Sunday, July 17, 2011
Sad Necchi BU
I have a soft spot in my heart for the Necchi BU because a $10 one from a thrift shop was my first exposure to the quality and sturdiness of Italian-built Necchis and Necchis have been my favorite machines ever since. A few of the post WWII Japanese machines come close, but I have found none yet that can match the smooth, quiet sewing of a well-oiled Necchi BU or Supernova. Anyway, this BU had been relegated to my storage shed for several years at the old house and sitting in the garage at the new house since we moved in a year ago. It has been so long since I used it, I don’t even remember why I initially put it in storage. It isn’t pretty by any means, paint on the bed is cracking, paint on the head is dull and the chrome is beginning to rust. I vaguely remember tension issues, but can’t be sure after all this time. I decided it either had to be rehabilitated or stripped for parts. Either way, it was not going to take up precious garage space any longer.
On the workbench, I found that the balance wheel would only make about half a rotation so I lubricated every friction point with Tri-Flow Lubricant and worked the balance wheel back and forth for about half an hour. Things weren’t getting any freer, so I got out a spray can of Permatex Ultra Slick Synthetic All-Purpose Lubricant and sprayed that all over the underside and inside the machine. In short time, the mechanism freed up and the motor spun the machine so fast I thought it was going to take off! That lasted for about a minute, and then it froze up again. This has been my experience with the modern wonder lubricants - they don’t do what they advertise and don’t last. Resorting to the old standby sewing machine oil, I oiled the machine and in just a few minutes had it running like new. At least the modern wonder lubricants broke the mechanism loose so the sewing machine oil could do its job.
The next issue was mounting the head in a cabinet. Original ads for the Necchi BU stressed the fact that many parts of the machine were common and repairs would not be a problem. But for some odd reason, the holes for the cabinet-to-machine mounting hinges are smaller than all the rest and standard hinges will not fit in the holes. It's virtually impossible to find a set of the correct hinge pins. In the past, I have reamed out the BU holes to accept standard hinges but am afraid that might weaken the bed and the weight of the machine could cause the metal of the bed to crack and the machine fall out of the cabinet. Now, I take a standard set of hinge pins and grind them down just enough to fit the holes in the BU.
This was not the last of the problems, though, when I attempted to sew a test patch, the material wouldn’t feed and when it did, stitch length was not consistent. It also felt like the presser foot was not doing a good job of pushing the fabric down against the feed dog. I lowered the presser foot about a quarter inch and stitch quality improved. I haven't permanently solved this problem, I think the presser foot is not original Necchi but an industrial high shank foot. Many folks don't realize that high shank feet and industrial feet are the same thing. If you have high shank machines and need feet, investigate the industrial feet sold on eBay for options. Anyway, I will try replacing this one with a Necchi foot to see if it makes any difference, if that doesn't fix it, I will lower the presser bar a bit.
One thing I like about this machine is the light. It has “Necchi” embossed on the shade, so I am fairly sure it is a genuine Necchi light but it is mounted using a swivel with multiple joints so the light can be repositioned an infinite number of ways. If I ever decide to get rid of this machine, I will definitely keep the light.