Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Singer 15-75

  I was in a local thrift shop a couple of weeks ago and saw a Singer 15-75. That was only the second one I had ever seen, so they are not that plentiful. The asking price was $75 and I have lots of straight stitchers, so I passed that one by but it reminded me that I have one tucked away that I got years ago.

 The 15-75 has the same reverse sewing mechanism as the 15-91 and the 15-125 EXCEPT that it is belt driven, rather than direct gear driven like its sisters.

  I didn't like the machine originally because it was too noisy but about a month ago I ran across the instructions for adjusting the shuttle cushion spring and I have been checking all my 15 Class machines for excess gap and correcting it.

The space between the tail of the cushion spring and the shuttle is supposed to be .010 - .014 inches, just wide enough to let thread pass through. Too narrow a gap and thread will get hung up; too wide a gap and the machine will be excessively noisy.  Every machine I have checked has a much larger gap and this 15-75 had about .12 instead of the .012 it should have. Adjusting the spring quieted the machine right down and it is now a pleasure to sew on it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kenmore 17881

Everyone who regularly reads this blog knows that Italian-made Necchis are my favorite sewing machine. However, a long-time collector like myself needs periodic infusions of new machines to tinker with and the Italian Necchis are now in the 60-year-old range and getting more scarce. To fill the gap, I have been picking up Janomes. Several years ago, my wife bought a Janome 6500P. she was so pleased with it that I bought one for myself. Since that machine has performed so well for both of us, I decided to add Janomes to my list when I am scouring thrift shops and auctions for new finds. While Janomes are not that plentiful, Kenmores having "385" as the first three digits of the model number are also made by Janome.

Pictured above is my latest find, a Kenmore 17881. The photos are a bit fuzzy because I took them in low light with my cell phone. At first, I thought, "this is not a vintage machine" but then I realized it was manufactured around 1988, which makes it 25 years old! That probably brings it just barely into the vintage arena.

The machine was starved for oil and took a fair amount of lubricating and exercise to accomplish a zig zag stitch; the stitch selector indicator needle was bent back 180 degrees so it didn't even show in the window (I still haven't figured out how that could happen); and I am still working to free up the stitch length mechanism. The stitch length is changeable but it's so hard to twist the plastic knob that I'm afraid I will break it.  It also had some small droplets of teal paint in several places on the front, but headlight lens restorer took care of that quickly.

The machine sews smoothly and quietly and forms a perfect stitch. It has a nice size throat opening, both width and height.  I will keep looking for Janomes and 385 Kenmores to fill the gap until the next Necchi shows up.  In the meantime, I have to select another machine from my collection to sacrifice to keep the number constant and my marriage happy.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Riccar Super Lite

  A while back, a lady asked me to look at her 3/4 size Riccar R619. She was frustrated because her thread kept breaking. I checked it out and saw that the upper thread was catching in the bobbin area.
I inspected all the parts in that area looking for a groove or burr that could be preventing the thread from sliding smoothly.
  Not finding any obvious problem, I began changing parts. I changed the bobbin, bobbin case and shuttle but the upper thread was still jamming around the hook.
  I was forced to admit failure and returned the machine to her. That was about a month ago. This week, the lady brought the machine to the shop, said she has bought a new Janome and gave me the Riccar to use for parts.
  Now I am on a mission to figure out the cause of the problem, just for my own education. I haven't had time to fiddle with it yet, someday I will drag it out and see if I can redeem myself.