I have tried three types of bobbin in my Bluebird vibrating shuttle treadle machine: the original Bebarfald bobbin, a Singer bobbin, and a Frister & Rossmann bobbin.
My Bluebird’s date of manufacture is uncertain, probably somewhere between 1930 and 1950. I think it is a fairly typical bobbin winder with a heart-shaped cam:
It does, however, have a small spike that should hold the bobbin in place by passing through a hole on the head of the bobbin:
The three types of bobbin, with three different heads:
All of the bobbins perform well, once wound and placed in the shuttle. I haven’t noticed any difference in stitch quality.
The Bebarfald Bobbin
This is the one and only bobbin that came with the machine when I bought it. It looks reasonably old, and I am assuming it is an original bobbin that came with the machine.It has five holes and a rather flat head at one end, no holes and a small point at the centre at the other end. As you would expect, the end with holes sits nicely on the spike in the bobbin winder. One of the holes can also be used to secure the end of the thread prior to winding. When the winding is done, drop the bobbin into the shuttle pointy end first, holes last. Winding is a smooth operation, resulting in a reasonably evenly wound bobbin. It is an excellent bobbin for the machine but I have yet to find another. If anyone has some (or even one) or has located a good source, I would love to hear from you!
These are still being manufactured, and are readily available. I bought mine from an excellent Australian supplier of vintage sewing machine parts, Cyndy Kitt Productions. The Singer bobbin lacks a hole for the winder spike, so I had to use blue tack (and my finger) to hold it in place. I seem to lack a consistent knack for this. Occasionally I wound the bobbin evenly and well. More often, I ended up with a mess of blue tack and a tangled mass of thread. Securing the end of the thread prior to winding was also a big problem for me. So I kept shopping for an easier alternative.
Frister & Rossmann
I found these listed in a store on the UK ebay, and they are nearly as easy to wind as the original Bebarfald bobbin. I only have to turn the bobbin around a little until the hole meets the spike in the winder. The same hole, with a little fiddling, can be used to secure the end of the thread prior to winding. Both ends of the bobbin are identical so remembering which way to insert the bobbin can be confusing. In moments of doubt, I look at the Captain’s pictures here.