Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Forgotten Singer


Many folks covet the Singer 15-91 for its gear drive that presumably makes the machine capable of sewing heavier materials. No belt to slip or need adjusting. It has the revered 15 Class oscillating hook that has been a standard for almost a hundred years and is still manufactured today. I have owned several 15-91s and agree that they are one of the best made 15 Class machines.


However, there is a Singer that followed the 15-91 that is every bit as strong and reliable. It uses the same motor, same gear drive, same drive train, and same 15 Class sewing system but sports more modern styling and paint, the 15-125.



But, for some reason, while many want a 15-91, few wish to own a 15-125! Why would anyone want a 15-91 when they could have a 15-125? Perhaps I am partial because a 15-125 was the first machine I bought when I embarked on my vintage sewing machine collecting spree - not my first machine, that was a Singer 301 but a 15-125 was the first one I bought purely as a collectible.


The one pictured here is my second, one I picked up at a local auction where, again, I was the only bidder. This is another machine that has sat idle for years because it was buried under other, newer acquisitions. I uncovered it a week ago and I decided to oil it up and check it out. Usually, I sew only one project on a machine before I become bored and swap it out for another machine but I have sewed 4 projects on this one and have no intention of replacing it anytime soon.

38 comments:

Phyllis said...

can you email me and let me ask you some questions? I just recently started collecting sewing machines and the recent one I am trying to find out info on. It is an ADLER BELVEDERE 330-0 made in JAPAN. I want to find out when it was made, and how to get replacement parts for it. LIke bobbins, adn a power cord, for starters. Thanks so much,
Phyllis
I started a blogspot called--- phyllis-crazycollector.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Hi there! We are trying to locate information on the following sewing machine we have:

RIC (made in Japan) Believe to be riccar challenge model # 153.272

Thank you so much! We have photos as well.

Greg & Jackie
Michigan

caitlin (strawberry.cupcakes@yahoo.com) said...

where can i find a instruction manual and service manual for a singer 15-125? i bought one from someone off craigslist and have NO CLUE about it at all. i bought it b/c it reminded me of my grammas green singer that was stolen last year! please email me and let me know!

Ed Lamoureux said...

Until you find a manual specifically for the 15-125, you can download a manual for the 15-91 at http://www.ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/manuals/15-91.pdf The color and styling of the two machines are different, but the mechanicals and operation are identical.

Ed

Diane said...

I just got a machine lables Belvedere model 15 which lookes like the picture shown of the 15-125 from the back side. I have read your info on the Japanees clones and wondered if you knew if this is a clone of the 15-125?

I can send a picture if you like.

Elmendorf@verizon.net

thanks!

Caitlin (strawberry.cupcakes@yahoo.com) said...

Do you know where to find replacement parts? from singer directly? if i needed a machine rewired would i call up a local dealer? i never had a vintage machine before

Ed Lamoureux said...

I.m kind of at a disadvantage because you don't say what model machine you have or what parts you are looking for. Many Singer parts are still available through sewing machine dealers, ebay, and internet sellers. Other parts have virtually disappeared and the only way to get one is to cannibalize a parts machine. There are also some reproduction parts (notably slide plates) being sold that neither look nor fit like the originals.

If all you need is rewiring, vintage sewing machine wiring is extremely simple, anyone who repairs appliances should be able to accomplish that. If you are replacing parts that might involve re-timing the machine, you probably should take it to someone who knows sewing machines.

Ed

phyllis said...

Ed, thanks for all the advice you share with us. I am still playing with the Adler Belvedere, trying to get it to sew. It was skipping stitches, so I changed the needle, and now it does not stitch at all.
And I just got an old machine that looks like your singer 15-125. But the label says "Free sewing machine No 5. So, do you think it threads just like a 15-125? It runs on a shuttle, instead of bobbin, and that shuttle is missing, also the front slide plate is missing. Do you think Singer parts are interchangeable with the "Free sewing machine?? I would appreciate any advice you can give me, like where to get replacements parts and manuals. Thanks so much, Ed. I have photos as well.
Phyllis

Ed Lamoureux said...

The tension on your Free is on the front of the machine while the tension on the 15-125 is in the side, so it would not thread the same. There is a picture of a Free No.5 threaded up at http://www.ismacs.net/free/free_head.html but it's quite difficult to see. It looks as though it threads the same as a Singer 27/127/28/128. Try downloading the manual at http://parts.singerco.com/IPinstManuals/127_128.pdf and thread it like the Singer.

Ed

Phyllis said...

Ed, thank you , and I will try that--parts.singerco.com--about threading isssues.
Phyllis

Phyllis said...

Hi Ed,
I did some research and decided my Free # 5 is the same set up as the Singer #127. I tok a closer look and found the serial # in the back under the motor--it is C29204. I can not find any info except for what is on the ismac.net site. So I went and downloaded a free manual for the Singer 127. I have been searching for the shuttle that is missing and they run about $39.95 + S/H. Does that sound reasonable to you?
Thanks for taking the time to help us all with our questions!
Phyllis

JustGail said...

Hi -

Just trying to catch up on some blog reading - I'm a bit behind! Regarding people wanting the 15-91 vs the 15-125, when was the 125 made? I wonder if it's not because of the styling? The 15-91 definately says 1950's and there are many comments on the internets about "Singer's became crap in the late 1960-70's" or to that effect. Perhaps it's guilt by a wide generalization?? As far as people wanting the 15-91, is this a recent trend? I got mine at an auction for $20, I was the only bid, that was about 5-6 years ago. At the time, I thought perhaps I paid to much, but that thought was erased the first time I used her to repair insulated coveralls, she went thru the seams like they were butter.

Anonymous said...

I picked up a 15-125 for 6.99 last night. At first I passed it up thinking I don't need it, I have a 91. Then I went back thinking for 6.99 why not.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ed Lamoureux, could you please tell me if the singer 15-125 has its elements and parts with the exact same size? I mean specially on the needle area, because I would like to know if the attachment feet I have for the 15-91 could be used for the 15-125, as I have a chance to get one of that if they fit.
Thank you in advance

Ed Lamoureux said...

Yes, the accessories for the 15-91 and 15-125 are completely interchangeable.

Ed

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering. That's nice to know they are interchangeable I found your blog very informative, for example, this information about the 15s I have found just here. And how much I needed it!!

Anonymous said...

I have a Riccar machine in the cabinet model RZ-208B
ca you tell me how old it is and it's approximate value?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed, I have a Belvedere Model 15 sewing machine that looks similar to your singer 15-125. However, I'm in need of a replacement motor and I can't seem to find one... do you know where I can find replacement parts for my Belvedere?

patchy said...

Hi, I am interested in buying a 15-91 or a 15-125. Which one has the largest harp? I do one have a local shop that has either one so it will have to be mail order.
Patchy

Ed Lamoureux said...

Both have the same size throat, both use the same motor and sewing mechanism, the only difference is the shell. The 15-91 has rounder lines and traditional black and gold decoration while the 15-125 has a sleeker look and light green paint. Make your decision based on condition and price. - Ed

Anonymous said...

I am going to look at a green 15- 125 tomorrow. Can you drop the feed on this machine for free motion quilting?

Ed Lamoureux said...

Sorry I didn't get back to you in time, I was forced to attend a week-long business meeting in Hawaii and didn't have reliable internet access.

There is a thumbscrew underneath the 15-125 that can be loosened to disable the feed. - Ed

Anonymous said...

Looking for information on a Singer Model 66-6. I have one it was my mom's and I would like to know if it has any value. Thanks

Karlyn M said...

I just found this article while reading about "The Singer that Needs to be Forgotton". I do have a Singer 15-125 packed away and was considering selling it. Now I'm going to set it up and sew with it.

Rats! I am never going to manage to thin the herd.

Ed Lamoureux said...

You need to get it out, clean it, oil it and test sew anyway to realize the best price. If you still want to sell, point the buyer to this article and perhaps you'll get a few more bucks! -Ed

Julie said...

Ed--
I just found out what the model number was of the green Singer I saw at the thrift store today. Assuming it's still there tomorrow, is $40 too much if it doesn't have a slide plate? It's in a cabinet, so that may be why it's $40 rather than $6.99 like the previous poster!

FlyingHotDiggyDoggie said...

I would like to hear your input on the 15-30 from the "C" era 1913. I just resently purchased one with the Tiffany/Ginger Bread gold leafing, it is the electric model, and came with a beautiful wood cabinet with a knee pedal. I spend several days surfing the net and only found units like mine from the same class..one was in ment condition and the other was a parts machine..but lookign threw ebay and other resources..I just don't see mahy of the 15's out there..is a rare machine..a worthless machine..or a machine..once you get it..u keep it like im planing to do with this one?

Ed Lamoureux said...

The 15-30 is the machine that millions of other manufacturers copied. It is well-designed, reliable, and sews well. The Tiffany/Gingerbread decals are delicate and not many still exist in good condition. That said, there are so many 15 Class machines out there - Singer and others - that prices remain low. The fact that yours is from 1913 and has a knee pedal indicates to me that it has been electrified and possibly has a more modern balance wheel. You don't tell the condition of the paint or decals, if the machine looks like new, it would be desired by a collector of that vintage machine. If it looks well-used, and minus the original treadle base, it would be tough to sell at any price. I can't tell you what you should do with your particular machine, there are too many unknown factors. I will say you probably won't be able to retire on the proceeds of its sale, so you might as well keep it and enjoy sewing on it. -Ed

FlyingHotDiggyDoggie said...

ed Thanks for ur quick and detailed responce..to help with getting more information to you about my machine..I made a video last night and uploaded it to youtube..heres the link to it..hope to hear back from ypou soon..and merry x-mas

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFTkHzOoyu4&context=C39d17d9ADOEgsToPDskIEBSBlpafgr3G3sPPmVCcH

Anonymous said...

I served in the Navy with an eddie Lamoureux. I am looking for an illustrated parts listing for my Grandmothers 15-88 singer as I am wanting to get it working to give to my daughter. Any links?
Thanks Kevin Koloff

Ed Lamoureux said...

I was in the Navy but never served with anyone named "Anonymous".

http://www.parts.singerco.com/IPpartCharts/15-88_89_90.pdf

Ed

manleh said...

Hello-- I am looking for a part for my Singer hemstitcher attachment. The hemstitcher is model 121387 and the throat plate I need is model 121389. Any help fron anyone most appreciated. Thanks. Barb Lehman
barbleh@theramp.net

manleh said...

Hello-- I am looking for a Singer part #121389 which is a throat plate for a model 121387 Hemstitcher attachment. My machine model is 66. Any help, most appreciated.
Barb Lehman

monica ota said...

Hi, I finally decided to learn how to sew on my grandmothers singer 15-125. Well I thought it was a 15-91 but know that I'm looking at your 15-125 it is exactly the same in color (pale green) and model except it is inside a sewing cabinet.

I downloaded the manual and I learned how to thread it. But, I can't seem to get how to sew. I tried sewing but the stitching is too loose.

I think I'm more of a hands on learner than reading how to sew. Do you happen to have any videos or know of any that can teach a beginner to sew?

Thanks,

Monica

jen said...

thanks for your post on the 15-125. i am learning about this machine after acquiring a very dusty model at the thrift store today. it looked like a good machine, and i loved the color and shape, so i grabbed it for a song, i'm happy to say! it is not running, but the motor does "engage" when i press the pedal. it's a no-brainer that it needs a good cleaning and oiling, and i'm hoping that is the only thing wrong with it. i'm looking forward to learning more about it and having lots of fun with it! thank you!

Diana Swan said...

I have a Riccar RZ 208B my mother left to me. Perfect condition. I'm willing to sell it to someone who knows the value of this great machine. dswan78@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

HI, I just got a singer 15-125 from my mom. In a cabinet. Probably hasn't be used in 20-30 years. Pretty good shape but looks like belt needs to be changed. Everything looks good. All parts, pedal, accessories in original box and manual. Even an original tube of lubricant. Should I sell it or give it to Good Will, do you think?

Ed Lamoureux said...

If you have a 15-125 with a belt, you should donate it to the Smithsonian or sell on eBay! 15-125s have direct gear drive and do not have a belt. -Ed