February 24, 2017

Singer 15-91 Centenial (1951)

Picked this up for a friend who wanted a nice clean machine.

The emblem polished up nicely

Pulled all the chrome bits soaked them and reassembled it.

Going to make a base for it next

The real thing with these pre "styling" or maybe pre aluminum singers is the sound; it is just beautiful.

For making the base nothing beats this cheapo pair of over sized calipers
With the long jaws on the calipers you can check how far under the casting your base is going to fit with ease
I make a quick check and sketch for each machine because they are all slightly different underneath

February 16, 2017

Vigorelli Robot (1950's)

Been looking for one of these for years, found this one on CL.

I am deeply committed to my Necchi Nora and as usual always thinking there is something better out there

So since nothing else comes close I thought that maybe Mr. Arnaldo Vigorelli would have a chance since he studied under Mr. Necchi!

Very impressed with the test pieces so far. The clean up took 4 hours, she is virtually chip and nick free, the worst area is around the throat plate. Quiet and smooth, it has the minimum requirements F,R,ZZ,L,R,C plus a cam stack.

It has the motor decals that include Mistress Vigorelli; I have seen these images before but never really looked at what she is doing...
Not only is she Puttin' her red dress on, she is Sewing her red dress on! Should be a pretty tight fit.

It is very difficult to sexualize a sewing machine so leave it to the Italians to come up with something like this.

Made a base for her
Use a 1 x 3 Poplar, this is the 1st time I made a fold up and so you need to double the rear panel so that you can use the cabinet pivots.

February 15, 2017

White 2837

Cool retro sort of Deco design, unfortunately is a cosmetic disaster with lots of nicks and scratches.

But it is a lovable little shape, it was completely frozen, and took some time and effort to free up.

It is surprisingly smooth and amazingly quiet, some machines just have a free wheeling thing about them; this  one certainly does.

It is a left justified needle position, I don't like them that way and so, does not have the L-R-C control.

Typical of some of the White's it has a wide ZZ and we have been making boots recently, this came in handy.

February 4, 2017

Dressmaker S - 2402 (1980's?)

Dressmaker 2402 with manual, 30 cams, manual, other accessories.

I don't know if it could be called aesthetically beautiful but I am impressed with the sewing.
Good star-up torque, nice stitches, I like how quiet the machine is. Another good leather working machine.

When I got into the shop it could not be turned by the hand wheel except with great effort. I wasn't sure what I was getting into so I did a Tri-Flo soaking and worked the harder parts of the rotation with a pair of vice grips in place of the hand-wheel.

Eventually I could get the motor to drive the system and finally put a clamp on the foot pedal and got it running; it is a very smooth running machine.

I thought the ZZ was way too limited or narrow and so went in and increased the overall width by a lot.
The ZZ mechanism is the same as millions of machines and it was clear that the dial just didn't take the mechanism to its full extent, so I filed a little off the dial stop plate and now it is respectable.

So now the dial goes past 5... to 11

The face plate plastic was sun drenched and turned a horrible shade of green. I removed it, and with steel wool roughed it up and sprayed it baby blue. the printed part of the cover fell right off because the glue was all dried up.

NifetyThriftyGirl Vid

January 25, 2017

Husqvarna Viking SPECIAL (1950s)

I looked for this exact model; 3 dials on the front one on the back. An Ebay find.

So this has all of my minimum requirements and a couple more; its an FR-LRC-ZZ machine

Incredible engineering; engineered and designed by people who USED the machine because it has some very unique features. It also has basting stitch, ZZ, and multiple stitch ZZ. Also it has the 5:1 gear reduction system!

Unlike 99% of the spring loaded revers button machines of this era this one can be momentary reverse or by pushing in and down it locks in reverse.

It took several hours to get it cleaned out. The bobbin tension seamed off and the screw did nothing until I discovered that the spring was packed with fabric fuzz and so would not apply the correct pressure.

Typical of this era, when the plastic parts were engineered they didn't get all of it right.
The rear covers fastener points are all broken and the paint didn't stick completely to them.
On the rear cover you see the discoloration over the light bulb.

I didn't get the flatbed with it and the manual cover is missing.

During clean up I took the pedal apart, its all Bakelite 

The amazing thing is the design of the coil and the electro-mechanical connection

On the right of the ceramic coil instead of just a slider made of copper it has a carbon wheel; never seen anything like it.  

A little History

December 21, 2016

Singer 66 (1914)

I can generally see thru the grime to determine if the machine can be saved and this one had an OK look to it.

I oiled it, plugged it in, and the level of quiet running is just amazing; smooth as silk!

I'll do a slow restore and am only disappointment that it has no reverse otherwise I would call it a keeper.

Finished the Restoration, had to buy the bobbin cover new, every one of these things is missing the bobbin cover, what - up?

I have the stand making down, they are not pretty but especially in this case because Singer didn't put the convenient 4 manufacturing posts underneath it really needs something to sit on. The base is attached with drops of silicone sealer in the corners and so is easy to remove.

I'm going to give it a try now that its ready!

January 29, 2015

Cowboy 8810 - Problem Fixes

Two things that continued to be unpredictable on the 8810 were the top thread fouling and the presser foot loosing pressure.

Maybe these things never happen on your machine but on mine it happened just enough to get my attention.

The top thread would on rare occasion jump over and around the tension adjustment knob, strangely enough it might stitch for a while that way too.
It is hard to see and when it happens it is frustrating.

The fix is really simple and speaks to the design flaw as I see it.
I simply repositioned the thread guide by rotating it 90deg's down.
Its easier to thread and the thread loop never gets near any of the other parts, problem solved.

The next issue was the gear driven pressure foot that would always hang up if I lifted my foot off the pedal too slowly.
When you look at the entire system from the pedal to the gear driven foot there are about a dozen places for friction to accumulate. I felt that the real "sticking" point was at the last sliding shaft.
My solution was to add a small compresion spring around that shaft and no more more hanging up!
I feel like the pressure on the wheel (and leather) was pretty high so I didn't want to just keep increasing it. This solution adds a little "kick" at just the right point.

November 21, 2014

Juki 246 Flatbed Option

There are those times when just for a moment you wish the cylinder arm had a bit more bed to it.

The swing away cover sparked an idea; not only does it swing away but it has a lot of vertical travel as a result of the conical spring to the right.

I looked at a multitude of materials in my scrap bin and settled on a 3/16 piece of Lauan plywood.

So as you can see with a rectangular hole for the foot bed and a slot for the cover pivot pin this project took less than 30 minutes to complete. It's not a work surface it is simply a support for your work piece.
The spring loaded cover holds the flatbed down and allows for quick set up and take down.

My previous post

October 23, 2013

McKay Champion 77 Stitcher (19??)

I wrestled with this purchase for a while; it's always hard to balance need, want, and access.

1st I needed an insole stitcher so I can take my men's sandals to the next level. What I really wanted was a lock-stitch machine but  they are just too expensive. But then I was lucky that the "Lucky 7" shoe repair shop was selling out machines near by.

Petar was gracious to give me a demo on it. She's a big old piece of cast iron, may be 70 to 100 years old, I'm still looking for more in depth info on when they were manufactured. Probably weighs in around 300 lbs but the guys at Grosse Pointe Moving and Storage handled it well.

So far I'm very happy with it having the fun of cleaning, polishing, adjusting, and figuring out what does what and why. 

It's a chain-stitch machine but depending on the project and how you design your works it is just as sound of a stitch as the lock-stitch, its just not what you would use on a Goodyear welt.

I have learned a lot about these machines and am looking forward to doing more than just practice stitches with it. 
It's certainly not a "point and shoot" machine you are really just stitching one stitch at a time, you watch very closely as each stitch is completed and go to the next; that's OK because there is no hurry to screw things up.

Used it officially for the 1st time on a pair of experimental men's sandals. It performed very well, I still need lots of practice, but it did exactly what I intended; reinforce the glued straps.

October 6, 2013

Elna Special (1969)

I see these things occasionally and because they are not that attractive I never thought to look into them.
But because the Swiss made Elna has such a reputation, devoted following, and the price was right I decided to see what the Special had to offer.

It has a few miles on but not abused, it took a several hours to to bring up to respectable condition; every little corner and part needed cleaning including the foot pedal and ditty box.

It came with no manual so in my "free manuals" search I found the one that Tammy posted up! Thanks very much to her.

It has that crazy box that turns it into a flatbed; beautifully made complex sheet metal stampings, nice interior finish with several attachment straps to hold everything in place. However, the exterior is a military grey crinkle finish of all things, it really doesn't go with the modern looking machine at all. Without the case it is an exceptionally lightweight machine.

Now for the problems; I tried way too long to get the button hole wheel to free up, it is almost unmovable with two thumbs on it. Secondly the electronic slow speed on the foot pedal won't work.

Now for the good part; man can this thing sew beautifully! I tested it on some medium thick upholstery leather and the result was perfect.

Not a "style leader" like the Lotus it was however definitely headed in the right direction. Functionally the big dials are easy to turn because they allow for a "three finger" grip.

It is a fine Swiss made Elna machine.
I'm going to give it a try as a replacement for my 360 which currently I cannot get the reverse to be anywhere near the same length as the forward length.

As for Swiss cars... there are none from this period, or almost any!
We'll have to go to Italy, just across the Alps and look at Design in general.

However, apropos to nothing but color, fashion, and beauty:

Typewriters were a favorite for innovation and design until their demise.

'Valentine' typewriter designed by Ettore Sottsass with Penny King, made by Olivetti & Co, Italy, about 1969

Here is an interesting progression that follows sewing machine design too!
The next few steps continue the decline of the curve until the 70's when none were left.

Fashion History

October 2, 2013

Necchi BU Supernova (1956)

Well I have heard about them and of course I have the greatest respect for the Nora and the Nova so when one came along I went for it.
It came with all of the parts and pieces, manual and the unusual stitch selector ditty box.

I could see thru the grime that it would clean up OK, and the paint job that the Italians did is 1st rate.

I never cared much for the fat head and that lazy curve leading back to the hand wheel but the clean and compact styling kinda grows on you.

The front and rear 3/4 views are quite elegant.

It has the whacky rotating throat plate which is of course a great idea just maybe not worth the trip, on second thought however, one might be inclined to use the correct throat plate because it is so easy to switch back and forth?

I did a side by side test with the Nora to see if there was a discernible difference and I think the jury will admit that the two sound and feel identical.

It has a very nice two speed switch on the right; I'm allways interested in slow speed for leather work.

A delightful machine includes the bobbin winder that is completely covered "aircraft" style. The aluminum parts shined up like new.

Motorsport racing was passing through what are now considered there "Golden Years" the pace of innovation, the truly beautiful forms are soon to eclipsed by computers and the wind tunnel. Through the 50's the forms were emotional, often erotic and very inventive. 

So there is that reverse curve inspiration!

I simply can't resist a good cutaway.

And again the form vocabulary is all there on the race track.


September 10, 2013

Singer 353 Genie (1973) # 2

So a second 353 came along and because of my fascination with designerly portables (and its near perfect condition) I decided to go for it. I usally loose interest in same models once I have one but when they are in my special interest area I can't resist.

First off it is a real nice condition machine seems to have had minimal use, I used my automotive lens cleaner on all the plastic; buffed up very well.

Back to styling, yes the Genie is cute especially with the cover up however placed in the company of her contemporaries like the Lotus and the 1040 I think it falls woefully short. Classic 70,s styling; hard edges with flowers... what's up with that?

What makes the Genie so unique is the screen printed front cover, beautifully executed with a subtle 3D effect; the Singer logo floats over the floral pattern. The problem I have with the Genie is the "sliced thru the forms" execution of the front piece that creates some sharp edges and breaks the form dialog that is mostly quite friendly.

I do not want to be harsh, its a good machine, easy to operate, and apealing to look at.

As for cars the 73 Lincoln and all of its "straight curves"

Interior too:


August 8, 2013

Kenmore 158.1040 (1972)

Well I looked and waited and looked and waited then I snagged a reasonably priced 1040 on EBay. Let's face it, for whatever reason these little gems command a good price, I'm going to find out why!

What a tasty little machine; reminds me of the Lotus in its inventive inspiration and clean no-nonsense approach to life. Creative little surprises everywhere, a nice pleasing design; real Industrial Design, not art work or Engineers just releasing stuff so they can get to lunch.The flip out front extension is so nicely done that I bet some people forget that its there. And of course the flip out storage bin / extension, although I will admit its a little light weight.

When a machine has such a large ID presence as does the 1040 look about and you can bet there was someone of note that designed it, and this is no exception. A little research uncovered a very interesting story; Charles Harrison a now notable designer who's story is only heightened by the fact that he was a Black man in a white man's world. Harrison hired into Sears in 1961 and designed 1000's of products for them... all the big and small stuff that us baby boomers grew up with. Reviewing just a few of his other designs (I'm going to buy the book) I think the stars aligned for Charles as he created the 1040.

Although in NBU condition it was of course grimy and needed lots of oil. One note of caution is that the engineers were not the least bit interested in maintenance oiling; the typical mysterious little holes in the bed are missing for one and the oil hole for the rear main bearing is completely covered by the bobbin winder mechanism.
Something I did as an upgrade; I don't care for light leak and the 1040 has a lot. The light is placed so that it illuminates the whole interior of the front of the machine. I placed some strategic pieces of black masking tape as far from the bulb as possible and in the right places to limit as much of the light bleed  as possible.

I did a full clean up on it, took everything apart and polished it with TR3, the case needed a scrubbing with some purple spray, and of course it had never been oiled sisnce it left the factory.

Check out the crazy two belt gear reduction system!

More info from another obsessed person: mysewingmachineobsession

As for cars... the early 70's were just beginning to loose the ultra sharp edge look with a little softer edges. Compact cars for a compact sewing machine.

My younger brother had one of these pieces of crap and nursed it along for years.

Compact cars were for the entry level "aspirational" buyer and in my opinion American car makers only knew how to make big so when forced to make small they had a hard time adjusting to tight precision details. That's why the Honda's just looked right; small tight details for small tight cars.

The Gremlin (aptly named) was just being phased out when I hired into AMC. I joined the boys from Renault just after the iconic Cherokee was released, and soon there after we took over Chrysler.