Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kenmore 117.141

I spent the day with this cute Kenmore.  I got some attachments from a Yahoo group member and I thought I had better clean this machine up.  Steven brought this home for me in January 2011.  He loaded it into our Subaru Forester cabinet and all.  It was FREEZING that day; single digits.  He stopped at the Re-Store in Burlington on his way home, and thought of me.  $16.10 , I think was the price.    It has sat on the shelf that long.  I thought it was time.

I started out the day quite organized and methodical.  I checked out the motor. After I removed it from the machine.
 The motor pulley has a flat and I have no idea if I will be able to find a replacement for this 57 year old machine.
I did not realize that the plug came off when I removed the motor from the machine.  As I inspected it I discovered that it did.
Which made it a whole lot easier to inspect the wiring.  The light really needs re-wiring and I think it will be quite straight forward.

There are three wires that connect the knee controller to the three pin connector plug. I don't know why but I guess I can figure this out.

 I plan to buy an extension cord and cut off the female end and wire it to the terminals in the knee controller.  That way I will have a molded plug and will only have to wire one end.  I guess I will split some of my 18-2 AWG wire for the third wire in the connector.  Just so long as I keep straight which is which.  It would be helpful to have color coded wire but I don't.  It is a long connection; I could find some wire jacketing I guess.  Or simply use electrical tape.  The truth is, I doubt I will sell this machine.  I think it is a keeper.  

The tension on these machines is A WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT from the Singers and other Kenmores that I know. VERY DIFFERENT.  It sits on the side of the machine and the tension adjustment is on the face of the machine

I am so glad that I took this photo of the tension assembly as I took it apart....
Because when it was time to reassemble it, I knew how to put the check spring back in.  Maybe I could have escaped without cleaning the tension assembly.  From the looks of that disc, though, it was a good thing that I did.

Now it is all clean and stained.  The rust on the chrome sanded off, but the discoloration remains.  Its a 57 year old machine.  I have age spots too.

Next, inside the face plate and the hook.


  1. This post caught my eye. A week or two ago I picked up a very similar (though not identical) machine. It's a White made Dressmaster rotary model number 127-72170. The bed size, stitch length adjuster, and plug are different on mine, but everything else looks the same. Thanks for great closeups of the tension assembly! I've been a little too intimidate to take it apart, but it looks doable. FYI, 231terry carries the motor drive pulleys on eBay. I still have yet to order one for another machine, my 117.591. Hope this helps!

    1. Thanks for the tip, Sarah. I will check out the motor drive pulleys.

  2. When I have a part that has rust on it, and I get the rust off, and it still has those "stains" on it, I have had good luck further sanding the part with 600 wet dry sand paper, and then following up with 1500 wet dry sand paper.. I sand and sand till a nice shiny polish appears. I then follow it up with a nice rub down with some Nevr Dull (correct spelling) metal polish. This works on all the rust "stains" I have come across except for the most horribly pitted. It does take a lot of time and elbow grease, but I get so much joy from seeing that beautiful shine!! Also I am not sure how you got rid of the rust in the first place, but I have also had good luck using a dremel with a stainless steel brush. (then I follow up with the sanding treatment above) I just love your blog and am sewing machine obsessed myself!! Thank you for making this blog!

    1. Amanda,
      I sanded the rust away with some emery cloth. I think it is about 600 grit. I, too, love to see things all shiny. BUT I have 40 other machines that I need to clean and get stitching. YIKEs. It truly is an obsession.

  3. It looks like a White 77. I have one. Try Sew-classic for a motor pulley. I think that's where I got mine. They are nice, solid machines.

  4. Sew-Classic for the motor pulley replacement, and if you want to replace the three-conductor wire with something that looks the same, try Sundial Wire. They make new USA made cloth covered wire- cloth over modern PVC insulation.

    1. Thank you for the advice. I have the motor pulley (yes from Sew-Classic). I believe that I list her on my Resource page.
      I will definitely check out the wire. THANKS

  5. Hi,

    I found a free Kenmore 117.141 on craigslist and am in the process of fixing it up.

    I had the same rubbing problem. Turns out the feed dogs were rubbing on a part that looked like it was for supporting them during one part of the cycle. I loosened the feed dog adjusting screw and reset them so they weren't rubbing.

    On the other hand, the stitch length regulator lever is stuck on the black number one. Any idea on how to unlock or unstick it? I don't have a manual so I haven't been able to figure out how to do that even though I have taken the machine apart to make sure that nothing was broken.

  6. I wish I could help. I have no idea. Maybe if you put it in a hot car on a hot day it would loosen things up. That's my summer trick. Without looking at it I couldn't say.

  7. Me again,

    I talked to "Bob" at and he said he couldn't give me a specific answer to my problem but to just go back and keep taking the machine apart and putting it back together again and oiling it until it was fixed. This made me chuckle but his advice actually helped. When I disassembled the Kenmore this time, I was able to figure out how to get the Stitch Length Regulator Lever assembly disassembled. The key is to find the set screw on the back of the metal wheel that has the numbers on it. You can access it through one of the engine mount screw holes on the back of the sewing machine housing. Taking that assembly out I was able to determine that it wasn't the problem as everything moved freely. The problem was, the rod to which the arm of the number display wheel was attached was not sliding on the horizontal bar at the top of the machine (it looks something like a teeter-tooter. :) ) Turns out enough old oil had turned to that gummy tarry substance that it "froze" the rod to the bar. I put a few drops of oil on the horizontal bar and had to tap it quite a few times using a hammer and a screwdriver from each side of the machine (very awkward) until I could get it to slide again. I then spent a while working it back and forth by hand until it slid freely. This fixed the problem.

  8. Any suggestions on how you were able to remove the Knee Controller out of the cabinet? I have gotten to the point of removing some of the drawers and lower drip panel and still am pulling my hair out (whats left of it) getting the box to come off of the clips it sits on. I know how the clips work, but this thing looks like they built the cabinet around it. Ugghh... I kneed to rewire the knee controller because the sewer won't use a foot pedal. I can handle wiring the controller, but cannot seem to get to it. Any ideas? Thank you and great work


Thanks for reading. Do leave a comment. IF YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC QUESTION IT IS BEST TO EMAIL ME (see the top of the blog for address under Contact Me) . If you pose a question in the comments, likely I cannot respond unless I have your email address. Happy sewing!