Thursday, September 17, 2015

Singer 20U33

  I have an industrial 20U33 that I like to sew on.  It is smooth, strong, and quiet and makes a perfect stitch.  It also has a 9mm zig zag, which I rarely take advantage of but I know it's there if I need a wide zig zag.
I have had it mounted in a power stand from a Singer 95-10 that went away years ago.

  I like the table because of its solid wood top that I intend to refinish some day and the flip-up leaf that extends the sewing surface.  Problem is, the ancient clutch motor has four wires protruding from it and I can find no documentation how to hook up the wires to make the motor operational.

  To substitute for the missing clutch motor, I installed my largest family machine motor - a 1.3 amp model from a White.

  The treadle did not allow the foot control to be positioned in a comfortable location so I wedged it under the far end of the treadle and depress the treadle to actuate the speed control, just like I would if the clutch motor were working.

  This setup allowed me to sew but there was no light.  I tried a stick-on LED light but it did not provide adequate illumination in the proper direction. 

  A tabletop Ott Lite provided illumination but I was constantly knocking it over.
To the rescue was a Singer 252

with a broken plastic gear in the upper section.

   I was able to find a replacement gear but see no way to replace it without removing the main shaft - a task I do not wish to undertake - so it is now a parts donor. 

  The first donation was the foot control, motor and attached light.  They fit perfectly on the 20U33 and I now have a machine I like to use with enough light to see what I'm doing.



HWP said...


So interested in the 20U. I've been looking for one for several years but they are always so high priced. Most recently I found the newer tan version for $650 which I just couldn't go. And I spend half my year in one state and the other half in another. The idea of transporting the head, table and motor just does not appeal.

However, I do have a question. Does the 20U have a motor boss to attach a motor to? If I could rig one up like you have, I'd be tempted to spend the money as the machine is ideal for the kind of sewing I do.

Thanks for answering.



Unknown said...

I can't speak for all versions, but mine has the same motor boss as a family machine. I have installed two different motors - one from a White and one from a Singer and it was strictly a bolt-on operation. -Ed

HWP said...

Well you've helped me make a decision: I'm now looking again for a 20U. I sure hope I can find one for less than what I usually see them for. Thanks again for the information.


Unknown said...

Just don't assume that every 20U has a motor boss like mine. Check it out before you commit. -Ed

HWP said...

Good advise. I will. Thanks again.


Jonathan said...

A repair guy told me he removed the plastic face plate on a Singer 252 and drilled a small hole into the body of the machine so he could insert a screwdriver in to remove the top plastic gear. Just a suggestion if you have another you wanted to repair. I think in the past you've mentioned that you like these machines. Personally, they're one of my least favorites. I don't like the look of these machines. The previous Singer 237 was a much better machine, even though it is only a basic zig-zag and machines like the 252 often included more stitches.

Unknown said...

Interesting! I'll have to look at that. I could always find another motor and light for the 20U. - Ed

Jonathan said...

Ed, I looked through your post again. I didn't realize the busted gear in your Singer 252 was the one on the main shaft. My repair guy has only mentioned replacing the small gear on the vertical shaft. I thought the gear on the shaft was made of a more durable material - so that they didn't break. I understand now why your 252 became a parts machine.

Dave said...


That four wire motor is three phase, meant for an industrial power socket, one neutral, three lives with different timing. Gives smoother torque delivery for big high powered machinery, like having more cylinders on a petrol engine. Probably overkill for a sewing machine, but three phase is normal in factories. In theory you could get such a socket put in your house, but I have no idea of the cost. From another post I spotted of a similar machine, the power output would be totally excessive for a home machine anyway, and really noisy.

Nice to find something I know the answer to :) Got my first machine today, Singer Starlet/Genie 354, missing the bobbin grrrr. Apparently has a tension problem, but looks like it has never been used.

Anonymous said...

Came across your blog on vintage sewing machines and have a question. Bought a cabinet years ago to put my machine in. The original machine I had him fix it and I put it away and forgot about it. I pulled it out today and looked online and realized it was a Singer 201-2 which is wired with the motor on the back (wire covered w/electrical tape). Tried the machine and it runs very smoothly. They call this the Rolls Royce of Singer Machines. It has the original book, buttonhole attachment, hemstitcher, zigzag attachment(all in original boxes), 5 different types of feet, a bag of bobbins. The machine itself looks like someone tried to clean the surface, so the surface is flat and some of the painted decoration rubbed off--not pretty. The silver plates are present & pretty. The machine needs a lot of TLC to clean it. My question: I would rather give this to someone who loves machines and would either clean it up or use the pieces on other more beautiful 201-2's is there any way of getting this to someone or is this idea dumb and should just donate it locally? I would appreciate your input, as you appreciate good sewing machines. I'm sorry I am writing this as anonymous, just don't respond to blogs and don't know the way of getting another id. Thank you. E

HappyGene said...

Hi Ed,

I really enjoy the way you made this machine usable - resourceful! How steady is it in that smaller box frame you made for it?

:) Gene