Sunday, August 14, 2011

Singer 15-91 stitches!!!

Last October I found a centennial 15-91on Albany Craigslist.   I had learned, early on, that this particular Singer is a desirable model.  I wasn't sure it was a 15-91 from the crappy Craigslist photo.  (For more about this go to The Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog).   I was absolutely thrilled when it turned out to be one.

Something happens to me when I see a sewing machine.  All reason disappears and I just fall in love.  Really.  At 25 bucks this isn't a huge problem.  Since I had to make the trip anyway it wasn't as if I was wasting gas.  So all in all I was pretty pleased with myself for chasing this machine and nabbing it.

The 15-91 is a gear driven straight stitch machine.  According to the user manual it will take up to a size 21 needle.  The potted motor on the back houses a spiral gear that meshes with a texolite gear in the handwheel.  This direct drive gives added strength and power to the machine.  It has a class 15 bobbin and vertical hook.  It uses common 15X1 needles that you can get at Wal mart.  It runs very smoothly.

I knew that the foot pedal needed re-wiring.  I was up to that task for sure. However, I had disassembled this mechanism almost 10 months ago and had no clue which wire was hot and which wire was not.  Fortunately I had another foot pedal as a prototype, further supporting my argument that multiple similar sewing machines is an asset.

This is the prototype.  I did not do this wiring.  I prefer more tidy ( AGAIN!) connections.  I followed the wires back to the connection on the three prong stud and labeled the wire that hooked up to the number 1 on the stud (yellow connection) with white tape.  Then I lined up my other foot pedal and arbitrarily decided that the wire with writing on it would be the "white" wire and hook up to the number 1 on the stud.  IT WORKED.

If you look  just above the connection on the right you will see a piece of white tape.  That helped me keep it all straight.  Please note the tidy connectors.  I successfully crimped these.  I was not so successful at the other end.

This is AWG 16 wire with SPT-2 jacket.  Even though the original wire looked heavier than 18 G on the lamp, it wasn't.  I did not have enough 18 G wire to re-wire the foot pedal so I used 16 Gauge.   I figured it was safe to use heavier wire than the original.  It fit pretty well underneath the housing.  The adjuster's manual recommends tying an underwriter's knot.  I didn't.

At the other end I could not crimp the connectors.  I had run out of the nifty little open ended ones (Actually, Steven had run out) and all I had were some heavier ones that were rated for 16 and 14 G wire.  I took off the little blue plastic insulators and simply soldered the connectors to the wire.

 What a nice neat job.  Then I started fretting.  The insulators are named such because they insulate.  I figured those pretty silver connectors are just like bare wires.  I considered snipping and starting over.  I only had one connector and to drive to get more requires a fifty mile round trip.  The solution;  heat shrink stuff.  Steven had  bought a variety pack for me yesterday and the 1/4 inch fit over the connectors beautifully.  I hit it with the hair dryer and take a look.  Pretty nice?  Note the nice neat white tape.

So that was before lunch.  After lunch I set to re-assembling the machine and by 3 PM she was back together.  When I had worked on the wiring on the 306K I had made notes about how the wires connect to the three prong stud.  I am always amazed when I plug in to the juice and no fuses blow. The light worked and the motor ran.  It was a bit sluggish at first, but then it just hummed.  No smell, no hesitation,  just whirring.  What a feeling.  WOOO HOOO.

There is more work to do.  If you look at the stitch length indicator, the numbers are hard to read.  One day I will "paint" these with some acrylic paint. The stitch length lever moves stiffly and despite oiling and applying Tri Flow,  I can't get it to move more smoothly.  The light needs a total overhaul but since I don't have the glass cover, I may just end up buying a new one.  I have an old 66 that has a broken light, so I could use this one on  that machine.

I tried this machine out and, you know,  it sailed right through 8 layers of heavy canvas, no problem.  I made a small envelope bag for it from some scrap canvas I had in the shop.  I am not impressed with the way the stitches look.  Something is off.  That is another day.  As is restoring the cabinet.  I think I will try the Elixir of Life on it.  That is another post.

1 comment:

  1. Somewhat related comment, and a reflection on how far we've come:

    I have the original sales receipt from 1952 when my grandmother bought a Singer 15-90 40 (what does the 40 mean?) for $204.50. On the section for name, address, etc., there was a section for "color" and the word white was written in. "White?" I thought. "I'm pretty sure this machine was only ever bla--Oh. SKIN color. Yeaaaahh...."

    I do not know where this machine is now, but I intend to find out. I was always at Grandma's house and do not recall ever seeing this baby. budding seamstress.