Sunday, December 14, 2014

Singer Genie 354 Revisited

Remember this sad relic I picked up over a year ago?

After suffering buyer's remorse for 14 months, I got tired of looking at it on the floor of the shop and decided I had to do something - either fix it up or part it out.  Besides being dirty and scuffed up, it had two things wrong - both cosmetic.  The trim piece beside the take-up lever was missing, as was the plastic disc covering the clutch release.  Miraculously, the 6620C I parted out about the same time as I acquired the Genie

 had a very similar clutch release setup and I was able to utilize the 6620 part to replace the missing Genie part.  It's a slightly different color, but close enough and certainly better than none at all!

That was the easy part.  I had no machine to borrow the trim piece from and had to get creative.

Fortunately, the trim piece has all straight sides and I was able to fashion a substitute from 1/8" clear lucite.  The clear part was not much better than none at all, so I rifled through Kathie's fabric stash looking for a small piece of fabric having some or all of the colors of the neighboring trim to place behind the clear part.  To my dismay, Kathie does not like to use orange or yellow fabrics in her quilts, so nothing in her stash even came close.  I also had the problem of how to attach the new piece and decided on transparent, double-sided duct tape. I would place the tape on the clear glass, then a piece of cream fabric to match the body of the Genie, then another piece of tape to fasten the trim piece to the machine.  When I installed the first piece of tape, I found that the color of the duct tape matched close enough that I didn't need to sandwich in a piece of cream fabric.

It's all together and sewing now, I no longer have to look at it sitting on the shop floor in pieces.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Store

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Low Shank Snap-On Feet

I had such good luck with the set of high shank accessories, I thought I should try out the low shank set.

  Since most of the feet are designed for a zig zag machine, I selected a Pfaff 130 as a test bed.  The snap-on ankle fit fine.

I snapped on the general purpose zig zag foot for the first test

The foot fit perfectly and the Pfaff's needle came down in the center of the needle hole.  Stitch quality is just as good as with the Pfaff foot although I am not getting a full width zig zag - apparently, my 130 needs a drink of oil.

Bouy'ed by the zig zag test, I swapped the zig zag foot out for the straight stitch foot to make sure the needle would line up with the hole in the foot.  It matched perfectly and the straight stitch was as good as ever.

But one test is not conclusive, so I moved the ankle and strraight stitch foot over to a Singer Featherweight.  As expected, the needle came down right in the center of the hole in the foot

and stitch quality was identical to the factory foot.

My only disappointment was that when the edge of the fabric is lined up with the edge of the straight stitch foot, the seam is a millimeter wider than 1/4".  I had hoped that I could provide a snap-on foot that easily sewed a perfect 1/4" seam for the quilters.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Singer 401

I don't have anything Earth-shattering to write about today, I just wanted to remind my loyal followers that I am still around.

On the way home from a week-long out-of-town meeting, I stopped in at a thrift shop about an hour's drive from home.  There on the shelf was a Singer 401 priced at $25.

All the functions seemed to work, the stitch selectors were not stuck, the balance wheel turned freely and there were no noticeable scuffs or paint chips.  It had the carrying case but was missing the foot control/power cord, instruction manual, and accessories.  I can replace all those missing items and was standing in the checkout line with the machine under my arm when I realized I already have three 401s and two 403s, I'm crazy to be picking up yet another 401.  I turned around, put the machine back on the shelf, and left.  No remorse yet, I need the storage space more than I need another 401.

On another subject, slightly off topic, I picked up this scratch remover to pretty up sewing machine beds that often have scratches.

  It does improve the looks but does not bring them back anywhere near new.  I tried some on some scratches on my wife's car and it completely covers light scratches but not those that are down below the clearcoat.

I have been losing weight and last weekend, rummaged through my dresser for a wristwatch with a tighter band.  I found a Pulsar that I picked up in an auction jewelry box purchase but it had lots of fine scratches on the crystal.  Since I had a scratched crystal and a bottle of scratch remover, I figured it couldn't hurt to try the scratch remover on the watch crystal.  It worked beautifully!  That old Pulsar looks almost like new!  Now, I'm looking for other scratched-up items around the house to try it on.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Unknown Accessory

I was cruising the Goodwill auction site today and ran across "8 Pounds of Sewing Machine Accessories".  No one had yet bid and the starting price was $5.00 so I clicked on it to see what was there.

I recognize most of the items but two have me stumped.  Can anyone tell me what this is?

Or this?

The description says that they are mostly Singer and Kenmore accessories and I don't recognize these two items as Singer, so they are possibly Kenmore.  The white plastic composition tells me they are not really old, maybe from the 70's +/-.

It's just to satisfy my curiosity because while the $5.00 price was good, the $20+ shipping drove them out of my price range.  Maybe someone on the West Coast can use them.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Willcox & Gibbs

We went to the weekly auction last night.  I was drawn in by the photo of an electric Willcox & Gibbs machine that appeared to be in good condition.  I keep saying I have too many straight stitchers and I am trying to downsize but, here I go, chasing one more sewing machine.  When we got there, the machine was in as good condition as the auction website indicated.

Decals were almost 100% and the lot included the foot control, manual, and box of accessories.  I had a maximum bid in mind but that lowered when I looked into the vent holes in the end of the motor.  There was lots of carbon or dirt and I could see some bare widings that should have been covered with electrical tape.  I was afraid the motor was toast and there was no way to plug it in to test it.  My mental bid limit didn't factor into the decision because bidding ended at $100 and that was way over my maximum.

There were two more sewing machines, a Singer Spartan (not the 3/4 size black one - the newer green one). It sold for $5 with no accessories or manual or any other go-withs, just the machine.  This is not a photo of the actual machine, just a file photo to remind you what it looked like.

Then there was a Singer 66 in a treadle cabinet. The cabinet was worn and the sewing head had rust and decades of dirt on it but it still brought $55.  Maybe the buyer wants to use the treadle base to make an end table.  I wish I had taken a picture of that one because the decals were some I had never seen before and I can't find any like it on the internet. They weren't Redeye or Lotus, the two I am familiar with.  I thought maybe they were 127 decals that had been applied at a rebuild but that's not what they were, either.  The auction website has changed so I can't download photos of items up for bid and now that machine is gone so I can't research further.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Singer 401/403/404 Tension Adjustment

Today I dug out a Singer 403 that I haven't used in a long time (maybe never).

I'm not sure I ever serviced this machine when I got it because there's some tape residue on the vertical pillar that I would've cleaned off if I had ever cleaned and oiled The machine.

As I was sewing on my project, I noticed suddenly I was getting loops on the underside of the fabric. It had me stumped for a minute until I saw that my upper tension dial was at zero. The tension knob was so loose that just the slightest bump moved it from its desired setting.

As I was getting ready to correct that situation, it occurred to me that maybe some others would like to know how that's done so I got the camera out and took some pictures of the process.

  There are many styles of tension assemblies, this is the one used on the Singer 400 series. Once you get the external knob off, you find that all upper tension assemblies are very similar inside.

Here is a clip from the service manual telling how to disassemble the 401/403 tension assembly.  To merely tighten the knob, you only need to perform these two steps.

After the thumb nut L5 is removed and the split stud is exposed, insert the blade of a flat screwdriver in between the two halves of the split stud Q2 and spread the two halves slightly apart. That will tighten up the thumb nut L5 when you screw it back on.

If you get the stud halves spread too far apart and the thumb nut L5 will not go back on, squeeze the stud halves back together a bit with pliers and try again until you get it where you want it.

 I had previously noticed that the +|- indicator was skewed off to one side so while I had the tension assembly open, I thought I would fix that also.

There is a set screw inside the nose door that holds the entire upper tension assembly in the machine. Loosen that set screw and you can turn the assembly to any position you desire. When you have it where you want it, tighten that setscrew and you're ready to reassemble.

Assembly is the reverse of disassembly.

After the tension assembly is reassembled, you want to adjust the tension so that you have a good balanced stitch with no regard to the numbered dial.

Once you have a good stitch, push in the numbered disc D5 and rotate so that the number 4 appears at the top of the dial at the +|- indicator. Release the numbered disc and make sure the pin C5 is seated in one of the holes in D5 and you're done.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

High Shank Snap-On Feet Test

I got a chance to test drive the high shank snap-on feet this afternoon.  I was pleasantly surprised, Everything fit and worked well.  I used a Necchi Lelia 513 as my test bed because it was the easiest high shank machine to reach.  The installation was simple, I just removed the current foot and screwed on the High Shank Adapter.

Then I attached the general purpose zig zag foot.  The slot in the foot matched the slot in the Necchi needle plate

and the fork on the foot matched the teeth of the feed dog.  So far, so good.

Next, I attached the straight stitch foot.  Same result - the hole in the foot matched the hole in the needle plate and the foot covered the feed dog perfectly.  But, does the needle come down in the center of the hole in the foot?  Yes, it does - perfect.

Then, I attached the zipper foot.  I prefer the old, adjustable zipper feet because I can adjust the position of the foot in relation to the needle but this is the style of zipper foot that comes with new machines, now, so I guess I'll have to adapt.

The item I sewed with the zipper foot was welt to go on a small chair I am recovering.  The shape of the zipper foot did not allow me to sew close enough to the cord to make a smooth welt but moving the needle to the left position did.

Hopefully, it would perform better on a zipper.

I didn't try the remaining feet because I figure I would never use them, anyway but I expect they would perform just a well as the feet I did try.

I will place a few of these sets on my next parts order to see if other folks like them as much as I do.  It sure makes changing presser feet much more pleasurable.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Singer 615U

On my second trip to a new thrift shop in town, I spotted a modern-looking cabinet.

The cut-out in the top told me it was a sewing machine cabinet and it was so modern, I wouldn't have given it a second look, except for the SINGER nameplate on the door.

The machine inside turned out to be a 615U, a 1968 Touch & Sew made in Japan.

The cosmetic condition is exquisite although I am not too crazy about the gaudy blue plastic faceplate.

It had the instruction manual and a unique attachment box. Most of the attachments are still in their original plastic envelopes.

The store owner plugged it in and ran the motor and that's when I noticed that the hook was not rotating.  Anxious to demonstrate my extensive knowledge, I told him it had a broken gear.  Imagine my embarrassment when we opened up the bottom plate and found that this model does not use gears to transmit rotation from the upper section to the lower, it uses a cogged timing belt.  Here is what remains of the belt.

I didn't make any decision that day, I came home and checked the internet to see if a replacement belt is available and it is, so I put one in my cart.  Yesterday, I stopped by to see if anyone had taken the machine for parts and it was still there.  The owner said he would take $15 but I was with Kathie, so I couldn't take it then.  This morning, Kathie was at a sew-in so I went to the store and picked it up.

Except for the belt and the camstack, it is all metal inside.  Everything is clean and rust-free, even though the dropping feed dog and one of the cam selectors are frozen, common ailments on old sewing machines.

The machine is in such nice condition that I would like to get it running but the idea of replacing that timing belt has me nervous.  I have yet to find instructions anywhere in my service manuals or on the internet.  The lower pulley is easy, it is at the end of its shaft

but to get the belt over the upper pulley, the belt has to go over the main shaft.  It would be nice to know if I can remove the rear bushing and slide it in that way or if everything on the main shaft has to be removed or loosened so the shaft can be slid out far enough to insert the belt from the top.  If anyone can provide guidance, please do.

The jury is still out deliberating whether to invest in a belt and try to replace it or just carve the machine up for parts

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Presser Feet

About a week ago, a Necchi owner asked me to order her a set of high shank snap-on presser feet.  
  I ordered a set for her and thought that others might like the convenience of snap-on vs. screw-on presser feet so I ordered another set to try out with the intention of listing the sets on Etsy if they seemed of decent quality. 

While cruising Ebay today, looking to identify an orphan set of Necchi accessories, I ran across a couple folks selling the same set of snap-on presser feet (at $5-$10 above full retail).  In one description, the seller said that some buyers had asked if the feet came with instructions.  They don’t but the seller referred to a book in her shop telling how to use all sorts of presser feet.

That got me curious what the book might be, so I checked out her store and found no such book listed.  Then I Googled “Book how to use sewing machine attachments” and about the 5th line down was a link to the Singer website,  I clicked on it and I was taken to a page that has free, downloadable pdf instructions and video clips for all the major sewing machine feet.

You don't have to own a Singer to find these instructions useful, all sewing machines use basically the same attachments.  Most of the information is contained in the sewing machine instruction manual, but if you are missing your manual, here’s a place to find out how all those shiny doo-dads are supposed to work!


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's Vintage Sewing Machine Store