Friday, August 01, 2014

Kenmore 1400

A few days ago, a friend gifted (cursed?) me with a Kenmore 158.14000.  Her daughter had bought it at a yard sale for the cabinet and did not want the sewing head.


The preliminary inspection told me that the machine had been stored in a high humidity area


 but in spite of the rust on the foot control, there was relatively little rust inside the machine itself.


My guess is that the machine was stored in a basement or garage, the cabinet held the sewing head suspended while the foot control sat for a considerable time on the concrete floor.

The next thing I discovered was the lack of a thumbscrew needle clamp. You have to use a screwdriver to change the needle.


Presser feet are also not held on via a thumbscrew, there is a little lever on the rear of the presser bar that loosens and tightens a screw to hold the presser feet.


This means that most presser feet do not fit but a general purpose foot came with the machine and I did manage to scrounge up two other feet that work.

One feature I find really neat is this little insert that sits in a groove in the needle plate.  You turn it one way for zig zag sewing, then turn it around the opposite way for straight stitching.


Saves having to remove the screws and change out the needle plate.

When I first tried to sew, straight stitch was perfect but zig zag would only make a stitch on one side. The most common cause of this problem is incorrect needlebar height.  At some time, the sewist hit a button or zipper and drove the needlebar up so that now, the needle is too high for the hook to catch the thread.  Needlebar height is easy enough to adjust, just loosen the clamping bolt on the collar, slide the needlebar to the correct position and tighten the bolt back down.


In order to see the hook point passing the needle eye, I need to remove the feed dog and I didn't have the proper tools with me so I just loosened the needle and dropped it down about 1/8 inch.  The result is the same as lowering the needlebar and zig zag works properly.  Now that I have verified that needlebar height is the issue, I will remove the feed dog and adjust the needlebar so that when the the hook passes the needle, the point of the hook is just above the top of the needle's eye at all stitch widths.

This model has a good selection of decorative and utility stitches but up to now, I have been unable to use them.


At first, I thought it might be operator error and visited the Sears website to download an operator manual.  When I enter the model number of this 1400, the site returns a manual for a model 14 - a completely different machine.  I did find a manual for a 1430, which is close, but not identical. Turned out that it wasn't operator error after all, there is one lever inside the vertical pillar that locks the cam follower in place when a stitch is selected. The cam follower position nearest the operator (where it is in the photo) is zig zag.


 That lever is sticking so that when a decorative stitch is selected, the sticking lever allows the cam follower to move away from the operator, but does not allow the cam follower to return in the opposite direction.  To move the cam follower back to zig zag, I have to remove the lid and push the lever into position with a screwdriver.  I have used sewing machine oil and Liquid Wrench so far but neither had much effect.  I am contemplating installing a spring on the lever to "help" it into its proper position.  Until I figure out a remedy, the machne is permanently in zig zag.  Stitch width '0' gives me a straight stitch and that and zig zag is all I really need for the sewing I do.

Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Store

17 comments:

Janet said...

I have that exact same machine and I love it for the kind of heavy-duty sewing my husband is always asking me to do for him. I also have a manual for it; however, it is in my daughter's room and she is sleeping right now. If you need a copy or need some pictures of anything inside the machine, please let me know.

Dre in PA said...

I believe those are generic replacement feet. The set is one screw on ankle with several snap-on feet.

Jonathan said...

I have a Kenmore 1803. Mine has a nice selection of utility stitches and takes cams. I thought the high shank slant foot was odd for a Kenmore. And I was disappointed to see screws for the presser feet and needle on my machine also. I love old Kenmores but that was a horrible idea! The multi purpose needle plate is nice. Haven't tested mine to see if the utility stitches are working. Great post. Sorry your free machine isn't working.

Deni Hendershot said...

I have that same machine, as well, and I do love it. But... I need a walking foot and I can't find one ANYWHERE! And ideas?

Anonymous said...

I also have this machine and am wondering where I can download a manual for free. Can anyone help me ?, all the site show a different machine or want to charge you for it. I don't feel one should have to pay for it in this day and age.

Ed Lamoureux said...

Google "Sears parts direct". When you reach the Sears website, enter your entire model number (158.14xxxxx). If the results don't produce the desired manual, try altering the last couple of digits in your model number and you should eventually find a manual you can use. - Ed

Dreambro said...

Beautiful mint green mod era machine. Built. Between 1968 & 1971

Tam said...

I just purchased this machine at goodwill today.came in original table for$50. Drawers full of all kinds of goodies for it. Including 2 manuals one in English. I haven'sewn for 35 years and can't figure how to use the zig zag. Can't seem to move the dial. But everything works great. Guess I should read the manual and not jump ahead. My guess is the dials are set perfect though. Great find.

Bev said...

In 1971 I purchased this same machine and it served me well. Foolishly, I thought I needed a new machine some 12 years later and bought a "superior" Viking. Big mistake! The only advantage was the free arm on the Viking. I hope the person I gave my Kenmore to is enjoying it still today. As for me, I am on a quest to find another just like it.

Lynn said...

I was given one of these 158-14000's new for graduation from high school back in the late 1960's, and have used it heavily ever since. I have subsequently acquired several more very similar models, and love them all! One of my favorite features is the quick release lever for the presser feet, which mitigates the difficulty of finding the super high shank feet. I wouldn't give up these machines for anything!

Quincunx said...

I just got a 158.14001 which is the same machine with a low shank. I cannot see any extra spring when I open up the top and look at the cam follower. I would be glad to take a close up picture if it would help you see any differences they may have added to the later sub-model. Thank you a thousand times for finding a manual that is close enough to use!

Quincunx said...

Now that mine is oiled I am starting to have the same problem with the spring not being strong enough to push back its lever! It was fine while the machine was dry. Fascinating. I have to go back and clean out some over oiling anyway.

Anonymous said...

I really could use a manual as I just got this sewing machine gifted to me from a friend and am trying to learn to sew.

Anonymous said...

I am looking for a switch for the Kenmore 158-14000. Sears sent me the wrong switch, and they no longer sell the one I need. It's supposedly part 5223. This was my mom's machine, I know how to use it, and I don't want to give it up. Any idea where I can find a switch?

Cindy said...

I have the original manual! How can I share it with you here?

Cindy said...

I also found this webpage with the blow out schematics for this model. https://www.searspartsdirect.com/model-number/15814100/0582/1220000.html

Unknown said...

I have the instructions booklet .
I could take pictures and email them to you. If you are interested email me at cscg1963@yahoo.com in the subject line say kenmore sewing machine. Otherwise I will just delete as spam.