Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I finally have a computer again!

I finally have my computer back and I didn't lose a thing. I had some bad RAM that was causing problems.
After all the back-ups and searching for all those files, here is what I ended up with that I really wanted to keep track of. The machines I have worked on so far! (That I remembered to take a picture of)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garage Sale sewing machines

I seldom have much luck at garage sales. This week was better than most.
My first purchase was a vintage, "John Denver" LP. Still in the plastic and the vinyl was in mint condition. I had to also buy the first "Greatest Hits" by Elton John. Every song on this was a HIT! Plastic still on the jacket and the vinyl in the sleeve was virtually, un-played. (Did I mention I like the old Records?)
I couldn't even drive across town this Saturday with out seeing Garage Sale signs plastered every other block.
I was on a Quest for SEWING Machines! Here is what I ended up with.

The Singer "Touch-&-Sew" line is new to me. This model 626 was pretty dirty but cleaned up well. I actually got a chance today, to service this machine completely. I had to learn how to wind a bobbin. It is wound in the bobbin case. Very wierd. The bobbins are even wierd. They unscrew top from bottom if you want to strip them quick. I had time for a sew test and it actually sews very nicely with a great zigzag stitch.
  Garage sale Price Paid for this machine .......$5.00

Some how, I came across another "Touch-&-Sew". The model 648 which has a cam stack for several decorative stitches.
It came with a table but was missing the stitch length lever.

Garage Sale Price Paid for machine and table.......Free

I finally got to my original Garage Sale destination that had advertised an "Antique" sewing machine. Here is what I ended up with.

A 1934, 15-91 Singer with sewing table, owners manual, lots of needles but no accessories. Mint Condition. Wow
Garage Sale Price Paid for machine and table.......$35.00

Some days are better than others............

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Worlds Ugliest Sewing Machine!.........

Lets start right out with a picture.

I saw an Ad for a used sewing machine. It was a "Make me an offer" type ad.
There was no picture but there was a phone number. I called and we made arrangements to meet after I was assured that it was in working order. (except that her nephew had cut the power cord) Yea, he cut the power cord all right. After he pulled the needle clamp off. Took the foot off. Dismantled the upper tension. Took the bobbin cover and needle plate some where , and he or "they" still weren't done. The pressure foot adjustment knob and the thread spool holder were also gone. They ended up giving me the machine.

Not a pretty sight. In fact the machine was an Ugly Mess. Could I possible ever get this thing going again?
Did I even want to?   Well Ya! I took the Sewing machine repair  "Hippocratic Oath" .....I think........

"I will do no harm to any sewing machine, ugly or not, and I will do my best to revive it".

I spent a week researching similar machines and checking dimensions with suppliers and E-Bay parts people.
After about $30 in parts and quite a bit of fabricating, I had this "thing" working. It actually cleaned up pretty well and these old "cast body" machines with all metal gears are hard to kill.

I am still trying to find a good side of it. It just isn't photogenic at all. Anyone ever heard of a Fleetwood?
It's just another Badge Machine from Japan. Here is the best I could do for the Spool Holder.

I am not sure I have the upper tension done correctly because I really don't know what the original upper tension looked like. But, It sewed this on the first try
and I feel like I have fulfilled my obligation to the Oath. And, I learned from this adventure!

This may be a better angle for a picture? It's good side!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Time Out For a Computer Back-up

I have had some trouble with the computer lately.
I subscribed to a back-up service and it takes a while to get everything backed up.
 I really don't want to download more pictures until every thing is backed up.
I had a blast with several sewing machines today. Please check in tomorrow to see my next post.
........The Worlds Ugliest Sewing Machine!.........

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How about those European Sewing Machines?

Since the early 1900's, just about every household in the US and most of Europe had a sewing machine.
It was as popular and a regular part of every day life as the Microwave is to our culture today. To date, I have had an opportunity to play with an Elna, which was Made in Switzerland, and a Necchi, which is Italian. There must be more, I just don't know about them yet.
Lets start with my only experience with an Elna. A "Performa" model which was a very simple, strait stitch machine of the 50's.

The Elna Performa had a big Sister called the Transforma, that had a place for "cams" to produce decorative stitching. I think these machines were way over engineered and from what I hear, were redesigned soon after their release. I happened to acquire one with a custom cabinet.

These machines were originally set up for a wire knee controller that
hooked into the front of the machine. Some one had already modified
mine to use a standard foot controller.

This was my only experience with the Elna line and I must admit it sewed fine but I wasn't that impressed.

The Necchi is a different story.
Wow! This machine rocked. Cadillac, no.....Mercedes, almost.....Ferrari!  YES! I only have experience with this one machine. The BU MIRA.

This machine took some time to get it cleaned up and working again, but it is one of the smoothest running machines I have ever worked on. The balance is incredible. No vibration at all. The engineering is phenomenal.
Smooth just doesn't even come close to describing the experience. Fluid is a good descriptive word to use here.

There is some rusting here, and this machine still sews awesome. The engineering on the upper tension is beyond belief. Even the "Oil Points" on the case are special. Tiny, push-open "Zerk" type units. Automotive style.

I got this puppy sewing like a dream, And how about this great Tweed case?

Every Day is a new experience. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go. Today some one asked if I repair Sergers......Well, I don't know, I haven't tried.......

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Food and the sewing machine

I would guess that there would be more than a few people out there, if asked to make a list of the top ten things in life that they enjoyed most, SEWING and EATING would be on that list?  Out of this group of people, there must be a hand full that have decided that eating while you sew, or sewing while you eat is a good thing. I can tell you from experience, that they don't do well together. 

I recently had the pleasure of servicing a very nice, just over a year old, machine that had a problem. My newly acquired and limited knowledge of the sewing process pointed me towards a "Tension" problem. Here is a picture of the stitching from the back of the fabric.

I usually go through and totally clean and oil/grease a machine first. In a lot of cases, this will take care of most problems. I immediately started running into some problems. The needle plate looked like something had been spilled on it.

The little spring that holds the bobbin window shut was completely corroded. No more spring in it.

The bottom cover on the bobbin assembly looked like a dirty plate after a good spaghetti dinner. Ok, maybe not that bad but not normal for a sewing machine. I did clean it up in the kitchen sink with dish soap and hot water.

The bottom of the machine was not looking good either.

I got all of this cleaned up to my satisfaction and proceeded to go through my regular routine of service. I knew the tension was messed up but hadn't found a reason for it so far. I grabbed a piece of thread and ran it through the upper tension slot with the presser foot down and tension knob cranked up to 9. NO TENSION/resistance what so ever. The upper tension wasn't working at all. No difference between the presser foot lever being up or down on the tension. The linkage between the presser foot lever and the upper tension was stuck. Oh No! Not more spagetti sauce. And if that wasn't enough, the tension knob had been "tightened" so much that it actually went beyond it's limits. Pictured below is the keeper that has slipped off the tension adjustment gear. The arrow shows the keeper and it should be up on the white gear.

Please forgive me if I don't use the correct names for all these parts. I tend to make up words whenever I don't know the name of something. I am still learning. The good news is, I actually got this machine back up and running great. This is a picture of the back side of an initial test sewing after all was cleaned and repaired.

Untill they start making "Dishwasher Safe" sewing machines, it would probably be a good Idea to keep the sewing in the sewing room and the Food in the kitchen. I actually know this will never happen. Even my wife has
"Sew while you eat-itus".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Another old Sewing Machines

I don't know a lot about this machine, except that it sews perfect.
I use it constantly as a reference. It cleaned up beautifully. It looked like a parts project when I pulled it out of the trash.

The paint color on these machines seemed to match the automobile paint jobs of the period.

Built like a Brick House, this White-Model 1265, is just a simple, 1950's  ZigZag machine.

Even though it is belt drive, It doesn't seem to have a problem with the heavy duty jobs..

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sewing Machine Guns ?

I know it seems as though I am stuck in the past and stuck on Singer.
Since I just started this blog, I have to get you caught up. Here is a bit of trivia for you. Yes, another Singer 15-91. But this one is different. All of the pieces that were usually shiny were kind of black looking. The serial number of this machine put it's manufacturing date at 1942. It sort of looked like what they do with gun barrels. Yea, the process commonly used by gunsmiths to provide a measure of corrosion resistance to their firearms. It was a common practice of the day for metal protection. Even the "safety razor blades" of the period were submitted to the "Bluing" process to help protect them.

The front plate, the presser foot lever, the needle plate, the bobbin plate cover, the stitch length lever, and even the foot it self , all appeared to be covered with this "Gun Barrel Bluing".

The back plate........

Even the thread spool posts.

I can only guess that this had something to do with the WAR effort. After receiving some additional information, It does appear that Singer not only made gun parts, they actually were given the blueprints and made the entire 1911A1 pistols! Several rifles were partly or completely made by Singer, enough so that they were stamped behind the Bolt "Singer MFNG".
As for the machine itself, after a good cleaning and oiling, it ran like a top. I made a sewing video for a potential buyer. Video Here

Singer probably just went ahead and threw their parts into the Bluing Vats right along with the gun parts to save money and materials. Singer was probably very proud of their part in the war effort, but probably wanted to distance them selves from "Guns" as fast as possible after the War. I'm pretty sure it didn't fit in with their Home/Family marketing strategy.
And, by the way, no rust what so ever on any of the "Blued" parts.