Tuesday, August 27, 2013

KENMORE 158.1040

This is a nice little 3/4 sized machine with zig zag, blind hem, stretch straight and stretch zig zag, not to mention the built in button hole and multi-stitch zig zag.  I like this machine.  Some of us call in a Keatherweight.  Get it?

It isn't as diminutive as the Singer 221 but it has more functions.  I can say the that FW has a much nicer straight stitch.  But for travel and convenience I will sacrifice that for the other features of this machine.

I had NO TIME to get ready for my road trip to North Carolina last week.  I grabbed this machine literally off the shelf in the shop.  I bought it in March of 2011 when I was in Chicago.  I am pretty sure that I serviced it when I brought it home.  I hadn't used it since.  Luckily I also grabbed my traveling work kit.  I picked up some q tips and alcohol (isopropyl, well, ok some wine as well.  I deserved a drink, too) at the Ingles around the corner from here.  When I set it up yesterday to test it out I oiled it quickly and tried to wind the bobbin.  The clutch wouldn't release.

So I set to work.   I don't know if the other Keatherweights have a screw off (I did just write that) or a pop off top.  This one pops off.  I just grab it and pull. 
Thus revealing the camstack and inner workings
I oiled everything and I pulled the balance wheel off too and cleaned it so that the clutch would release.

The feed dogs weren't working really well.  The straight stretch stitch is short and the zz stretch stitch would not work at all.  The feed dog didn't drop either.   I wonder what it is about me, my North Carolina trip and Kenmores with feed dog issues? (http://mysewingmachineobsession.blogspot.com/2012/12/feed-dog-drop.html)

Since the feed was messed up I had to pull off the bottom.  This machine has three screws holding the bottom on.  One on the bottom itself and two on either end.  You have to lift up the little extension table to find the one on the left end.
Be careful when you take this off.  The little accessory tray has a flip top lid that is part of the bottom.  Don't break it when you pull it off.

I got the whole thing lubed up.  I even stuffed some grease into the shuttle gears.  I was not in the mood to pull the gear cover off.  I want to sew, for crying out loud ! And I found that the feed dogs were not high enough.  By this time Mom had joined me in the "sewing room."  I told her what the problem was.( I must correct the incorrect information here.  The dime rule applies to diamond shaped teeth.  DreinPA and I disagree about the correct height.  She says the feeds should be half the height of the dime.  I say the full height.)
With regard to these Kenmore feed dogs, they were too low because the underside of the dogs kept hitting the race.  But I did have them too high.  Drein PA states (also see her comment below):
I checked Ray's manual. The bottom of the v shaped portion of the teeth should be level with the plate when the dogs are TDC. I have no idea what TDC means.  But I had to correct the dogs because I could tell they were too high.  I did it by feel and now they are better.)
 .
"I need a dime."

"There is one on the floor in the living room. I can't bend over to get it."
OK  so now I know why the feed wasn't working so well.  But how to fix it?

I studied the whole mechanism.  Then I said "I wonder..."  and violated the first tenet of sewing machine repair.  Lubricate everything first, then get out the screw driver.  Well I HAD lubricated everything.  I just hadn't FREED everything up quite yet.  Still, I couldn't resist.  So I got the screw driver out and turned the screw; it was loose.  In the photo below, you will see that the center is not in its housing.  Before I turned that screw I positioned the feed dog drop lever in the UP position and turned the screw.

Well that explained that.  I adjusted the height of the feed dogs and tightened that baby right down. Much better.   (Not really  see above and below.)
Below, note that the center is now in its housing.
Once I had properly adjusted the feed dog height, low and behold, the feed dog drop worked.
I was hopeful that the problem with the stretch stitches would be solved with that adjustment.  Not so.  I think that the problem there lies with the reverse function.  Stretch stitches go forward and backward.  I also think that the stitch length needs adjusting because the stitches are not gauged correctly; i.e. when set at 6 I get 8 stitches per inch.

I believe this will require some more lubrication and perhaps an adjustment.  I looked at the reverse lever and followed its mechanism.  The bobbin winder is in the way but I could see a screw near the reverse lever that may require tightened or adjusting. I don't feel like pulling the bobbin winder to fiddle with it. 
The arrow points to the screw.  Yes, it is fuzzy in this photo.  I brought along the Canon SLR to use and it just isn't as nifty for this work as the PowerShot.  You can see that it will be easy peasy to remove the BW; two stupid screws.  I should just do it.  But I would rather sew.

43 comments:

  1. It's too funny to me that you're writing about a Kenmore. A friend in another state was just given two vintage Kenmore's, one from the 50's and the other from the 70's. BOTH are giving her fits! It's a good thing you're a top notch sewing machine 'detective'!!!

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  2. I am not sure TOP NOTCH is accurate. Tenacious, yes. Just gotta keep at it.

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    1. But you are!! I am reading in awe (not sure that makes sense, had a looong day, actually, couple of weeks) - that's the wonder having a family of machines, you always having something interesting you're working on!!

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    2. That's an interesting concept; a family of machines. Wonder how Steven feels about being the Daddy?

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  3. I picked up one of these bc is was so darned cute. I love your Keatherweight name for it. Things were kinda stuck but I thought I lubed it up well. However, the belt mostly spins at low speeds when I try the zigzag. Is there a secret place to lube so the motor doesn't work so hard?

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    1. Look for the place where the needle bar moves side to side and be sure to lube and oil there. I would look at the actual belt and motor, too. Once the bottom is off you can get the side off, but I think the balance wheel (hand wheel) must be removed first.

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  4. I would never have figured that one out!

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  5. I checked Ray's manual. The bottom of the v shaped portion of the teeth should be level with the plate when the dogs are TDC.
    The dime measurement is for diamond shaped teeth, and then they should be 1/2 half the height of a dime. I think you have made them too high.

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    1. Yes, you are correct. I had them too high. But I don't recall about half the height of the dime. I thought it was the height of a dime. Thanks for catching that. You are too smart.....

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  6. TDC - top dead centre? At least, it is when you're tuning a car...

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    1. Right. The last time I tuned a car was in 1980. It was my Subaru. Cleaned the plugs and re-gapped them But I did not re-time it. Now I just take it in.....

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  7. Well, if it was a car engine TDC would be Top Dead Center. Does that make any sense for how the feed dogs move?

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    1. Yup, that's gotta be what it is. Did you ever see the movie "My Cousin Vinny"?

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    2. Perhaps this machine needs to be named "Mona Lisa"...

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  8. BTW, all the ABREVs these days confuse and confound me. "My Cousin Vinny" and "Ketherweights" - examples of my personal favorites. Are you seriously thinking of getting rid of your only Ketherweight? They are SO handy for travelling - the case (while super ugly plastic) fits into a smaller space than a Featherweight case and the K-machine has the extra zz functions. AND best of all Ketherweights are half (or less) the cost of Featherweights - current Vintage Chic Bling (VCB)- which were originally marketed for low budget seamstresses who couldn't afford the pricey machines like the 201's and 15-91's.

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  9. I have a 1050 I picked up at GoodWill. It sews great. But the hand wheel seems to turn harder than my other machines. Since I oiled everything, I am wondering if this is normal or is there something else to oil?

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    1. It could be that the belt is too tight.

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  10. My 1040 runs great except the bobbin won't wind right. Do I have to take out the mechanism you think? I oiled and cleaned everything around it. No problems stitching at all. Just hums along. I actually like the plastic case. Reminds me of the hair dryers when I was a kid, the kind that had a plastic cap with a hose going into it. It's case was similar to the machine's. I think it fits in small places and is cute. No one would suspect it is a sewing machine.

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    1. I can't tell without looking. Bring it to the TOGA. We can play with it then

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    2. Careful with the bobbin winder mechanisms. These Little Kennie machine winders are notorious for snapping off. They are made from a very brittle metal and usually break during shipment and/or handling (ask me how big know). Great post! I live these little machines. I own two and and always on the lookout for more.

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    3. I meant to say, "ask me how I know". I LOVE these little machines. They are more functional than Featherweights (which I also own) because they can zig, zag, do button holes, and stretch stitch on some models. The built in storage and free arm are just great!

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  11. Got a 1040 on Ebay on the accolades I've read about them, and I lucked out. Someone's mom stored her nicely and treated her well.. And yes, it is super sweet cute, BUT it is pretty easy to maintain at home, which is a blessing and a half. I owe a great deal of that to your blog. Only comment is that standard 15 bobbins are just a hair too small to fit on the bobbin stem for winding. Seems the metal for the tube is thicker now. All I need now is a stack of vintage bobbins (or a bobbin winder to use the billions of bobbins I have now - prob a better choice) and I will never go back to that nasty computerized thing again.

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    1. Hmmm I hadn't noticed that. I must check mine out. Never say never. http://sewing-machines.blogspot.com/2010/01/sometimes-you-gotta-let-go.html

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  12. FYI, the feed dog release is notorious for getting stuck. Oil, heat, oil, heat. and sometimes you just have to tap it. Two of the thee I have worked on had to be tapped. Does anyone elses 1040 make a clunk when in stretch stitch? I don't remember that from the last ones I worked on, but it's been a few years . .

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  13. Wow - just picked up a 1040 today at my local thrift - and noticed the feed dogs are not level with the plate (the backend is actually higher than the fronts) so they are not grabbing the fabric consistently . Wondered if I could adjust them - and after reading this - I just might be able to get them level - thank you! Did you ever get the reverse/stretch issue fixed? ;)

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    1. Ok - this worked - thank you!! Without the shuttle in, it ran nice an quiet/smooth, but once that was in - knocking. Adjusted with the screw in your pic - and all is well. Thanks again for posting. One last question - I also noticed variance in stitch lengths (8 looked like 12 etc). Was the fix for this that reverse screw - or is this a timing issue destined for the sewing shop?

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    2. Not timing. Feed Dogs have up down and back forth adjustment. That sounds like a back forth adjustment. Start at the feed dogs and trace back to see where that adjustment is made.

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  14. Hi there- I just brought this sewing machine to life. It was my mother's and she never used it and I would now like to learn. My instructor wasn't familiar with this machine and now I can't move the lever to wind the bobbin. Do you have any suggestions?

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    1. Remove the top cover. Find the mechanism at fault and apply penetrating fluid and heat. Over and over. Do not use WD 40

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  15. Thank you for your wonderful blog post!!! Just bought a Keatherweight :-)
    Problem is...the reverse button does nothing...no tension to it...just wiggles freely.
    Feed dogs only move in reverse and they are level with the plate (thanks to all the info here, I believe I can fix that issue.
    Not sure where to start with that reverse know! Took end plate off...peeked around...not sure what I should look for.

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    1. Take to top off of the machine. Locate the reverse mechanism. Put one or two drops of tri flow on it and then apply heat with a hair dryer. Repeat.

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  16. Thank you for your post, This darling was my FIRST machine and I will never let it go. Your post concerning the feed dog drop lever confirms my suspicion, that the tech neglected this one thing on its most recent trip to the sewing machine spa. I'll be returning it next week for further service.

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  17. Hi! Do you know where I can purchase replcement feet (the black rubber ones on the bottom of the machine)? Thank you!

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  18. Hello Elizabeth,
    I own the 158.10401 - which is almost identical to yours. I love this machine! Have had mine almost 35 years, since junior high.

    I'm curious to know if you ever changed the motor belts? If so what belts did you use? And how exactly did you replace them? I'm having to replace mine -- the treads have crumbled. So now the machine doesn't sew unless I turn the hand wheel manually.

    The belts were replaced last year at my local sewing shop, but I don't think they did a very good job. Because I can not disengage the clutch knob. And the belts have crumbled in just a year.

    I purchased two motor belts #33379 from an ebay supplier. This is the part # listed in my original manual.

    I've taken off all the covers: top and bottom and the right side. I didn't know this machine had two belts!! I can find no info how to loosen the tension to remove them. I suspect that the pulley can slide from right to left in order to release the tension of the belts? The screw on my pulley is extremely tight - not budging. So that's why I'm not sure if this is where the belts are released.

    I'm hoping you've already been where I'm trying to go.

    Thank you!
    Tru

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    1. I have not replaced the belts. Maybe someone on the Yahoo Kenmore Sewing Machine Group could help. Good luck

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  19. Elizabeth, I strongly suggest you join the Yahoo WeFixIt group and first do a search for your Singer 1040 and pay attention to postings by Dennis Steckley who is an expert on these machines. I'll be very surprised if what you need isn't already answered. But if it isn't you can mention in your posting that you tried to look it up, or couldn't quite understand what was meant. Dennis will most likely be one of the people who answer you questions. Feel free to tell him "Ron" said hi, he may or may not remember me. You can also still see the parts break down at Sears and often that will provide the clues needed to get things apart.

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    1. Ron, I am familiar with WEFIXIT and Dennis Steckley. Thank you. I wrote this post four years ago. I am pretty sure the machine is working now.

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  20. Opps, comments should have been addressed to "Tru."

    My apologies.

    Regardless, perhaps the comment will help others in the future.

    Ron

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  21. Love, love, LOVE my Kenmore 158-1040. First sewing machine in my life, and the last as well. Bought it back in '73-'74 and managed to sew several things back then, including a bikini! LOL. I was so proud of my little accomplishments. Then came the kids, back to college, work, jobs, yada yada yada and I don't think I've opened the case in thirty+ years or more. Hung on to it though, because 'you never know' right? You never know is NOW. I'm retired, a gramma, and BORED. So I dug it out.
    It survived many moves from state to state. Looks wonderful still. But it sure needs some TLC as far as the inner workings. First thing I noticed is the big drive wheel won't move the needle up and down. Manually yes, but not with the pedal. Removed the side plate and it appears the belt is a bit loose. Ordered two replacement belts this morning. Hope that fixes it. I'm chomping at the bit now to get back to sewing. I'm a total amateur, but I love it nonetheless.
    The other thing is the stitch style selector knob will only turn to one or two styles, it doesn't want to turn all the way to the others, just one or two. So that's bugging me, too. Need to figure that one out. Any suggestions? I did try applying heat with my hairdryer for awhile, but to no avail. Ordered some oil, so when that arrives, will try my hand at oiling this thing. I did blow out all the dust and grime with a pressure duster like you use on computers, etc. All into the very bowels of the machine after also removing the top plate.

    So if you have any other tips at getting this baby up and running again, I'd love to hear back! Enjoy this blog immensely, so glad I found it!

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