Sunday, December 30, 2012

Singer Touch and Sew 638

My friend Betsy loves a challenge.  She took in a sewing machine to fix.  She traced the problem to a set of gears, called the machine representative (not the owner) to inform her that the gears were trash.  We can find the gears and replace them, but it will take hours. 
Because it is not B.'s machine, she has to get back to us.  Still it isn't worth fixing.  The other gears, plastic also, are ready to go

We were looking this machine over when, all of a sudden, my friend Betsy remembered that she had a very similar machine.  She dug it out and lo and behold.  It is a Touch and Sew.  But an older model.  A 603.  With metal gears.

(Betsy has a compressor and loves hers, too.)

Maybe B.'s friend will want this Singer 603.  It is a far superior machine.  It stitches well, even without a cleaning.
  It does not have a built in button holer.  But, it has metal gears which will never need replacing.
Seems like a no brainer to me. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Why I love my compressor

 After I cleared the driveway, cleaned the dog pen and had lunch I was able to FINALLY get to the shop to play.  I have several Singer 201-2s that need work.  I dove in to this one because I think it won't need motor re-wiring.  I hope I hope.  I did buy it on speculation.  A friend of ours wants a 201 and if she hasn't found one of her own by the time I get this one serviced, I will ask if she wants it.

The serial number places it at 1948 but we all know that is when the serial numbers were assigned.  The date does not necessarily indicate it was made then.  But close.  So it is 64 or so years old. If you want to listen click the link:

So far the motor wiring looks good.  I am having a devil of a time getting the motor mount screws loosened, however.  So I turned to other tasks.  Such as the bobbin case and feed dogs.

The machine has been fairly well maintained.  It has the usual scratches on the bed, that is to be expected.  The feed dogs were a bit packed with lint. 

But I have seen much worse.  Come to think of it, the White Model 130 that I just serviced last week had truly trashy feed dogs.
No problem.  I plugged in the compressor and blasted away.  I did remove the dogs, the position bracket and the bobbin case to get it this clean.  But the compressor blew away the lint.  What fun.

 Maybe you will be able to see the difference between these two photos.  Maybe not.  But I blasted the dust away with the compressor.  It sure makes for a quick job.

I discovered that the screws to the shuttle gear cover are much more accessible with the machine in this position.  I popped that puppy right off and discovered, oh horror, dry gears.

The back ones were just as bad

Now, just a bit wet with Tri -Flow grease.
I don't know about you, but that just makes me feel so much better.

The hook was pretty dirty with dust, lint and thread bits. I swabbed it out with denatured alcohol being very careful not to get any on the bed of the machine.  I like denatured alcohol the best for cleaning out the hook.  It just gets it so clean.  Then I apply some Tri-Flow and put it all back together.
The action is much better now.  I still have to get the motor off and service the needle bar, presser foot bar and the top gears.  I don't think I will need to rewire the motor.  Though, it might not hurt.  After all, it is almost 64.  Hmmmm.  Probably should.  But then does that mean I should also rewire the light?  Hmmmmm.  Gotta think that one through.  I wonder if Rain ever re-wires lights?  I wonder if I could talk him into doing a tutorial?  Hmmmmmm  I wonder if he is still blogging?  Hmmmmm

Kenmore 158.1813

A reader emailed me and asked for some photos of the cam area of the Kenmore158.1813.  So I complied.  One thing we must all remember when dealing with these older machines,  they get gunked up.  Rarely are there missing or broken parts.  Most of the time the problem is dried oil.  Heat and new oil or cleaning with denatured alcohol is the cure.  I have had many a Kenmore not work and all that was needed was oil and heat.  Or reading the manual.  The problem:  sometimes we don't have a manual.

So here are the photos.  Hope that they help
Top of camstack without the cam

Camstack with cam.   Should read special stitch selector knob.
Special stitch selector knob in white mode
Break away photo of top of machine "hinged up"
Cam follower in cam mode

Winter Storm Warning

I estimate that we got about 8 inches of snow Wednesday into Thursday of this week.  Max helped me shovel and clear the drive and parking area.  On top of that, I think another 4 inches has fallen since this morning.  Maybe only three.  I am ready.  The snow blower has plenty of gas and it starts right up with the electric start.  Colder weather predicted later this week.  Winter. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

JB WELD or How to fix a bobbin winder

The bobbin winder on the White 130 would not work.  The bobbin would get loose while on the stud and just spin.  The little tab on the bobbin winder stud was plumb wore out.  I tried prying it up.  No luck.

So I mixed up about ten times the amount of JB Weld I needed and dropped an eeny weeny dab on the tab.

It worked.

Now the bobbin winder merely needs an adjustment so that it will wind more than half a bobbin.  That was all the thread I needed today anyway to make the matching aprons for Max and Anna.

 This White Model 130 is a very fine machine.  The motor is 1.3 amp and quiet.  It sews very nicely.  It has a left homing needle which is a bit of a challenge.  Lining the fabric along the right edge of the presser foot results in a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  I would, however, like to find a straight stitch foot for it.  That could be difficult.  It is a high shank machine.

Not so hard.  Looky here

Saturday, December 22, 2012


We have critters in the house.  Mice and something larger.  Steven trapped a rat in late November.   A nice, healthy, country rat.  The problem with rats, country or not, is that they come in packs.  We suspect there is at least one more.  We hear it at night sometimes.  Nothing in the trap this morning.  I think my next dog with be a Rat Terrier or a Jack Russel or a Dachsund.  Something that is bred to hunt and kill vermin.  Standard Poodles are retrievers. They do get very aroused, none the less, when the critter is skittering around. 

Fiddling around

When I took the hand wheel off to fix  the bobbin winder, I had to loosen the motor.  This morning, after I lit the fire in the Hearthstone I fiddled with the hand wheel and put it all back together and did not tighten the motor.  I forgot.  No noise.  So then I tightened the motor and the noise returned.  I fiddled with the motor and all is quiet now.  The fix was to fiddle.  

One thing I have learned when working on sewing machines.  You just can't be afraid to fiddle. 

No wonder

I love this machine.  It is a Kenmore 158.511. It is the quietest machine I own.
When I was dusting this morning (a veritable miracle in this household, dusting, that is) I noticed a distinct similarity between Lila (one of the few machines with a name) and the recent Salvation Army purchase.
Most likely all of the end loading, class 15 zig zag machines of that era look alike. This one is quiet too.  But not as quiet as the Kenmore.  Of course, I must fix the rattle and I am bound and determined to do that today.  Dusting will have to wait !

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I finished it

I finished the Daphne Throw.  I am glad to be done.  It was a fun little project.  I would not mind doing it again.  I think I would use a smaller print for the center. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Made in Korea

Yesterday I was at the Salvation Army store.  There were two machines.  A plastic Singer Something or other and a White.  The Singer weighed about 15 pounds.  The White weighed about 40.  I looked at both of them and called Betsy

"Do we want another White end loader? It looks just like yours."

"It is a very nice machine but do we need it?  How much?"


"We should sell one more machine before we get another."

I agreed.  But secretly I decided that if it was still there today when I had to be in town anyway, I was going to buy it.

The Salvation Army opens at 9 AM.  I was there at 9:05.  Serendipity, I assure you.

I lugged it over to the counter and without a word the woman attendant handed me the extension cord.  The motor sounded fine.  Then she asked me if I liked sewing machines.  She had one in the back "in a green metal case."  I said I would look at it, though I knew it was likely not one I wanted.

She brought out an Elna Supermatic.  She "tested" it.  Plugged it in and ran the sluggish loud, sounds like a 747 motor. 

"No thanks." I said.  "It needs a new motor pulley and they cost 25 bucks plus labor." 

I brought the White home.  Steven congratulated me on my restraint.

It is a lovely machine.  I was so pleased with how quickly I serviced it and got it all ready to test.  The bobbin winder didn't work quite right.  Maybe it needs a new BW tire.  I took the handwheel off, cleaned it up and put on a new tire.  When I put the sucker back together, it sounded fine in operational mode, but when I released the clutch knob, what a racket.  Something is very very wrong.

I had to give up, it was supper time and the dogs were whining for dinner.  Plus, Betsy had called and told me to stop NOW and go in for supper.  I always do what Betsy says.

BUT when I was cleaning out the case I found a label.

 I guess I didn't realize that Korea was also in on the sewing machine manufacture.  I find no date on the manual and no copy right.  Well.  I learned something new today. 

Feed Dog Drop

 My Kenmore 158.1940 has a feed dog drop. It doesn't work.   When I was in North Carolina, I tried to fiddle with it but ended up not fixing it AND altering the feed dog height in the process.  Luckily Alice had her machine along and I used it for a comparison and figured out what I had done.

When the feed dog drop works, the feed dogs are disengaged  by depressing the feed knob on the bed of the machine which  pulls rod "B" back which is attached to the bullet shaped gizmo "C"

OK  I hate it when anyone calls a machine part gizmo.  I am off to look up on Sears Parts Direct the proper names of these things.  It is call a center. 

The Center does pull back from its housing when the feed knob is depressed.  BUT the feed dogs don't drop because the gizmo (I can't find the real part name on the parts chart.  You can try,  I can't figure it out) the Center fits into doesn't move.

So I tried to move it.  I loosened screw  A and that didn't do anything.  Well, that's not true.  Loosening screw A screwed up the feed dog height because it allows for just such an adjustment.  I readjusted screw A and raised the feed dog height and proceeded to make more hats. 

I like this machine.  It is back in the shop now awaiting appropriate feed dog attention.  I will get the feed dogs to drop.  It is just a matter of heat, Tri flow and cleaning.  Maybe this weekend I will do it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sitting on a Gold Mine

Saturday we sold a machine.  A very nice Kenmore 158.1430.  It had a button hole attachment and the  manual.  Shoot, we should have copied the manual.  We have two more just like it. 
It was the nicest machine of the bunch.  We had a variety of machines to show her.  A Singer 328, a Singer 401, a Kenmore free arm, a White Class 15 end loader and a very nice Japanese class 15 clone.   All a variety of prices.  She liked this one.  So do I.  Glad I have two more....

We did well with this machine.  But we are still not "sitting on a gold mine."  We can't quit the day jobs.  But maybe now we can send in that order to Brewer Connect..... Hmmmm  I might need to edit it .  I went a bit overboard buying quilting thread.....and scissors.....  I was trying to get free shipping, honest.  I mean don't we really need those scissors and that thread? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Off Topic

 The problem with blogging is that you get addicted.  I have anyway.  I feel obligated to post frequently and end up posting when I have nothing at all to say about sewing or machines.

This is one such post.  Likely I will return to my obsession.  I hope soon.  Check back from time to time to see if I have been able to get back to the business of sewing machine repair and use.  Until then a wonderful Holiday Season to all of you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Traveling Mercies

Is a very good book and worth reading.   Written by Anne Lamott, BTW.

But that's not what this post is about.  Traveling Mercies is something said to folks when they travel.  Steven and I just completed an 800 mile trip in

"Thirteen and a half hours, honey."  (five miles from home)

"I am not saying ANYTHING until I walk through my door. " 

I was driving the last leg from Hazelton, PA.  I felt like I had been rode hard and put away wet.  I wanted to be home and I did not want to JINX anything.

Officially we did make the trip in 13 and one half hours, truly.  A record for us.  Usually we take fifteen hours.  There was one time, in the summer of 1996 when Max was 17,  he and I made it in twelve hours.

"I don't know how we ever  did that."

"I do.  Max drove?"

"Most of the way. He wouldn't let me drive."

"Well, that explains it.  He drove 75 to 80 most of the way."

"Oh, I don't think so.  He only had his learner's permit at the time.  Come to think of it, I bet that was highly illegal."

"Oh, I am  SURE it was."

We played so many mind games on this trip.  Seven states, 790 miles.  Three dogs, one ten year old mini van and two geezers.

Virginia is 323 miles on Interstate 81 south to north.  Funny, it is 323 north to south as well.  Last Sunday it didn't seem nearly as long.  We divided it up into various fractions and every time we would pass a milestone we would remark

" One 6th of the way through Virginia!"

"Are you ready?  Half way through Virginia."

"There you go, honey,  we just passed into West Virginia.  HOORAY  three states down, four to go.

Twenty six miles later as we left West Virginia for Maryland."One more state down. ..  Oh we are getting somewhere now!"

The nice thing about Maryland on 81 it is less than 12 miles long.  Having five of seven states behind you is a real morale booster.

Pennsylvania is not quite as interminable as Virginia but since it is NEXT DOOR,  there is a certain significance to traversing it's northern border.

"ARE YOU READY?  ARE YOU READY??" I asked TBHITW* as we crossed mile post 230 in northern PA.

"I think it's 232, but, YES, I am ready." Talk about an anti-climax. 

 Mom will go to her rehab facility tomorrow.  I will go back to work, FINALLY, and Steven will retire.

The dogs will have to find something other than squirrels to chase.  Oh right, we have rabbits.

*The Best Husband In The World  for staying with the four dogs on Friday and Saturday as Alice and I tended to Mom in the hospital. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

More off topic

Mom is doing well after the surgery to fix her hip.  I will be back with On Topic discussion once we get back home.   Thanks to all of you who sent well wishes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Off topic.

Hello readers.  I must be absent from the blog for a bit.    Please understand.  This morning Mom broke her hip.  Tomorrow she will have surgery to fix it and then must recover from that and THEN go to rehab.  She is in good shape, well taken care of and likely to be up and about soon.  Still, I can't think about too much else.  She is , after all, 93 and the best mother anyone could ever have.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Senior Citizen Discount

We went back to Foam and Fabric outlet.  If you are ever near Asheville, NC you really should stop in.

I spent most of my time in the bargain bins.  Specifically culling through the berber fleece and the leather scraps.

When we checked out, the nice lady said to Mom and me

"You both are senior citizens so you get the senior citizen discount.  Ten percent."
(BTW, she, too, is a senior citizen).

I wan't about to argue.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More vacation sewing

Alice made a pair of PJ bottom's for Sarah, our niece.

We are also in the process of making more  fleece hats.  I think we will have to adjust the pattern a bit.  I made the top of the hat too oval, it sits like a hat box on the head.  I adjusted the one I made and it fits me better.  I wanted Alice to model it.  It doesn't fit her.

So here I am.  I have adjusted one side.  Tomorrow I will adjust the other.  I rather like the two colors.  It is comfy.  I am wearing it now.

(Holy Cow.  I have some GRAY in my hair! I don't see THAT when I look in the mirror !!  Maybe it is only the lighting......)

For comparison

Now in all honesty, I  do prefer the red one.  It has that rather funky, Annie Hall  look to it.  I am pretty sure that with some creative stitching I can fix all the bubbles in the top.  Now I can't wait to make another one with a more rounded top inset.  Or maybe I will switch to a different pattern all together.

Fleece is an easy fabric to sew.  I never knew.  Actually, now that I remember, I made the dogs fleece lined coats a while back.  That was not as much fun to work as this material is.  I must go get more.  Hope they have more red.  This particular one is less stretchy than the blue.


Wilson has weak hind quarters.  I was amazed to see him up on his back legs.  He was motivated.

Theme Fabric

I wanted to make an apron and leave it behind as a Thank You Gift.  When we went to Foam and Fabric outlet I found some doggie themed fabric but didn't like much of it.  I found this fabric too and thought it suitable.

Looking at the photo, I can see that I cut the apron out wrong.  I should have had it turned 90 degrees.  Or maybe not.

Oh and this Kenmore likes red thread.  Finally, I have a machine that likes red thread.....

I wish I had brought the good camera.  Oh Well..

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


We are at Barkwells, in Mills River, NC.  It is a doggie resort.
Our cabin, Bo's Hideaway, has a large fenced in yard with lots of large trees   There is a family of SQUIRRELS living in those trees and the dogs are in heaven.  Wrigley, unfortunately, has lost his "big yard with the pond " privileges.  Yesterday, I knew better, but let him off leash and he and a border collie got into a tiff.  Wilson joined in.  No harm, no foul, no blood, not even any flying fur. Just a whole lot of NOISE.    I was upset and mortified and decided that its best if we just avoid that whole scene.  Wrigley is over it already.  I, on the other hand, feel sad that he can't go jump in the pond.  Not to mention that I feel like a pariah.  Oh, she has one of THOSE BAD DOGS.    Wrigley is just a dog.  Dogs have their ways of working things out.  We humans don't get it and never will.

I still love him.  How can I NOT?

OK  so we are SEWING, too.
Pajama bottoms.  Alice is learning to use her machine and I made a fleece hat today.  Unfortunately the feed dogs on my machine are off a bit.  I am sure they need oil and heat.  I had serviced the machine when I first got it.  But I did not check the feed dog drop.  It was stuck.  So I got the release freed up and moving today and some how managed to move the feed dogs lower but cannot get them to go back up to their original height. It looks like they should be at their original height, but they aren't.  It must be something I did.  But I can play with it tomorrow.  I think that it will sew ok on regular fabric.  But the fleece is so thick that I need all the grip I can get (TWSS).

We bought some berber fleece by the pound at Foam and Fabric out let.  I bought a big bag full for 15 bucks.  I think I may have to go back to get  more.  I especially love the red stuff I bought.  I made a hat today, copying one that Alice brought with her.

I think I need a better photographer.  More light and a hair brush....

I also finished up a purse that I started on Saturday.

I lined it and put pockets on both sides of the inside

I am getting much better at bag construction.  I like this little bag.  I carry one like it.  I think I could make it out of some very nice soft leather.  OOOHHH.  Might have to find some.  I think Foam and Fabric sells it.