Monday, September 22, 2008

Hidden Treasure


A couple of weeks ago, I was cruising Ebay and saw a listing for Necchi accessories. Always on the lookout for new Necchi stuff, I clicked on it and saw the fuzzy photo above. Now, there are Necchis that use cams to form decorative stitches, but I could swear those fuzzy plastic discs in that Necchi box were Elna cams. Knowing that Elna cams sell for around $5 apiece on eBay, and seeing at least four and possibly six in that photo, I took a chance and plunked down the $9.99 plus shipping. When I received the package, it contained not four, or even six, but eleven Elna cams, including the monster below:


Elnas are not popular in my neck of the woods, I have only seen two or three in my entire 20-year-plus of collecting sewing machines, so I had no idea what this cam was for. I searched eBay active and completed listings and cannot find a similar cam, so I assume either they are so hard to come by that they aren't traded very often, or there are so many out there that they are worthless. Needlebar identified it as the #200 Buttonhole Disc, and another forum told me, "The buttonhole cam allows the making of buttonholes without rotating the work piece. The cam is a specialized double cam that provides a zig-zag stitch whose width is controlled by the stitch width lever but where the forward and reverse speeds are preset to provide a nice, tight stitch AND are selected by the position of the stitch width lever. The cam's lever has a notch at its end which is fitted behind the stitch width knob. " Now that I know that, I can see the similarity to the Necchi Supernova buttonhole cam, which performs virtually the same functions. Amazing how much engineering went into sewing machines of a half century ago!

Ed

11 comments:

Lila said...

Hi Ed, great find! I think you can see your buttonholer disk "in action" on Necchi-Elna catalogue page 26!

marigold said...

Ed...I have two Elna machines, one is from 1955 and I started seriously quilting on it many years ago. It unfortunately has bad tension problems and we were told this was going to be very hard and expensive to fix, so that is when I got into the Singers and bought my first FW. I also have another Elna that a neighbor gave me when they moved into assisted care two years ago. I have not actually even looked at it very much but it is different from the Elna I already had. For some reason I am not as excited about Elnas as much as I am about Singers and now the Necchi. I have cams for the one machine and think they are stored with it in its case. I mainly bought the machine for just straight sewing and it did give me years of hard service. I taught quilt classes for five years and made many class samples and quilts for my family with this machine. But when the tension disks and whatever started acting up so much I had to put it away. It does have cams with it although I didn't get into using them.

marigold said...

Hi Ed...yesterday we went to an auto parts store to buy the Volkswagon 12 volt light for my Necchi (they were very inexpensive so I bought two so I would be prepared for the future) and the guy waiting on us thought it was very interesting that we were buying this for a sewing machine. He told us that he had purchased an old White brand sewing machine at the local St. Vincent's and he did not even know why he bought it except that it appealed to him. He said he is a single man and he didn't know what he was going to do with it, and would I be interested in buying it from him for $40? He said he paid $35 for it and is bringing it in tomorrow so that we can go and look at it. Are these decent machines, do you think that is a good price? I have not had any experience with White brand and he said everything is all metal and that there is a manual with the machine. I was hoping when he said he had an old machine he would say it was a little black one that looks like a toy but no luck!

On another note, we went to JoAnns to buy some bobbins and I also needed a new iron. We went to the Rowentas and there was a sign that said "$20 ea."!! We carefully looked and it did not say $20 off or 20% off, but $20 each! I picked up two irons and we proceeded to the front. The clerk had to get the manager, who did not bat an eye and sold us two Rowenta irons worth nearly $200 for only $40 plus tax. Plus I used my 40% off coupon for the little box of Class 15 bobbins.... not a bad day of shopping!!

Barb said...

I have an Elna Supermatic. It is probably about 60 + years old. My mother used it, and when she died in 1966, I used it for many years. It is too big and heavy for me know, and I have a new plastic lightweight Singer which works for me whenever I happen to need to mend something. I no longer sew and I don't think my kids or grandkids will use it. I also have a very old singer that is swings up from a table. That machine must be probably 70+ years old. I have all the parts, cams, instructions etc.. to both machines. Are they worth anything? Would anyone be interested in these old machines. I would be very appreciative of your counsel.
Barb

Anonymous said...

I have owned my Elna SU with cams since July 1974 and it is still the only machine I use. This machine was purchased to replace a Singer Zig Zag Model 503A which was the most fustrating machine on the planet to try and sew with.
The Elna has performed terrifically, goes in for cleaning and maintenance ocassionally. I have sewn everything from wedding gowns to auto upholstery and drapes with no problems - it just keeps going, going and going.....
Maybe that is why you see so few of them!
This is being sent anonymously because I resent having to always sign in and come up with passwords just to send a message!

Anonymous said...

Just purchased Necchi bu supernova 35-0019181 at estate sale. Where can I buy a instruction manual? How can I determine the age of the machine? It is beige and avacado green and is in a carrying case. The wheel will turn, but the needle shank will not go up and down. The belt is worn but is in tact. What do you think may be wrong? Thanks for your help,
Denise

zees5 said...

I have a vintage supermatic machine that takes the cams. I can't wait to sew something on it. We moved recently and it went straight into our garage after our house flooded 4 days post closing! My sewing room is halfway set up. I have the gray and white one - it was the latest version of the supermatic that started in green. (It is not the blue and white one). It is pretty rare and is supposed to be the best of the three versions of supermatics according to a guy that has sewn on all of the vintage elnas.

Jane Coombs said...

Hi
I just saw this post and want to know if you think buying this cam is a worthwhile investment, as opposed to making buttonholes as outlined in the brown manual. Thanks Sunny

Anonymous said...

Do you still have mother's machine? Be interested in communicating with you if you are interested in seeing that it has new home that would treasure it beyond words. Husband has same disease that President Reagan had so can't go much any more. Maybe I could purchase it from you? Wore my machine out sewing pastor's suits for my pastor husband.Call: 361-729-3726 or 214-934-5848 or. E-mail:omaandpapa29@gmail.com. let phone ring off wall! Thank You. Martha

Anonymous said...

I LOVE my Elna SU! I started sewing on my mom's machine when I was seven. When I got married, my husband bought me a used one for a wedding present because I didn't want any other type (my machine is older than I am). I paid $250 for it 18 years ago and the man who refurbishes Elna's at the local sewing machine shop said these are the best machines. Rarely does he repair them and he rarely has any to sell because they are handed down from parent to child. Like any machine, they last as long as they are cared for correctly and have maintenance from time to time. My favorite part about my Elna is it was built to last the years(all metal), not like the newer fancy ones that are made of plastic and need to be replaced because the computer goes out. I wouldn't trade my Elna for anything (and I have had many offers).

Pam Mitchell said...

I just stumbled on to your site while doing a search for more info on this older model machine I have. I love your Blog and it has so many interesting links that you provide for searching for further information on related items. Thank you for all your hard work. I have a couple questions for you.

1. I have a machine from a older aunt who passed on several years ago. I haven't used the machine much over the years but now that I have 3 granddaughters my SEWING INTEREST has spiked !!!!!!! :) I hope you can tell we what the manufacturer is of this machine, and should I need additional feet, accessories, etc -- if they are still available and where to locate them. I have a picture of the manual with the photo of the machine on it..........where & how do I send it. The only thing I know is it is ZIG ZAG Model 1692. I keep it oiled and it sews wonderfully. I haven't ever used the decorative stitches but plan too.

2. Also, I have an older model necchi of my mothers in storage. She used it alot and always bragged it would "out live" any machine because of it's solid 'metal inter workings'. LOL I do know that it needs to be rewired. I remember noticing the wiring from the motor looked frayed.... Is this something that can be done, or will it need a new motor and where does a person take it to; to have something like this repaired? Thank you Mr. Ed for your help and advice. Pam :)