Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bored Dogs

Wilson and Wrigley are always ready to go to the shop.  If I get ready to go out there, they know it and are waiting at the door before I am near ready.  Today we spent the day on the couch.  I think that working with a broken thumb on Monday and Tuesday was one of the stupider things I have done (in addition to breaking it in the first place).  It hurt and I was tired.

The dogs miss their walks, the time outside and the time in the shop.  They get treats every time I go out there.  I may putz and tidy up there tomorrow.  But I am forbidden to lift any machines heavier than 8 pounds.  So you know all I can lift are Singer 221s or Singer 222s ( like I have any of those, save for the one that we serviced).

I miss my life with a left thumb. 

Behave yourself

I have been admonished to behave myself.  I promise that I will. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Machine Repair Hiatus

So, I had a choice.  A cast or a removable splint.  Anyone who has ever had a cast on knows how icky they are.  I went for the removable splint.  It must stay on all the time for four weeks except for showering. 
No Wedding Ring.  I can prowl the bars now,  right?

Already the thumb feels better. (Boy, can you tell that I am almost  60 by looking at that old hand?)

BUT  I cannot do my job, because it requires gloves and two hands ( no I am not a surgeon).  I cannot put a glove over the splint and it will get dirty, but not as dirty as a cast.

I think I will be able to sew

I cannot work on machines...maybe.

The dogs all need haircuts.  I think I can run the clipper with my right hand and Steven said he would bathe them....

Good thing.  We found a deer tick on Wrigley today.....Dang Indian Summer.  It always brings out the ticks.  BUT  it will be colder soon and less worry. 

Still, I wonder if there isn't some way that I could work on machines.   I mean as long as that thumb is protected right????

But, the hand surgeon advised that, while the fracture looks well aligned now, if I were to re-injure it, I would be looking at surgery.

OK  I will put on my Big Girl Panties and behave......

But I can still sew.....

How bad would it be to just clean up the Pittsburgh 201?  Maybe I could pull the tension assembly from the Elgin and put it on the Jeans machine we need to fix?  I definitely can clean the house.  I definitely can sew.....

Monday, October 29, 2012


Steven was just called out to "multiple poles and wires down.."  That means the power is on its way out.

I don't mind storms.

I love electricity.

This may be the last post for a few days......

Good thing I know how to treadle.

It's dark out .... better find a flash light and hunker down with the dogs...


Which wick would you rather have in your grease port? 1 or 2?

Despite a broken thumb, I did service the motor on the miscreant 201 yesterday.  I just had to take this photo of the grease wicks.  I now change them out when I service a potted motor.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Getting ready for Sandy

Steven took the belly mower off of the tractor today.  It's time but getting ready for Sandy made it more imperative that it happen now, rather than later.

He called me to help him and asked me to hold it up while he got ready to wire it to some big old screws in the studs of the garage.  I did not realize how heavy it was.  I lost my concentration and it started to fall and take me and my thumb (which apparently was caught somehow on something) with it.  I fell, the mower fell but landed well away from me.  

It hurt  A LOT.  Poor Steven could not console me.  I was so frightened and AT THE SAME TIME WORRIED THAT I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO SEW TODAY!

Well, I did manage to pull the motor on the miscreant 201, re-service it and re-install it.  Then Betsy came over to sew.  But we had to finish up work on the 222 and the Jeans Machine.

Then we went to the loft to sew.  She got tired of me griping everytime I moved my thumb. 
(She thinks its broken, we will know tomorrow after an xray).

She sat me down and splinted my thumb with available supplies in the sewing loft.  Some very stiff craft interfacing, some batting and some elastic.
Resourceful girl, she is.  Not only are we ready for Sandy, but with her talents, we are ready for December 21, 2012 when the Mayan calendar ends.  Just in case...

Singer 222

1955 Singer 222K
Well, I had always heard about these machines.  I have seen photos on eBay, of course.  I didn't imagine that I would ever see one in the "metal." 

It is an adorable machine.  I imagine that it has some advantages over the 221.  But I prefer bigger free arms for my sewing.  There are plenty of better machines for the money (a Bernina comes to mind) so, now that I have seen one, had my fling and gotten over it, I think I will save my pennies for a Bernina 730 or 830.  If I am going to have an expensive free arm (aside from the computerized Husqvarna I own) I want a Bernina. 

Friday, October 26, 2012


I don't know.  I just felt like celebrating.  I sewed today.  The 201 works and the 1760 is a great machine.  I had a great day.  I love my space.  Life is good.

Sewing on Friday

Two days of working on sewing machines was enough for me this week.  Come to think of it, I had spent two days working on machines with Andrea this week as well.  No wonder I had had it.

I had to sew today.  Check out what I made at

Before I did that, though, I finished this sewing apron

I found the jumper at a thrift store and thought it would make a cute sewing apron.  The fabric is cotton duck but it stretches and was a bit of a pain to work with.  I originally cut it too short so I had to add some fabric back on.  Then I made the pockets.  It was not all that much fun.  I don't really plan ahead all that well.  I have several jumpers waiting for their transformation to aprons.  There is a good idea for holiday presents.  Bags and aprons.

Tomorrow Betsy and I get to work on a Singer 222.  Really.  How lucky are we?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to re-install the worm in a potted motor

If you haven't already, check out The Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog.  (  Rain has a very detailed tutorial on how to re-wire a potted motor.  I used it again this week as I was working the the Pittsburgh 201-2.

One thing that I do differently.  When I am putting the armature back in the motor and lining up the worm, I take out the screw in the end of the motor.

This allows me to place a small screw driver into the motor housing

I pull the screwdriver out far enough to allow the worm to fit in its home and then I slip the screw driver into the worm to hold it in place.

Then I slip the armature in and pull the screw driver back a bit to allow room for the shaft of the armature.  It works like a charm.  It is much easier than trying to hold the worm in place with a pair of tweeezers.  Once the armature is all lined up, I pull the driver out and replace the screw.

It is important to line the set screws up correctly when re-installing the worm.  I completely removed one of the set screws in the worm when I took the motor apart.  It just happened to be the one on the flat.  The flat on the armature shaft matches the flat on the armature. 
When you are reinstalling the worm, you can't see the flat.  But if you turn the armature and with your third eye, watch where the flat is in relation the to shaft, you can get a good idea where the flat should be. 

Easy Peasy.

It stitches!

By ten this morning I had all the parts back in the 201-2 motor and was ready to attach it to the machine. I still had to make the connectors and since I cannot crimp I decided to make my own out of the ends of the wire.  More soldering.  I had not measured the motor lead wires so I had to figure out how long to make them.  I pulled the motor from the miscreant 201 and used them as the template.

I had bragged somewhere, maybe here, that I can pull a motor from a 201 in five minutes.  I was guessing.  I have never timed myself.  Today I did.  Three minutes.  Really.  From start to finish including re-attaching the terminal screw.  Of course, the motor has been off and on that machine many times in the past year.  Pulling the motor off of a 61 year old machine that hasn't been serviced in YEARS is another story.

So I got the motor and the machine running.  It is always a relief when everything works.   I decided that was enough.  Yeah right. 

I noticed that the tension release pin was not releasing the tension as it should.  More time and frustration dealing with that.  I had not wanted to take the presser bar off.  But it was so dirty and I had to figure out what was going on with the presser bar lifter.   I got everything clean and shiny and re set the presser bar height at "no more than 19/64ths of an inch above the needle plate..."  Really?  How the heck do you measure 19/64s? 

Well 19/64ths is a bit more than a fourth.  (3/64ths to be precise).  I borrowed an idea from Rain and measured the height of some playing cards.  When I got to 1/4 I added a couple more cards and called it good.  I bound them all together and use them under the presser foot when I am adjusting the presser bar height.  Works fine.

 Finally, after dinner, I tested the stitch on the Pittsburgh 201.  I was pretty surprised to see that it made a nearly perfect stitch right off the bat.  I had taken the tension adjusting spring COMPLETELY off of the bobbin case when I was cleaning it.  I tightened it back down all the way when I re-installed it and then backed it off a bit.  Nothing scientific there.  I set the top tension at 4 and it was just a bit tight.    Then I gave it all out power and it was just as slow as the miscreant.  I was BUMMED.  But as I held the controller down it started to speed up.  After a bit it was going fast enough.  I started sewing with it and just made row after row of stitches.  Then it made a clunk and slowed right down.  To almost nothing.  CRAP.  I took the hand wheel off and looked at the worm.  It was fine.  Nicely lubricated.  I put it back together and tried the motor with no load.  It was ok.  Then I put it out of bobbin winder mode and it was still ok.  Then I gave it full power for about three minutes and it kept gaining speed and gaining speed until it was hauling you know what.  And then I stitched with it.  At top speed.  And it stitches beautifully.

I tired some really tiny stitches.  I tried some regular stitches.  I am not unhappy. 

Now I have to figure out what the devil is wrong with the other 201.  But I am sewing tomorrow.  Promise.

Clean Parts

 The truth about the 201......Andrea wasn't really sure she didn't want it.  I was really sure that I did.  So I brought it home. 

I had some anxiety over bringing home ANOTHER project when I have a lifetime supply of machines to fix and get stitching.   I am on vacation this week.  It was a week dedicated to sewing machine repair (Originally I was going to a Ray White class ) so I figured I could relieve some anxiety and just get the stupid thing done.

The parts above belong in the machine and motor.   The grease wicks are brand new.  I think I will also put in new brushes.

Let's just hope it stitches....

The Best Hostess of the Face of The Planet

She opened her home and welcomed me in.  She schlepped me all over South Western PA to show me the sites.  She took me fabric shopping and sewing machine fetching. We sewed.   We worked on machines (OK, in her formal Dining Room where I was paranoid to drop anything).  And we went to two Goodwill stores, a Red White and Blue thrift AND St. Somebody Thrift.  How much better could it get?

Thank you Andrea.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I went off to Pittsburgh on Friday of last week.  Since the Ray White class was cancelled Andrea invited me for a visit.  I think she invited me.  I may have invited myself.  In any case,  we spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday doing what any self respecting sewing machine addicts would do.  We sewed, played with sewing machines and hit the Goodwill stores.  It was a most satisfying time for me.  I only wish Pittsburgh were closer. 

  On Sunday, before our little trip to Falling Water,  we worked on the pajamas.  After our little trip to Falling Water we chased down a 201-2. Centennial.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What did you learn today?

I can pull  a motor off of a Singer 201 in about five minutes now.  That's because I have done it so many times.  I know a fair bit about older Kenmores, too.  I don't know squat about newer machines, but the last two Taiwanese made machines I was able to at least take apart to get to their innards.

But the Viking that Andrea and I worked on is totally different from any machine I have ever worked on.  Except that, like almost all of the others, its major problem was being dirty and gunked up.

Or so we thought.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I am off to the 'burgh tomorrow for a little vacation.  I may or may not be blogging from there.  Check in from time to time to see.  It all depends on my mood. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It just won't stitch right

Something happened to my 201.  I don't know what happened, but something happened.  It has gradually been stitching more and more poorly.   I have tried changing the tension assembly, no better.  I tried switching the bobbin case for a different one.  I even purchased a new, unbent position bracket.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When was the last time you changed the needle?

During my day job I confess that I am seriously afflicted with SMAD.  It is important that folks feel comfortable during their time with me so I chat up silly things and tell stories.  Usually about the dogs or about sewing and sewing machines.  Universally I hear
Them   "I have an old sewing machine but it doesn't work any more."
 Me  "When was the last time you changed the needle?"
Them  "Oh I don't know."

Gee Whiz

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yard Sale Score

This cute little armoire was at the same yard sale as the 2 dollar machine.  I couldn't resist.  Betsy and I got it home, and in the house before Steven got home.  He likes it.  I promised that he can have one of the drawers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sewing Machines CHEAPER !!

Saturdays are lovely for me and Betsy.  We often go to yard sales, almost always stop at the SPCA thrift store and generally just play.  Today was no exception.  I picked her up and we headed into town to fetch a "gig" as I call them.  Someone needs their Featherweight serviced.  We picked up the machine, then headed for the thrift store.  Rumor was that there was a machine there "in pretty good shape, for a good price."     The  machine was a beat up old Singer 66, sans slide plate, in a case that was fairly decent for FIFTY DOLLARS.  I think her source was part of the 1 %.  Certainly 50 bucks is NOT a good price.  We left the thrift store with some notions, some fabric and without the machine.  SEE?  We can say no.

Then we headed to the yard sale Betsy read about somewhere.  Since it was on the way to my house, we swung by.  We almost didn't stop.  When we got out of the car, we found that the sellers were folks we know.  "Oh there's an old sewing machine back there.  And she's got a whole 2 Bucks on it."

Sewing Machines CHEAP !!

Steven was shopping for a new truck and invited me to go with him last Sunday.  He had diligently done his homework and found just the truck he wanted at a dealership in Schenectady.  I checked Craigslist and found this machine listed for 20 bucks.  There's a no brainer.
Kenmore 158.1940

After finding out that the truck Steven wanted was actually in Massachusetts (don't ask, I don't understand)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Learning how to Truncate the blog

I learned today from Sew Many Ways( that evil persons stole some of her posts.  So in order to prevent spam evil doers from stealing, it is recommended that one truncate the post.  I am trying to learn.
Let's see how it worked.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Could this be the reason?

I have been complaining about my 201-2 for months.  I serviced it to no avail about a month ago. The stitch is still lousy.  Two nights ago I took the bobbin case out, intending to switch it out for another.  As long as I had all that apart, I figured I would just go one step (ok, well TWO steps) further and check the position bracket.  I was too tired to do so Sunday night.  Tonight, despite the glass of very nice Albarino (I wasn't actually OPERATING machinery) I took the feed dogs off and removed the position bracket.

It was bent

Remeber this photo?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lined zippered bag

I wanted to make something for my student, Laura.  She is leaving me tomorrow and I will miss her.  We had such a good time together.  She was very kind and listened to me rave about sewing machines.  She doesn't sew.  She has little time right now.  She works, goes to school and is Mom to two children.  I just have 80 plus sewing machines and three dogs.  The DH takes care of himself.

So I made a little lined zippered pouch yesterday.  I took it to work today, Laura was there, and I played around with it trying to figure out how to make it prettier and better and more useful.  I decided to box the corners, top stitch around the zipper to make it recessed and add a strap.

Of course I started over with new fabric 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Jeans Machine

After I determined that I would not be servicing the Necchi Lydia, I dove into the other 5 dollar machine I bought last Saturday.

There are things about this machine that I really like.  Its presser bar is manually adjustable.  The one on the Elgin is not.  It is a free arm, like the Elgin but it isn't as adorable.  It has some metal parts, but the important ones,  the shuttle gears, unfortunately,  are plastic on metal. The Elgin's shuttle gears are all metal and much better, in that respect.   It is a single belt, the Elgin is a dual belt which is supposed to give it more torque.  But the Elgin has an automatic presser bar adjustment, which is not so helpful,  Why?

The Elgin has an adorable little compartment for stuff just in front of the pillar.  This White had nothing like that and indeed, the "feet" are bent requiring a shim for stability.  Just the same I think this machine is an ok machine with some built in stretch and decorative stitches.

All of the stitches are tested and work.  OOPS I did not test the buttonholer. Nor didI test the fish and the duck. Seriously.  I did figure out how to adjust the stretch stitches so that the feed would go back and forth.  That was a good thing to learn.  The Elgin works the same way.  Just turn the nuts....TWSS

The Elgin has needle bar issues.  I think that it is a bit bent.  There is a definite lag and squeak when the needle bar goes up and down.  I think some lapping compound would help.  When Betsy gets home I am going to see if she has some.  I did a bold thing and tried to get the needle bar out of the Elgin.  I gave up and just left it.  Problem now, what is the correct height?  If we get the drag out of the needle bar I will worry about needle bar height then.  I just had to stop.  I had to cook dinner and feed the dogs.  So much for sewing today. 

Name that broken part/ Necchi Lydia

I know that the last quiz I offered was not well received.  Still I offer this one because I can't help myself.  I thank Ed Lamoureux of  for his post regarding this machine. (That there is a hint, yes it is)