Friday, August 9, 2013

Ebay Foibles

After my last disappointment, you would have thought I would be really careful in my shopping. I don't learn too fast, it seems, because the next two machines were a bit of a struggle:
This machine was just too much of a temptation! I could get her for only $12.50 at Salvation Army right in my neighborhood. I turned her on and she seemed okay and not much of a risk. She was a bit of a mystery to me because the Singer 1425N has rubber feed dogs. Is this a good thing? Why don't they have them today? My research showed that they are a great concept for delicate fabrics but do break down in time. Mine held up great over time but they were not working too well. In our exploration of her undersides, hubby points out the feed dog gears are stripped. What? How can that happen? We make the big decision to replace them for $15 and wait for their arrival. After several hours of struggle, since we had never replaces gears on sewing machines before, they finally work. As we go to stitch it will only go in reverse so this gives us both a chuckle but that wasn't too hard to figure out and remedy.

Yet something is very wrong. It doesn't want to shift cams when the stitch dial is moved. In fact, it just seems to be frozen up. We give up and set it aside. In fact, we discover we can take the good parts from this model Singer and use on the Singer 5530 so it has a good spool pin and thread guide. Not a great save but something.

Almost a week later I discover the same machine in working order on eBay. Should I get it to see how the cams are supposed to work? Is this just more money in experimentation? Hubby encourages me to buy it if I want to solve the puzzle so I go ahead and order: just under $50. I impatiently wait for it to arrive.

It comes on time and wrapped to the hilt in bubble wrap and what do you know it even comes in a suitcase that is a great fit. A bonus not advertised! Unwrapping it is exciting until I come to the fly in this ointment. The spool pin and a thread guide are broken. That's right, the very pieces I took off the new gear machine and put on the Singer 5530. I'm disappointed but set her up and she runs perfectly, shifting cams without any effort. The seller makes good on the broken spool pin and I think the thread guide might work as it is. Here she is broken:

Now I get to set them up side by side and see what makes the second machine run so well and what could be the problem with the first one. Irreparable? I hope not but stay tuned (this is a nice sewing machine!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

White Plastic

Now I'm really on a roll and not sure who arrived next but here's a selection of the sewing machines that have taken up residence in my basement sewing room:

I waited several hours for a nice lady to bring this to a coffee shop parking lot but she had moved and couldn't find the power cord. She ending up bringing it anyway and just gave it to me. Well, it was not only missing the power cord but all accessories. It look quite a bit of cleaning up and searching for the right feet but it's now working and pretty happy. Called a Jeans Machine, it's part of the White line-up with similar names. Pretty nice mechanical sewing machine with a wide variety of stitches.
It took quite a few contacts to finally get this machine but it's the most modern sewing machine I've had with many decorative stitches. It has needle up/down choice, speed control, needle threader that I can only get to work about 30% of the time, and an array of stitches that are perfect in quality. The buttonholes are some of the best I have ever seen! But she has issues (who doesn't?) with a broken spool pin on the back and the bobbin winder was missing parts. After ordering parts and working many hours, we cannot get to the spool pin no matter what we do. The bobbin winder does work with the new part and the spool of thread sits on the bobbin winder with adaptor pin for a secondary spool of thread. It's not secondary when it's the only one you have but it does work.
I made a nice dress for my m-i-l on this machine and it performed really well, especially with a row of 8 buttons down the front. Love those buttonholes! Even with it's less than perfect appearance, it does an excellent job so I sold it to a nice lady at work who wanted a good buttonhole and long basting stitch. She got both in this machine!

This machine I took in pity from the previous owner. It came from California with a little old lady so it has the original manual with bill of sale and accessories. The current owner was only a mender and didn't care much for the machine but used the cabinet for her plants and candles. We lugged it down to the car and I took it home but wasn't really happy with the state of the machine or the cabinet. This was the first Singer in my collection and when I ran it I remembered why I chose a Kenmore when I needed a new sewing machine in the 80's. Even after cleaning and oiling, it sounds rattly. Upon closer examination I see the stitch width dial has been replaced and it's not a bad choice but not the same size. Oh well, it does work well enough and has a good selection of stitches.
The poor cabinet was very nice at one time but had been altered for this free-arm machine. In the alteration it really got messed up so now the machine could only be set up down in a recessed area. I think that feels very awkward and would rather have it level. Can't do. It's too bad because the cabinet is real wood, has 4 nice sized drawers, even has a spool rack that pulls up. So much possibility. In the end, I've closed up the cabinet and just placed the machine on top where it can be used along with the 4 drawers but I think it might go out to the curb or given away to someone who can love it more than I do.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Learning the Brands

I hoped I was on a roll with several nice machines bought, one sold and interest in 2 more. Here's where I stumbled. Since I was thrilled with the Elna (what a find!) I answered another CL ad for an Elna SU 69 Air Electronic. This took quite a bit of research because of its age and apparently some inherent problems with this model. It was also over my price point at $75 but it did include a cabinet. Hubby came along for the first time on this sewing machine adventure I was having and we drove through some pouring rain to get to the far south end of the cities suburbs. By that time we almost felt like we had to buy it! It had been owned by a woman's mother, lovingly cared for, and now they were moving out of state and they were paring down such inheritances. It came with all the original cams, feet, accessories, and the cabinet was good quality wood and in excellent shape:

It has a button to push that releases it to swing up into free arm! It feels very solid, hums along, but has a kind of growling noise. Is this normal? It sews beautifully with so many cams for the special stitches. An oddity that I can't quite get used to is the drop-in bobbin location behind the needle plate. You can't see the opening very well but then I discovered a tiny drop down tool that will pick up the bobbin for you. Way cool. Yet, I kept inadvertently opening up the bobbin cover when my hand would roll over the fabric I was working on. I would have to learn to place my hands further out but, really, is this okay for me? I think I might have made my first sm buying mistake and how it takes up a good deal of real estate in my basement sewing room that I share with all kinds of other storage, including hubbies hunting gear.

It's getting crowded:

You can see the Elna SU in the cabinet on the left, my old Kenmore on the floor, the Viking 1100 on the desk far back and the on the table is the Viking Freesia 415, Elna Top 300, and the Bicor on the end. Yea, I did clean up for these pictures so it is usually worse, much worse.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Once the Ball Starts Rolling

Excited by my success so far, my next adventure found me buying 2 machines in one day, both with good results. Over my lunch hour, I dashed to a house with a young man who had an Elna Top 300. Clearly, he had no idea what he had since he listed it at $40 so the story unfolded that his grandma didn't use it much and she said it didn't work too well. If he wanted to sell it, he could keep whatever he got. He set it up on a very crowded workbench in the garage and it did struggle with a tangled bobbin. I said I would take it for $35 and hoped it wasn't going to have any bigger problems once I got it opened up. Here she is, with a manual, attachments galore, even a generic walking foot so it was worth the price I paid so far:

Isn't she beautiful? So pristine! I can't decide if it's a Swiss made Elna because the manual seems to be printed in Switzerland but the machine seems to be too new. Here is another opportunity to do some research!

Before I went home for the evening, I stopped over to pick up another sewing machine across town that was only $15. The owner said her father gave it to her but she had another machine and was tired of this one always breaking threads. I was hoping I could adjust the tension to solve this problem so I took it home with me.
I did have to play quite a bit with it but I got it to work just fine, even did a great job on denim. Basic straight stitch and zigzag with a 4 step buttonhole were on its menu, along with a needle positioner. I made a nice cover for it with a pouch to hold the foot pedal and promptly sold it to a co-worker who just wanted to hem jeans and do small repairs. This machine can do that very well and will store nicely in a closet until it's needed.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm Free

Once you start looking for sewing machines, they just seem to fall in your lap. Or maybe it's an obsession. Either way, after my two Viking success stories, I started to find all kinds of machines. The next one was on a quiet Sunday afternoon and a girl posted to Craigslist that she just wanted the sewing machine out of her house. I was more than willing to take a look at it and the price was right: $10. As I drove to a Caribou Coffee shop, I reflected on the flurry of emails she sent me about how I could just have the machine but maybe I would be willing to buy her fabric and other stuff for $10? I thought that sounded like a possibility but I started to get cold feet. What was going on here?

When I found her standing in front of Caribou, looking somewhat miserable, she told me the story: she fell and the machine dropped, breaking the hard shell of the carrying case. She thought the sewing machine was probably okay but since she couldn't be sure she said "just take it" and gave me the bag of fabric and patterns, too. I wasn't sure about the whole transaction, thought I should give her something but just said okay and took it to my car. As I looked back I saw her limping and I was stricken: should I run back and give her $10 for her trouble? What if the machine really doesn't run?

I took it home, cleaned her up, make up a sample of stitches and posted my find to Facebook:

She was in good shape, mostly plastic, missing a few parts, but basically good.
Here's view of the top opening with storage and a chart of stitches and settings.

This sample of stitches was all it took and I got a request from a co-worker.

I gladly gave it to her daughter who was learning to sew and called it a day. A good day.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

In a World of Vikings

Just as I was happy with my new-to-me Viking Freesia 415, I see an ad (why was I looking?) for a Viking 1100 for only $50. What? There must be something very wrong and I find out there is: the power cord and foot pedal are missing. Research shows me I can get one for $120 but still...I would have this great machine. At the time I didn't know that people sell these things off by parts because they don't work but I took the plunge. As it turned out, the seller demonstrated how he could get it to work using a stereo plug so I could see it would power up. He got his $50 and I got this:
Since I was in the neighborhood, I took it over to sewing daughter who has a handy husband and they got juice in it and it actually ran. I was ecstatic and took it home to order a power cord and foot pedal. Quite an adventure ensued when they sent the wrong cords and with much correspondence, including photos, I finally got the cords and got it up and running. Now I was sure I was in love because even thought this machine was 20 years old it was top-of-the-line at the time. Mine was missing the stitch cards, only coming with card A, but I had hopes for finding B, C, D, and others. Actually, they were on sale via eBay for a great price but I didn't have the power cord yet and feared there might be a fatal flaw and then I would have all this stuff hanging around for a dead sewing machine.

I had so much more to learn.

This solid beauty had the beloved fix button, could needle up or down, had memory storage, and just hummed along. Finally I had my dream machine for under $200. Life was good until...