Wednesday, November 2, 2011

 Finally!!! After two days of listening and observing and cleaning and oiling and greasing  we were able to actually STITCH.  My SINGER 338 had a very nice ss and the tension was perfect.  How did I know? I sewed a test stitch on the diagonal of some woven light colored fabric , at 8 spi, with CHEAP white thread (EXCEL).  When I pulled on the fabric, the thread did not break. Oh, yes, the stitch looked quite beautiful as well.  The ZZ was another story but with tweaking the tension a bit I was able to get it PRETTY GOOD.

We also learned how to set the tension at the factory setting.  The stitch was very nice at  the number 3.  But my tension dial has a range from 0 -9.  Five would be about in the middle and would indicate a well balanced test stitch on lightweight woven fabric.  I wanted my dial to read 5 in this circumstance.  On the 338 it was a simple task.

First I loosened the set screw in the tension stud nut.

Then I removed the insert.
Making sure that the tension stud does not move,  I turned the number dial to the desired setting, in this case five, tightened the nut gently, replaced the silver insert and tightened the set screw.
Since this machine was all ready, I got out my latest acquistion, a 301a.  I promptly forgot everything I had learned in the previous two days.  I lost a screw, bound up the machine, over oiled and greased it and basically did everything wrong.  Still, I got the machine sewing, even if it does have a very annoying high pitched hum.  Ray immediately thought it was gear noise but when he came over to help me and sat down at the machine, the noise stopped.  Magic.  We figured it was dry somewhere and the lubricant finally reached the dry spot.  Despite that theory, the machine still screeches and I know I could never stand sewing on it.  I think I have to go back to that machine and try to figure out if it really is a gear noise.  I think it is.

This is Ray and Jae working on her black ( I am jealous) 301.  It had a bent needle bar.
It would bind up in a certain position, but then would release and be ok for a bit.  Lapping compound did the trick.  I did not know what lapping compound was until today.  It is a very fine grit powder that will reshape metal but grinding away at the metal where you place the powder.  First put a drop of oil on the area and then a very small amount of lapping compound.  then start working it in .  It will wear away the high spot, in this case the very slight bend in the needle bar.  It worked.  By the end of the day, Jae was stitching with her 301 that she thought was a goner.  That is my screecher in the background, behind Jae.

Speaking of goners.......  Andrea brought a really pretty White into class to fix the stitch length.  it would only take small, tiny, stithes.  After an afternoon of trying to adjust the stitch length, she declared the White a goner.  I got the motor.  Who knows if I can use it?

It is really too sad,  that is such a pretty machine.

Well I have my certificate from Ray and tomorrow I start in the advanced class.  We are already talking about having him come back next year.  I hope so.  I love this kind of vacation.  But I would like it if it were in the summer.  Ithaca is a lovely city, but the traffic is pretty intense. 


  1. I love that you are sharing what you have learned...for those of us who don't have the opportunity to attend.

  2. I stayed up way past my bedtime to read this and it was well worth it. I have traveled all over but to be able to make my beloved machines run -- on my terms ...ahhh. Now that's a real vacation. I am envious indeed!

  3. SLTW I think that you should just plan for a vacation at a RAY WHITE SEWING MACHINE REPAIR CLASS.

  4. any advice on a bent needle bar on a pfaff 242, I believe? Is it fixable?

    1. I guess it depends on how bent it is. If it moves and only binds up, as in Jae's 301, you might be able to fix it with lapping compound. Or, you could find a donor machine and witch them out. BUT I would wonder what else happened to the machine when the needle bar bent.

    2. Put a drop of oil in the bobbin race and see if that stops it.