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.

18 comments:

Michelle said...

Dear Dr. Ed,
Thanks for giving this machine such good TLC. I had to 'put down' two machines this weekend. (I am just a self taught fix it girl). One was a Singer Futura II, which had broken teeth on a gear, and one side of the 'soft feed dogs' was gone. Couldn't get into it. I rescued it from Goodwill, and the $12 I paid for it was worth all the accessories, manual and foot control. I can use parts from it. I also stripped some parts from the machine (feet, spool pins, rubber bobbin tires, needle clamps, etc).

The other one was a Singer 416. I was going to fix it up for a friend of mine. It was her MIL's, who has passed on, but I had to give her the bad news last night. She didn't think it was worth having a professional fix it. Sadly, it had been sitting in a garage or somewhere dirty for years, and it had the same problem. I oiled all the metal parts (I know not to oil plastic/nylon gears). It was rattling something fierce, and then the bobbin hook quit spinning, (and the rattle disappeared). I can fix about any old machine with all metal gears, and because the insides can be accessed easily, but from the 70's on, in my opinion, the quality of Singer went WAY downhill.

I still have a hard time not buying every sewing machine I see, but not buying the 'newer' (70's forward) machines, just got easier.

On the other hand, I have recently purchased two Kenmore machines, and they not only weigh a TON, but they sew a beautiful stitch...and they are lavender, and very pretty!

Thanks for letting me babble.
Be blessed,
Michelle

Ed Lamoureux said...

Michelle, A week ago, I would have said you did the only humane thing in putting those two plastic-gutted machines out of their misery but something happened that might be changing my mind. A friend of my wife picked up a cabinet at a thrift shop that happened to have a Singer 645 Touch & Sew in it. She asked me to look it over to see if it was worth keeping as a second machine. The 645 was born with plastic gears and it is the right age for those gears to be disintegrating, so I looked at them first. Every gear was black, indicating that they are replacement gears. The machine runs quiet and smooth. Obviously, someone who knew what they were doing replaced them. The only thing wrong with the machine is the rubber-coated feed dog. I am kinda hoping she doesn't want to spring for a new feed dog and tells me to trash the machine or keep it for parts so I can play with it. -Ed

Dora, the Quilter said...

Thanks for this post. I'm about to become the owner of a Necchi BU and will be looking for a desirable quilting/darning foot. It's good to know I have the option of industrial feet.

Melissa Hunter said...

I just got one of these machines from a friend, but it came with the wrong instruction manual. I've never sown anything before, and I'm excited to begin my sewing adventures. The problem is...I don't wear to oil! Can you help?

Ed Lamoureux said...

Melissa, if you send an email to StudioLUpholstery@gmail.com, I will send you a BU oiling diagram. -Ed

woolywoman said...

I tend to use the modern lubricants the same way- to free stuff up. Then Its right back to sewing machine oil.

gina said...

I just read the comments on reviving a Necchi BU sewing maching but I don't exactly know where to oil a Necchi BU seriel D7516. Thanks in advance. This machine is my grandmother's who bought it 60yrs ago.
Angelina

lb said...

I just got my mothers necchi bu, she has been gone 3 1/2 years. It still purrs like a kitten but I'd like to get a couple things looked at or fixed. The wheel sounds like it is slipping a tad. The bobbin winder does not lock into place and there is a metal plate that goes over the bobbin that is missing. I am handy and can fix things. Please advise..

Anonymous said...

Does anyone need a cabinet for a BU machine. If so email me philu@spssoftware.com

T-Release said...

I am selling my Necchi Bu if anyone is interested? I can provide photos, descriptions, and all other things if anyone is in fact interested. Thanks!

Aletha said...

I received a necchi bu from a friend.The motor sparks and smokes.I unplugged it.I love old sewing machines.Can you help me fix it?please help me,it sews a beautiful stitch,and it's mechanically fine.

Anonymous said...

If you knw where to bur new singer decal let me know. I need to remake the one on my old singer machine. mamanauboulot@hotmail.com

Ed Lamoureux said...

Check eBay - that's the only place I have seen any except for Featherweights. - Ed

Molly said...

I love your blog, and it's a source of inspiration. Can I take advantage of your vast knowledge by asking a couple of questions?

Yesterday I bought a Necchi BU, but it's a Nora. What does BU stand for? Where does the Nora fit in the Necchi universe? Will it sew the heavy fabrics - like jeans denim and lightweight/sueded leather - that I hope to use?

Anonymous said...

My much awaited Necchi BU arrived today and what a disappoinment,the motor housing was cracked all the way around,any ideas on where a new one could be purchased?

Ed Lamoureux said...

If you could send me a photo of the motor to oldsewingmachines@gmail.com, I will look through my parts bin. -Ed

saraquinn said...

Ed,

I was recently gifted the Necchi BU from my mother's basement. It appears to need a new belt. Do you know where I can get one, and what type it needs? I can't seem to find a clear answer on the internet. Thanks!

Petrushka said...

I am cleaning a Necchi BU bought at a thrift store. It's in good condition and not frozen anywhere, but the stitch length lever rides up when sewing. It doesn't do this when the machine is not threaded. It kind of bounces up toward zero.

I've removed the back plate and doused the bearings with BreakFree. That helps a bit. Is this just a matter of waiting for the oil to dissolve all the old varnish?

Everything else is in excellent working order. The stitch length adjustment gizmo is not worn or broken.