Friday, August 01, 2014

Kenmore 1400

A few days ago, a friend gifted (cursed?) me with a Kenmore 158.14000.  Her daughter had bought it at a yard sale for the cabinet and did not want the sewing head.

The preliminary inspection told me that the machine had been stored in a high humidity area

 but in spite of the rust on the foot control, there was relatively little rust inside the machine itself.

My guess is that the machine was stored in a basement or garage, the cabinet held the sewing head suspended while the foot control sat for a considerable time on the concrete floor.

The next thing I discovered was the lack of a thumbscrew needle clamp. You have to use a screwdriver to change the needle.

Presser feet are also not held on via a thumbscrew, there is a little lever on the rear of the presser bar that loosens and tightens a screw to hold the presser feet.

This means that most presser feet do not fit but a general purpose foot came with the machine and I did manage to scrounge up two other feet that work.

One feature I find really neat is this little insert that sits in a groove in the needle plate.  You turn it one way for zig zag sewing, then turn it around the opposite way for straight stitching.

Saves having to remove the screws and change out the needle plate.

When I first tried to sew, straight stitch was perfect but zig zag would only make a stitch on one side. The most common cause of this problem is incorrect needlebar height.  At some time, the sewist hit a button or zipper and drove the needlebar up so that now, the needle is too high for the hook to catch the thread.  Needlebar height is easy enough to adjust, just loosen the clamping bolt on the collar, slide the needlebar to the correct position and tighten the bolt back down.

In order to see the hook point passing the needle eye, I need to remove the feed dog and I didn't have the proper tools with me so I just loosened the needle and dropped it down about 1/8 inch.  The result is the same as lowering the needlebar and zig zag works properly.  Now that I have verified that needlebar height is the issue, I will remove the feed dog and adjust the needlebar so that when the the hook passes the needle, the point of the hook is just above the top of the needle's eye at all stitch widths.

This model has a good selection of decorative and utility stitches but up to now, I have been unable to use them.

At first, I thought it might be operator error and visited the Sears website to download an operator manual.  When I enter the model number of this 1400, the site returns a manual for a model 14 - a completely different machine.  I did find a manual for a 1430, which is close, but not identical. Turned out that it wasn't operator error after all, there is one lever inside the vertical pillar that locks the cam follower in place when a stitch is selected. The cam follower position nearest the operator (where it is in the photo) is zig zag.

 That lever is sticking so that when a decorative stitch is selected, the sticking lever allows the cam follower to move away from the operator, but does not allow the cam follower to return in the opposite direction.  To move the cam follower back to zig zag, I have to remove the lid and push the lever into position with a screwdriver.  I have used sewing machine oil and Liquid Wrench so far but neither had much effect.  I am contemplating installing a spring on the lever to "help" it into its proper position.  Until I figure out a remedy, the machne is permanently in zig zag.  Stitch width '0' gives me a straight stitch and that and zig zag is all I really need for the sewing I do.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Store

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Singer Rocketeer Auxiliary Spool Pin

Singer Rocketeer Auxiliary Spool Pin

I haven't blogged lately, I have been busy turning this

into this

I delivered it yesterday afternoon and today, Kathie is at the Hershey Quilt Show, so I have some free time to utilize any way I want.

The 500 and 503 model Singers have two spring-up spool pins under the hinged top lid and a third tucked away in a recessed compartment beside the spool pins.  These auxiliary spool pins often get misplaced so that the second, third, or fourth owner (us) does not get one with the machine. Pam K asked if replacements were  available, another online store owner told her that the replacements would not allow the lid to close. I looked through all my attachment sets and under all my Rocketeer lids and found only one - at least I have a model.  The replacement spool pins are a good bit larger than the 500/503 spool pin

and will not fit into the recess in the lid

and do not allow the lid to close.

Being the king of work-arounds and make-do, I accepted this challenge and set out to right-size the larger spool pin.

It seemed easy enough, just shave down the diameter until it fit into the recess.  I mounted the spool pin in my drill

and ran it against sandpaper until it was the same diameter as the 500 pin.

Even though the overall diameter was now the same size as the 500 pin, it would not seat all the way down into the recess.  Turns out that the pin itself is tapered and too thick at the base to fit into the hole in the pin storage area.  I had to file down the lower 1/2" of the pin to a slightly smaller diameter to make the pin slide all the way down into the hole.

Even then, the lid would not close all the way.

The part of the pin that fits into the hole in the lid was too long and I had to cut off about 1/8".

That created a new problem, the section of the pin that goes into the top of the lid was now too short to provide adequate support for the spool of thread.  I had to cut off the flange under the spool platform to expose enough pin to seat firmly into the hole.

After only 1 1/2 hours of trial and error, the auxiliary spool pin fits perfectly into the top of the lid,

 it nestles perfectly into the storage area inside the lid

and the lid closes.

I don't think I would do it over again, I would just use a separate thread stand but if you feel you "need" that aux spool pin to make your Rocketeer complete, here's how.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Home Light Running

The other day, I was digging through my parts bins for something to list on Etsy and came across a New Home buttonholer.

 I have never owned a New Home and probably never will so that buttonholer is excess.  The problem was with the configuration of the attaching point. Presser feet and other attachments are not attached to the side of the presser bar, they are attached to the bottom.

I have no machines with that particular configuration and had no way to test the buttonholer before sending it to a buyer.  Karma kicked in and what should walk through my door but a New Home Light Running machine!

A lady bought it at a flea market and left it with me to check it out for her.

I had to use the instruction manual to figure out how to thread it.

The machine is in very good condition, all I had to do was clean and oil EXCEPT the New Home Light Running uses the rubber-pulley-against-the-balance-wheel type of drive, not a belt drive.  The rubber motor pulley was hardened with age and had pieces chipped out of it and flat spots.  The machine sounded like the neighbor's Harley.  Miraculously, replacement pulleys are still available and cheap!

 I was able to put the machine into smooth-running, quiet operation in no time after receiving the new pulley.

The best part was that now, I have a way to test that buttonholer!

The problem is going to be needles, this machine uses a CC1221 needle considerably shorter than the standard 15x1 and that needle is no longer available.  Internet research told me that 206x13 needles can be substituted but the eye is in a different position.  I installed a 206x13 and had no problem with the sewing.  Further internet research tells me that a better substitute can be obtained by grinding down the shank of a 15x1 needle to make it the same length as the CC1221 needles specified for the New Home.  If the owner experiences any problems with the 206x13, I will grind down a few 15x1's for her.

Back to the buttonholer.  Before returning the NHLR to its owner, I attached the buttonholer and attempted a buttonhole. Even without the feed dog cover or interfacing, I got an acceptable buttonhole.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Singer Rocketeer Spool Pins

Anyone who has a Singer 500 or 503, aka "Rocketeer" knows of the unique spool pin arrangement.  There are no spool pins on the outside of the machine, you lift the top lid and two spool pins pop up ready for thread.

I hate this arrangement, I don't like sewing with the lid up and the pins are often slanted so the thread doesn't unwind properly.  The alternative is to plug a plastic spool pin into the hole in the lid.

When sewing on a Rocketeer, I leave the lid closed and use a thread stand. Actually, I use a thread stand most of the time because I use the large cones of thread instead of the little spools you buy at the fabric store.

We went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania a year ago and one of the fabric shops up there had a large bin of cones for $4 each.  I bought a half dozen and, when we returned this year, and I bought seven more.  I really like not running out of thread in the middle of a project. I just wish they had more neutral and light colors in the bin.

I digress - back to the spool pins. The Rocketeer spool pins are thin plastic with a couple of little pieces sticking out acting as pivot points. Needless to say, they break off often, so I picked up some to stock in the Etsy Old Sewing Machines Shop.

Replacing the pins is not difficult, you remove the upper lid and turn it over; release the spring from the broken pin,

back on the top, remove the one screw from the hold-down plate and lift out the spool pin.  Insert the new pin in the hole, reinstall the hold-down plate, and reattach the spring.

Now, if the spring is missing, stretched out, or broken, you have another problem.  While the spool pins retail for 80 cents apiece, the springs retail for $4.80 each!  This got my creative genes stirring to find a cheaper option. I got out the piano wire left over from my bobbin winder spring episode and wound a spring around a nail.

Unfortunately, the piano wire is considerably thicker than the original spring wire and the spring didn't have enough "spring".  Then, I thought that the spring looks similar to the one in a retractable ballpoint pen.  I disassembled a cheap pen, bent the ends of the spring and installed it.

Works well for now but I'm not sure if it will get stretched out or how long it will last. I will continue to look for a substitute or order some lighter spring wire.

The next problem is the spool felts that help keep the thread unwinding smoothly and prevent the spool from rattling as you sew.  The standard spool pin felts don't work because you need a slot for the pin to fold down into.

 Cutting a slot in a standard spool pin isn't the best option because the spool felt can rotate and the slot won't be where it needs to be when you lower the lid.  My parts supplier doesn't carry the 500 spool pin felts, what I do is buy a sheet of adhesive felt from the craft store, cut out a circle, punch a hole in the center,

cut a slot for the pin to fold into

and adhere the homemade felt to the lid.  Not original looking, but it does the job.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Oops! I Pforgot

It's embarrassing when you have so many sewing machines that you can completely forget a number of them.  After I pulled out the four Pfaffs in my previous post, I remembered that I have a 138 on the bottom shelf, out of sight.

  The 138 is basically a 130 on steroids - same running gear but a longer bed and it uses a 1/4 hp to 3/4 hp industrial motor. This makes essentially three 130s in my stable and makes it a bit easier to decide what to get rid of.
  After remembering the 138, it reminded me that I have two more Pfaff industrials out in the garage.  The 144 is a double-needle industrial machine that I bought knowing it had a broken feed dog.

  I wasn't too concerned until my parts dealer told me a new feed dog would cost $695!  I wasn't about to spend that kind of money on a feed dog, especially when I also have a Singer 112 double needle industrial machine that is complete.  I did buy the closest Singer feed dog with the intent of grinding it down to try to fit it in the Pfaff but it's been so long I don't even remember where that feed dog is hiding.

Then there is the 463.

  This machine sews like a scalded dog but, after all, it is just a straight stitch tailoring machine and I already have a Singer 31-15 and two 96-10s, how many straight stitch tailoring machines does one need?  I am not an advanced sewist and speed means nothing to me except that I can make mistakes faster.

I think this has decided me to part out the 463, the 144, and 130#1 and keep 130#2, the 362, and the 138.  The jury's still out on the 330, It doesn't look like I can cannibalize a 130 hook to use in it, maybe I will make enough parting out the other machines to buy a hook for the 330.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pfaff Pfroblem

  In an effort to thin the herd, I gathered up all my Pfaffs and am trying to make a decision which one(s) to cull out. I have two 130s: the first is older, the paint on the bed is cracked, and it has no light but it sews beautifully.

  I sewed this entire quilt top with that machine and it never skipped a stitch or broke the thread. It was smooth-running and quiet.  It has a 1.3 amp motor.

The second 130 is in top condition, even though I paid only $4.75 for it at a local auction, complete with cabinet, chair, and accessories.

For some reason, the photograph makes the paint look dull but it is as shiny as the day it left the factory.  I haven't sewn on it for a couple of years so I will have to give it a workout before I decide its fate. It has a  light and a 1 amp motor.

Then there's the 330. It has several serious paint scrapes, the stitch length knob is broken, and thread often gets caught under the throat plate. I believe some of the screws on the hook assembly are snagging the thread.

  The 362 is in nice condition cosmetically but the plastic knob on the embroidery unit is cracked and no longer grabs the shaft of the embroidery unit.

That is not a show-stopper because all my sewing is straight stitch and zig zag and I have the Janome 6500 for any possible fancier sewing. I think that one is a keeper.

My first thought was to cannibalize the hook from 130 #1 for the 330 and the motor for 130 #2 and part out 130 #1 but I hate to strip a machine that performs so well. Another thing is that I can't find out whether the 130 and 330 hooks are interchangeable.  I spent about an hour yesterday surfing the internet to find a part number for a 330 hook and came up empty. Apparently, the 330 was not a popular model, there isn't even an instruction manual for it on the Pfaff manual web page.

At this point, the 362 and 130 #2 are keepers but I can't decide between 130 #1 and the 330.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop