Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Hand Crank Caravan to Haiti

I recently had the chance to "rejuvenate" some old machines and convert them to hand crank units. They will be traveling to Haiti this summer and become part of a Vo-tech Mission sponsered by a local Church  here in the Lafayette, IN area. It is absolutely amazing what these old machines can do once they are cleaned up. The engineering on these old Singers is phenominal and they require minimal power to sew just about anything you can get under the foot. I have 5 machines ready to go. The first convert is an old treadle, model 115 Singer that I mentioned in an earlier post. I tend to get so envolved in working on these machines that I forget to take pictures. These machines turned out beautiful and the pictures just don't do them justice.

1918 model 115

Next came a Singer model 99 which is a 3/4 size machine that has the top load, drop in, class 66 bobbin. One of the first "Portable" machines that usually came in a bentwood, Dome case.

1922 model 99

Another Model 115 that didn't have a bobbin case. 115 bobbin cases are very hard to find. Some one out there is watching over this venture because 2 showed up out of nowhere on e-bay after hundreds of searches.
1915 Model 115

I had a couple of  old model 66 machines that I couldn't seem to find a home for. Both had motors and standard hand wheels. You must have a "Spoked" handwheel to run a hand crank.
So, I bought some and converted the model 66 to a hand crank machine and they work just perfect.

1928 Model 66

I actually sewed some heavy leather belt strips with the model 66 using the hand crank. Wow,
as long as you start with the needle down, it sews it with ease.

One of the machines didn't have a back plate. The only material I had was some plexi-glass.
I traced around another "Back Plate" and with the help of a belt sander, I made a back plate that
you can see through. I'll bet there will be at least 1 kid watching the works on the inside through that window on this 1948, model 66.

I will be posting pictures from Haiti when the Mission sponsers return in late July. I have never been so excited about being part of a project that will make a world of difference to so many people.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Those hard to find Needles for some classic machines

There are a couple of vintage machines I have talked about in the past that have a special needle that is almost Impossible to find. If you do happen to find some, they can go for as much as $6.00/each.  The Free Westinghouse Rotary and the New Home Rotary are two groups of machines that use these special, short needles. I am basing all of the following information on the New Home model NLB rotary sewing machine.
Below is a picture of a needle for the NLB and along with it, a plain, size 14, Schmetz needle that you can buy at your local retailer.


 I lined the "EYES" up to show that the shank of the normal, Schmetz needle(bottom)  is longer than the New Home(top), CC1221 needle. Now, according to a very knowledgable sewing machine expert named Bill Holman, you can grind the shank down on the Schmetz needle so that the distance from the "shank head" to the top of the eye is the same as the New Home needle.

I have this very convenient, desk top grinder that makes this process very easy.


Here is a picture of the two needles after the grinding process on the Schmetz needle. The "EYES" do line up and the shanks are the same length. The needle point on the Schmetz is a bit longer but that doesn't matter.


When the hook passes the needle on any sewing machine it must be within a proper range from the EYE to be able to pick up the upper thread consistently and at a high rate of speed.  If you try this grinding process yourself, please wear the appropriate safety gear. I have tried this process with great success.
Thank you Bill Holman.



This is a picture of a properly timed NLB and a CC1221 needle. Notice the distance of the "Hook Point" above the "EYE". If the needle shank was longer, that "Eye to hook" distance would be greater.  Too great a distance to pick up that upper thread consistantly with todays standard needle. There are several different Needle part numbers out there that may or may not work consistently with your machine. If you look back at picture 1 and 4, you will notice that the NLB needle (CC1221)  is very close to 1 7/16" in length. There are other needles advertised at this length but the eye is not at the correct location. Here is a 206X13 that is advertised to work.
CC1221 on top and 206X13 on the bottom

The 206X13 needle is about the same length, but it is not a match. The eye is not the same distance from the shank head. It is almost  1/16" too low(pictured). All this information is just my opinion from experience and research. Any additional information is welcome. We should all continue to learn.