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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eating Humble Pie or what have I learned?

   I just love vintage sewing machines. I love the way they sew, the stitches, the machining. To keep them out of the junk heap, I rescue them, I fix other people's. But, I get in over my head when I take on things beyond me. Then, I plead for help from a few genius friends and specific yahoo groups. Most of the times, I get through it. Sometimes, I fail.
  A woman from my quilt guild asked me if I would fix/clean three of hers: her very first sewing machine, a Kenmore, her mother's White 77 and her sister's White 43. I took home all three. First bad move. I was able to clean up the Kenmore, get a needle clamp from one of the genius friends, and polish it up like new. Runs like a champ. However, the plexiglass seam guide I bought for her, as I use them, the screw holes were not deep enough to secure the guide. They were in the right place, but not deep enough. Also, the low shank free motion foot that I got for her does not work because the needle clamp screw is on the opposite side of the Singers. 
  The White 77 had a needle that would not go into the throat plate hole. Although I took apart the whole side of the machine and the convoluted metal plates, I could not see how to adjust the needle bar to the right location. I tried everything possible. I asked for help on the White forum. Failed to fix. Had to return it as is.
  The White 43 cleaned up well with a toothbrush and Greased Lightning on its crinkle finish (not a fan), all the metal polished bright, all oiled and greased and then I tried to get lint out of a very peculiar tension system. I could not get it out with a dental pick, so i loosened the plate and all the guts fell out all over the table. Uh, oh, can I have those 2 seconds back? I begged for help on the Vintage White Forum and Miriam and another person emailed me diagrams of the assembly and answered a lot of questions. Then I had huge issues getting the side plate on again allowing the needle bar to have free movement. After looking at the diagrams and repeatedly trying to get it working, my husband took a look at it, pondered, and slowly assembled things and the needle bar worked. When I tried the sewing, it sewed perfectly and tension was perfect. It was a miracle. I packed up all the machines and delivered them on Monday night.
  So, what have I learned? Three machines at once is not good. Old Whites are an oppositional force not to be reckoned with by me. People are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge to me. I fail and am not really a mechanic, just a tinkerer. I still love vintage machines and think their straight stitches cannot be equaled. Playing with sewing machines eats time away from making quilts. Pie finished.
Kenmore 148 ready to roll

White 43, never disassemble the tension.


2 comments:

Lara B. said...

Oh Linda - What a saga! Ooftah! and a half!
I too am in love with vintage sewing machines and can do the very basics to save them and pass them along. I would say that you have just surpassed your "Tinkerer" belt if you managed to put that tension assembly back together!
Have you ever talked to the vintage sewing machine fiends on The Quilting Board? There is a whole section just for Vintage Sewing on that board: http://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage-antique-machine-enthusiasts-f22/
Some of the folks there are incredibly knowledgeable and always willing to help. In fact, I suspect your Miriam might be our Miriam.
I'm following you on Bloglovin' now, so I'll see you soon!

Dre in PA said...

The 43 was not a miracle- it was a learning experience. Will you ever forget how the tension goes together? NO. Will you save the diagrams in case someone else has a question? Yes.
Did you take pictures as DH was reassembling? UM, we hope.
Parts like feet and guides are plentiful enough for you not to fret. Many more Singers will pass by your hands, waiting their spa treatments.
What's your overall record now; 1 fail in 15 machines? Hey, its not brain surgery.
Put some cream on the pie, it'll go down easier!