Friday, November 14, 2014

Singer 401

I don't have anything Earth-shattering to write about today, I just wanted to remind my loyal followers that I am still around.

On the way home from a week-long out-of-town meeting, I stopped in at a thrift shop about an hour's drive from home.  There on the shelf was a Singer 401 priced at $25.

All the functions seemed to work, the stitch selectors were not stuck, the balance wheel turned freely and there were no noticeable scuffs or paint chips.  It had the carrying case but was missing the foot control/power cord, instruction manual, and accessories.  I can replace all those missing items and was standing in the checkout line with the machine under my arm when I realized I already have three 401s and two 403s, I'm crazy to be picking up yet another 401.  I turned around, put the machine back on the shelf, and left.  No remorse yet, I need the storage space more than I need another 401.

On another subject, slightly off topic, I picked up this scratch remover to pretty up sewing machine beds that often have scratches.

  It does improve the looks but does not bring them back anywhere near new.  I tried some on some scratches on my wife's car and it completely covers light scratches but not those that are down below the clearcoat.

I have been losing weight and last weekend, rummaged through my dresser for a wristwatch with a tighter band.  I found a Pulsar that I picked up in an auction jewelry box purchase but it had lots of fine scratches on the crystal.  Since I had a scratched crystal and a bottle of scratch remover, I figured it couldn't hurt to try the scratch remover on the watch crystal.  It worked beautifully!  That old Pulsar looks almost like new!  Now, I'm looking for other scratched-up items around the house to try it on.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Unknown Accessory

I was cruising the Goodwill auction site today and ran across "8 Pounds of Sewing Machine Accessories".  No one had yet bid and the starting price was $5.00 so I clicked on it to see what was there.

I recognize most of the items but two have me stumped.  Can anyone tell me what this is?

Or this?

The description says that they are mostly Singer and Kenmore accessories and I don't recognize these two items as Singer, so they are possibly Kenmore.  The white plastic composition tells me they are not really old, maybe from the 70's +/-.

It's just to satisfy my curiosity because while the $5.00 price was good, the $20+ shipping drove them out of my price range.  Maybe someone on the West Coast can use them.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Willcox & Gibbs

We went to the weekly auction last night.  I was drawn in by the photo of an electric Willcox & Gibbs machine that appeared to be in good condition.  I keep saying I have too many straight stitchers and I am trying to downsize but, here I go, chasing one more sewing machine.  When we got there, the machine was in as good condition as the auction website indicated.

Decals were almost 100% and the lot included the foot control, manual, and box of accessories.  I had a maximum bid in mind but that lowered when I looked into the vent holes in the end of the motor.  There was lots of carbon or dirt and I could see some bare widings that should have been covered with electrical tape.  I was afraid the motor was toast and there was no way to plug it in to test it.  My mental bid limit didn't factor into the decision because bidding ended at $100 and that was way over my maximum.

There were two more sewing machines, a Singer Spartan (not the 3/4 size black one - the newer green one). It sold for $5 with no accessories or manual or any other go-withs, just the machine.  This is not a photo of the actual machine, just a file photo to remind you what it looked like.

Then there was a Singer 66 in a treadle cabinet. The cabinet was worn and the sewing head had rust and decades of dirt on it but it still brought $55.  Maybe the buyer wants to use the treadle base to make an end table.  I wish I had taken a picture of that one because the decals were some I had never seen before and I can't find any like it on the internet. They weren't Redeye or Lotus, the two I am familiar with.  I thought maybe they were 127 decals that had been applied at a rebuild but that's not what they were, either.  The auction website has changed so I can't download photos of items up for bid and now that machine is gone so I can't research further.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Singer 401/403/404 Tension Adjustment

Today I dug out a Singer 403 that I haven't used in a long time (maybe never).

I'm not sure I ever serviced this machine when I got it because there's some tape residue on the vertical pillar that I would've cleaned off if I had ever cleaned and oiled The machine.

As I was sewing on my project, I noticed suddenly I was getting loops on the underside of the fabric. It had me stumped for a minute until I saw that my upper tension dial was at zero. The tension knob was so loose that just the slightest bump moved it from its desired setting.

As I was getting ready to correct that situation, it occurred to me that maybe some others would like to know how that's done so I got the camera out and took some pictures of the process.

  There are many styles of tension assemblies, this is the one used on the Singer 400 series. Once you get the external knob off, you find that all upper tension assemblies are very similar inside.

Here is a clip from the service manual telling how to disassemble the 401/403 tension assembly.  To merely tighten the knob, you only need to perform these two steps.

After the thumb nut L5 is removed and the split stud is exposed, insert the blade of a flat screwdriver in between the two halves of the split stud Q2 and spread the two halves slightly apart. That will tighten up the thumb nut L5 when you screw it back on.

If you get the stud halves spread too far apart and the thumb nut L5 will not go back on, squeeze the stud halves back together a bit with pliers and try again until you get it where you want it.

 I had previously noticed that the +|- indicator was skewed off to one side so while I had the tension assembly open, I thought I would fix that also.

There is a set screw inside the nose door that holds the entire upper tension assembly in the machine. Loosen that set screw and you can turn the assembly to any position you desire. When you have it where you want it, tighten that setscrew and you're ready to reassemble.

Assembly is the reverse of disassembly.

After the tension assembly is reassembled, you want to adjust the tension so that you have a good balanced stitch with no regard to the numbered dial.

Once you have a good stitch, push in the numbered disc D5 and rotate so that the number 4 appears at the top of the dial at the +|- indicator. Release the numbered disc and make sure the pin C5 is seated in one of the holes in D5 and you're done.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

High Shank Snap-On Feet Test

I got a chance to test drive the high shank snap-on feet this afternoon.  I was pleasantly surprised, Everything fit and worked well.  I used a Necchi Lelia 513 as my test bed because it was the easiest high shank machine to reach.  The installation was simple, I just removed the current foot and screwed on the High Shank Adapter.

Then I attached the general purpose zig zag foot.  The slot in the foot matched the slot in the Necchi needle plate

and the fork on the foot matched the teeth of the feed dog.  So far, so good.

Next, I attached the straight stitch foot.  Same result - the hole in the foot matched the hole in the needle plate and the foot covered the feed dog perfectly.  But, does the needle come down in the center of the hole in the foot?  Yes, it does - perfect.

Then, I attached the zipper foot.  I prefer the old, adjustable zipper feet because I can adjust the position of the foot in relation to the needle but this is the style of zipper foot that comes with new machines, now, so I guess I'll have to adapt.

The item I sewed with the zipper foot was welt to go on a small chair I am recovering.  The shape of the zipper foot did not allow me to sew close enough to the cord to make a smooth welt but moving the needle to the left position did.

Hopefully, it would perform better on a zipper.

I didn't try the remaining feet because I figure I would never use them, anyway but I expect they would perform just a well as the feet I did try.

I will place a few of these sets on my next parts order to see if other folks like them as much as I do.  It sure makes changing presser feet much more pleasurable.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Singer 615U

On my second trip to a new thrift shop in town, I spotted a modern-looking cabinet.

The cut-out in the top told me it was a sewing machine cabinet and it was so modern, I wouldn't have given it a second look, except for the SINGER nameplate on the door.

The machine inside turned out to be a 615U, a 1968 Touch & Sew made in Japan.

The cosmetic condition is exquisite although I am not too crazy about the gaudy blue plastic faceplate.

It had the instruction manual and a unique attachment box. Most of the attachments are still in their original plastic envelopes.

The store owner plugged it in and ran the motor and that's when I noticed that the hook was not rotating.  Anxious to demonstrate my extensive knowledge, I told him it had a broken gear.  Imagine my embarrassment when we opened up the bottom plate and found that this model does not use gears to transmit rotation from the upper section to the lower, it uses a cogged timing belt.  Here is what remains of the belt.

I didn't make any decision that day, I came home and checked the internet to see if a replacement belt is available and it is, so I put one in my cart.  Yesterday, I stopped by to see if anyone had taken the machine for parts and it was still there.  The owner said he would take $15 but I was with Kathie, so I couldn't take it then.  This morning, Kathie was at a sew-in so I went to the store and picked it up.

Except for the belt and the camstack, it is all metal inside.  Everything is clean and rust-free, even though the dropping feed dog and one of the cam selectors are frozen, common ailments on old sewing machines.

The machine is in such nice condition that I would like to get it running but the idea of replacing that timing belt has me nervous.  I have yet to find instructions anywhere in my service manuals or on the internet.  The lower pulley is easy, it is at the end of its shaft

but to get the belt over the upper pulley, the belt has to go over the main shaft.  It would be nice to know if I can remove the rear bushing and slide it in that way or if everything on the main shaft has to be removed or loosened so the shaft can be slid out far enough to insert the belt from the top.  If anyone can provide guidance, please do.

The jury is still out deliberating whether to invest in a belt and try to replace it or just carve the machine up for parts

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Presser Feet

About a week ago, a Necchi owner asked me to order her a set of high shank snap-on presser feet.  
  I ordered a set for her and thought that others might like the convenience of snap-on vs. screw-on presser feet so I ordered another set to try out with the intention of listing the sets on Etsy if they seemed of decent quality. 

While cruising Ebay today, looking to identify an orphan set of Necchi accessories, I ran across a couple folks selling the same set of snap-on presser feet (at $5-$10 above full retail).  In one description, the seller said that some buyers had asked if the feet came with instructions.  They don’t but the seller referred to a book in her shop telling how to use all sorts of presser feet.

That got me curious what the book might be, so I checked out her store and found no such book listed.  Then I Googled “Book how to use sewing machine attachments” and about the 5th line down was a link to the Singer website,  I clicked on it and I was taken to a page that has free, downloadable pdf instructions and video clips for all the major sewing machine feet.

You don't have to own a Singer to find these instructions useful, all sewing machines use basically the same attachments.  Most of the information is contained in the sewing machine instruction manual, but if you are missing your manual, here’s a place to find out how all those shiny doo-dads are supposed to work!


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