Thursday, June 26, 2014

Singer Rocketeer Spool Pins

Anyone who has a Singer 500 or 503, aka "Rocketeer" knows of the unique spool pin arrangement.  There are no spool pins on the outside of the machine, you lift the top lid and two spool pins pop up ready for thread.

I hate this arrangement, I don't like sewing with the lid up and the pins are often slanted so the thread doesn't unwind properly.  The alternative is to plug a plastic spool pin into the hole in the lid.

When sewing on a Rocketeer, I leave the lid closed and use a thread stand. Actually, I use a thread stand most of the time because I use the large cones of thread instead of the little spools you buy at the fabric store.

We went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania a year ago and one of the fabric shops up there had a large bin of cones for $4 each.  I bought a half dozen and, when we returned this year, and I bought seven more.  I really like not running out of thread in the middle of a project. I just wish they had more neutral and light colors in the bin.

I digress - back to the spool pins. The Rocketeer spool pins are thin plastic with a couple of little pieces sticking out acting as pivot points. Needless to say, they break off often, so I picked up some to stock in the Etsy Old Sewing Machines Shop.

Replacing the pins is not difficult, you remove the upper lid and turn it over; release the spring from the broken pin,

back on the top, remove the one screw from the hold-down plate and lift out the spool pin.  Insert the new pin in the hole, reinstall the hold-down plate, and reattach the spring.

Now, if the spring is missing, stretched out, or broken, you have another problem.  While the spool pins retail for 80 cents apiece, the springs retail for $4.80 each!  This got my creative genes stirring to find a cheaper option. I got out the piano wire left over from my bobbin winder spring episode and wound a spring around a nail.

Unfortunately, the piano wire is considerably thicker than the original spring wire and the spring didn't have enough "spring".  Then, I thought that the spring looks similar to the one in a retractable ballpoint pen.  I disassembled a cheap pen, bent the ends of the spring and installed it.

Works well for now but I'm not sure if it will get stretched out or how long it will last. I will continue to look for a substitute or order some lighter spring wire.

The next problem is the spool felts that help keep the thread unwinding smoothly and prevent the spool from rattling as you sew.  The standard spool pin felts don't work because you need a slot for the pin to fold down into.

 Cutting a slot in a standard spool pin isn't the best option because the spool felt can rotate and the slot won't be where it needs to be when you lower the lid.  My parts supplier doesn't carry the 500 spool pin felts, what I do is buy a sheet of adhesive felt from the craft store, cut out a circle, punch a hole in the center,

cut a slot for the pin to fold into

and adhere the homemade felt to the lid.  Not original looking, but it does the job.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Oops! I Pforgot

It's embarrassing when you have so many sewing machines that you can completely forget a number of them.  After I pulled out the four Pfaffs in my previous post, I remembered that I have a 138 on the bottom shelf, out of sight.

  The 138 is basically a 130 on steroids - same running gear but a longer bed and it uses a 1/4 hp to 3/4 hp industrial motor. This makes essentially three 130s in my stable and makes it a bit easier to decide what to get rid of.
  After remembering the 138, it reminded me that I have two more Pfaff industrials out in the garage.  The 144 is a double-needle industrial machine that I bought knowing it had a broken feed dog.

  I wasn't too concerned until my parts dealer told me a new feed dog would cost $695!  I wasn't about to spend that kind of money on a feed dog, especially when I also have a Singer 112 double needle industrial machine that is complete.  I did buy the closest Singer feed dog with the intent of grinding it down to try to fit it in the Pfaff but it's been so long I don't even remember where that feed dog is hiding.

Then there is the 463.

  This machine sews like a scalded dog but, after all, it is just a straight stitch tailoring machine and I already have a Singer 31-15 and two 96-10s, how many straight stitch tailoring machines does one need?  I am not an advanced sewist and speed means nothing to me except that I can make mistakes faster.

I think this has decided me to part out the 463, the 144, and 130#1 and keep 130#2, the 362, and the 138.  The jury's still out on the 330, It doesn't look like I can cannibalize a 130 hook to use in it, maybe I will make enough parting out the other machines to buy a hook for the 330.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pfaff Pfroblem

  In an effort to thin the herd, I gathered up all my Pfaffs and am trying to make a decision which one(s) to cull out. I have two 130s: the first is older, the paint on the bed is cracked, and it has no light but it sews beautifully.

  I sewed this entire quilt top with that machine and it never skipped a stitch or broke the thread. It was smooth-running and quiet.  It has a 1.3 amp motor.

The second 130 is in top condition, even though I paid only $4.75 for it at a local auction, complete with cabinet, chair, and accessories.

For some reason, the photograph makes the paint look dull but it is as shiny as the day it left the factory.  I haven't sewn on it for a couple of years so I will have to give it a workout before I decide its fate. It has a  light and a 1 amp motor.

Then there's the 330. It has several serious paint scrapes, the stitch length knob is broken, and thread often gets caught under the throat plate. I believe some of the screws on the hook assembly are snagging the thread.

  The 362 is in nice condition cosmetically but the plastic knob on the embroidery unit is cracked and no longer grabs the shaft of the embroidery unit.

That is not a show-stopper because all my sewing is straight stitch and zig zag and I have the Janome 6500 for any possible fancier sewing. I think that one is a keeper.

My first thought was to cannibalize the hook from 130 #1 for the 330 and the motor for 130 #2 and part out 130 #1 but I hate to strip a machine that performs so well. Another thing is that I can't find out whether the 130 and 330 hooks are interchangeable.  I spent about an hour yesterday surfing the internet to find a part number for a 330 hook and came up empty. Apparently, the 330 was not a popular model, there isn't even an instruction manual for it on the Pfaff manual web page.

At this point, the 362 and 130 #2 are keepers but I can't decide between 130 #1 and the 330.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ruff The Dog

I was looking for a project to test the No-Name Sewing machine and, about that time, Kathie brought home a block of the month pattern from her quilt guild meeting.  It is a cute looking dog pattern called "Ruff the Dog".

  So I gathered up some browns and whipped out a block.  "whipped out" might not be a true description because this pattern is a pain in the buttocks - there are 13 different pieces with really weird dimensions.  Only two of the pieces are duplicated, so you have to cut out all those pieces one at a time.  Anyway, I made the one block and told Kathie that I wasn't about to make any more.

  What the quilt guild does with these blocks of the month is give each block-maker a ticket for each block she brings to the guild meeting. Later, they draw a ticket and the lucky ticket-holder gets to take home all the blocks.  I told Kathie that she might as well throw my block in the pile because I would NOT be making any more.  You can probably guess what happened next - Kathie's one entry (the block I sewed) won and now I am the proud owner of 13 Ruff the Dog blocks!

  Now, I have to figure out what to do with 13 twelve-inch dog blocks.  A 3x4 block lap quilt is the obvious answer but I don't like to make quilts. Maybe I can smooth-talk Kathie into taking over the project. Or, maybe I will come across another orphan sewing machine and need a project to test it out.


Here it is.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop