Friday, November 25, 2011

The amazing Singer 201

As for the older, classic sewing machines, I have been partial to the Singer 15-91 for quite a while. The big class 15 bobbin. The verticle oscillating hook. The rock solid, all steel construction. They just didn't make them any better.....or did they. Now that I have finally had the chance to play with a model 201, I am having some second thoughts on my favorite, all time, classic machine. Wow. I didn't think that a horizontal, class 66 drop in bobbin, rotary shuttle machine could keep up with the 15-91. I am very impressed. This 1939, model 201, was used so much that it wore the decals off of the front work area. Much of the clearcoat was gone where old oil was allowed to sit and dry. After a good cleaning and oil/grease, this thing ran like a top.
Or should I say "sewing machine". It just shows me how well these machines were built.

Having the same, direct drive "potted" motor as the 15-91, this machine was a pleasure to use on the heavier
materials even though the motor needs to be pulled and cleaned. It just runs slow but still with plenty of power. I did have to replace some of the wiring and reinforce the rest with shrink tube for safety reasons.
This machine is 72 years old.......

Even though it uses the class 66 bobbin, it is not your standard model 66 shuttle.

Standard pre WWII head plate and the model 66 upper tension setup. 

As you can see, unlike the 15-91....No light in back. It has been designed into the front body cavity.

Look at these stitches. I could sew all day long on this machine! I am going to have to play/sew with this machine under  lots of different conditions before I can determine my new favorite, classic machine.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I thought all sewing machines turned the same direction.

I had heard about a few machines that actually turned backwards from the standard. I finally got to play with one. White sold many in the 1920's and I believe Free Sewing Machine Co. also sold similar products around the same period. Pictured below is a Kenmore model 117.59, bought in 1938 from Sears, Roebuck and Co. (according to the sticker inside the cabinet) Kenmore continued to release upgraded versions of this same machine. The second release being 1942 and they added an extra "1" to the model number (117.591). In the mid 40's, a model 117.959 appeared. The White Sewing Machine Co. manufactured all of the Sears/Kenmore machines from the 30's through the 50's. The Free Sewing machine Co. manufactured the Westinghouse, and the New Home. The main difference was the upper tension. All had a similar setup using a friction drive tire on the motor. And, the hand wheel on all of them must turn Clockwise to sew. The White Sewing Machine Co. was the first to introduce this flat crinkle finish. It was marketed as a non glare finish which was easier on the operator's eyes.
Every one of these machines that I have seen had a flat spot on the motor friction tire from just sitting at that spot for so many years. So if you tried to run the machine, you would get a " thump.....thump......thump" every time the flat spot hit the hand wheel. I actually found a place to order a new one but I just couldn't wait a week to try and sew after spending several hours cleaning and lubricating this old machine.
I cut the old piece of rubber off and then took 24" of electric tape and cut it down the middle lengthwise. I then carefully rolled both 1/4" wide tape strips around the shaft where the old tire was. Wow, It worked!
The motor mount has a spring that keeps pressure on the wheel and like I said, it worked perfect. I could at least do a sew test. It was a challange to figure out how to thread the machine but just following the rule (#1-tension, #2-Take up, #3- needle) and a little common sense, I guess I got it because it sews beautifully.
I guess I never thought about it before, but the motor itself turns the same way that all sewing machine motors turn. Counter-clockwise. If there was a belt involved here, the hand wheel would turn counter-clockwise. Since the motor is directly connected to the hand wheel by the friction tire, it will turn the opposite way, Clockwise, or backwards to what we are used to today.  

Here is a Kenmore model 117.959 - (different Stitch Lever and Light)

Here is a Free Westinghouse Model ARE

Here is a New Home Model NLB

Friday, November 4, 2011

And here is yet another use for that wonderful product...."Duct Tape"

This was probably a "one in a million" event that happened to a sewing machine recently.
Pictured below, is a motor pulley and the air vent for the motor. Some how, a piece of thread from the spool holder, directly above the vent, got sucked into the vent and several yards were tangled up on the motor pulley and belt. This caused the machine to completely stop working. The LCD Screen showed "ERROR" and nothing would work.  
After removing the thread from the motor pulley, I proceeded to look for a fuse that may have blown.
Opening up these machines can be frustrating.

The arrow points to the location of the fuse I found to be bad. Unfortunately, it was on the other side of this circuit board. These main boards have small plugs lined up all the way around them going to different parts of the machine. I really didn't want to unplug them all just to get to that fuse.
Taking out 4 screws gave me just enough room to get a new fuse in there.

The arrow points to the fuse on the back side of the main circuit board. There are actually 2 fuses side by side. Replacing that fuse got the machine back in working order.
So, How do I keep this from happening again?
I must block the vent but still allow air to pass through. This is what I came up with.
Good old duct tape. I stuck 2 pieces together so they wouldn't stick to anything and then taped that over the vent opening in a way that would still allow air to flow.

It seems to work fine. Only time will tell and if a problem does arise, it can be removed easily.
I am sure the owner of this machine doesn't want to pay for this repair again.