August 24, 2012

Elna Lotus (1967)

Well I finally found my very own Lotus; missing only the the manual but having all of the little tools under the hood! Although very dirty, with lots of dried up tape on it, it cleaned up almost perfectly. I used TR-3 as recommended by my friend Julie and I think that it is a very good choice for cleaning and polishing with out damage.

For clean up I took ALL of the covers off and discovered a marvel of manufacturing engineering. Impressive right down to the bobbin case that has the most elaborate and detailed bobbin tension adjuster I have ever seen. The engineering creativity is second to none; all sorts of interesting solutions to complicated problems.

It has the electronic foot controller with the old Singer like button. The foot pedal has a + - switch on it that actually is a hi - low speed range, they don't all come with this.

And that brings me to the model designation?? I cant find anything on it that tells the exact model (or year) of Lotus; such as SP, TSP... It's usually on the front in big letters and I was instructed to look on the SN tag but nothing I can see. If the chart at THE NEEDLEBAR is correct then this is a very early 1968, in fact the model year chart indicates that it was made in 1967.

As far as sewing it has an unusual but good sound, and it seems to have outstanding stitch quality.

The hi - low speed adjustment isn't really very much of a range and this machine may have the slowest top speed I have come across, which might be a problem for some users.

No review would be complete without a picture of it all closed up. As we all know it was selected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for its "Design Collection". Styled by Raymond Loewy the unique features like the storage in the top and the Lotus pedals combined with the clean design make this machine worthy of the accolades.

So it is a friction wheel drive... no belt, both good & bad. 

Oh I get it!

Hmmm, let's look at what else the great Raymond did, so the Avanti was a Loewy design launched in 1963, in 1968 the first Elna Lotus came out. In the MoMa collection too

I came across these rendering claimed to be by Loewy:

Pencil sketches, no PhotoShop here!


August 10, 2012

Singer 301 (1952)

 Well I never understood the hype surrounding the 301s but after a trial sewing I think I get it. What a sweet little machine! Basically the same running gear as the 221 with an all new body. I can't decide if it's the super light weight (16lbs), slim design, or ease of use, but I do like it.

Found this 1952 (301, not 301a) one at an estate sale with the bobbin case missing... I am going to call out all of the people that steal them out of the machines at sales; shame on you. Anyhow I got an original replacement and it it runs beautifully.

I believe access to the bobbin is better than any machine using a removable bobbin case.

Although very grimy it is virtually scratch free and is cleaning up slowly. And since I am calling people out I will make my complaint regarding the crappy paint Singer used on these mocha machines WTF! you know what I'm talking about; it has poor surface quality, has to be cleaned very carefully, and more than likely will always have some blotches in the end. One of the failings of a large engineering company is that a penny saved on a million units makes a healthy bonus for some hack executive.

For my automotive reference I'm bringing in the late 60s BMW (had one of these.)

The BMW's were quirky back then for sure, so this just shows how far ahead Singer was at the time.