March 19, 2017

Kenmore Sensor Sew 100 (1980s)

Necchi made the classic mistake of shooting too far into the future, but I love it.
It had real potential, they almost got it wright, it is a little reminiscent of the Lotus, maybe they were trying to get into the MoMa too.
Necchi Logica 592 by Ital Design Giorgetto Giugiaro
Pictures from my copy of Giogetto Giugiaro The Genius of Design, given to me by my older brother.
I actually met Mr Giugiaro during a design review at the American Motors Design Studios in about 1988, when we were working on the Coupe version of the Eagle Premier. I was in Advanced Vehicle Engineering at the time working for Marcel Marchond, Delbert DeResse, and host of other good Engineers. The French really liked Giugiaro.

This one (like many?) seems to have had little use. FYI the reverse switch definitely needs a tactile component to it; you simply HAVE to look at it to press the correct spot and so take your eyes off of your work.
I see it a little like my beloved Custom Imperial in that the Engineers were to drunk with the concept to accept real world usage/testing; the concept is great but just a couple of details could have been improved with a little user feedback.

When I got it home it did sew but the stitch length could not be changed, even though the digital readout was showing the change.

I decided to "go in" and see what was under the bottom cover and discovered that the feed dog mechanism was frozen, I freed up the mechanism and have full control restored. Without the stitch length working the reverse did not work I of course thought that the computer was going to be the problem but it was just 1980s frozen sewing machine technology. Remember not to oil the plastic parts.
The only thing so far is one of the LED numbers has burnt out.
Trying to figure out if it has needle stop position and L-R-C?
I did get the ZZ working.
I actually drove several of these things as lease cars at Chrysler, they were big, and nice to drive.

So after using it for just a little while the the presser foot mechanism slowly froze up!
The pivot shaft had the original grease on it and it nearly stopped move all together.
I opened it up but it was so frozen I could not get the shaft out.
I worked it back and forth and remembered some of the test fixtures from work so I made this little device to move it.
I assembled this little geared drive assembly and hooked it up to the lever, truth be told the over night sitting with oil made a difference but I was able to make a 1000 back and forth cranks on it while cleaning up the shop.

All is well with the presser foot now.
Printed out the Logica manual free online and discovered a little more about the differences; the LOGICA has needle position in-place of the fast-slow speed switch. Its such an obvious option I guess Necchi saved it for their own release.

Made a bunch of pattern tests too

Easy to change and work just fine.
The Necchi also has access to an adjustment screw to tune the proportion of the pattern stitches; this is important to their electronics and is not available on the Sensor Sew

The Auto Back-Tack works perfectly at the beginning but of course does not know you are at the end of the stitch, and so goes forward three stitches from where you stop.

Made this super cool cover for the machine with help from Scott Tallenger of left handed branded

So using the machine is a different experience; the start - stop is not like a mechanical machine.
The ZZ moves at precise times and moves at high speed, when your eye is used to a mechanical machine this is unusual. I believe that I will need to experiment with the needle position to understand where the start of the motion is, it is hard to explain but the electronics knows where the needle is and decides how to complete the stitch from there, a more sophisticated computer system would likely act more intuitively. When you turn the hand wheel you move it to a computer governed position that is difficult to understand.

I still like it a lot and want to use it for fabric work, it is such a novel approach and as I mentioned it was so far ahead of its time that I will use it as a 1st prototype for the all electronic machine that I want to someday design.
Anybody want to help?

Regarding the revers button; since it lacks ANY tactile feel or feedback it is very difficult to mentally know you are on it. It does not take much pressure to make it work. So I added a little "dot" to it so I could find it w/o looking!

Have been using it to make machine covers; I like it although it is not a quick n easy machine, its more of an entertainment piece.


  1. Too fun! I borrowed one from a friend and I think I giggled the whole time while using all its stitches with the cool threads I had.

  2. It's a neat design. The bed of the machine is nice and large. And the needle position is close to the sewer. I'm wondering if the machine has less piercing power because there of the additional upper arm.

  3. I was just given one of these to resurrect, keep, trash, whatever. What a hoot! Got everything in and out cleaned up, lubed up, and working, but the smaller drive belt has ominous looking cracks on the outer surface. I'll run it until it pops. Beginning the belt search/research.

  4. just found one at goodwill for $25 the motor metal was warped so i replaced the motor with a universal still sews so i dont know what the motor control speed sensor is for, it works without it.i cant find the bobbin holder any advise?

    1. The speed sensor was supposed to be a Hi-Low range
      The bobbin case could be a problem, not sure how compatible it is with other Necchi' (for sure compatible with the Logica 592) so you are in for some research, they may come up for parts on Ebay

    2. dude i found the same issue, the motor casting was falling apart. unhooked the sensor and it still worked. i think the sensor is if the motor slows down due to strain, the motor get more power. who knows.