Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Singer Auto-Reel

  This week, I had the pleasure of working on the first model of Touch & Sew made by Singer.  It is a model 600 but the model number is not displayed in the usual place, it just says "Auto-Reel" and the wind-in-place bobbin is placed in wind mode using a push-down button.

  Later versions of the 600 and its descendants had the winding mechanism actuating button under the slide plate.

  When I saw the machine, I assumed there would be little to do other than oil and grease because it looks as though it has been used very little.  No paint chips, scratches, needle strikes, or other signs of wear.  It was noisy running, indicating that some time had passed since its last lubrication, so that's where I started.  After oiling and greasing, I tested the various functions and found that (a) the release mechanism was not latching and

 (b) the needle would not return to the right in zig zag.

  The zig zag problem was easy to figure out, there was a broken spring lying in the bottom of the housing.

 I couldn't find a new replacement and none of my parts machines used the identical spring, even though the part number for the spring in the 500 is the same.  I found a similar spring in my parts bin that was longer and cut it down to the same length as the old spring.

  After replacing the spring, the release mechanism would still not latch and clattered back and forth with every rotation of the shaft.  The service manual tells how to adjust that mechanism but says, "Be sure stitch pattern selectors are properly engaged.  Otherwise, machine will not engage when in operation." I looked at the pattern selectors, and, sure enough, the lower selector was not popping out when moved to position "A".

  I started tracing out the mechanism to find the reason and saw that the rear index pin was full of crud

and I assumed that the lever would not lock into the slot because of that. 

  After removing the index pin, cleaning, reinstalling and readjusting, there was no improvement.    The cam followers were at the correct position but the indicator on the front of the machine was not.  When the cam followers were in the straight stitch position, the indicator read "C" instead of "A".  Back to the service manual and adjusting the indicator.  Once the indicator and the cam followers agreed, the selector button popped out as it should and everything worked fine, sort of.

  On to testing the stitches and I noticed there was less than 1/4" clearance under the presser foot.  Normally that is an easy adjustment, but on this series of machines, the presser foot pressure adjuster

must be removed to access the presser bar clamping screw. 

  Removing is not a problem, reinstalling is a bit troublesome.

  With all those adjustments and repairs, straight stitch worked properly but zig zag would only catch on one side.  That normally means that either the presser bar height is incorrect or the hook is not timed to the needle.  In this case, it was the hook timing.  When the hook point was supposed to be even with the needle, it was about 10 degrees off.

  After spending much of my Labor Day weekend tinkering with this machine, today I finally put it all back together, wiped off the greasy fingerprints and sewed a successful test swatch.  I hope the next one is a bit easier, although I enjoyed the challenge and learned a lot from this one.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Parts Store


Jonathan said...

Very nice 600! I have a 600 and a 603 auto reel. Sadly. mine are not in pristine condition like yours' though. I prefer my later model Singer 600 with the bobbin winding button under the slide plate because I forget to undo the bobbin winding post when using the auto reels....hahaha

Elena said...

Where was the broken spring supposed to go?

Richard Beman said...

That and the 600E were the last decent Singer machines manufactured. They were complicated as you now know, but once they are correctly adjusted ( hours of work usually ) they sew quite nicely. It is very hard to find decent ones at this point. Many were badly mangled by less than stellar repairmen and the fact that at that point Singer was having issues with quality control- more so with the 600E models. Bad castings, sloppy construction ( a fair number were so hastily constructed that the bearing oil ports were never lined up and oil never hit the horizontal bearings ). Now we know why many sewers covet the # 401 machines- they were better made !! The 600 machines made a better zigzag stitch due to a design change in the bobbin/ feed system. If you find a nice 600 machine, you will enjoy it as much as any nice vintage machine...