Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sewing machine insanity

Betsy came over Friday afternoon.  We had some WORK to do. 

 I was determined to get the 401 stitching and she wanted me to look at the motor on her Signature.   The motor was sparking.  I told her a little sparking is normal.  This was not a little sparking.  It was A LOT of sparking.  And we found out why.  That is bare wire, there.  Yes sir, it is.
 This motor ran backwards and Betsy took it apart and turned something around so that it would run forwards.  I am still not clear what she did. But in so doing, she positioned the motor leads in such a way that they rubbed on the armature.

When I first looked at this, I said " Nope, buy a new motor."  Clearly someone else had been inside that motor.  That electrical tape was not factory installed.

The pretty blue motor casing is just too sweet.  We did not want to give up.  So she set about taking that tape off and I went to work on the 401.

I had determined that the 401 needed a new bobbin case.  We had one from a 500 that I knocked over when I fell off of a broken chair a few weeks ago at Betsy's.  I put it in the 401 and it stopped breaking thread but the tension was all wrong on the zz.

As we worked, we would "supervise" each other's projects.  I kept giving her "tips" on the electrical and she would peer over my shoulder as I adjusted the bobbin tension.  Finally, we switched.  I took over the soldering and she took over the 401.

I got the thing soldered and she fixed the 401.  As it turns out, I was having so much trouble because I did not have the presser foot presser firm enough.  Go Figure.

We still were unable to get the motor back together correctly.  It runs, like a champ.  But somehow the mounting holes don't line up unless we twist the housing in such a way that the motor leads will rub on the commutator.

We learned.  And this wonderful machine will become a treadle


  1. You gals are a team! Way to go! I have a couple 401's and I think they are the cadillac of Singers multiple stitch machines. I bet it is fun working with Betsy. Have a great week!

  2. You will persevere; I have faith. Isn't reversing the leads what causes the motor to run in the opposite direction? My guess would be you have made the leads too long and there just isn't enough room in the housing. The cloth covered leads seem so much more flexible than today's insulated ones.
    Little Boy Blue sure is pretty. Would be nice to have a zig-zagging treadle.
    Tag team sewing machine repair! Cooperstown is lucky to have you both.

    1. The motor is toast for more than one reason. Too difficult to explain.

  3. That Montgomery Ward machine is ADORABLE! And the paint looks fantastic!
    I love that these machines take cams for decorative stitches. I want one!

    1. These stitches were from the 401.

    2. The Montgomery Ward takes cams.
      There is a small post on top of the machine.

    3. On this blue one, there is a small lever that fits on that post. Betsy was of a mind that it is there to adjust stitches. What do the cams look like?

  4. Can you put a new motor into the original blue casing on the Montgomery Ward?
    (Instead of making it a treadle)

  5. This whole post and your awesome work space and work friend made me smile!

  6. I have a Ward's Signature very similar to this one. I, too, am having troubles with the motor. I'll admit, when I started reading I was hoping to find step by step instructions with pictures explaining how to get the thing functioning and back together properly. I know it's a lot to hope for, but a girl can dream, right? But I do feel a bit better now knowing that it's not just a matter of me doing something stupid. Thank you for that :) I'm telling myself that motor was not designed to ever, ever be taken apart so that I can feel better about giving up on it and getting her a new motor.

    Also, I know this is an older post and you may not even have the machine anymore, but if you're still curious about the cams and the little lever on top, etc, I may be able to help. I do have the cams and manual for mine. I'm not sure yours takes cams though. The cams sit on the top, fitting over two little posts, and I can only see one post in your pictures. Still, if you want any more info or pictures, let me know. I've found your blog entertaining and helpful and I'd be happy to help you out in return :)