Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pitman Rod

I did re-assemble the treadle today.  It is pouring rain outside and the dogs and I are nestled in on the couch, so you will forgive me if I don't go out to the shop to take the pictures I should have taken earlier.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I did however, take a couple of pics of  the pitman rod.  I finally was able to get it back together.  It took me a while to get the holes lined up just right in the adjustment bracket.

Here are the pieces
Here is how they go in the rod. The screw is placed  in from the top and sets into a hole in the little wooden bracket.  The screw tightens the little half moon metal bracket, keeping the pitman in place on the pedal and on the wheel.

I was pretty terrified that I would break this wooden pitman.  Didn't.  I do have to adjust the cone bearings for the pedal. I thought that merely replacing the cone bearings as they were would suffice.  But the pedal will not treadle if I tighten the bearings to their original position.  I loosen the bearings and I cannot secure them in place because  the nuts will not free up.  The bearings and their nuts are in a PB Blaster bath.  On Wednesday I will assemble the whole thing.  Steve needs his shop back. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Elgin Free Arm

I needed incentive to get up and go to work on Thursday.  No, the paycheck is not enough incentive.  I had to give a presentation.  I prepared but did not feel ready.  So, in order not to bail (like I would) I urged myself to get up, put on my Big Girl Panties and get to work.  But I needed a REWARD.  So I decided that it would be, what else, a sewing machine!
This adorable, little Elgin was 5 bucks.  It came with another machine, a White Jeans Machine.  They are rather like Siamese Twins; they share a foot controller.  But, hey,  two for ten is a decent price and they were just 40 miles away.

There is no extension table.  But it has needle left, center and right; a built in button holer; all those stretch stitches.  Metal shuttle gears but plastic cam stack.  Can't have everything.  Made in Taiwan.  It is clean and ready for stitch testing.
 OOPS  I never noticed that crack in the stitch width  selector.  Epoxy rescue !!!  (I also thought I had cleaned that knob. )
 I rather like it.  It is pretty quiet.  Who knows how it will stitch?  I am not fond of vertical tension assemblies.  I only saw one disc so I don't know how it can hand two needles.  I doubt I would use a double needle ever, any way.  This machine is a good one for a beginner.  Simple, I think.  I'll update this later; after I sew with it.

UPDATE.  It sews straight stitch and zz ok.  But no stretch stitches.  Back to the shop.  Needs some more attention.  Hey, what can we expect?


First coat.  Not bad.  One more coat and then I put it back together.
"This one was so much fun I can't wait to do another one!" said this Sewing Machine Fanatic NEVER


I applied the second coat and tomorrow or later tonight plan to re-assemble the treadle....

Friday, September 28, 2012

Singer 115 HOOK

Oh my, the hook on the Singer 115 is filthy. I looked at it tonight and decided that I really should take it apart.  But, I have only one Singer 115.  What if I really futz it up and cannot get it back together?  Oh, right, I paid 5 bucks for the machine (plus 25 for shipping) and it would not be the worst thing I have done.  It will never stitch as it is.   I took the leap.

I removed the two screws seen here.
And got this. OMIGOSH
I had been soaking this hook for WEEKS in some sort of solvent.  I think it was a petroleum product because it was pretty oily.  Degreaser would have dried out as would dentaured alcohol.  I actually think I sprayed gobs of LW on it.  It worked.  Those screws loosened pretty readily

I scrubbed the gib (I am calling it that, don't know if it is right.  Guess I could look it up on a parts diagram.  Be, right back)  OK, its called the rotating hook section.  Really;  part number 55633. 
OOOHHH  still needs work.  I used the honing tool that I bought from Ray White.  I think that maybe steel wool would work better.

 I did clean it up a bit.  There is more work to do.  I had to put it all back together again, though.  Otherwise I would not remember how it fits.  Tomorrow I will finish cleaning it up.  It rotates.  But there is a catch in it somewhere.  What a mess.

Singer 328K revisited

 This machine came with one decorative cam.  It does not have the Zig Zag cam.  I looked for one but did not find one.  Darn.  I found a deco cam that makes that "box stitch"  If you lengthen the stitch it will zz but in an odd sort of alternating way.  It could work for a zz substitute.  I don't know how hard it is to come by these zz cams.
 It sewed through this leather without a complaint.  BUT I would not want to do it day in and day out.  I don't think the motor would last.  It is one of those naked internal motors and I don't know how easy THEY are to come by, either.   I tired to access the brushes on it but couldn't .  From what I saw of the commutator, it looked clean. 

I honestly like the stitch these 328s make.  True it sounds like a tractor and it is a cheapo machine.  None the less, it makes a lovely stitch and will last a long time.  Longer than the modern plastic machines made now.

I am posting this on the website.  It's for sale. I have to move some machines out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Alice, Kristyn, Elizabeth, Ingrid, Gail, William and Lyndell 2007 

Do you see that impish, white haired woman peeking over her grandson's smiling face?  That is my Aunt Gail.  A wonderful soul.  She passed a week ago yesterday.  We just returned from The Celebration of her life.  It was a very low keyed, informal gathering of her family and friends.  I was honored to be there.  
Gail and Alice
 Gail was a wonderful, generous, loving soul.  She   "farmed" a small 5 acre patch of Vermont in between two intersecting major high ways.  She loved life and lived it.  She raised flowers and vegetables and chickens there along with six children.  Five of them survive her.   She had donkeys, cats and dogs right there in the middle of all that crazy, commercial development.   Amazing. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm Sorry

I know he looks contrite.  But he wasn't. Not a bit.  This morning, as I was trying to get Wilson to come in through the gate, Wrigley took off.  Ishould have known better.  Wilson was hot on the trail of a RABBIT and Wrigley had been denied the opportunity to join in because of the LEASH.  I thought that I would be safe but I wasn't.

The boys took off up the hill toward the field.  I saw the RABBIT.  They didn't .  But that didn't matter.  FREEDOM was at hand and Wrigley took the opportunity to RUN for it.  He truly looked happy.  Wilson, likewise.

I managed to chase them down with the help of our neighbor who was aroused at 7 AM by my frantic  calling.  Luckily she has dogs and understands.  Wrigley ran right upher steps and slobbered her with kisses.  Wilson, always more circumspect, was still sniffing for RABBIT.  We all got home to find poor Frannie, still leashed up, stranded with her leash stuck on a tree in the yard.

Clearly it is time for training.  OK Karen Pryor, here I come. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homing Poodle

I have always called Wilson, "Mr. No Original Thought."  He never strayed far from us on our walks.  He would follow Frannie's lead in almost everything.  If she jumped up to bark at something, he would too.  If she wanted to go out, so would he.  If I tried to take her away with me without him he would wail like a sick donkey.  He's pathetic.

Wrigley lost off leash privileges earlier this summer when he refused to come to me because that SQUIRREL  was up that tree.  Oh no, now that tree, oh no,  that tree over there.  SQUIRREL possibility was much more enticing than a stupid, mushy, dog treat of questionable origin.  Frannie has never had off leash privileges; her disdain for my authority has been present since she was a pup.

We took a longer walk this morning and headed into the woods.  Wilson got scent of something and took off ahead of us.  He circled back briefly.  I was sure he was RIGHT THERE.  I was distracted untangling Frannie and Wrigley from trees  (we were in the WOODS, you know.  Flexi leashes are great on the path and in the field.  Not in the woods.  One goes one way and the other goes the other)
He wears a Bear Bell, but I think that we make enough noise to scare away any wild animal that might be lurking ahead of us.  I could not hear it at all.  I called, we headed up the path a bit, I called and called.  No Wilson and no bell.

I headed back toward home, felt guilty and went back, all the way to the end of our destination but still not sign of the boy.  I was, admittedly, worried.  I called and called.  Frannie and Wrigley sniffed and pulled and tugged and got tangled up some more. 

Finally I just had to give up and headed home.   I figured that I would fetch Steven and he could drive up County rte 36a and see if Wilson was along the road there, and I would head back up the path.

Crossing the field I thought I heard his bell.  I stopped to listen.  Nope,  guess not.  There it is again.  I headed up the field calling and promising treats.  NADA  no sign of poodle.  No bell, either

I headed down our hill and into the upper field.  Calling all the time.  I got to the upper gate and THERE I was SURE I heard it.  I kept calling and calling.   I got into the yard and yelled for Steve to come help me find him and there  was Wilson at the other gate.....he would have had to circle the shop and come up the other path to get to me.  It was much more efficient to wait at the gate wagging his tail as if  I had been the one missing. Steven said "Its good to know your way home even if you live in the middle of Manhatten or the hills of Westford." 

Now, I need three hands. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I worked on the 328K some more today and finally decided that I would just live with whatever was making that "whisper" in the bobbin case.  I put the machine all back together and cleaned it all up.  But the tension assembly was filthy and I just couldn't live with THAT.   I could not find the set screw to release the tension stud so I just took the parts off with the stud still in the machine.  I found the set screw once I had all the parts off.  You must access it from above.  I decided that I could just reassemble the thing without all that bother.  The check spring isn't quite right, but.....

Once I had the machine all back together, I tested the stitch.  Omigosh.  There was an awful racket from below.  I was sure that I had not pushed the position bracket back into place.  Nope.  All was fine.   The top tension felt terribly tight.  I took it apart, AGAIN, honed the discs and reassembled it. (Which is why the check spring isn't quite right, it was perfect the first time).  Still no better.  I took the slide plate and the needle plate off and watched the thread as it made its journey.  It was catching in two places.  First just along the bobbin case  and again in the back. 

Work with me here,  imagine that there is a bobbin in the machine and there is thread catching along that path.  The answer to the problem is in this photo.  The clue is in the title of this post. 
In order for me to see where it was catching in back  I had to remove the feed dogs.  which I did .  Then I figured it out.

I had tightened the bobbin case position bracket too tightly and there was NO ROOM for the thread to escape along its journey to making the stitch.  In this photo there is some space space between the bobbin case and the position bracket.  I took this photo yesterday before I started messing with the machine.   This space is the escapement.  There MUST be space there, or thread will catch.
I thought that the bobbin case sounded too rattly so I tightened it up.  Too much. There was NO SPACE there after I made the rattle go away.   I moved it back and the machine stitches.  Yes, it is noisy.  It is not as quiet and smooth as the 401 or the 301 or the 201 or even the Janome 2212 (Omigosh I am comparing a Vintage Singer to a plastic modern machine.  Blasphemy!)  But it makes a very nice stitch.  Tomorrow I will adjust the tension and find a zz cam for it and post it for sale.  Or not. 
(No, the whisper was not the noise of the position bracket rubbing on the bobbin case.  Those two pieces are stationary)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Singer 328 bobbin case

A reader asked for a photo of the bobbin case position on a 328.  Fortunately I still have one of these machines and was able to photograph the bobbin case for her.
I, therefore, became distracted by this machine and neglected my other duties of the day.  Sort of.  I did get the top coat of paint on the bases and the treadle top.  But I did not vacuum the house or weed the garden.

It occurred to me that a little photo tutorial on how to remove the bobbin case of these types of machines might be helpful.  The 401, 403 and 404 all work the same way, basically.  So does the 337 and I imagine the 338.  I don't have a lot of experience but I think most of the newer top loading class 66 machines might work this way.  Not the 201.  That bobbin case is totally different and if you want to learn more about it   go to The Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog

First remove the needle plate.  It merely lifts off.

 Raise the feed dogs to the highest position and lift the position bracket up and to the right.
Shift the bobbin case to the right as well and it should lift out.  I had to jiggle this one.

When replacing the bobbin case be sure it is sitting just so and don't forget to move the position bracket back into place.

If the bobbin case is loose in the hook, it is possible to adjust the position bracket so that the bobbin case sits more snugly.   I loosened both screws a quarter of a turn and gently moved the bracket toward the bobbin case until it felt snug.  Then I tightened the screws. 

This bobbin case has a bit of a rasp to it somewhere in its cycle.  I don't think it is because I tightened the bobbin case.  It was pretty raspy before I did that.   The machine turns smoothly when the case is out.  But when it is in place, it whispers. If there isn't any oil on the thing it grinds.   The whole machine does need servicing and I suppose that will be on the agenda for tomorrow.  The forecast is for rain, so I won't have to weed the perennial bed.  Oh darn.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cross Posting

I belong to several Yahoo sewing machine repair groups  and have learned so much about sewing machine repair just by reading the posts.  Cross posting is frowned upon on those groups.  In case you don't understand that term, cross posting means posting the same question on more than one group.  It seems it is poor Internet manners.  I get it.  No one wants to think about a solution to a problem and spend the time answering a question when someone else has done the same thing. It irritates.

Well, on my blogs I cross post.  Tonight I posted a little ditty about a cute little re-purposed Jeans Purse on Sewing Machine Magic blog.

Go here to see the post;postID=4199367628872815008

If you just want to see what I made, here it is.  Cute, eh?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Machine Madness

I am trying to get some photos of machines ready so that I can post them to the website

I got the new Black and Decker Work mate out,  put a piece of luan (sic) on it with a back drop and started shooting.

I had forgotten that this machine is a free arm.   It really is a good machine.  I am becoming more fond of free-arms and find myself drawn to them on the auction sites.  I think that they are more versatile, thus worth the effort at repairing and restoring and, yes, hoarding.  (Don't tell Ingrid)
Kenmore 158.1931 (I think)
Which might explain why I am determined to get this Taiwanese Kenmore fixed.  This is the one with the broken drive spring.  We are about to order one from a parts supplier.  We are NOT going to try to scam one off of another machine.  Too much work with those tiny little screws.  And awkward positioning.
Kenmore 158.1350

This machine is a nice looking, sleek machine.  But it has its chintzy side to it, I think.  Still its a "Made in Japan" Kenmore 158 so it probably is a good one.  I hate the way it threads.  If it were a free arm I would like it better.

Kenmore 158.1814
 (See the comments below for reference)
 Compare the 158.1813 (below) to the above machine.  I think this one is elegant.  I think the one above is chintzy.  Just sayin'....


Pfaff 230
I sewed on this Kenmore 158.1430 in our classes at Project Anthologies last month.  I really like it.  Nice and quiet and strong.

Kenmore 158.1430
We have two of these.  One I bought from a "local" (60 miles away) seller on Craigs List.  The other I bought from an online auction site.  Both machines are in fairly nice shape.  Again, not free arm but good machines.

This Singer Featherweight was the one that Betsy and I chased down last spring.  I paid well under 100 dollars for it.  The machine is in nice shape.  Better shape than the Centennial that I paid way too much for.  
Singer 221-1T
The seller had broken into the case.

 I bought replacement hasps and finally got around to putting one one and replacing the latches today.
Steven found some tiny bolts and nuts for me.  He claims that they were mine originally.  I rather vaguely remember having them, though I know not for what.  They are the perfect hardware for attaching the "new" hasps.  I just must put something over the nuts on the inside of the case so that taking the machine in and out doesn't damage the finish.  I think some leather glued over them should do the trick.

I found some slightly larger than the original screws for the latches.   The key works in the new hasp.  The old hasp is too damaged.  It latches but I would not want to depend on it.  I have another hasp.  One day I will gently pry the damaged hasp off and replace it.  I would have done it today but three dogs were pestering me for dinner.

Its getting cooler out so the critters are moving in.  Already, Steven has trapped two mice in the kitchen.  Right now Wilson and Wrigley are on alert, trying to find the critter rustling around in the walls or in the cellar.  How I wish they were cats...or Jack Russels.  Poodles are not vermin killers...too big...though Wilson has been known to nail a field mouse or two. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sewing Machine Base

A reader asked me how I made the base for my Kenmore Sewing machines without having to notch out for the hinge screws.  I promised an explanation.

 The first step is to determine how long to make the end pieces.  It was easier on the Kenmores because there is enough room under each end to allow the pieces to fit completely under the bed.  Likewise there is plenty of room under the front edge on the Kenmore so that the machine was supported on three of four sides.  Thus the back piece just butted up against the back. 

Not so on this darling Brother Zig Zag.  There was enough room under the bed on the front end but the butt end only allowed about 1/4 inch of overlap.

So I figured how much length I would need for the end pieces using the front end as the template.  Turned out it was 6 and 5/8. 

I cut two of those and tucked them under the machine bed on either end.  I then took two longer pieces and placed one in the front, tucking it under the bed as far as it would go.  I merely lined the back one up along the back edge of the bed. I lined each one up flush with the butt end.

If you notice in this photo, the knot on that back board will land right where I want to drill a pilot hole for the screw.  I, therefore, marked only the front board and cut it to length. 

When cutting your material, it is wise to leave just a smidgen of the pencil line showing.  That way you know that you haven't cut too much off.

Using the front board as my template, I marked the back board accordingly, moving the knot in a bit and giving myself some room to drive the screws where I needed to. 

I dry fitted the boards and laid them out flat on the work bench
Then I applied Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue to the articulating surfaces fitted them together and clamped them in place.  See where the knot ended up?
I then drilled pilot holes in each end
And drove the screws in.

I was then able to remove the clamps.  The screws will hold everything in place while the glue dries.

The base did not support the machine so well because there wasn't enough surface area on the two ends and the front.  I made a brace for the back to support it between the hinge screw holes.

I cut a small scrap of wood that was just the right depth
and screwed it to the back of the base.

Here it is, with the primer coat on it.
 And here it is, holding the machine
I am hoping that the screws are countersunk enough to allow some fill with the "plastic wood" wood filler.  I bought a huge batch of it.  Cheaper that way. 

When comparing this base to the Kenmore bases, I noticed how much smaller it was.  Sort of just the right size for a Singer...

Now, back to to the treadle base project.....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Power Tools

Last time I made some bases for the sewing machines Steven ripped the stock for me. Today I decided that I had just better get brave and learn how to do it myself.  It helped that Steven  was right there watching me.  I ripped the tongue and the groove off of some T and G bead board scraps he gave me.

Steven made me a cool little pushing tool and I got the hang of it after about the fifth board.  I doubt I will ever run the table saw on my own.  But I might rip some stock if Steven were right there in the shop with me.  

I figured out a better way to build the bases so that I don't have to chisel out wood for the hinge screws.  I hated that job.

All in all I am getting more efficient.  I have no fears using the chop saw and I am adept with the electric drill. I love Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue.  It cleans up nicely and sets up quickly.  I glue the pieces together, then clamp them in place while I drill pilot holes for the screws.  I had this niftly little drill that drilled the pilot hole and the counter sink all at once,  but it broke when I knocked the drill off of the work bench.  I managed with a simple drill bit.  The boards are pine and with some persuasion from the Phillips head drill bit in the drill, the screw heads are flush with the wood.

Three bases for three Kenmores; a 158.1358 and two 158.1803s.  The 158.1813 already has one.
I think I may be doing some painting tomorrow....
Kenmore 158.1803

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Body work

I bought a sewing machine on eBay a few months ago.  It was packed poorly and the case was damaged in shipment.  Fortunately the seller refunded part of the payment. 

The case was weakened by the fractures and unusable. 
Steven repairs fiberglass canoes every year during Memorial day weekend.  Big canoe race in these parts and his buddies come from Canada to race.  He used to race.  Now he hangs out, and helps with boat repair.  Anyway, he has this stuff to fix boats and I thought it would be the perfect stuff to use.  He didn't agree. 

But he did suggest that I use some  fiberglass cloth

And some five minute epoxy to seal it in place.  It worked great
Strong, like bull.