Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Singer That Should Be Forgotten


Actually, it’s a whole family of Singers: models 206, 306, and 319. These were Singer’s first attempts at zig zag machines for family use and I personally think they missed their target. The machines are noisy, clumsy to use, and rotating and oscillating machinery is exposed to catch long hair or thread. These three models require special 206x13 needles. As far as I can tell, 206x13 needles are only available in sizes 12, 14, and 16, so if you are doing work that requires a size 11 or 18, you’re out of luck. I doubt that you will find 206x13 needles at your local sewing machine dealer, be prepared to special order and pay about four times as much as standard 15x1 needles. The 206 and 306W use standard industrial bobbin and bobbin case. Once you know that, bobbin cases are easy to find and cheap. However, if you need a bobbin case for your 306K or 319W, that will be tough to find and will probably cost more than you paid for the rest of the machine.

I tried my best to bond with the machine in the photo and just can’t do it. I changed out the motor to get rid of the motor noise, but there is still so much rattling in the sewing mechanism that I always feel like I’m sewing on some cheap piece of junk. I’m glad that Singer realized the error of their ways and redesigned their machines for the introduction of the 401.

For those who like this series of Singers, I will try to keep a stock of 206x13 needles in my Etsy shop, just click on the link below.  All I can find are size 12 and 14 at this time.

206x13 Needles

90 comments:

gwenmoritz said...

Ed, I need advice from someone who knows something! Through an odd set of circumstances, I find myself in possession of two Singer 201-2 sewing machines. I do not have room for both of them, so I am going to sell or give away one of them. I know which cabinet I prefer to keep, but each machine seems to have some advantages and disadvantages. One is a 1950 model. It is shiny black and the gold decorations are in very good condition. It runs beautifully. The other is a 1940 model. The paint is dull and chipped here and there, but overall it is also in good condition. When it runs, it purrs like a kitten. It sounds even better than the newer one. Plus, it has the more ornate metalwork and a chrome rim around the balance wheel, so in some ways it is prettier than the newer model despite the inferior paint. One of these is staying and one is going. Which should I keep?

Ed Lamoureux said...

I'm afraid I won't be of much help. I know of no differences, other than cosmetic between the early 201s and the later versions, so one can't say the newer (or older) one is superior mechanically. If you are collecting machines, the one with the nicer paint and decals would be the keeper because all the mechanical parts can be replaced, but once the paint and decals are gone, they can't be restored. I know of no one who sells reproduction 201 decals, the best you could do is use Featherweight decals and the dofferent size of the Featherweight would cause problems. On the other hand, if you plan to keep the machine forever and sew on it, the one that sews better would be the logical choice. No clear cut direction to point you in, the answer is, "it depends..."

Ed

Russell said...

Hi Ed,

I know of you via the Necchi webrings. I have a Singer 306K that I love. Yes, you need to buy needles on line, though they are not terribly expensive. Mine is quiet and sews flawlessly. I prefer the Necchis, but I use the 306K for fancy stitches and serious leatherwork. With that said, I am waiting on delivery of a Necchi Nora that may replace my 306K

Ed Lamoureux said...

I knew someone would come out to sing the praises of the 206/306/319 series Aingers, I'm just surprised it took so long! Guess that shows how few people actually read my blog.

I currently have a 206, two 306s, and a 319 and have had a dozen or more over the years. All have been rattly. 50% of the noise comes from the motor Singer uses, that can be remedied with a motor swap from a Japanese donor machine. The other 50% of the noise is in the hook area and I have never found a way to silence that.

As for the cost of needles, I buy my Organ 15x1 needles from Discount Embroidery Supply for $12/100. The cheapest 206x13 needles I have found are at Allbrands for $49/100. While 49 cents per needle is not expensive compared to quilt shop prices, I still prefer to use 12 cent needles.

Hopefully, your new Nora will convince you that the best place for a 319 is on a display shelf.

Ed

Marceli said...

I can't speak for the noise because I don't have one. But as far as being able to use the 15x1 needles all you have to do is modify the bobbin case, something that I see everybody that owns one doing. Until I read this post I only read good things about them. Now I'm really curious! Are you selling yours? ;-)

Ed Lamoureux said...

Interesting, I have been collecting Singers for about 30 years now and this is the first time I have heard about modifying that bobbin case. I guess I have been away from the Yahoo sewing machine groups too long. The usual solution is to raise the needle bar which throws the needle out of time with the hook, then advance the hook to compensate for this, which throws the hook out of
time with the feed dog, which causes tension problems. Then,
they usually run the upper tension high to compensate for the loose stitches. I assume with your solution, one would hog out a portion of the top where the 15x1 needle hits the bobbin case to provide enough clearance for the incorrect needle. Unless the needle still hits the bobbin, I don't see why that wouldn't work, the only difference between the 15x1 needle and the 206x13 needle is the distance from the eye to the point. I wonder why Singer developed an entirely new needle just for this series of machines when a simple bobbin case modification would have sufficed?

No, I would not sell my 206, 306, or 319 because I would prefer not to generate ill will. I would give them away with certain conditions:

- You have to take all 4 machines: 206, 319, and two 306s in their current condition.

- No attachments or accessories are included, only sewing heads. I will sell the cams, feet, extra needles, foot controls and throat plates on ebay to try to recoup a portion of my investment.

- You have to pick them up at my house. I'm not wasting my time and money shipping them when I can take them to the landfill for free.

Ed

V said...

Wow. I'm sorry to hear of the problems you have with the swing line Singers. I absolutely adore my 319! By far my favorite model and I have many (201, 221, 500, 401, 431G...). I also have a treadled Necchi BU and a Pfaff 130. They run neck and neck with my 319 in terms of my adoration of them. My machine is strong and quiet and my favorite things about it are the levers! To each his/her own :) I wish I were able to take that 319 off your hands!

Carly said...

I have a 306K and can't relate to what your saying. Sure it can be a bit noisy,but machines in general are , I find it easy to tolerate . Mine doesn't shake at all and compared to modern domestics I've used are a lot less noisy and are hard to fix. I find it very good and easy to use and for it to have lasted 55 years is quite astounding, really. Parts are very easy to find on the internet, although sometimes it takes a bit of searching. I personally think they're good quality, on the same standard as the singer industrials.

Ed Lamoureux said...

First, thank you for confirming that the 306 is noisy - most owners want to argue that point. If you can tolerate the sound, good for you! I have used smooth, quiet vintage Necchis and slant-needle Singers enough that a noisy sewing machine now indicates poorly-fitting parts to me and I shun machines that aren't quiet.

Parts can be found, although most are considerably more expensive. From the same online store, a bobbin case for a Singer 15 is $14.95, while the bobbin case for a 306 is $29.95.

As for comparing to modern machines, the only plastic machine I own is a Janome 6500, which is smoother and quieter than my 319. I paid $1200 for my Janome, I suspect if I had opted for a $200department store model, I would probably have a different opinion of the 206/306/319 Singers.

Ed

Anonymous said...

Ed,
I sold my 319 because I had too many machines. I didn't like that the needle plate didn't slide and was positioned sideways when the bobbin case faced forward. The machine had to be tilted back to change the bobbin.

dale said...

Hi, you posted an industrial type bobbin and case can be used in a Singer 206. Which bobbin case? There are several industrial type cases on ebay that look the same, but I don't know which one is correct. On your other comment, I have 306, modified in England, that is filed thinner in the hook area to allow the use of a 15X1 needle. Repair man in England stated this was a common modification to the 206 family of machines, approved by the Singer factory. I still use the 206X13 needle because I think it is still the best needle to use, due to the length. Thanks for any help on the bobbin case. (I am partial to the 206 as this was my first vintage machine, but I have a Supernova that will run rings around a Singer 206/306)dale

Ed Lamoureux said...

The industrial bc that fits the 206 and American-made 306 is the cheapest one available. Ebay item 180407935907 will get you a bobbin case and a pile of bobbins for $5.59.

I certainly agree with your comparison of the 206 and the Necchi Supernova, they are not even in the same class in terms of quality and capability.

Ed

Anonymous said...

"I assume with your solution, one would hog out a portion of the top where the 15x1 needle hits the bobbin case to provide enough clearance for the incorrect needle. Unless the needle still hits the bobbin, I don't see why that wouldn't work, the only difference between the 15x1 needle and the 206x13 needle is the distance from the eye to the point. I wonder why Singer developed an entirely new needle just for this series of machines when a simple bobbin case modification would have sufficed?"

Ed,

I just happened to see this note. What the people do not understand about this "modification" is that with a longer point on the needle, and the same timing, if you go over a heavy seam, the fabric can still be in motion when the point enters it. Naturally, if the feed travel moves the point just a tiny bit, it will follow that path the rest of the way down. When looking over the items that come with a 206/306/319, you frequently find bobbins where the rims have been nicked repeatedly by the needle. Obviously, the needle should not come close to the bobbin rims unless it is deflected. Many people grasp the needle/hook timing, but as you mentioned, the feed timing is also very important.

In answer to why, Singer used this system, just think about where their customers had to come to buy new needles. In that era, Singer products were sold only in Singer stores, and it took quite a while before any other needle company was willing to tool up for a needle that would have that limited sales.

Bill Holman

Phyllis said...

So, thanks for all the info. Do you have the web address for the places you buy the needles from? Ed, You mentioned discount embroidery supply, is that .com? and the other one you mentioned was"allbrands" is that .com as well. I guess I will try that and see where it gets me. I am a new collector and don't know much about getting things off the net yet, so pardon my ignorance...Phyllis

Marilyn said...

My Father died recently and a Singer 206 came my way. I remember it being purchased when I was a child possibly 1952 or 1953. Before I ditch it, is it worth anything?

Ed Lamoureux said...

Marilyn, your memory is good, the Sewing Machine Blue Book shows the Singer 206 being manufactured 1950-1953. They don't bring a lot, no recent sales on eBay to gauge, but I would estimate in the $50-$75 range. However, a set of common accessories for the 206 sold on eBay for over $43, so you could have more value in accessories than in the machine itself. - Ed

Dianne B. in England said...

Hi Ed, I'm sorry you have had so much trouble with your 319. I have an identical machine in the lovely green colour, but mine is perfect. She's not noisy at all and stitches smoothly and easily. Her embroidery stitches are comparable to those of modern computerised machines. I am wondering if the difference between our machines could be the place of manufacture? I am in England, and my machine is a 319K, made in Clydebank, Scotland, at Singer's Kilbowie Factory. I have enjoyed reading your blog and have bookmarked it so I can come back and read more. Thanks for sharing your experiences! :)

Anonymous said...

I loved my 319W until the zig zag stopped working. . .
I fear you may be right.
-Susan

zees5 said...

I am supposed to pick up a 206k tomorrow and this is the first bad review I have seen. So I will be sure to test drive it thoroughly.

Nobody has mentioned this yet, but the 206 was originally an industrial machine first produced in the 30's. It was later marketed to the general public in the 50's so perhaps its industrial roots explain the noise??? ~Page

zees5 said...

PS Now, I'm really confused - check out this review:

http://zigzaggers.typepad.com/zigzaggers/2010/02/singer-206.html

I'll check back. ~Page

Ed Lamoureux said...

Page, I don't subscribe to the industrial theory. Industrial machines for the most part are larger, heavier, and more sturdily built than a 206. Furthermore, my industrial machines are smooth-running and quiet, not rough and noisy like the 206 Class machines. No professional sewing machine operator would want to sit at a 206 all day. - Ed

Ed Lamoureux said...

"PS Now, I'm really confused - check out this review:"

I checked it out: "...not perfectly silent..."; "...awkward position of the bobbin..."; "...specifies the more expensive 206x13 needle...". I think that is pretty much what I said and the reasons I don't like the 206/306/319. - Ed

Stephanie Newman said...

Funny that some like what other hate. For the record I am quite partial to my 319K out of vintage interest really... but it also sews nicely- quietly, smoothly and reliably. Mine is a Kilbowie green model so I wonder if different manufacturing plants have a part to play in their performance? Mine has had its bobbin case altered and I have had no nicks or deflections yet- but then I don't sew denim with it-not because it can't but because I've not had the machine in use when hemming jeans.
Its a case of I use it now and then for vintage fun and enjoy piecing quilt tops now and then on it. Yes the bobbin case is abit awkward the first few times to put in and remove, and the needle plate is abit tight to change over...but both these are less so than a semi industrial I use sporadically that loads on the end. And somehow those levers and cams on the 319k have a charm all of their own I find hard to resist.
If there's one thing I don't like is how hot the housing around the lightglobe gets, so I use my left hand to lift the presserfoot to avoid burning fingers-this is a problem with many vintage machines though.
For sewing with now and then I find its a nice bit of good old fashioned fun and I do appreciate her art deco appeal.
Just for the record, I'm a Bernina lover.

Camomille said...

Ed,
I'm a belgian reader who recently discovered your blog. I am the owner of a 319k, not with a motor, but to handle with your feet (I don't know the words in English).
I bought the Fashion discs on the internet (i still have to receive them) last week and now the machine is not working very well any more...
The needles break one after the other, first they bend (?) and then they break, the stitching underneat is much too loose, i've already changed all the tensions, but it doesn't work anymore...
BUT apparantly, I use the wrong needles! I hope that was the problem, I'm going to search for 206x13 needles somewhere here (but I only find them in the UK so far...) Thanks for your post!

PS: I love mine, with the levers! I hope it works soon and I like to try the discs also!
PS2: photos on my blog!

Anonymous said...

We've collected Vintage Singer machines for many years. (mostly 221 models) but have a # of other models as well. One of our prized Singers is a German "C=Wittenberg" Zig-Zag 206 machine. Encased in a drawing room cabinet w/the electric motor accessory package that runs via the treadle foot pedal & all German manuals/ Green Accessory tin marked "206" attachments/ wooden screwdrivers, many feet and three throat plates and original Singer threader (black)
It was imported prior to War II with a dated "Free Lesson" form from Feb, 1939. Also, a service receipt indicates a total check in Oklahoma City in 1949.
It is "Very" quiet. Runs and performs like a dream! Stitches are perfect, both the Zig-Zag and Straight. Very well made.
Fortunately included were numerous packages of needles - original grease and wax-paper wrappings, Button Hole knife and Red Tile cutting block. Two manuals dated 1934 & 1938. An German Singer electric motor manual and original German Advertisement for the Singer "88", "201" and the "Top of the Line "206".
Again, a "Quiet, weel built and exaact machine!
J.C. Elliott
Wyoming

Anonymous said...

Dear Ed,
I've just inherited my grandmother's old sewing machine.
It was in my aunt's house and came with the belt damaged.
I am looking for an old singer 206 class zigzag machine replacement belt.
It was a 20 1/2 inches cord-made belt with iron clips on it.
Do you know where can I find it?
Since I live in Brazil, it has been difficult to find one around here.
What should be the cost?
Thank you so much for your attention,
Marilia Lemos

Ed Lamoureux said...

From your description, I assume you are talking about the timing belt that is inside the machine running from the top section main shaft down to the lower section and not the motor belt running outside the machine from the motor to the balance wheel.

As far as I know, that belt is no longer available in its original form. The Singer part number is 189542. I have found a modern replacement made from different material with a part number of 189542P. A Google search turned up three retailers selling the replacement belt for $54.95, $59.90, and $69.99 USD. An internet search for "189542P" should turn up some positive results.

The good news is that, in performing that research, I stumbled across a Pfaff belt that supposedly fits dozens of Pfaff models as well as several Berninas and the Singer 206K. I also found that belt at three retailers for $8.99, $11.95 and $16.00.

I would order one of the Pfaff belts for a test fit but I gave away all my 206/306/319 machines so I wouldn't have to move them to the new house. I talked to Cindy Peters of Stitches-n-Time and she will order the Pfaff belt and check it out to see if it really does work on a 206. As soon as she has finished her testing, I will publish the results here. Until then, I prefer not to steer anyone in the wrong direction. - Ed

Anonymous said...

Dear Ed,
that is exactly it!
The timing belt!!! Great news you told me...
I will wait forward the outcoming of the Pfaff's belt fiting test.
Thank so much for now,
Marilia

Anonymous said...

, I NEVER HEARD ANYTHING FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH. MY MOTHER BOUGHT ONE WHEN IT WAS BRAND SPANKING NEW. NEVER REGRETTING IT. . SHE WAS A TRUE SEAMSTRESS. MADE ALL OUR CLOTHES AND EVEN OUR COATS. SHE PASSED AWAY 3 YEARS AGO AT 85 AND USED IT DAILY. I AM NOW THE PROUD OWNER OF THIS 319W AND IS MY FAVORITE MACHINE OUT OF 14. LOUD, YOU MUST HAVE GOT A REAL CLUNKER, BECAUSE THE 319W IS KNOWN FOR ITS QUITE HUM. SOME PEOPLE SAY THE 401, WHICH I OWN, IS THE TOP BUT MY 319W WILL OUT PERFORM IT ANY DAY. SO, GET YOUR TUNED UP AND REPAIRED, OR SELL IT TO ME.
JANE

HJ said...

NOWAY, YOUR COMMENT ON THE 319W IS WAY OFF. I AM THE PROUD OWNER OF A 319W, IT IS QUIET AND FAST AND VERY RELIABLE. IT IS MY FAVORITE OUT OF 14 MACHINES I OWN. IT WAS BOUGHT BY MY MOTHER BRAND SPANKING NEW. SHE WAS A TRUE SEAMSTRESS. EVEN MADE OUR COATS. SHE SEWED ON THIS MACHINE TILL SHE PASSED AWAY AT 85. I LEARNED ON THIS MACHINE AND STILL LOVE IT BEST. SOMETHING MUST BE BAD WRONG WITH YOUR 319W.
HJ

Anonymous said...

Vintage machines are like most things, sometimes you get a "lemon". My 306M is quiet and strong. The "M" version was made in Italy and doesn't have provisions for the cams - just straight and zigzag stitches. There were two versions of the bobbin case / hook base combination for this machine, one of the bobbin cases has a slot all the way across the top and doesn't have the needle issue. But that case won't work on the other hook base.

Nicole said...

Well if I only lived closer I would certainly take all four machines off your hands. I have never met a vintage singer I didn't like, though I can't speak for this model specifically, though the whole reason I came to this blog in the first place is my research on these models, in an attempt try out another great vintage machine and maybe add it to my collection. I do currently have a 221, 301 and a 403 that run far better and with less hassle than my newer machines, and I do love to "adopt" out machines that I have decided to cull from my ever growing collection. Though I guess it's probably a good thing that I don't live closer....I don't really NEED 4 more machines!

Randy said...

Ed, I have been collecting old singers for over 30 years. I have 2 319w's and 1 306w. All 3 sew just great. In fact, I do most of my quilting on my 319w's. All 3 are strong running and very quite. One thing I have found out about them is, if you sew every day on them, you need to keep them oiled. They like their one drop of oil in all of there oiling places. A little maintetance goes a long way with them. To me, the 319w's are a very good and well built sewing machine. Randy.

ROGER-BEAR said...

Hello there.
Like many I love my Singer machines, and in particular the 306K and 320K2.
In palaentological terms, these were breakthrough models, and true milestones in evolution. The 306K being probably the last domestic model turned out in black and gold.
After this, in all the wishy washy pastel colours, came where Singer lost the thrall.
Re the needles, I use type 15 needles in all, and never find it a problem. I have several of each genre, and they have usually come installed with 15 needles as used by previous owners. A couple of my machines have done serious graft and still are quiet enough, but not as quiet as the 201K2.
My desert island machine would have been a 320K2 with a gear driven motor, dressed in black and trimmed with gold, just as all women should be ! !
Regards
Roger

Anonymous said...

I have a singer 319 model (automatic swing need machine). I would like to know how to hook up the foot pedal thing. do you have any information?

Ed Lamoureux said...

That's not enough background to give an intelligent answer. There are several possible configurations depending on whether your machine is in a portable case or a cabinet and if the mounting is standard Singer or generic. What does your power cord look like? Did you buy a new foot control and want to know how to wire it up? Photos of the power cord, foot control, and electrical connection at the machine head would be extremely helpful. -Ed

vic willmington said...

Ed, i have just found these wonderful comments.I have just rediscovered our 319K, but cannot get the bobbin case out. the smalllever that releases the catch when first opened. Any thoughts would be gratefully recieved. In any case keep up the good work vic

Anonymous said...

I just got a singer 306k, but want to learn how to use it, does anyone know where I can find a manual?

Thanks

Ed Lamoureux said...

There is a 306 manual floating around out there but I can't find it at the moment. In the meantime, you can download the 319 manual at http://www.ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/manuals/singer-319k-sewing-machine-manual.pdf The 319 is like the 306 but with some added features. -Ed

Sherry said...

I hate to disagree (not really :)

I found a 306W on the curb, i.e. free. I collect machines, so I took it in. Needed a pedal, etc., used some spares and got it working. Stored it.

Then I retired, and moved onto a boat. I needed a heavy, zigzag machine. The others (Rolls, Singers, Whites) had no zigzag. The new Singer wasn't strong enough. I drug the 306 out, cleaned it, oiled it, and it ran like a champ.

It can sew 16 layers of 4 oz sailcloth, (Sailrite brags their $900 machine can do 8 layers of 8 oz sailcloth, same), can do 8 layers of heavy marine sunbrella, (same as Sailrite), 4 layers of leather, etc.

I have repaired sails, recut sails, made sail bags, restored biminies, edged control covers, etc., no problem, it just works.

Hard to get parts? Today I walked into a Singer Shop in a small town the boat is currently docked in (right across the street from the dock). I purchased 7 new cams for my collection, (including a 31 that I have never been able to get info on), all for $17.50. I got 12 bobbins and a new motor drive belt on the internet for about $20.00. All feet and attachments that work on low shank singers work with it, and I have plenty of them.

Noise? It is somewhat noisier than the Singer 99, but that is to be expected as the machinery has to do more. It is quieter then the fancy and expensive new Plastic Singer I have.

I think you tried one, and it was a junker and you jumped to conclusions. I think you should re-evaluate your experience.

Ed Lamoureux said...

As long as you are willing to put up with a noisy sewing machine that takes special needles that are rarely available locally, you will probably be satisfied with your 306. I judge the quality of my sewing machines and my automobiles by their quietness. I feel that if they run without making excessive noise, the parts are machined to closer tolerances and fit together better. Noise does not mean the machine is working harder, it means the internal mechanism is sloppy. The 206/306/319 family of Singers even uses a fiber belt to transfer rotation from the upper section to the lower section, a setup that should produce rattle-free operation. Singer had to work really hard to make that design as noisy as it is. -Ed

Anonymous said...

"The usual solution is to raise the needle bar which throws the needle out of time with the hook, then advance the hook to compensate for this, which throws the hook out of
time with the feed dog, which causes tension problems. Then,
they usually run the upper tension high to compensate for the loose stitches."

Or, you could spend .49 on the correct needle.

singerlady said...

I am cleaning a Singer 306M now. It needs a bobbin case. Can someone tell me where I can purchase one? Since I just read that there are two of these machines Italian made machineswith different bobbin cases, how will I know which one to buy,if I find one? Can't wait to try it, but it might be longer than I thought.

Anonymous said...

Come now, it can't be as bad as this one...http://www.amazon.com/NKOK-Singer-Zigzag-Sewing-Machine/dp/B000EMSV7I/ref=sr_1_4?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1326003349&sr=1-4

Steve said...

Lo Ed...
Got to agree with this quote from you "I judge the quality of my sewing machines and my automobiles by their quietness. I feel that if they run without making excessive noise, the parts are machined to closer tolerances and fit together better". I have a 99k-13, a much loved Brother Z651 & a horrid plastic Jones 451, the first two are owned because they're things of beauty as much as anything else & were destined for the local tip & so started my collection of vintage sewing machines.....

Anonymous said...

I have my grandmas Singer Automatic Swing Neredle Machine Model 306. I believe she bought it new in 1954. It is in a wooden dark cherry stained cabinet. Don't know if she bought the cabinet at the singer place or what but she got them at the same time. Also have drawers full of all of her supplies, manuals, needles and bobbins etc. Just curious if anyone can tell me what it is worth and what the best way to sell it would be. Thank you.

cneerual@windstream.net said...

I have a 1908 Singer treadle head,the serial number is D1206359. I have been told that this a rare model and wonder what you could tell me about it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ed,
I was given a Belvedere Adler model #250 10118. It did not come with a manual and I have not found a threading diagram on the internet. Do you have any leads for me?
Katie B.

Ed Lamoureux said...

You'll probably never find a manual for that specific model. You can try going to http://www.sewusa.com/Sewing_Machine_Threading_Diagrams.htm and just page through the Japanese machines until you find one similar to yours. -Ed

Rhona said...

Hi there Ed, I am in possesion of a 306K. I know thisafter spending two days finding everything I could on 50's singers, and what a lot there were.
Is there a way I can get in touch with anyone else who has read/commented on your blog (which seems one of the more comprehensive blogs) to aid me in procuring needles and bobbins ( I hear this is a devil of a job) and proffer any advise on how a novice could service their machine?

Kai Albers said...

Dear Ed,
I am from Germany and found your Blog while searching the Web for Infos about my old Singer 206.
It is missing it's timing Belt also. Have you some New Information whether the Pfaff Belt fits?
And if, have you a Part number for us, or theType of the Pfaffs where it belongs to?
Have posted in past already, but my Post is vanished, that's funny. Or have you moved it?
I allow myself to repeat - there are obviously different 206's out in the World. If have a German Manual in which is stated that the 206 use 15x1 Needles.
But i think that is only for 206's made for Germany in Wittenberge. Serial Numbers starts with One "C".
Ob the Veritas Website, official website of the East German Singer follower Veritas, they are dating my 206 to 1928!
I can't say whether ist is rattly, have never heard my 206.

Would be glad to read from you about the Timing Belt.

With best regards,
Kai Albers

Stevie Ray said...

Put me in the "I love my 319" camp. I found it at a Goodwill store with a box of attachments. Although it was obvious it had not been used in awhile my first test drive showed it to be very smooth and quiet. Cleaning and oiling only made it better. It had standard 15x1 needles and until I downloaded a manual did not know it required the 206x13 needles. The bobbin case had been modified but it sews the same with either system. I can use standard twin needles also. All built in stitches are excellent with either system.

I own 16 machines icluding three 201's and a Pfaff 130 and the 319 is as smooth and quiet as any of them and the 319 will sew almost anything you can get under the presser foot.

Mike Williams said...

I bought a 319K and love it. My local sewing supply store had the needles in stock, and very cheap ($6 for a 10 pack) so I bought 12s, 14s and 16s. My partner is a pattern maker and can't believe how good and quiet the machine is. My only gripe is that the twin needles are hard to get (but according to my supply guy they are available).
Just my experience. I have a dozen or so sewing machines and this is in the top two (other is a 1950s Green Pinnock).
Mike

Evelyn said...

Took my 319w to be repaired due to loose stitching on underside of fabric. He balanced tension, adjusted needle to hook clearance, retimed needle bar, adjusted bobbin winder & adjusted upper main shaft end play.

Should I take it back as I understand that this might cause damage to my bobbin case? If so, what do I tell him to do? When I called originally to express my concern, he became angry and said he was an authorized Singer repairman who has been doing this for 40 yrs. I need your help. I know you are not fond of 319w, but it's all I got right now and would appreciate your guidance. Thanks.

Ed Lamoureux said...

The issue of damaged bobbin cases comes not from any of the things your repairman did, but from using the wrong needle. See "More on Needles" in the October 2008 archive. The question to ask is what kind of needle he installed - a 206x13 or a 15x1. If it is a 206x13, he knows what he is doing. If he installed a 15x1 and re-timed the machine, you will probably have tension problems and the longer needle might strike the bobbin case. -Ed

Evelyn said...

Let me start over. I was experiencing loose stitching on the underside of my fabric. I took it to the repairman. He said he would look it over. I said I thought I should be using 206x13 needles, but needed to find a source. I had only 1 left and gave it to him to use while fixing. He said okay, but said he would adjust the machine so that I could use 206x13 AND regular needles without a problem.

I read in a blog of how using the wrong size needle could cause damage to the bobbin case.

I called him to say that I thought I should use 206x13 and have him adjust it back.

Do I have him adjust it back? Is it okay the way it is, but use 206x13? I will purchase some 206x13's at All Brands. I assume 80/12 or 80/14 is only for medium weight fabrics? Is that correct? I want to have a selection for light, medium and heavy use as my sewing projects entail all three situations. Hope I am not driving you crazy. I just want to know what to do, sew, and not ruin my machine. Thanks again.

Mike Williams said...

Hi Evelyn,
What ed said :-) A Singer repair man is very likely to have done the right thing and set the timing to that of the factory. Your original problem was probably due to someone else having re-timed it to accept 15x1 needles.

Ed Lamoureux said...

The difference be between the two needles is the distance from the eye to the point. 206x13s are shorter and will not hit the bobbin case. Suggest you get some 206x13 needles and use them. I don't think you will have a problem. Allbrands.com has 206x13 needles in size 12 and 14 - problem is they only sell in quantities of 100. It would be nice if you could find a couple of other owners to share a box. -Ed

Evelyn said...

Ed/Mike:
Your explanations are noted. I now feel confident that I can go back to this repairman should I need to AND, for the present time, my machine is fine.

I have no problem purchasing the needles in qtys of 100, as I like to change them with each new project.

Thank you so much, gentlemen.

Geoff Woods said...

Please help me. . I'm looking at buying a320k singer for the use of stitching 3mm leather ends on guitar straps. Will this do the job?
Geoff

Ed Lamoureux said...

With a leather needle, it should work for occasional tasks. If you plan to produce the straps on a large scale, an industrial machine would be preferable. However, the 320 is sought-after by collectors and its best use might be selling it for enough to buy a used industrial model. -Ed

Anonymous said...

Wow, I had no idea things were this complicated so I've been very lucky. I bought a lovely old black 319K off Ebay UK for doing some heavy work (plastic tarpaulin) and haven't had many problems. I just bought needles from my local sewing shop and Ebay when I needed them - didn't know about things like needle length and eye distance. Just doing straightforward stitching, nothing fancy, have broken them all in use one by one but mainly because of me being heavy handed and have just bunged in another and carried on. Ignorance is bliss ;-)

Lena Mullen said...

Help please ! I have just aquired a 320 and don't know how to lower the feeddog !

Ed Lamoureux said...

Can't tell you for sure because I have never seen a 320. But the instruction manual for the flatbed version (319) shows a large thumbscrew under the bed. If you send me an email to oldsewingmachines at gmail.com, I will send you a link to the 319 manual. -Ed

Mike Williams said...

You can't lower the feed dogs on a 320k.
If you want to do things like sew buttons, the darning/embroidery plate must be used.
Alarmed? Me too: I don't have one either :-(
The manual is available online at http://tinyinc.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/singer-320k21.pdf
I'm thinking of getting one manufactured (how hard could it be?)

Mike Williams said...

Oh, and if you're desperate to lower the feed dogs, you can remove them temporarily (one screw). The mechanism is different to the 319 (obviously) and after owning both machines the 320 is obviously superior in stitching. The needle enters the fabric almost silently (I fell in love all over again).
I sewed a lot of buttons with my 319, but can't do it with the 320 due to the lack of plate (which covers the feed dogs so they don't have to be lowered)

Tipsy Sailor said...

I love my Singer 306k, I also have 2 of the 206k's and a 201k, I have 5 201-2's (my favorites) I'm really surprised that you would say these Singers should be forgotten, they are made so well, mine aren't loud or troublesome at all. I find the shorter needles and bigger bobbins work perfect for home crafting. My 306K has tons of cams, my go-to machine for decorative stitching. I think the newer plastic geared machines are the ones that should be forgotten, I haven't found a vintage lemon yet. All metal gets all the glory in my book. They just don't make them like they used to.

Pete said...

Ed, your blog is a great place. Your knowledge and fan base are greatly appreciated by this novice sewer. I own a 319W and love it. I love its unique, clunky, utilitarian appearance and I've found it's not louder than most of my other vintage machines (Japanese, a Pfaff 230, a Phoenix, etc.). There are Kenmores I prefer, but I'm never selling it unless I need to eat. -- Peter

srecko svalina said...

Hi Ed I'm a tailor just bought a 306k just need the zig zag for the felt under collar on mens jackets the machine has a beautiful stitch very happy now there's a seller on eBay selling hand cranks for these machines suggesting that the insulation in the motor deteriorates over time and you run the risk of electrocution every time you plug it in, is he trying to scare just to sell his product or is this true. Are there any checks or maintenance I should be doing, the wires and cable are nice and soft with no cracking at all. I would be interested in your thoughts regards srecko

Ed Lamoureux said...

I suppose it's possible, depending on environmental conditions, the insulation might break down. However, I have never seen it happen. The wiring between the motor and connector is more likely to disintegrate because it is exposed to sunlight and sewing machine oil. Besides, a new replacement motor would not be difficult to find or expensive. I have swapped a motor from a Japanese machine to a 306 or 319 with no modification needed. Unless you use the machine in locations where electricity is not available or just want the novelty of a 306 handcrank, I wouldn't waste my money. -Ed

H. Harrison said...

Ed,
Someone gave my wife a 319. I found needles at a singer store but not the size 18. I took a regular size 18 and using a fine grinder ground off enough excess from the top of the needle until the length matched the length of the 206/13 (1 7/16"). Seems to work fine. Any problems with this?

H. Harrison

kushami said...

I'll second Ed's thoughts on the scarceness of 206x13 needles, and another commenter's point that the bobbin case is awkward to get in and out.

I inherited my 306K from my grandma via my mum, so I wouldn't consider getting rid of it, but I wouldn't suggest it for prospective buyers. My advice is to get an earlier straight stitch machine that takes standard needles and add a groovy buttonholer attachment, or a later machine.

Mike Williams said...

The needles aren't scarce in this Internet age, but the fact that I can now only buy regular point in sizes 12 and 14 really annoys me. Schmetz stopped making 16s over six months ago now so the 6 or so I happen to still have are the last of them. Just makes it scary to sew jeans on the machine. Mine is a 320k, so the most special version. If I could get the full range of needles the machine would be able to do everything the industrial can't. Now I have made my 411G the new "go-to" machine but when I need a free arm I have to use the 320k just for that or pull out the 222k. Ed, do you think it's possible to modify the bobbin case to enable 15x1 use? Apologies if you already answered this.

Mike Williams said...

...and just as an ironic postscript, my 1891 Singer VS2 uses 15x1 needles and can therefore sew modern stretch fabric, albeit more slowly (she's a treadle)

Ed Lamoureux said...

I try to keep 206x13 needles in stock in my Etsy shop. Unfortunately, I will be mailing out my last package of size 16 needles today, if enough ice melts so I can drive to the post office. I am currently out of all sizes but have some on order and should have 12s and 14s in a week. -Ed

Ed Lamoureux said...

H. Harrison, I am surprised your 319 sews at all! The difference between 15x1 needles and 206x13 needles is only the length from the eye to the point - it is shorter on 206x13s. By grinding some from the top of the needle, you solved the length of the point problem but have moved the eye of the needle up that same amount. The hook-to-needle eye adjustment is one of the most critical timing adjustments and you have thrown that off. If you lower the needle bar, you can bring the needle eye to its proper position, but now you've moved the point back down where it shouldn't be.

To make a 15x1 needle into a 206x13, you would need to grind down the point and re-sharpen it. -Ed

skala atalantis said...

Hello,
I am new to sewing machines
I am in search of a machine for repairing windsurfing sails,bags etc.
Bernina 217 seems the standart but rare and non portable.
I found a 306k within my budget.
But I don't know a lot about needles and threads.
Will I apple to find needles that would do the job(large)?
Will i need larger than that?
Can it handle v69 thread?
and handle webbing sewing?

Thank you
Angelos

Ed Lamoureux said...

V69 thread requires a size 18 needle. The largest 206x13 needle available is size 14 so, even if the machine would handle v69 thread, the needles would not. Best results would be obtained from an industrial machine but a zig zag industrial is hard to find and expensive. Some alternatives would be a Pfaff 130, Necchi BU, or an all metal, end loading Japanese machine from the 1960's.
-Ed

Richard Beman said...

The # 206-306-319 were patents purchased from the German Pfaff company. Singer basically copied the Pfaff #130 machine and created an "Edsel" sewing machine by using a different needle system and bobbin case. My first machine was a #206 and I hated it. The bobbin access is hard at best. You need to hold the heavy cast iron head back and maneuver the bobbin case into place..I dreaded filling and changing the bobbin. Another issue was the fiber timing belt became "slack" and the timing and stitch quality was compromised. The area under the presser foot had very little area for heavier fabrics so that was another issue. If the Singer #201 could have been modified into a zigzag, that would have been the perfect machine.The Pfaff # 130 is good, but few people realize that there are two fiber/ nylon gears that can be a problem-plus the hand wheel is prone to breakage, it's made of Bakelite...What machine is perfect. Singer salespeople in the early 1960's scowled when I mentioned I owned a #206 and told me it was the worst machine Singer made.

Mike Williams said...

I wonder what those same engineers would have said was the worst machine at the end of the '60s! 1964 was a terrible year for Singer. They Stopped producing the wonderful 201K and started using nylon gears. By the 1970s no hard wearing domestics at all and the factory in Clydebank was wound down.
I have a 320K2 now (my second) and I've had the bobbin case modified so it can use a 15x1 needle without the danger of needle impact (my OSMG removed the area usually struck by the 15x1 - about 1mm of metal). It's not as smooth nor does it have as nice a stitch as my 201K29 but (now) it can do everything.

Anonymous said...

G'day Ed,
I thought i would add a short note for your blog for all those people who are fond of their Singer 306's, my mother bought her 306K new by way of weekly payments having saved up her sewing jobs money done for other people and baby sitting money for the same people in our street until she paid it off , at that time it was brand new just released in Australia I believe it Was 1955 and with a new born baby , my older sister she made all the clothes with this machine , also repaired other people's clothing and usually the same people she was baby sitting for at the same time .
After three more children two boys and one girl she had her hands full and to this day at 80 years old still uses this same machine and prefers it over newer machines we children have purchased for her to complete her numerous repair jobs we consistently come up with ! from jeans , motorcycle clothing ( and she makes a great motocross jumper ! ) also repairing horse rugs for one of my sister's too and over the years with this machine the only work required has been normal servicing when required rarely.
Having been beside her many a time for repair jobs or alterations i can say that i believe that any noise in operation was acceptable and not loud as you describe , i have heard late model plastic machines that are just as loud and don't do the job on heavy materials that this machine can do and usually break trying , that's why my mother would not part with her machine for anything ,well maybe one of us kids ! " no just joking " - Mum really ! , to all those people with a 306 don't get rid of them , based on what i have seen this machine can do and has done with all types of material over the past 58 years and still does to this day just it's ability to last is enough for me to know it is a quality machine and knowing from personal experience quality in any machine shows , time in use is the biggest killer of inferior quality , just ask anyone who repairs any type of machinery.
I am intending to get one of these machines before they disappear or become an expensive icon you can't find anymore and i don't even know how to use a sewing machine ! as i have no chance of getting my mothers machine with two sisters ! and i will be getting some lessons from my 80 year old mother on how to use this quality machine that should not be forgotten it's Awesome ! cheers James .

Loree McConnell said...

Hi Ed. A friend just gave me a working 306K with a table and all accessories. She said "pay me what it's worth". I want to be fair. What should I pay her?

Ed Lamoureux said...

I personally wouldn't give more than $20 but eBay buyers have a different opinion. 306Ks sold recently for $125 to $339. Ed

Ange Welsh said...

Just wondering if you ever found out whether the Pfaff belt was a suitable replacement?

Arleen said...

Do you still have attachments, etc for Singer306W? If so, cost!

Gillian said...

Hi Ed

I have read your post and some of the comments, no time right now to read them all but I will bookmark and come back.

However, just had to let you know that I am the devoted owner of a Singer 320K which I retrieved, at considerable expense, from a sewing machine shop when my Mum traded it in for a computerised machine back in the late '70's. As a child I learnt to sew with this Singer so have been using it for over 50 years. It may be noisy (I have nothing to compare it to) but it is my trusty sewing companion. Okay, it needs to be set manually but it does most things that modern machines do automatically and is so reliable. Silk, chiffon, net, knits, denim, leather and everything in between has been successfully stitched, it doesn't let me down. I have made everything from delicate underwear to winter coats. I can't imagine life without my 320K. Just sayin'...

John said...

Hi Ed , just to say I have a 206k which I have been led to believe is very rare ! Its from the first run they ever did in 1937 ! Its Iron bodied not aluminium like the 50s ones , and it left the factory set to use 15x1 needles !its never been tampered with , I have its original book with it that proves it was set to take 15x1 needles , so why they changed later to 13x1 is a mystery , its a stunning machine and so quiet and smooth running ,
Most beautiful machine for sewing with ,.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed and all --

I just acquired a 306 machine gifted by a friend and have been reading your posts with interest. It's possible that I may have stumbled on a solution to the needle issue, quite by accident. The bobbin case in this 306 is quite corroded so I am going to have to buy a replacement when my local shop opens today, but being impatient to try the machine I decided to look at my other class L bobbin cases. I happen to own a Brother PR600 embroidery machine that also uses the same L bobbins, as does my Singer 20U. Just out of curiosity I compared the cases from the three machines; the 20U one wouldn't work, but the one for the PR600 is an "open" bobbin case too, so just for the sake of testing the 306 I decided to try it. It fit fine and the 306 sewed well with it using the 306 needle that came with the machine. As this case is just a bit more open in configuration than the 306, I screwed up some courage and tried a 15 needle in the machine. It sewed just as well on my test sample, and with no needle strikes! I have only test-stitched this and not actually made a project but it might be worth trying for others who would like to use class 15 needles in this machine. Now I'm kicking myself that I just ordered two boxes of 306 needles from Allbrands! LOL. When I do pick up a new bobbin case I am going to get the PR600 one since it fits fine into my machine and doesn't seem to pose the problem of needle strikes. I hope this possible solution helps some of your readers.

I didn't find the machine unduly noisy -- it's not as quiet as the 201s but is certainly no noisier than my all-metal Touch & Sews or some of my other vintage machines. I sew all the time on the 20U semi-industrial machine, so maybe that's why this one didn't seem bad to me.
Jen

Richard Beman said...

No #206 was made of aluminum... The first were produced in Germany around 1937 and few ever made it the U.S. because WW2 broke out and we bombed the factory. It, like many other Singer machines was a "purchased patent", meaning that it was a Pfaff machine with some alterations in order for it not to be an exact copy. The uncommon needle size and bobbin case were the differences to make the machine not a Pfaff #130. The Singer #401 was another example, Patents from Bernina (camstack ) and Vigorelli of Italy created that machine.. Singer acquired the patent for the slant needle in 1946, but the stipulation was that the #401 not resemble the Bernina machine in any manner. Singer bought the patent for the self winding bobbin in 1962 to offset the problematic winder in the Slant-O-Matic #500 series machines.. Singer never "Invented" any design, but they were clever to purchase many patents from other companies.. My personal favorites will always be the #401-411G or 431G machines...

Unknown said...

Hi I agree completely with you. I have a black n gold 319k I love the leavers and discs. Sadly don't use it much as last service changed feed dogs for heavy duty ones which damaged my fabric and until today I couldn't remove it. Now looking for lighter weight feeddog if there is such a thing. I don't find mine noisy either and the mechanics amaze me unlike modern machines