The Montgomery-Ward Signature sewing machines were made by the HAPPY sewing Machine Company of Japan and I had been told that HAPPY made excellent machines and I wanted to see for myself.
Until last week, I had never found one in good enough condition at a price I was willing to pay. The hardest part was having to leave it in the car for the last three days of our vacation because I had no tools, cleaning supplies, or oil in the hotel room.
I was able to take the manual into the hotel room and peruse it and I noticed that this machine requires a cam to sew zig zag. I didn't notice a cam installed when I bought it and the machine came with no accessories. For the rest of our trip, I was thinking of alternatives - would a Singer 306/319 cam fit? probably not. Could I manufacture a cam from Lucite? Maybe. How would I determine the dimensions? All my worrying was in vain because when I opened the lid on arriving home, I saw the zig zag cam installed. There are other cams but I would never use them, all my sewing is straight stitch and occasional zig zag to form a buttonhole.
When I got the machine on the bench, the first problem I noticed was that the tension discs did not release when the presser bar was lifted. A quick look inside the cover showed that the tension release pin was missing. This is a bad sign because it indicates that the tension has been disassembled by someone who did not know how to reassemble it. As I would expect, none of my salvaged pins was the correct length and I had to manufacture one from a finish nail.
When I had the tension assembly removed to install the tension release pin, I noticed that there was no check spring.
I have tinkered with a lot of tension assemblies and seen very few that do not have a check spring, so I consulted the manual. Sure enough, the diagram of the machine clearly shows a check spring.
The new spring was too long and pushed the tension discs beyond the slot for the thread so the thread sat behind the discs, rather than between them. I did have a salvaged check spring but had to modify it to make it fit correctly.
The motor belt slipped on startup several times but the belt was tight enough and the machine was loose enough that it should not have had that problem. Several yards of thread had wrapped around the motor pulley, lifting the belt out of the v-groove so it did not have enough contact to drive the balance wheel.
With those problems corrected, I threaded it up and tried to sew.
- On the first pass, NOTHING! The needle would not even bring up the bobbin thread. The needle bar was about 1/4" too high and the hook didn't come close to the eye of the needle to catch the upper thread.
- On the second pass, straight stitch worked fine but zig zag only made a stitch on zig, not on zag.
- Lowered the needle bar a bit more and zig worked every stitch but zag skipped every now and again.
- Finally, after the third needle bar height adjustment, zig zag and tension are both perfect.
Now to find a project to sew.
UPDATE: It turned out that the needle bar was not too high. There is a screw in the back of the needle bar
The end of the screw's shaft is in the slot where the needle sits.
The purpose of that screw is to set the exact place where the needle sits in the needle clamp. I didn't notice that screw was missing and installed the needle too high up in the needle bar, giving the effect of the needle bar too high in its clamp. Fortunately, I had one of those screws in my parts bin and was able to fix the problem. Then, it was a matter of re-setting the needle bar to the correct height.
I apologize for the crappy photos, all my cameras are broken and I'm using my daughter's old cell phone as a camera until I find a camera I like.