Monday, May 7, 2012

Out of Control AGAIN

I just had to have a 237.  When one came up on CL I called and asked the seller to save it for me.  No worries.  I was the only caller.  That explains why no one ever buys my machines I list on Craigs list
Steve went with me to fetch this.  It was an interesting transaction.  The seller wanted to meet at a public place .  I chose Starbucks.  Then I realized we would need an outlet to try the machine out.  I scouted out Starbucks when Steve and I arrived (and after I bought a coffee).  No outlets accessible.  

I phoned the seller to let him know we were at Starbucks and mentioned the lack of available outlets.  He still did not invite us over.  He suggested Brueger's Bagels.  So we walked across the parking lot and searched for electricity.  We found one outlet, but heck, now we had to buy something else.  Luckily we like bagels.  

There is something about fetching a sewing machine in a public place.   It is just plain odd.  I guess people are afraid to allow strangers in their homes.  Funny, the woman from whom I bought the 328 an hour previously was not worried at all.  She invited me in, we went to the garage, we chatted about wonderful old used things, especially sewing machines.  It was great.  

So at the Bagel shop I looked over this machine.  The case is in terrible shape and the machine almost fell out as the seller lugged it in.  I checked out the tension assembly.  The tension release plate/ tension indicator is plastic and can break.  It was broken.  Still I did not argue over the price.  Someone else may have.  I have this thing about promising to buy something and then dickering over the price.  I don't think its right.

But the tension indicator part (which in this machine doubles as the tension release plate) was not the only broken tension part.  The screw nut was also cracked.  

I have no idea if the machine will work like this or not.  I will do my best to find a replacement.  I went up to Ithaca last Wednesday for another repair class.  I worked on a 237 there with these same issues.  The teacher, Toby Benetti, just handed me new parts.  He's a professional, he has them on hand.   Had I known that I was going to get this machine then, I would have bought a couple of sets of these from him.  It is possible to buy a completely new tension assembly but why should I when all I need is the screw nut?  Maybe Toby will sell me one.  He sure was a nice guy at class.

In response to Rain's question/comment I tried a tension assembly from a 66 that I had kicking around.  The check spring on the 15-91 is totally different and I have no spare 201 tension assemblies.  The tension stud is shorter

So I kept the original and just used the metal tension release plate/+/- indicator and the numbered dial.  

It seems to work.  I did have some issues tweaking it and I think it needs more tweaking.  But I am happy with the stitch

Of course looking at it now, it isn't so pretty.  When I look at it in real time, it is.....  


  1. Awesome, glad you got a 237! I just located another near me and I'm hoping to pick it up this Saturday.

    Shame about the tension assembly's plastic parts. Which has me curious: I wonder if the tension assembly for the 201 or 15 can be used as substitutes. At some point I'll have to dig out my 237 and a 15/201 to see (unless you beat me to it).

    By the bye, you'll notice the 237 uses the same needleplate and slide plate as on the model 15s. I found that out when my 237 turned out to have a broken leaf spring on the slide plate.

    Also nice to see you got one with the marked needleplate!

    There are two variants of 237 that I know of, one has a knob at the base of the pillar to drop the feed dogs, the other does not. The one I'm hoping to get on Saturday does not have that knob (which my first one does). I'm wondering if there's another way to drop the 'dogs or if that variant was not meant to.

    - Rain

    1. I was wondering the same thing this morning, actually.

      We can always take out the feed dog if we wanted to use it for darning or free motion!!


    2. I am a total novice to vintage machines, so feel free to laugh at me, but I repaired the plastic tension washer part on my Dad's old Singer by superglueing a tiny sliver of aluminium (from a cat food tin lid!) across the centre of the part, wrapping it round the moulded part at either side. I used my then longish nails to hold it a while until it stuck, without glueing my fingers together, and left it overnight to bond fully before use. It has lasted a couple of months and is still going strong.... :)

    3. Anniec
      I think that is great. I tried to glue it but it broke even after I had glued it. So I went to a metal piece that I had on hand. I did not "mend" it the way you did. I could try that. Maybe I should. I do like the contrast of the darker tension unit, though. And I feel very clever to have fixed something with other parts.....

  2. I agree- buying a sewing machine at starbucks seems weird. I actually won't deal with people who want me to do so, unless I really, really want the machine and don't care if it works or not. I have a 239- the straight stitch one- and it is a very nice machine. If you don't sell on craigs, where do you make most of your sales?

    1. Mostly I don't sell machines. That's the problem. I have sold on eBay. Others I have sold by word of mouth and one machine, last summer, sold on CL.

      PS I really wanted this 237

  3. That class sounds so interesting! I can take apart tension assemblies and put them back together like mad but adjusting them perfectly is trial and error and error and error. My bro called me recently to ask if I "had ever heard of" a 237 which he had just acquired for me almost for free. I didn't know I wanted one until I got it cleaned and tri-flowed - but I could still fiddle a bit more with the tension, as with all my machines. I don't have the manual but I don't see any kind of knob for lowering feed dogs. Makes a lovely satin stitch. (I am attempting to control the bro by sending him on a hunt for a 201 - he has pictures, descriptions, lists...)
    Love your pictures.

  4. I have two 237's and I love them!!

  5. I didn't know there was an internal plastic part in the tension assembly.
    Thanks for posting!
    I have a Singer 237 & I'm ashamed to admit... I haven't used it.

  6. When I bought my second sewing machine (first was a Brother with embroidery discs, cost me a months earnings) it cost me again a months worth of earnings, onbly more earnings pro month too, it was an Hus qvarna 2000, orange coloured, the vogue colour at that time. The salesperson made me prmoise never to oil the SM, because its nylon (or plastic) parts would become brittle with time and break if I would oil them. So maybe that is what happened to the white plastic (or nylon) parts that you see broken in your machines. All other sewing machines with metal parts need to be oiled or greased as you know, so I was very lucky this responcible salesperson warned me. (We also bought funiture that needed no waxing and buffing up. This time we were not so lucky, it turned out a component in the wax crackes the finish of that particular furniture, so when we did wax it after a few years, the varnish crackeled! Should have told us never to wax the chairs and table). I also have a varnished brass doorbell, want to know how dirty brown it looks, cannot get rid of the d...ed varnish to polish the brass back to nice yellow. Oil and varnish have their good uses, but sometimes they are bad news.