Sunday, October 23, 2011

Alternate Power Featherweight

I got several comments on my last posting saying how bad I was to sell my wife's Featherweight.  It wasn't really all THAT bad because we still had another one. Unfortunately, my daughter needed a science fair project and decided on Alternate Energy.

She took the other Featherweight and converted it to water power.

My wife tried using this one at a couple of sew-ins but other women complained about all the water on the floor around their electric machines so she had to switch to a 301.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cleaning plastic Machines

This post isn’t about a vintage sewing machine, but rather about a technique I discovered that can be used on vintage sewing machines.  I picked up a New Home NH 609 this week.  As far as I can tell, it’s the New Home version of the Janome Jem.  It looked like it had been transported in a truck full of old tires because it had black marks all over it. 

I tried vinyl and rubber cleaner to remove the marks but that had little or no effect.  I remembered the graphing calculator I got at a thrift shop that the extremely intelligent manager had written the price in permanent marker on the display lens.  I tried baby oil, kerosene, and several other non-abrasive methods to remove that marker but nothing worked.  Last resort was some Headlight Lens Restorer I had used on our old Dodge Intrepid headlights.

 I figured if it could clean up plastic headlight lenses, it might also clean up a calculator lens.  Sure enough, that mark disappeared like something David Copperfield would have envied. Out to the garage to get the Headlight Lens Restorer to try on the black marks on this plastic sewing machine.  

Shazam! Those black marks just melted away and the Headlight Lens Restorer polished the plastic so it looks like new.  

All I need now is a spool pin and maybe my wife will get off my back about my selling her Featherweight while she was out shopping.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Viking 64 40

In Fredericksburg, Virginia for a business meeting a few weeks ago, I noticed a Goodwill Store across the street from the hotel where the meeting was being held. Never one to pass up a chance to paw through junk, I headed across the street at the first opportunity. There was only one sewing machine, from a distance, I thought it was a modern plastic Singer and nothing I would be interested in. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a Husqvarna Viking 6440, manufactured in the '75 - '77 timeframe, in good cosmetic condition but frozen solid. Vikings are not common in my area, this was only the third one I have ever seen but it was complete, in good condition, with foot control and some extras and the price was right so it came home with me.

A few years back, I owned a 5000 series and a 6000 series ex-school Vikings and they were pure junk. I couldn’t see why anyone would ever buy a Viking, much less rave about it.  

What I did like, however, was their foot controls. 

Instead of a wiper arm sliding across a rheostat, the Vikings of that era use a wheel rolling across a rheostat.  This makes for much smoother operation and less chance of the foot control sticking. 

They also have a safety feature that completely disconnects power when there is no pressure on the pedal. I still have one of my original foot controls but have been hoarding it until I could find a machine worthy of it. 

When I saw that this Viking had the foot control, I figured that alone was worth the $12.95 sticker price, so I picked it up.

When I got this one home and opened up, I found that even though the exterior was spic & span, the spider webs inside indicated it hadn't been used in some time and had been stored in less than ideal conditions. It took lots of exercising to free up the mechanisms but in about an hour, it started sewing and gets continually better.

It has the slide-on accessory tray that probably wasn’t meant to sew on, but I do anyway, since the table extension was not included. In the tray were some bobbins and a couple of accessories, but by no means a full bag.

I wasn’t expecting much, considering my history with Vikings, but when I started sewing a small project, I was in for a shock! The machine is smooth, quiet, and produces an excellent stitch. Now, I can see why Viking owners are proud of their machines, they probably bought them new and performed all the required maintenance, unlike the school system that produced my first two Vikings.

It only has the “A” cam, so I only have four stitches in addition to straight stitch and zig zag but 99% of my sewing is straight stitch, 0.9% zig zag, and only 0.1% decorative stitch, so I can live without all the fancy stitches. Guess I’ll keep it until it needs some kind of repair, and then I’ll put the foot control on a Necchi Supernova and sell the Viking for parts.