Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not ANOTHER Necchi!

  

On vacation last week, I was crawling through thrift stores in Fredericksburg, Virginia looking for treasures.  On the back wall of a Goodwill store, I spotted a plain gray sewing machine carrying case with no name on it.  The metal on the clasps and carrying handle was rusty, an indication that the machine was stored in an area of high humidity. Thinking it was probably a rusty Japanese clone, I reluctantly lifted the lid and found a Necchi Lydia 3 – one of the last of the Italian-made Necchis.



It was dirty and missing the foot control but there was no rust on the inside, it had the extension table (not shown in the above photo), a full complement of accessories, the paint was in good condition and the balance wheel turned smoothly so I gave the cashier the $9.95 on the price tag and tossed it in the back of the van.  I had to go all week knowing that machine was in there and I couldn’t play with it because we were staying in hotels and I had no tools or foot control with me.  Today, I pulled it out and cleaned it up and oiled it.  I had a spare Necchi foot control that could easily be modified to work on the Lydia and didn’t need to replace any other parts.
  I did have a few problems, when I took off the pieces covering the needlebar and presser bar, a plastic piece fell out and it took a while to figure out that it controlled the presser foot pressure and how to get that piece reinstalled properly. After I finally got the machine all back together, I couldn’t figure out how to thread it and had to get on the internet and look up a threading diagram; then there were tension issues.  Cleaning the tension disks seems to have solved that one.
  The reason I have no Lydias in my Necchi collection is because that model has a fatal flaw – a plastic camshaft.  The camshaft controls all the decorative and utility stitches and the camshafts made of plastic crack after a period of years and have to be replaced for a King’s ransom.  In the store, I set the stitch selector on a decorative stitch and carefully felt for bumps as I slowly turned the balance wheel.  If the camshaft is severely cracked, you can feel the imperfection as the cam follower rides over the crack.  The decorative stitches will all have a visible flaw because the crack acts as a low spot on the cam and allows the needle to move in a direction that was not intended.



  Opening the end cover, my fears were realized when I saw several small cracks in both ends of the camshaft.  The good news is that none of the cracks run the full length of the camshaft, this is the worst one. Also, none of the cracks are wide enough to visibly affect the decorative stitches.  It sews well on a test, patch, now to find a small project to more fully check it out.

52 comments:

Tammy said...

Hi Ed,
For the bargain price of $9.95 at least you don't have a huge investment in it. It must feel good to own one of the last Italian made Necchi's. She sure is a looker with that sleek design.

I wonder what the bleep they were thinking when they switched from metal to plastic and nylon inside parts. I briefly owned a Bernina 700 series, the main shaft was cracked so badly in two places that the machine would not zig zag at all. I kept the case and presser feet, then donated the machine to a local Bernina dealer for parts.

In January 2011, I bought a Necchi Mira BU complete with wonder-wheel, accessories and manual. The machine sewed beautifully after a good cleaning and oiling. Sadly when I wanted to demonstrate the wonder-wheel to a fellow collector, Mira's motor refused to turn the needle bar, wouldn't sew and a faint smoke was rising from the motor. Sometimes if I started the handwheel going the motor would turn the needle-bar to make a few stitches. This was so frustrating. My fellow collector is a retired motorcycle mechanic who recently took up repairing and collecting vintage sewing machines. Mira is at his house now where he is planning to disassemble the motor to see if he can fix it. Do you have ideas about what is wrong with Mira's motor?

Anonymous said...

These are beautiful machines!!!

I have read postings about the cam stacks cracking. This might be a dumb question.....but could you glue the smaller crack to stop it from further splitting?

Also, you mentioned the cost of replacing the cam stack (a king's ransom). Would the replacement have to come from a donor machine? Or are these cams stacks still produced?

Thanks for posting!
Jonathan

Anamaria said...

Hi, I just discovered your blog, it is great! I was given a Spartan 192K, and this started my search for antique sewing machines.

Ed Lamoureux said...

Jonathan, New replacement Lydia camstacks are available. With a quick Google search, I found them from several sellers for $159 and $169. -Ed

Ed Lamoureux said...

Tammy, Believe it or not, I have several Wonderwheels and have never installed one to try it out. Your problem sounds like either the stitch width or needle position lever might be binding. It could also be that the 50-year-old motor no longer has the strength to manipulate all that machinery. -Ed

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed, my brother brought over a Necchi Hevy Duty Sewing machine and I could not find the model of this machine. I did however foud that it was made in Taiwan. I have a serial #002198. I am looking for a instrution manual for this machine, but without a model #, how can I find a instruction manual? Do you have any ideals or other sources where I can find what I am looking for? It a metel machine nad has a hard plastic case. I have looked at Necchi machine and cannot even find a pic for the machine. Any help is appreciated. Thanks You

JustGail said...

I'm glad you're back to posting, Ed. It's because of your blog that I put in a word to my Mom that should she ever get the bug to get a new machine, I'd love her old Necchi. And would even buy her the new machine if I could get it.

Tammy - they were thinking "cheaper" as it's standard practice for any manufacturer to try to come up with ways to save a few cents on each item made. Also maybe "lighter" since I *think* most of the machines were by then sold as portables. Unfortunately, sometimes the new "wonder" materials didn't hold up.

duckbabes said...

Hello Ed,

Your blog is such a wonderful resource for vintage lovers. I am so jealous of your Necchi collection. I have just now become the proud owner of a Lelia 513 and was directed to your blog by Tammy at Craft Emporium.
I have a question I thought you might be able to help me with; do you know if and where I can find a straight stitch (single hole) needle plate for the Lelia 513? Since I do sew fabrics such as silk and chiffon I was wondering if I would need a single hole plate to keep my stitches straight and to prevent fabric bunching up under the feed dogs.
I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have. :)

Ed Lamoureux said...

I don't have any spares, I only have two straight stitch plates in all my boxes of attachments. I did try a Mira stitch plate and a BU stitch plate on my 513 and they both fit, although I would want to SLIGHTLY enlarge the holes for the two screws to make them fit more comfortably. Allyn International might have the plate you need.
While a straight stitch plate would be the best solution, one thing you could try in the meantime is sewing in left- or right-needle position. That way, the fabric is supported on 3 sides, rather than 2 in center-needle position.

duckbabes said...

Thanks a lot for getting back to me Ed. Since I posted on your blog I had the not-so-brilliant idea to actually ask the vintage dealer I bought the Lelia from (duh!). And guess what? He was able to find the original Lelia ss plate and it is already winging its way to me. So I am very excited! Thanks again for your tips.

vertical injection molding said...

That Necchi is a beauty even considering it's imperfections! What a bargain and what a rush you must've had finding it. Thanks for sharing your story :)

Tammy said...

Hi Ed,
Great news on my Mira BU. The motor is fine the foot pedal is worn out. Mira is back in business purring like a kitten as she sews lovely stitches!

How come you haven't tried sewing with the wonder wheel? It is really fun to operate and watch the wheel moving the levers back and forth to make the stitches.

Thanks for all your help, I used your blow dryer and oil technique to unfreeze the stitch wheel on a Japanese Imperial machine. You are indeed a genius! Have a super duper day.

stitchnerd said...

Hi Ed,
I have this machine too! I paid just over $10 for it and it is a gorgeous machine!
I blogged about it here http://stitchnerd.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/lydia-is-alive/.
Sonia

Briel said...

So glad you're back, I have a question that might just be common sense, but I have to ask. Does the cam stack crack from use or age?

I inherited a Lydia 2 from my great-grandmother who won it in a raffle. It's never been anyone's primary sewing machine and was rarely used. Should I start saving for a new cam stack? Because I'm not getting rid of this work of art. It's too pretty!

Ed Lamoureux said...

Good question. I doubt that it is caused by use if the machine has been properly maintained. I guess there is a possibility that lack of lubrication could cause undue stress on the plastic part but the camstack really isn't in a position where that would be my first choice for a cause of cracking.

My personal, unscientific opinion is that temperature in some form is the major culprit. Either the machine was stored in direct sunlight where the innards achieved the temperaturs of a solar oven or the machine was stored in an un-environmentally controlled environment, such as a garage, porch, or storage shed where extremes of heat and cold were felt by the plastic.

There is also the possibility that sewing machine oil, a petroleum product, reacted with the plastic, but my money is still on heat or cold. -Ed

Cynthia G said...

Hi Ed:

I just came across your blog, and I am SO glad you're sharing your expertise with us!

My dance teacher has a Necchi Mirella that she loves, but the motor is shot (a previous technician ruined it). I picked up a Silvia on e-bay that's missing a few parts, but the motor is good, so I thought of switching out the motor in the Mirella for the Silvia's.

As an alternative, I'd like to take a look at the cam stack in the Silvia to see if it is in good shape and whether it might be better to exchange the parts from the Mirella to get the Silvia up to working condition instead - the Mirella is frozen (although your instructions on freeing it up may solve that!) and the Silvia moves VERY smoothly. There is no rust evidentand the only broken parts are exterior (tensioner, thread take-up lever). Can you please tell me how to take the back off the Silvia? Since the hand wheel and the stitch selector wheel will have to come off, I don't want to risk breaking something.

Thank you very much for your help!

Cynthia

Ed Lamoureux said...

I can't help with the Sylvia, I've never seen one in person. If it's like the Lydia, just pull off the two wheels and remove three or four screws. I might have a motor for the Mirella, I got an ebay lot of Necchi motors a while back. Email details of the motor (part number, etc.) and a photo if possible and I'll take a look. StudioLUpholstery at gmail.com -Ed

Sanyo Seiki said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MyndiMonroe said...

What kind of needle do they take?

Valerie Plant said...

I too have just 'lost' my 40 year old 'Lydia' through a cracked timing gear. I love it so much. It really is a work of art.
Regards to you all., Valerie , Fishbourne UK

Renee said...

I have a Lydia 3 Type 544 that I inherited from my mom, and I love it. The last thing she sewed on it was my wedding dress. I've used it mainly for curtains, but am hoping to get a space in our apt to set it up so I can do some more sewing and crafting.

I also had her older Necchi in storage but it got wet and rusted so bad it was a total loss. I cried. I've tried to find what it was, it looked a lot like the BU model I saw on ebay recently, except hers was black (the ebay one was like an army green color) and instead of a foot pedal she had a knee-control. I sure wish I still had that one and may buy a replacement some day if I find one and can afford it.

Until then, thanks for your blog. So enjoyable and informative! :)

Anonymous said...

I just Bought a Necchi Lydia 3 for $ 12.00 :) at the Fleamarket with the foot controller.

pat said...

I have a necchi lydia 3 544 that won't sew the straight stitch. it seems to work on the others, but does a decorative stitch for the straight stitch---do you think it has a crack inside? I am thinking I need to ditch it and get a new machine. pat

Anonymous said...

Hi I wondered if you could help. I am using my mum's lydia 544 but it seems to be behaving like a runaway horse! Despite not attaching the pedal, as soon as I plug in the machine and switch it on it starts sewing. Any idea what could be the problem? I have no manual to refer to either which would be useful...Thks in advance

Ed Lamoureux said...

I don't think a cracked camstack would cause that problem. I would look toward a lack of lubrication somewhere along the linkage. Sounds like your cam follower is stuck on one of the decorative stitches. Also could be something broken in the linkage that controls the stitch functions. - Ed

Ed Lamoureux said...

Anonymous, if you have the type of cabinet or case mounting where the sewing machine's motor and light wires are plugged into a two-outlet block, it sounds like you have the motor wire plugged into the light socket. The light socket stays "hot" all the time but the motor only gets power when the speed control is actuated.-Ed

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed, I have to let you thanks to all your comments I got decided to bid on a Necchi Bu Mira, the "green one" I wasn't so sure about them but now I'm in! Hope I win so I can show you pictures. Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

I have 2 nechis super nova in the cabinets and 2nechi bu in the cases all of them work really good and I have the manuals to in Roy Utah Bye

Kathleen said...

Hi Ed,
I was given a Necchi 544 Lydia3 for my high school graduation in 1978 and I still have it. Don't sew as much as I used to and have had to have serviced twice in the last 10 years for that reason (hardened lubricant). Last service was in July 2012 and I just pulled it out to run it and hopefully keep it lubricated.
I wanted to ask if you knew where I might be able to get a copy of the original manual. I usually keep those things, but with a number of moves I seem to have either lost or misplaced it.
When I was doing more sewing I enjoyed using the machine and am looking forward to sewing again soon.
Thanks for posting!
Kathleen

Ed Lamoureux said...

You could try joining the Yahoo Necchi Sewing Machine Group to see if anyone has uploaded a whole or partial manual. You can get free threading diagram or purchase a manual copy at sewusa.com. -Ed

Donna said...

How wonderful to find you all!!

I just bought a Necchi BU with a Wonder Wheel (after investigating that contraption on the front) with a huge old cabinet with drawers (pretty worn). The electric cord to the motor and plug in must be replaced. The Wonder Wheel large tire is disintegrated...

I paid $50 because it's a Necchi and everybody says no matter the shape, they're worth it.

Now what do I do? Where do I get a new large tire for the Wonder Wheel? I'd also like to convert it to treadle....Do I need to put a different handwheel on it? And, if so, what do you suggest?

Thank you to all for ANY help you could give me.

Anonymous said...

Can anybody tell me what type and size bulb the Necchi Lydia 3 type 544 uses. Please, my elderly mother needs a bulb and does not have her old bulb for me to use as a reference. I have not been able to find any information on the bulb. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am new to sewing machine repairing and do not own a Necchi Lydia,however I would like to point out if the plastic piece is made out of PVC, has anyone tried using PVC cement from Home Depot? Or Guerrilla glue?

Anonymous said...

I too have a Lydia 3 inherited from my mum - I have used it for many, many years and always store it in the loft. Having just got it down again to use, I notice that the belt is clunking and very stiff. I've opened up the end and the belt doesn't look damaged and it is moving, but only by turning the hand wheel - it's not clunking now, but still won't move by just pressing the foot pedal! Any ideas?

Ed Lamoureux said...

The belt might regain some of it flexibility with use. I think that the mechanicals need lubrication. Once they are oiled, turn the balance wheel by hand until the oil gets partially worked in and the motor can take over. Then, with bobbin case and needle removed, run the machine at top speed for a few minutes. I bet you will hear the speed change as the new oil gets into the crevasses and does its job. -Ed

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ed! I am very glad to find your blog whith so much information about old sewing machines, I love them. Some time ago I bought Necchi 544, but it does not work because this part is broken - https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-H37RI2ghd-I/UbnI6mRVlYI/AAAAAAAAAe4/PY5WfhaMCjE/w769-h577-no/%2524T2eC16JHJIIE9qTYI5sPBRYkWw6sbQ%257E%257E60_57.JPG
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-NKCINYdZfEc/UbmlSn0n3eI/AAAAAAAAAeg/WbTO9EhYvBo/w768-h577-no/100_6704.JPG
I think it is named "Bobbin Casing Part # 1645244".
Do you know where to buy it?
I am from Ukraine (so my English can be not so good). I hope you will be so kind to answer me.
ira_myagkova@rambler.ru

Ed Lamoureux said...

Ira, My parts distributor does not list that part and one website says "No Longer Available". If that is true, the only source would be from a donor machine, if you can find someone who has one. The U.S. distributor of Necchi products is Allyn International www.allynint.com the people there might be able to tell you where to look in your area. -Ed

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your respond, Ed!
Now I am thinking what to do - to keep searching for the broken part or to sell it as is for parts or repair. To make a decision I kneed to look inside on that plastic cam stack, which make different types of stitches - if they are ok. But I do not know how to remove its black right plate - the stitch selector knob does not allow me to do that. Do you know how to do that?
ira_myagkova@rambler.ru

cantica12 said...

Hi Ed:

Just got a Necchi Lydia 3 in an incredible good cosmetic condition. The only thing is that the bobbin case makes a lot of rattling noise. What can I do about that?

thanks

Ed Lamoureux said...

You have to find where the noise is coming from: is it a loose part on the bobbin case itself? Is it excess gap around the position finger? Does the machine have the correct bobbin case? once you have figured out where the rattle originates from, it will hopefully be obvious whaT you need to do to correct it. -Ed

UrbanRecyclist said...

Hi Ed:

So, it was nearly 2 years ago you got your Lydia. I'm wondering if you ever sewed a project with it, and if it's still running fine. I'm asking this because I am about to go take a look at one myself, and although I have no idea what kind of a condition it actually is in (the seller's description is 'works great') and even if there are small cracks on the cam stack, if the machine would sew decorative stitches at least for a few years. What I really wanted was a Mirella which has recently shown up on my local CL but with a prohibitively expensive price. With a deep sigh, I let that one go. But it seems like a Lydia 3 is still waiting for a new home.

Ed Lamoureux said...

Honestly, I don't remember if I sewed anything on that machine other than a test swatch. It is still sitting on the shelf. It is too new to comfortably fit into my collection and light enough to ship, if you think you might be interested in it, gmail me at oldsewingmachines and I would make you a good deal. -Ed

tammyr said...

I found a Necchi Lydia3 at a yard sale.....w/sewing table, chair, accessories, extra arm and has the lid/case cover.... owners manual & original warrany paperwork. It was bought on Nov. 1972....I plugged it in and works like a CHARM. I was completely blown away.....and all for the grand price of $30.00. I am so impressed....

Zenguy101 said...

Ed, my lydia 3 sews way too fast in min spd is there something I can do to idle it down ?
My foot pedal is very touchy and I find it difficult to go slow when needed.
Thanks

Ed Lamoureux said...

Zenguy101 - The first place I would look is the foot control. Depending on the foot control you have, it could need cleaning, adjustment, or replacing.
Often, problems like this are caused by friction somewhere in the drive train. The motor has to work harder to turn the machine and you have to supply more current to accomplish that. Once the motor overcomes the initial inertia, it takes less power to keep the machine spinning.
The causes could be dried-up lubricant, lack of lubricant, corrosion, a bent needle bar or main shaft, thread wrapped around some moving part, or the motor belt too tight. -Ed

MaggieJay said...

Hi Ed. I'm in New Zealand. I've just stumbled on your blog. A couple of weeks ago I brought a 1956 Necchi Supernova freearm with everything (manual, cams, feet) for NZD $31 (about USD $26). It was a bit dirty but in fairly good condition. After a good clean and oiling it ran beautifully - and then it began to smoke and sizzle! I think the motor melted some of the old wiring. Do you know if I can swap this out for any other branded motor or a motor from another Necchi model? Thanks, Anita

Ed Lamoureux said...

Anita,

Necchi motors rarely go bad. The weak point is the transformer in line between the power source and the motor that provides the High/Low motor speed setting. Remove the bottom panel and look at the rectangular black thing in there. If it has a black, tarry substance oozing from it, it's toast.

What can you do about it? I have never found a source for replacement transformers, so a donor machine is the only possibility and I can't tell you which other models use the same transformer. Necchi is not as free with their parts diagrams as Singer, I just have to hold two Necchi parts together to see if they appear interchangeable and then try installing them. The only option I can think of for a bad transformer is to bypass the transformer and wire the high speed side of the motor directly to the foot control. You won't have a low speed setting, but most other machines of that vintage don't either. (Note: I have never tried this - it might not even be feasible)

If it turns out that the transformer is good and the motor truly is bad, I suspect that motors from several other Necchi models might interchange but again, I can't tell you which models. I have several motors that utilize U.S. voltage and frequency, but none that might work in New Zealand.

Allyn International is the U.S. Necchi distributor but you might Google for the New Zealand Necchi distributor and ask how they can help. -Ed

Anonymous said...

I have a necchi lydia 3 544 with no manual, is there somewhere it needs to be oiled, and if so can you tell me how to do it
tera

Lovászszakszervezet said...

Hi All! Have Necchi 544 too, with cracks. Now i tell you, how to save! At first you should mark the schafts and gears, will save you a lot of time at reassambling. Then remove the cam! Drill 1,5mm holes to end of the cracks, they will prevent them to continuing.
Take a sheet paper over it! Put two AWAB hose camps to the two end! Heat up the alloy part! (Simply put it to an electric heated hot plate.) When it became hot, remove from heater, thigthten the hose camps, and leave it alone for a night. Next day mornin you have to remove the camps. The cracks will open again, but the plastic will keep the arch of the alloy. Now you have to get a two component epoxy glue, and fill up the cracks. Do not choose ten-minute ones, you'll have no time to trim the excess glue! Leave it until the glue hardened. Now you should trim it with small files and knifes. Put the cam back to te machine, and try all of the stiches. If they doesn't works well, glue up some small plastic parts (for example from a broken CD case) to the edges of the cams at the cracks, or file down! Repeat until the machine works smoothly. Play with it for few days, and if you like to keep it for the next decades, find a local foundry, take your glued, trimmed, and tried cam to there, and ask them, to cast it from metal! Any metal should ok, except pure aluminium. That is necessary, because the cam, what is began to crack once, once will broke anyway

Sylvia Bailey said...

Hello, I'm new at this, and have acquired a Necchi 544 sewing machine, but unfortunately the power cord and foot pedal are missing. I see I can get a power cord to fit it on e-bay, but I haven't been able to find a foot pedal. Is there some way to make other foot pedals work with this model? (It's not a Lydia, it just says 544, and it's in very good shape). Your help would be much appreciated! Sylvia.

Alan said...

Hi Ed,
I,ve been searching for information on Necchi BVs and found your blog. There seems to be very little out there about these machines.
We have been looking for an industrial type machine to sew vinyl seat covers and ran across this one at an estate sale. The price seemed fair and lots of accessories were included so we brought it home.
After a few minor issues it seems to sew very well. However,the original owner's manual is printed in Italian. Do you have a source for an English copy?

Anonymous said...

I have a Necchi Lydia and have had it for 34 years! I still use it all the time- best machine EVER. I just can't seem to buy a new machine because I can't fine one that I can afford that is as nice as what I have!