Monday, July 08, 2013

Simplex


  I picked this machine up at the dump over a year ago.  The cosmetic condition and complete decals caught my eye and I tossed into my minivan. The attendant assured me that the facility has an unbeatable return policy. I plugged it in when I got home and learned that it was very noisy and did not sew. I didn't have time to fuss with it then and put it on the shelf and forgot about it. Yesterday, I pulled it out, hoping I could find it non-repairable and use its disposal to lower the size of my collection (hoard?)


The badge says Simplex Sewing Machine Company, Washington DC but tucked inconspicuously under the motor is, "Made in Occupied Japan". That places it's manufacture date between 1945 and 1952 and from some of the features, I would place it towards the end of that period.


I can't find a JA Number, but "TSM" is cast into the under side of the bed. If anyone knows what that means, please comment (Toyota Sewing Machines?) Toyota began producing 15 Class sewing machines in 1946, according to their website, so it's altogether possible that this machine was made in their factory.

Many things were wrong with this one! The only things I was surprised to find in perfect adjustment were the needlebar height and the thread gap between the shuttle driver and the shuttle. There is no shuttle cushion spring on this model, so the shuttle can become noisy fast if that gap is not correctly adjusted.

1. There is a roller in the feed dog circuit, just above the hook assembly. It was frozen and the follower was sliding, rather than rolling. 


2.  The upper tension was assembled incorrectly.
3.  The check spring was bent totally out of shape.
4.  There was so much lint packed between the rows of teeth on the feed dog that the feed dog could no longer rise high enough to feed the fabric.
5.  The feed dog height was out of adjustment (possibly because of #4 above).
6.  The feed dog was not centered in the slot.
7.  There were several loose mechanical connections and pivot points. One in the feed dog circuit made the stitch length lever vibrate when sewing.
8.  The motor was so dry, it chattered when running.

Every defect corrected just led me to another, a very fun afternoon.

I will probably never get rid of this one, no one seems to want vintage sewing machines that don't come from one of the big manufacturers - Singer, Bernina, Pfaff, Necchi, etc. but it gave me an afternoon of satisfying tinkering, I didn't have to replace any parts except the bobbin case, and I can always return it to where I got it.



24 comments:

Michelle said...

Is there a drop off point near you for The Sewing Machine Project?

http://www.thesewingmachineproject.org/

Thank you for saving this machine. They don't make them like this anymore!

Jonathan said...

I bet if you set it up in a nice cabinet in your shop you'd find a buyer.

Ed Lamoureux said...

I tried to give away three portable machines a few weeks ago. The Singer and the Necchi were taken, but no one would touch the Morse in like-new condition because they had never heard of a Morse. I think the Simplex would suffer the same fate. However, because it is black with gold decals, someone might just view it as a valuable antique and plunk down $25 for it. -Ed

samantha said...

I am actually looking for a well-made machine that gives me more stitch options (and attachments) than I can find for my primary machine. Brand doesn't matter to me.

My primary machine is a Viking 3230, and I love it. It's quiet and works beautifully. However, I have a terrible time finding attachments and specialty feet for it (they go for a fortune on Ebay). Also, having at least a couple decorative stitches would be handy.

A machine that uses cams seems like a great option, and I regularly check Craigslist and thrift shops for one. Any suggestions on an overlooked but beautifully made machine?

Ed Lamoureux said...

Samantha, In my opinion, the most overlooked sewing machines are the store brands that were made in Japan. Kenmore, Signature, Penncrest, Wizard and others are high quality machines because the stores staked their reputations on them but they are not valued by collectors because they don't have the prestigious names like Singer, Pfaff, Bernina or Elna. You can find them in thrift shops, flea markets, yard sales, and classifieds for vary reasonable price and you will have a machine that lasts a lifetime. One caveat: If you can, before you buy, remove the top lid and lower cover and look for plastic gears. Those non-metal pieces are deteriorating from age and contact with petroleum products and sometimes can't be replaced. -Ed

UrbanRecyclist said...

I would take your Morse in a heartbeat! Too bad I'm not in your neighborhood. I have yet to add a Morse machine in my collection. (hoping to come across a pink Morse one of these days) After began collecting, I too was pleasantly surprised how great and plentiful those Japanese made store band machines were. I first found a green Aldens machine, and then a mint-colored New Home machine in mint(yes, truly) with all attachments was given to me which had Janome all over it, and the biggest surprise for me was all metal (and even partial plastic ones) Japanese made Kenmores! I had no idea Kenmore had such great machines. However, with some exceptions on Kenmores, the only thing is that I have yet to find an all metal gear, cool color, store brand Japanese made machine with free-arm. Are there such things?

Kelly said...

I love my Japanese one and would take that one in a heartbeat.

samantha said...

I took your advice and picked up a Kenmore 158.16510 (once I had those names, it was easy to pick one up), which has all metal parts and came with many of the original accessories. The cam mechanism was sluggish, so I took it out and took it apart and cleaned it out. It worked, but when I put it back together, I discovered that wasn't the only issue. The mechanism that switches the machine to sew in reverse is also sticky and slow (nothing that a good cleaning won't fix), but now I can't figure out how to take it apart to clean it. Any pointers, or is this a problem that requires specialty tools? I could take it into a shop, but troubleshooting these old machines is half the fun of owning them.

Ed Lamoureux said...

Samantha, Congratulations on your acquisition! First thing I would do is go to searspartsdirect.com and enter your model number. You will be rewarded with exploded diagrams of your machine so you can see what parts are involved. The reverse mechanism should be in the Feed System diagram. Before disassembling, I would use a solvent to dissolve any dried-up lubricants in the mechanism. I prefer spray because it covers more area and the spray can has a tube to direct the chemical way down in there. I like Liquid Wrench but others use kerosene, alcohol, and other commercial products. If you see any plastic, make sure the solvent you use is not harmful to plastic. Follow up any solvent with sewing machine oil to re-lubricate the parts you have cleaned. -Ed

Kate said...

I love the 15 clones. Especially if it has an interesting badge name or is a bright colour. They sell for about $15-$35 in Australia. If they sell at all. But I appreciate them.

BadGoodDeb said...

I'm picking up a Simplex tonight, in gorgeous condition. I've saved your post in case I need repair guidance. :) See
http://chicago.craigslist.org/sox/atq/4487273356.html
for pics, while ad is up. I still love my 1978 Kenmore too.

Anonymous said...

I have an old simplex machine that is identical to the one in the picture. Can I thread is like a singer 15? My great aunt took care of it very well so I know it works. Any advice would be appreciated.

Damion Ray said...

I just found a Simplex 200 Deluxe. Any thoughts on were I can get some sort of manual on it's parts?

Sonja said...

I just acquired a Simplex Master Model 1000 sewing machine but cannot find any information on this brand other than what you posted. I have the serial number and wonder if you were able to locate any other information on the Simplex machines?

David Reeves said...

have an old simplex r897929 can u tell mee how it might be

Willie said...

Willie said...
I just acquired a Simplex Model 15 sewing machine. And I am having problems trying to thread it. On the motor it said made in USA. It needs oiling, other than that it runs good. Do anyone have info. on how to thread a Simplex? Thank You!!! (61williecarr@gmail.com)

Christine said...

Hello!
I've just acquired a Simplex 1038.
Everything works great except I can't wind thread onto the bobbin. Is it possible there is a 3rd belt that I'm missing?
Also: any idea how I might find a manual? (Might the manual be found under a name other than 'Simplex'?)
Thanks

Ed Lamoureux said...

I have never heard of a Simplex 1038 and a Google search turned up no results so I can't answer that one. If you send me some photos of the overall machine and, in particular, the bobbin winder area, to my gmail address OldSewingMachines maybe I will have an idea. -Ed

Anonymous said...

Ed, My husband found a Simplex complete in wood cabinet right after Hurricane Wilma here, in 2005, on the side of the road with bulk pickup! I treasure this treasure...it is in perfect shape, although I do have plans to redo the cabinet soon.

Dee said...

I recently found a portable Simplex sewing machine. It belonged to my husband's grandfather ho passed away in 1959. I do not sew and was wondering if I should just throw it away or try to sell it.

Thanks

Ed Lamoureux said...

Simplex machines are not in high demand. If you can sell it locally via free classified ad or local bulletin board, you might see $20. I don't believe it would be worth the hassle of selling on eBay and shipping. -Ed

moblacksmith0530 said...

Just got my simplex model 15, I paid a little more for it than it was worth but it runs nice, a little oil and it is sewing up a storm. It was very noisy in the bobbin shuttle area so I compared the shuttle to some other class 15 shuttles I have acquired, I found one that fit nicely. It made a huge difference. I wanted a cheap class 15 machine to sew light leather with when I don't want to use the Consew 227 or the 29K. I am going to let the oil soak for a day or two then give it a thorough cleaning before trying the leather. You made a comment about the thread gap for the shuttle, I was wondering if you have a source that shows/explains how that should be set I might like to check that and make sure it is good before I start running the upholstery thread through the machine. I am still learning the ins and outs of repairing sewing machines even though I have done a dozen or so. I would appreciate any assistance.

Rene' Hart said...

Ed, my dad has a Simplex that looks similar to yours; the only number we can find on it is R12727. It works well but needs a new belt. A stop into the local sewing machine shop turned up a wall full of belt options. My cursory Google search is turning up very little on Simplex, and nothing at all with R12727.

cc7 said...

I have a small cardboard box with the name Simplex printed on it and inside I found many attachments for a sewing machine. Seeing this picture, it looks exactly like the one we had when I was a kid. My mother must have thrown it away because it was making so much noise, but I remember learning to sew on this machine. I would like to buy the machine if it is for sale. I have been wondering where I could get one, since I couldn't even remember the brand name of it, only what it looked like. I just came across the parts in the box in an old sewing kit we had, and it said Simplex, and that is when I suddenly realized that was the brand name of the machine.

Colc