February 5, 2012

Kenmore 117.841 (1958)

After seeing and reading about the Kenmores that were made in Germany I went for one that came up on CL; I got all the cams and the manual with it too (made in 1958). After a lot of cleaning she looks pretty good.
"The "Kenmore 84" was, according to White, a product of American and Germany ingenuity. It was a zig-zag sewing machine which sold for the rather large sum of $239.95 in 1956" ISMACS 

Kenmore machine dating can be found at SN





Note: partial quote from Bill Holman,
"You are probably aware that the first digits in the Sears model # tell you who made it, and that 117 is the Sears source # for White. That being said, White did not make yours. You are correct about the time line, and this machine was made at a time when White was realizing that they could not survive without a ZZ machine, and could not afford to develop one. They also knew that if they could not offer a ZZ machine to Sears, they were going to lose the Sears contract to Japan, which eventually happened anyway. So White contracted with Gritzner-Kayser in Germany to manufacture a machine for them, and the same machine as a Kenmore, but cosmetically different."



The Kenmore badge drops down to access the cams. Like the Selecto-Matic of the same era it has a sort of pre war Locomotive style of engineering and general approach to detail that fast went away in the following decades. I think it's quiet and starts up more smoothly than most, the motor runs well at low speed too. Like the Necchi BU it has a fine thread adjustment on the upper thread tension knob; I like it better than the course adjustment style. 


This is one serious dog of a Chrysler, got the paint scheme but the homely mushy curves are old looking even for the 50's. This is where the sewing machines got a little ahead of cars; the rectilinear styling didn't come along in cars till the 70's.







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16 comments:

  1. Your German made Kenmore looks kind of manly to me. Perhaps it is the copper/white colour scheme. Do you like sewing with it? Have you sewn anything interesting with it?

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    1. Yes it does have an authoritarian look bout it doesn't it? "You Vill sew mit me!"

      I have not sewn any projects with it, I'm looking forward to giving the Remington a run at the next opportunity.

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  2. What a beauty! I just found one on CL myself and I'm looking forward to using it. What foot pedal should I use with it? I LOVE the color and look of it! Just my style. Tuff.

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  3. I just purchased my kenmore model 47 but it did not come with the cams. do you have any leads as to how to locate someone with this knowledge?

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    1. @scrappy. Looks like we're gonna have to battle for the only set of existing cams for this machine, that's if they ever come up for auction on ebay. I'm having a hard time finding a foot pedal myself (cams too, but I want to at least see if it works). Looks like the .9 amp motor wasn't very popular. Be ready for a bidding war! LOL! Let me know if you see anything out there.

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    2. To me it's just an endless search in all the right places. I am not so concerned about getting the cams since no-one ever uses them, they seem to be critical towards resale pricing though. so if you can keep your eyes open and wait I'm sure they will come along.

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  4. hi i have a kenmore 117.840 without a bobbin case. im just wondering can i get a regular kemore bobbin case or am i better off just getting a new machine?

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    1. Hi Zyuwnai, definitely give a chance, I think these are extremely common bobbin cases maybe $15 or less. You might find a used one from a sewing machine repair guy. Be sure to give it a good oiling and good luck.

      Tom

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  5. I have one of these old machines, it has a foot pedal and works fine so far.. I have no idea what cams are? looking for more info on this machine.. mine is in a huge heavy case that flips up with the machine attached,,where can I find more info on this?? the info on the brass plate on back is
    Kenmore sears robuck simpson
    sears limited Canada
    model 117, 841 serial number 979984
    60 cycle 100 watts 9 amps. any info would be great.

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    1. Hi Megan, it is a great machine, make sure your oil it up!
      Running these old machines is a bit like being an engineer on a old steam engine; you have to get to know and love your machine to get the satisfaction out of it you've earned.
      It's pretty much a 1958 machine, I suggest doing a deep dive on the net reading every thread you can find. The cams go under the name badge door in the front, all you really need is straight & ZZ.

      have fun and good luck.

      Tom

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  6. You have a beautiful machine. I too have the same one. I found it at a local thrift store. I'm pretty excited to start cleaning and getting it going. I already own 3 other vintage Kenmore's so it will be fun to see what this old gal can do. Thanks for the quick history lesson on this beauty.

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  7. Anybody know where to buy a belt for this thing? Websites list it as 14 3/8", but it's really 12 3/8' x 3/16" wide. I haven't found anybody that can help.

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  8. If the web site suppliers don't list the machine (try http://www.sewingpartsonline.com/sewing-machine-belts.aspx) you can do your own conversion; 12 3/8' is a 1238 belt size, a 12 1/2 is a 1212. you only have to be close because the motor adjusts plenty.

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    1. I already bought one from them, but it's 1/4" wide rather than 3/16". Unfortunately web sites don't list the width. I'll try calling them again, but they weren't very helpful without being able to look up the machine.

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    2. Hi Tom, I Have one of these I am selling. it was grandmas and she has passed. any idea what it is worth? I also have a morse for sale

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  9. I think I have this sewing machine?!!? the only model number I can find is on the table it pops out of :/ but that number is 566.1406 and I can't find that anyplace. The plate on the back of the motor does not have a model number. It only has the volts, wattage and such.....The machine looks just like this one. The peddle does not reach the floor. It fits in a bracket under the table and you operate it with your knee. If anyone knows if I have a different model then what is on this blog, please let me know :) Thank you.

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