The bad news is, nothing is helping & it's still having more or less the same problem. I stripped it down as much as I dared without causing more damage, and got everything as clean as I could. Slowly, I started adding pieces back in & tested it at each step of the way to see if I could figure out where things were going wrong. One nice thing about having a computerized machine (I have a Brother CS-6000i) is it's got a button to automatically move the needle completely up or down, so I was able to just hit that & watch & listen to everything. Not until I actually got thread back in it, and started sewing did I start hearing the noises again. So I pulled the cover off the bobbin to see if I could tell where things were getting snagged up (it's still having tension issues), and I was able to see where the thread it catching with the tension turned down. I guess that's good news, except I don't think there's anything I can do to fix it myself.
The good news is that I found out the local quilt shop in my town is a Brother dealer & services them! So I can just drop it off with them & hopefully it'll come back good as new.
Unfortunately, there's more bad news - when I called the shop, the woman said it usually takes two weeks to get the machine back. Two weeks without my machine?! Not cool.
Now I don't know what to do. I know it needs to be serviced, there's no question about that, the question is when. Do I take it in right away so I can get it back as soon as possible? Or do I deal with it for now, and drop it off when we go out of town in a couple weeks? I obviously wouldn't be able to use it while we're gone anyways, but I know it's probably not going to be good on it to use it in the meantime. Decisions, decisions. But at least I know I can get it fixed!
Until next time...