bernina for repair.

To answer your question, it really depends which board you are talking about. If it is an "S-print", then no. If the board is the "L-print", then possibly. The S-print is the main board, and the L-print is the power board. If the machine won't turn on it's usually the L-print. If the machine is doing funky stuff, then it's usually the S-print.

Back when we were a Bernina dealer, Bernina would charge a flat rate to fix the boards, plus a parts charge. Parts were usually very cheap, and the flat rate at the time was determined by the type of board. As a dealer we charged a circuit board extraction and installation fee, as well as shipping to and from Bernina, then added what Bernina charged us. For an L-print to go round-trip to Bernina for repair, the cost was usually about $130.00. An S-print was usually about $150.00.

Kate on 9/26/15 @ 3:16pm

I have a Bernina 330. When I press the reverse button, it doesn't go in reverse, but keeps going straight and shortens the stitch length.

b.gottier on 9/26/15 @ 8:49pm

Kate, it sounds to me like the 330's balance is out of adjustment. If you can't fix it by turning the balance knob, then you'll have to bring your machine to a sewing machine technician.

Todd on 4/24/16 @ 6:33pm

Enjoy reading about your repairs, and it's nice of you to take time to offer online help to others. I've got a 1230 that had a failed power board. I replaced that, and it works, but the stitch length dial causes the machine to sew in reverse, starting at about the #1 position, AND the button-hole function sews all parts of the button hole, in reverse. The machine also won't stitch letters or numbers. I'm thinking it has a failure in one of the 2 front circuit boards, since it sews most of the basic stitches just fine. Any thoughts?

b.gottier on 4/25/16 @ 7:26pm

If the balance is set correctly, meaning the sliding block on the carrier unit is set correctly, then you might have a bad main board (S-print). The first thing to do would be to take out the carrier unit, make sure it is adjusted correctly, make sure the sliding block is clean and adjust correctly, and then proceed from there. Since the stepping motor that controls stitch length is mounted in such a way that it's gear alignment could be affecting the balance of the machine, you really must pull out the carrier unit. The chances of the actual stepping motor being bad is extremely rare. Honestly, all of your issues point to the sliding block adjustment. You can access the adjustment screw without pulling out the carrier, so you might just try loosening it and moving the block up or down by tiny increments.

Todd on 4/26/16 @ 9:04pm

Thanks for the quick response! Can you tell me where the adjustment screw is located for the carrier block? It makes sense that this would be the problem, because even if stitch length dial was set to zero, and the stepper motor responding correctly...if the mechanical setting of the sliding block wasn't also at zero, that would make the machine still have stitch length in forward or reverse. Is the carrier unit the whole mechanical assembly in the bottom of the machine, which includes the bobbin assembly and feed dog? I've had the back off the machine and the stepper motor for zig-zag out while solving a zig-zag issue, as well as a needle centering issue, and I've had all the circuit boards out, and the front 2 boards separated, but I haven't dug in further than that.

b.gottier on 4/26/16 @ 11:02pm

If you have the back of the machine facing you, and you've removed the screws that hold on the flat plastic plate, then you'll be able to remove the flat plastic plate and see one side of the carrier unit. Located near the top of the carrier unit, right about in the middle, you'll see a metal block that is about 3/4" wide, and it has a black allen head screw in it. You'll loosen that screw, being careful not to move the block to the left or right, and make adjustments by moving the block up or down. A little goes a long way here, so you'll notice a big difference, even if you've just barely moved the block. That's how it's done.

Note, this screw is usually black, and it can be very tight, and it probably needs to be tightened very tightly to hold properly.

Todd on 4/27/16 @ 9:14pm

With a little further inspection, your instructions made complete sense. I actually made the adjustment by tipping the machine face first onto a rolled up bath towel, so that I could still rotate the stitch length dial, and run the machine. I left the back and side panels on, and just removed that short bottom panel (2 screws hidden behind plastic caps, and the metal pin that unscrews, that acts as a pin/rest for the extension table). With that panel off, I could watch the fork that moves the feed dog, rocking back and forth. Located the carrier block, loosened the 2.5mm allen screw, and then with the machine running, and the stitch length dial set to "0" I adjusted the carrier block until the fork no longer pulsed back and forth at all. Resting a finger on the fork helped me find that "zero" position where no mechanical action was being transmitted to the fork. The machine now stitches all it's special patterns, including letters.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and skillset!! Couldn't have done this without your help!

GBandIB on 6/25/16 @ 2:11am

Read through some great advice, hopefully you can help?! We have a Bernina 1230, hand-me-down (grateful:) which had a thred-jam (not sure what happened as my bride was driving the machine at the time. Apologies for terms used, I'm not sure of the exact names for all the bits). After the jam, the needle was hitting the bobbin housing on it's way down, so took the bobbin holder out (unscrewed the slot screw) and moved it back 1x tooth on it's axel to stop the needle from hitting the housing. This seems to have fixed the mechanical issue, but now it seems to run in reverse?! I drew this conclusion because the wheel on the side (that can be turned by hand) runs counter clockwise, so when the needle goes down into the bobbin, the yarn does not catch, but when I turn the wheel clockwise by hand, the machine seems to make a perfect stitch. When pressing the foot pedal it runs counter clockwise, so it does not sew... Everything seems to be working just fine... just in reverse! .. please confirm that I have not lost my mables and give any insight on how I might fix this issue, my bride needs to deliver school play costumes on time.

b.gottier on 6/25/16 @ 9:25am

I've worked on a lot of 1230s over the years, and without having the machine in front of me, I can only tell you what my thoughts are based on your comments. First, changing the position of the hook driver is most certainly the wrong thing to do. When you pulled it out and put it back in 1 tooth to the left (or right) you were changing the hook timing of the machine. A better place to make such an adjustment is through the back of the machine, at the clamp that holds that rack in place. You might very well have your timing off somewhere else too, but it's impossible for me to describe how to make that adjustment.

If the machine is sewing in reverse, and you're sure that the reverse button isn't stuck in, then you may have a number of things wrong, and none are easily fixed by you. Things I would check:

1) The zig zag step motor being stuck or sticking.
2) The reverse button circuit board being defective
3) The main (S-print) board being defective
4) Carrier unit springs are all in place

I think you ought to take your machine to a Bernina dealer and let them check it out. We are no longer a Bernina dealer, and because of that, it's not likely that we could fix this machine even if you were local. I hope you can get it fixed!

gbandib on 6/28/16 @ 10:16pm

Hi b.gottier.. thank you so much for the fast response. Based on the suggestions, tried to pull apart what might fix the problem but decided to put things back the way they were when the machine was not working and get professional help.
Thanks again for taking the time.

Koge on 7/14/16 @ 10:18pm

1230 machine seems to have a power serge issue. Example making a buttonhole #14 stitch then machine acts as though there was an electrical power serge, but it is the machine not electrical, changes the stitch to stitch #1. I've had it serviced but he too is no longer a dealer. I will locate a dealer repairman but am wondering your thought on what might be wrong. The machine works great and I love it so I do want to fix.

b.gottier on 7/15/16 @ 12:51pm

I'd guess your power board (L-Print) has a problem. This is something that requires your Bernina dealer to send the board (or complete machine) to Bernina. Dealers are not trained to service circuit boards, so that's really your only option. I know shipping can be expensive, but your best option is to have the dealer send the entire machine.

Koge on 7/15/16 @ 8:35pm

Thank you for your advice. I appreciate your suggestion.

Claire bonomo on 7/22/16 @ 9:54am

Was told mother board on my 1130 was shot. They said couldn't replace because Bernina isn't making 1130 mother boards. Put in one they took out of a 1130 that was turned in for new machine. Now that isn't working after 7 months... machine wants to run backwards. After it warms up it will run, but none of the other functions work. Reverse button seems to be hanging out. Should I call it quits and go for new machine??? Or is there hope for repair ?

b.gottier on 7/22/16 @ 11:39pm

I would have had them send the motherboard back to Bernina for repair. We haven't been a Bernina dealer for a while now, but back when we were Bernina had a guy named Tom that was their circuit board guy. He charged a flat rate + parts, and it wasn't expensive. You also always had the option of sending the entire machine to Bernina, although that was more expensive.

It's true, Bernina hasn't made circuit boards for the older machines for a while, but that never mattered as they could be fixed.

Theresa on 7/25/16 @ 4:44pm

Can you give me any advice for this problem. I've talked to two Bernina dealers and they don't know what to do. My 1230 needle is stuck in the first zig-zag position. One dealer told me to force it to the straight stitch position with the machine turned off. I did that (the needle moved easily), but when I turned the machine on it went back to zigzag. Thanks for any help you can give me. I love this Bernina and don't want to get rid of it.

b.gottier on 7/27/16 @ 7:59am

If your needle bar is free to move left and right when the machine is off, and then goes back to one side whenever you turn the machine on, I'd first check to see if the 1230 has some sort of feature that allows modifications to your stitches to be saved in memory. If there is no such feature, I'd suspect that you have a circuit board problem or it could be a stepping motor problem. Did you know that Bernina dealers can always offer to ship your sewing machine to Bernina for repair? You are not allowed to do this yourself, but the dealer can. So if they aren't able to diagnose the problem, let the people who made the machine do it!

If this machine came into my shop, I'd suspect a circuit board problem with what Bernina calls the S-print (main board). Back when we were a Bernina dealer, we would just send the circuit board to Bernina and have them check it. This is a lot cheaper (primarily due to shipping costs) than sending the entire machine.

I've been working on sewing machines since 1999, and it's extremely rare that a stepping motor is defective, so I almost never expect that to be the problem.

Cathy McFarland on 8/25/16 @ 5:33am

You sound like a really good repair guy. I have & love a bernina 1230 which I use to take to class. And a 770 qe @home. Too bad I live in Louisiana. I was told bernina no longer made parts for the 1230. I am missing the wire thread guide that fits on the front of the machine just before it goes down to the final needle guide. Do you know where I could find one?

b.gottier on 8/25/16 @ 8:03am

Sounds like you are looking for a check spring. I can't believe that Bernina wouldn't have these check springs. I'd try a different Bernina dealer. We're not a Bernina dealer anymore, or I'd call them and ask.

Frances on 12/16/16 @ 5:45am

The needle on my Bernina 1130 stopped moving up and down when I pressed the baste button. I seldom baste. Everything else moves fine when running the machine just no needle movement.

b.gottier on 12/21/16 @ 9:26am

Your baster is frozen and you will need to bring your machine to a qualified sewing machine technician to have it fixed.

Toni Stolich on 1/22/17 @ 11:05am

I am considering buying a bernina 1230 but the reverse stitch nor the zig zag stitch works. Can you give me a ball park figure on what it might cost to repair?

b.gottier on 1/28/17 @ 8:12am

It sounds like you will have to have your Bernina dealer send the S-print (main circuit board) back to Bernina for repair. When we were a Bernina dealer this probably would have cost you about $200 total, but prices may have gone up.

Joe Donio on 2/6/17 @ 1:54pm

My bernina 1230 is misbehaving. When on a zig-zag stitch the needle will only move from center to left and not from center to right. regardless of the stitch length.This happens with any stitch selection requiring movement from center to right. Reverse using the touch pad will engage reverse stitch but I need to turn off the machine to disengage. The one time reverse button does not work. Lastly when testing different stitch patterns I need to power down the machine in order to change to another stitch. Just pressing a different stitch tab doesn't disengage the stitch. Thank you in advance for your help

b.gottier on 2/6/17 @ 11:16pm

It sounds like your main circuit board, the "S-print", is going to need a trip to Bernina. Your Bernina dealer will need to extract the board and send it in.

Joe Donio on 2/7/17 @ 4:16am

Thank you so much. I have read through all of the questions that have been posted to your blog. I find them very informative and I think it is great that you are so willing to help others with their problems. I have removed the main mother board several times and tried to examine it visually for obvious defective or burnt out circuits. No luck. I have located a replacement board on line for under $100. The seller claims it was from a working Bernina 1230 with another issue. The seller is from Japan and I thought it would be worth a try since my local dealer without examining the machine said replacing the board would cost $600 plus cost of shipping from Bernina. Again Thank you.

Ann Beachy on 5/20/17 @ 2:53pm

I just bought a used bernina 1080 and the reverse doesn't work. Any advice?

b.gottier on 5/22/17 @ 5:40pm

Since on a user level there is virtually nothing you can do to fix the problem, I recommend taking it to a qualified sewing machine technician.

Bob Cloherty on 6/10/18 @ 10:24pm

My wife has an older Bernina 1260 machine that she adores. Unfortunately it has developed a fault. She does a lot of patchwork piecing and when she finishes a seam she finishes off with a few reverse stitches. When she attempted this last week the feed stopped and the needle went up & down in the same spot. When she released the reverse button and tried to sew normally the machine made long gathering stitches and the only way she could make it stitch normally was to turn off the power for several seconds. The machine then sews normally until she needs to do a reverse stitch. We took the machine to the local dealer here in Hervey Bay and he told her the problem would be a siezed stepper motor and he said they were no longer available. He implied it could not be repaired. My wife is terribly upset so I want to do all I can to get her machine fixed. Is there any way I could repair this fault?

b.gottier on 7/15/18 @ 9:08am

Bob, I know it has been a while since you posted this, but I'm just today getting around to answering questions. It's highly unlikely that your 1260 has a bad stepping motor. In the 18+ years that I've been working on sewing machines, I think I've had only one that was bad. On your 1260, it's way more likely that the carrier unit just needs to be taken out and cleaned. We do this with every annual service. The cost of our annual service for 1260s is currently $124.95.

Nan Shetterly on 12/2/18 @ 1:55pm

I have a 1230 - absolutely love it. The on/off switch does not work - machine stays in on mode. I just unplug to turn off. However, don't like to use - not knowing if this could damage machine in other ways. Also, the needle position button does not seem to respond each time - rather intermittent. I will take the machine to a dealer - but thought I would check with you as you seem to be so knowledgable of this old machine. I simply cannot part with it.

b.gottier on 12/5/18 @ 8:36am

Nan, it's hard to say what's wrong with this machine without hooking it up to testing equipment. The on/off problem may be that your rear cover is cracked and not properly touching the power board. The needle position button most likely requires that your main board be sent to Bernina for repair.

Jane Cruis on 4/29/19 @ 4:20pm

I have a Bernina 1230. I'm trying to gather with two cords as per manual. It says to use gathering stitch, but there isn't a stich like the one in the manual on my machine. Please advise.

RozaMuchesy on 7/27/19 @ 1:41am

Great post!

Leave a comment