Monday, February 24, 2014

Elna Supermatic

  Trolling through the only thrift shop in this one-horse town, I saw a metal case which I almost passed up until I saw the open latch.

  Elnas are not common in this area, but I have seen a few and knew that carrying case did not hold a manual typewriter, as I had first thought.  Inside was a vintage Elna Supermatic.

  It is dirty but came with a zip-lock bag full of goodies:  Several instruction manuals and advertising pamphlets

  A baggie of presser feet and other accessories

  The knee bar which is necessary because it is the only means of powering the machine, there is no foot control.

  And a few cams

  At $2 apiece, the cams alone are worth more than I paid for the machine!

  The machine runs, although slowly, and the only problem I see initially is that the presser bar is frozen and the presser foot will not raise. A little penetrating oil should fix that.  Now to go clean it up and play a little.


  Apparently more was frozen than the presser bar (which is now functional) because there was literally a pool of brown oil in the bottom of the freearm. Some of it leaked out when I had the head tipped over to remove the bottom plate, but there was still lots left.  

I have oiled many machines in my time but this was the first time I had to DE-OIL one!

It's all cleaned up and sewing, ready for fine-tuning. 

 It growls and rattles a bit, probably just need to find the right spot to lubricate.  Also, it runs fast with no fabric under the foot but slows to a crawl when sewing.  Sounds like something is slipping in the drive train.


Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

It's a cute machine. I've not seen Elna's around here, either. Have fun getting her up and running happily.

Jonathan said...

I've had really good luck removing oil stains (from the body of metal sewing machines) with GoJo hand cleaner. The prior owner of my Singer 401 glued an magnet pin catcher to the bed of the machine and the GoJo removed most of the adhesive also. Thankfully, the paint wasn't damaged.

Jonathan said...

These vintage Elnas are cool machines. The carrying case/bed was a really cool idea but it puts alot of space between the sewer and the needle. Too bad they didn't move the latch on the case closer to the left. Regardless, it was a great find!

Anonymous said...

They are notorious for that "growling." which is due to a flat spon on the drive pulley behind the hand wheel.

When left for any lengthy time the rubber flattens under pressure. The Elna Lotus was subject to similar damage, but they introduced a sort of park dial which lifted the pulley away from the hand wheel when not in use, unfortunately no such solution was found for the Supermatic.

Ed Lamoureux said...

I know about the flat spot issue on Elnas, I didn't notice one on my drive wheel but possibly it's too small to feel yet large enough to make noise. I know I could replace the drive wheel and would, if noise was the biggest problem but the kneebar sensitivity is what's turning me off this machine. -Ed

Derek Pollock said...

I just cleaned out my Great Grandmother's storage bin and she has one of these Elna's that was in the original box - clean as a whistle without a mark on it. The original metal case is still in tact and can anyone let me know if these have some value? I can email photos of its current condition.
Thank you,

chris said...

I have what I thought was an Elna supermatic (says so on the electric foot which I have to press to sew) and has a metal case as shown and heavy.

The actual machine doesn't look like the one pictured though, so confused. I have had my Elna for many years and bought it off a woman for over AUD $700, so feel ripped off. I can't get it to sew through thick materials and having problems with the tension.

Can anyone help/advise. Don't have a manual. Might have to try and download one if available.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask where you oil for a frozen presser foot? I have one on a Kenmore 58 and so far I have not had any luck with getting it to come unfrozen.

Ed Lamoureux said...

Is the hinged foot itself frozen or the presser bar won't go up & down? Assuming it is the presser bar, you need to open the nose door and follow the presser bar up. Oil wherever the bar goes through a bushing or collar. If the bar is more than lightly corroded, you might need to give it some "help" to get it moving again. Heat from a hair dryer sometimes works. Is it stuck in the down position or the up position? If it's up, you can put the presser lever down, unscrew the pressure regulating thumbwheel on top of the machine, put something like a wooden dowel down the hole until it connects with the presser bar and tap the end of the dowel lightly until the presser bar breaks loose. If the presser is stuck in the down position, remove the presser foot and find something to pry up against the lower end of the presser bar until it breaks loose. Cushion the bed of the machine so you don't damage the paint. -Ed

silverarrow said...

So you still have your Elna Supermatic. How did it clean up. I have just bought a tan and beige coloured Elna and it's missing the rubber of felt feet that probably once was under the base. Does your Elna still have them? What should I try and replace them with? Cut out felt for furniture or rubber screw on type?

Ed Lamoureux said...

The cushions on mine were some sort of plastic that crumbled and fell away. I haven't been using the machine so it hasn't bothered me that they are missing. Some day, I will probably attach some stick-on rubber cushions. -Ed

Becky said...

Elna Supermatics are one of my favorite sewing machines, particularly because they have needle position control, you completely control stitch width & length (even in reverse), they are mostly metal, have incredible instruction manuals came with their own twin needle "attachment", you put regular needles into it, & put it on the machine, to replace the one needle one. Makes GREAT faux coverstitch hems (twin stitch design on top layer, zigzag in bobbin area), as well as beautiful stitch designs. There are over 100 stitch designs that you can buy the cams, so one of the widest variety of stitches available in any "non computerized" machine!

The friction pulley is the number 1 problem with these, they just need replaced every once in a while. The hard rubber pulley takes the place of a "belt" in a standard machine, & needs replaced only when it is worn out, or if it gets a flat spot, from being stored in extreme temperatures, for decades, without being maintained or used. $26 at (no I don't work there or own it, just buy from there), you can even rent a special tool the owner invented, to remove the pin from the pulley, without knocking the motor off balance.

Elna also made phenomenal accessories for their machines, there are not only button sewing & darning plates, for sewing on buttons with the machine, or for embroidery & darning freestyle, but there are also eyelet cams available, that sew a REAL circular eyelet, not like the old buttonholer horizontal stitched eyelets! I desperately want a straight stitch plate, but won't pay $30+ on Ebay to get one, so I may modify an extra zigzag plate, to make my own! lol!

The accessory trays for these, are extremely well designed, as well as the freearm, along with the "extension table" which is made out of the carry case. I find the extension table particularly useful when sewing actual quilts, or large projects.

The Elna Supermatics are relatively simple for owners to maintain themselves, & the owner of the White Sewing Center actually travels the country, teaching courses in sewing machine repair, where you are taught to actually work on 2 of your own machines, that you bring with you. Anyway, I love these machines, they are definitely worth keeping & maintaining, & repairing, if necessary. Happy Sewing!

silverarrow said...

I have bought the same model as you Ed. Mine is after a few months of cleaning, oiling and replacing a rubber puller behind the hand wheel running nice. I wish I was not as lucky as you with the amount of cams, and the manual is missing. Do you still have your Supermatic :- )