Sunday, September 2, 2012

The trouble with Kenmores

I love Kenmore Sewing machines.  I use a lovely Kenmore 158.1760  for almost all of my sewing projects. They are simply great sewing machines.  Easy to work on, for the most part, and rarely break down.  Betsy had a nice 10 stitch that she was working on before she left for vacation.  She couldn't get the feed dogs to work so  I brought it home to give it a shot.

I did manage to get the feed dogs going.  I have no idea how.  Really.  I opened the top and I oiled it in there some, I took off the needle plate and oiled in there some, I turned the thing over and oiled under there some.  I did isolate the mechanism that makes the feed dogs advance and jiggled it from the top and from the bottom.  (The motor was in the way so I had to move it a bit) But somehow the feed dogs started moving.  Magic.

The handwheel feels stiff to me, so I thought that I would try to adjust the belt.  On other Kenmores I have been able to free the bottom belt from the motor and move the bottom pulley up a bit to free the top belt.  Not on this machine.  I can't get at the back end and I can't remove the back end without freeing the belt from the handwheel
 I thought,briefly, about trying to remove the stitch length knob to see if that would work.  I elected to leave well enough alone.  I just don't want to mess with that.  I will study the parts diagram on SearsPartsDirect and see if I can figure anything out.  But for now, a bit of belt dressing has quieted the squeal and it doesn't seem as stiff.

The other issue with this machine is that it will not feed the fabric when in the multi stitch zig zag mode.   It will feed on every other stitch but that one.  I spent a couple of hours tonight trying to figure that out.  I have a 158.1350 that works.  The problem?  It is a free arm and not exactly the same.  I just had to give up.  Perhaps tomorrow....


  1. We are going to scrap a kenmore, because it feeds the fabric all wonky, and unless the fabric is completely under the whole foot, it just sits there and makes thick stitches, The only way I can sew on the edge of the fabric is to start off on another piece of fabric. It's maddening. It appears the feed dogs are working, and reverse works, so I just don't understand it's going to be scrapped out. You win some, you lose some I guess. :(

  2. I have a Kenmore 12 stitch which is nearly identical to this one... pulled it out the other day to start a crucial project and discover my bobbin winder to be non-functional.

    So I moved on with my project, only to have the machine lock up on me. The handwheel was soo tight I could not get it to free up more than an inch or two. With no manual, I was flying in the dark. So I removed the top and tried to remove the side panel, only to discover the same issue that you had been faced with, no removal that was evidently easy without breaking something.

    So I oiled what I could see, let it sit for a bit and managed to get it to work. Somewhat. Still no bobbin winder, which is completely frustrating. I ran into issue with my project and now have to take in all the seams 2" for a canopy cover I am constructing for a ren faire! Any ideas?

  3. Check for a thread lock in the shuttle?

  4. I use a White brand machine (from the same manufacturer, I think) and when I first got it the triple stretch stitches wouldn't work and it would occasionally stop sewing or stitch slowly and squeal. Mine has a knob inside the handwheel to disengage the needle when winding bobbins. The knob was very tight but I managed to turn it a bit and it stopped stopping (but still triple stitches didn't work). I eventually must have turned it all the way because my triple stitches worked last night (great suprise for me). But I still haven't managed to turn it in the opposite direction enough to disengage the needle.
    I wondered if this Kenmore had the same mechanism?

  5. I have a Kenmore 10 Stitch exactly like this! I bought it in 1983 in Florida. I still use it today. In fact I'm making a baby quilt on it right now.