Friday, July 17, 2009

As I move out some of the old machines, I find others I had forgotten. This morning, in a cabinet in the storage shed that I had thought was empty, I found a Necchi 515. One of my favorite machines, I don't remember why I relegated it to the storage building. I'll have to get it out and play with it some day.


Today's project, however, was a horse of a different color. It is a Thompson PW-201 Mini-Walker that has been back behind other machines for several years because I was not pleased with it.


I had been wanting one of these for years, and when this one came up for bids at a local auction, I was quite excited. Either no one else in the room knew what it was, or no one else was in the market for this type of machine, but I was the only bidder and walked away with it for a $5 bid. I oiled and cleaned it and it sewed okay, but was noisy enough to require hearing protection. I took it out on a job, making an instrument panel cover for a boat and halfway through the project, the tension assembly popped off and went into the water. I brought it home and shoved it in a corner, never to see the light of day until now.


This is essentially a family machine on steroids, built to sew heavier goods than the standard family machine. It's marketed as a portable industrial machine with built-in walking foot and drop feed. Sailrite sells a newer model with zig zag capability.

It uses the same industrial needles as my big Singer upholstery machine and it easily sews with 69 nylon thread. Although it uses a family machine style motor, it has a reduction gear to lower speed and increase punching power and toothed belts to reduce slippage.


I dusted it off today and oiled it and replaced the tension assembly with an industrial tension assembly. When I fired it up, it was just as noisy as ever and I was ready to stuff it back in a corner when I noticed a loose screw on top of the head in the walking foot linkage. I tightened the screw and the noise reduced significantly, so I looked all over the machine for other possible problems. Another screw was loose in the walking foot linkage inside the needlebar door and tightening it made the machine noise almost bearable. Adjusting the inner foot so it didn't rub on the outer foot was the final task and now I can actually stand to sew on it. I might even take it with me the next time I have to travel to the job.

32 comments:

Quilter Emily said...

That is cool, I will have to look for those. Good job on finding the screws!

Sew Shy said...

Nice looking machine. I love the boxy shape of it.

karen c konkel said...

I have just acquired 2 vintage machines. One is the old singer with foot petal and a beautifully carved cabinet. I can't wait to refinish the cabinet and clean up the machine.
The other was my grandmother's Necchi Lelia 514. Unfortunately my aunts didn't realize there were disks that came with it and threw them out while cleaning the house for resale. Do you know where I should look for these parts? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Mark said...

Any possible source for parts on this machine? I also have a Mini Thompson PW 201.

meerkat34 said...

anyone have a manual for a thompson pw-201?

Ed Lamoureux said...

I got my Thompson for $5 at a local auction. Just the machine, no accessories or manual. Haven't been able to find a manual specifically for the Thompson, but there are lots of machines out there that are very similar. Try going to consew.com, click on Resources and download the free manual for their CP206R. It might work for you. -Ed

ajm1994 said...

I actually have the same machine and use it on a daily basis in a boat upholstery shop. I have had and used mine for almost 10 years. The only problem so far with it is my belt breaking. I do have the complete manual for it also. It does a really good job. for those machines that are a little noisy you may be missing an oil spot. I know this only because I just went through this same thing. I now use a really good oil that you can use to lubricated guns with that has tefelon in it. Also my manual has a parts list with names and numbers!

Ed Lamoureux said...

I guess I didn't make it clear that after I tightened two loose screws in the walking foot linkage and adjusted the presser foot, the noise pretty much went away. I am very fussy about the amount of noise my machines make and am probably more critical than some. - Ed

Now I know why crocs eat their young! said...

I also have a Thompson mini walking foot and have had it for about 30 years. I use it all the time and recently broke the needle bar. I can't find anyone to work on it. I would be willing to replace the bar myself if I could find a replacement. Does anyone know where I might find this bar or even start looking? I am desperate. If I can't fix this I will have to close my upholstery shop.

Ed Lamoureux said...

I suspect the Thompson Mini-Walker will use a standard 15 Class needle bar and I have stripped several of those. I might have the part you need. Your profile doesn't include any contact information. If you email me, I will try to help out. -Ed StudioLUpholstery at Gmail

sarah said...

Just acquired a Thompson Mini Walking Foot PW-201... having trouble figuring out how to thread it. I have the original manual, but the pictures are not clear enough and there is not enough written direction... any help would be great! My email is akgirl73@gci.net Thank you!

Ron P said...

I have a Thompson PW 201 machine ans it has a broken arm on the bobbin winder where can I but parts for this machine? Thanks Ron P

Anonymous said...

Please help have white rotary sewing machine 9703,77-115498 in cabinet w 3 drawers, both good condition. and NMSCO Model RBR, serN70093 in cabinet with carving like a shield or crest on front. No drawers, Greist original box of attachments. Everything in good condition. Is there any value in either of these machines? You seem to be the authority.

Anonymous said...

I have a Thompson pw200 mini walking foot sewing machine... how is it different from the pw 201 you speak of..?

bdover said...

I have a thompson pw200 mini walking foot sewing machine can anyone help me determine it's worth I was looking to sale and can't find the worth

corogate cafe said...

I am interested to know the "Thompson sewing machine" being mentioned by so many, Is this in relation to W.A.Thompson.co from Auckland new Zealand? I am collecting items from the Thompson family who produced fabulous prams (late 1800's upwards) wonderful cane work on them,, sewing machines hospital equipment and much more. Maybe someone can enlighten me on this cheers. Angela. coroang@clear.net.nz

Anonymous said...

I have a Thompson mini-walker (don't have the model number handy) that I bought new about 20 years ago but have hardly used. I've heard that Sailrite based at least some of their early machines on a Thompson, and many of their current machine still look similar. I have been looking at sailrite.com recently and found that they have a lot of videos and parts that any Thompson owner should check out. They have some vids on operating their Ultrafeed machines that are much easier to follow than the Thompson manual I have. I just wanted to pass that on.

Anonymous said...

also have a Thompson PW-201 machine that I purchased in 1985 and my problem is a backlash on the bobbin thread. I had put it aside bvecause i just couldnot get it to sew as the bobbin thread just kept jamming. I decided to try again and discovered I had missed some oil spots. Just oil it wherever it looks like metal against metal and make sure th bobbin thread id coming off in the right direction. When putting in the bobbin in the bobbin case make sure the thread is coming off to the right on the top side when inserting it into the case. This helped to get it to sew a good seam but the case needs to have a backlash sprin g in it. This was my big problem as when you stop sewing the bobbin is still spinning in the case and gets tangled. I slowed way down befor the end of my seam and that helped but still am going to get a bobbin with the backlash spring in.

Jessica Smith said...

I have a Thompson 301 that I have been using for upholstery. I always have to baby it and take it apart. I am not sure what is going on with it now. I was sewing thick vinyl seat covers
on it yesterday and stopped to oil it that helped but now it doesnt want to sew with an extra layer. maybe bottom feed dog adjustment? any ideas? The manual does not offer trouble shooting.

Jlcsails said...

Sailrite.com... Call them and talk with their tecchie, they will walk you through threading, and any other problm with the Mini Walker. They purchased the original company way back. Thry know the machine and have excellent cust svc, parts ontheir entry level machine are almost interchangable

Farmhousesewer said...

I thought I left a comment in early June, but cannot find it, so am re-posting.
Ed or anyone else who has one of these machines (Thompson PW-201), any chance of obtaining a copy of the manual?

meema said...

I’ve had my Thompson Walking Foot for 30+ years - used it for many years sewing Cordura bags and accessories for professional photographers and many other large things made of canvas. But I haven’t used it in more than 10 years. It’s been sitting in my storage closet.

My grandson mentioned that his fiance, who is quite creative, wanted to learn to make handmade rugs. I thought of my Thompson which brought back a lot of memories of a most reliable tool that was a work horse for me for so long. I want to give it to her so it can be productive again. I started searching for a source for the pre wound paper bobbins and spools of 69 bonded nylon and discovered that nothing is constant but change. Whereas I used to be able to order the boxes of bobbins and cone spools routinely - now I see it’s going to be a challenge because my Thompson and I are officially ‘vintage’.

Hard to wrap my brain around that. ;-( Any suggestions?

Jlcsails said...

hi meema, you can definitely get the boxes of bobbins prewound now, through Sailrite, or another supplier i cannot recall, but you can ...check them. all the mini walker stuff can be interchanged with the sailrite machines. call and talk with a technician there and you will be surprised...the basic machine is almost interchangeable...http://www.sailrite.com/Sailrite-Sewing-Machines#
Sailrite bought Thompson years ago and morphed it into their own product...

meema said...

Thank you I will definitely check that out. I just don't want to pass on a machine that will be more trouble to use than it's worth. Frankly, I don't recall the last time it was oiled and cleaned. I guess I should see if it even works before I start looking to buy thread. And then, when I check that out I guess I have to find someone near me who would know how to service it. :-]

The thought crossed my mind to try to sell it and put the money toward a newer machine but I have no idea what it's worth -especially if I don't know if it works.

Kim Helm said...

I have just finished cleaning my parents attic. My Mom had a PW201 up there, and 100lbs of different material. I don't sew, never have and I don't know what to do with this stuff. I gave her crafts to the senior center, when she pasted a few years back. Now I'm neck deep in Fabric. Any Suggestions.

meema said...

Hi Kim, just fyi - when I retired I had to dispose of a whole workshop full of fabric and crafts materials. I donated the crafts to a lady who did crafts with elders in nursing homes and I donated the fabric to a group of ladies who made quilts for charity. I found both of these through a church.

Hope that helps - I still miss my sewing days and being able to wake up with an idea and go to my workroom and launch into it using the supplies I already had. Good times, good times. ;-)

Nancy McLellan said...

Looking for a manual for a Thompson mini walker 301. Can not find one anywhere. Can anyone help point me in the right direction? I have looked on all the sites I can find.

Charlamommy said...

I have a Thompson PW-301 and PW-401 and they are identical. I have the manual I can scan in.

Nancy McLellan said...

Charlamommy..how Do I reach you to get a copy?

Farmhousesewer said...

Can it be posted to Google Docs or a yahoo group for access by many?

Karen Pauli said...

Just was given what turned out to be a Thompson Mini for our Makerspace. I'm the resident sewing machine "expert" and I was only familiar with the Consew leather machine. I would VERY much like a copy of the manual, but I don't know what model this is. I couldn't find any label or stamp on the body. Please add me to the list for ANY manual out there!!! kpauli@live.com

Colleen said...

Hi, since you are the last person to ask for a manual, I wanted to know if you found one. I have a Thompson PW-201. The tension is on the side and I can't find close up photos of a threading diagram.