Thursday, January 15, 2015

Searching For Parts

As with any repairs for items no longer in production, finding parts for repair is usually done through other collectors/dealers in the same business. Before online shopping and Ebay, I assume there was a finite number of dealers who took orders by phone or written orders mailed to them. But now we have an almost infinite number of dealers who have run across a stray sewing machine or a box of odd parts that they know little about but are anxious to sell. Sometimes these items are grouped and very loosely identified, other times they are listed individually with part numbers. They might have a fixed price, best offer, or up for auction. I have bought in all three formats listed above but have won only a few auctions (and then I can;t help but wonder what's wrong with my find.) Tonight I lost an auction item in the last seconds and I got a little steamed: how did they do that? It was a set of cams and accessories for an Elna, starting out at only $30 with no interest until the last 2 minutes! My max bid would only go up to $40 but they sold for $46, too high for me, but I still felt a bit cheated. I will try again but don't like the auction format!

Goodwill online has worked well for me and this past week was a good example. No one was interested in a Singer 66 with a crinkle finish that has clearly come out of a cabinet but there was no conversion to a portable:

Singer 66 in crinkle finish
The wires look pretty dicey but I know how to wire so I'm not too concerned about that. What I was really looking for was a spoked handwheel to use for a Singer 99 handcrank and this sewing machine had one. This meant it was born as a treadle and converted to electric because only treadles and handcrank sewing machines needed the size and weight of a spoked wheel.  It also had a nice slide plate for the bobbin area, something many sewing machines are missing. All in all, this would be a parts machine, I decided. There was another bid or two but they were lackluster, not any real competition. I won and scheduled the pick up in St. Paul for Thursday morning before I went into work. While I was waiting in the Goodwill store I walked around and came upon a White sewing machine that looked solid, clean, and wiring intact. No portable case or cabinet/table/desk that it had been taken out of so I could only test by plugging in the light (worked) and when I plugged in the motor WATCH OUT! It look off like a race car! Without the motor block where you can plug in the light and motor and control the speed with a foot or knee control, it wasn't going to get bought by anyone who didn't already have the spare parts. I didn't need to feel sorry for it because it only needed that set of wires and foot control that I already owned but I did feel sorry for anyone that found it on the shelf and couldn't figure out how to get it to work right. It came home with me:

White Deluxe Zigzag
Here's the hard part: it is difficult to actually strip down a really good sewing machine just for parts. I tend to keep them on the shelf and slowly pick them apart. Here's a photo of my parts shelf

How many can you count?

 where you can see the two identical Necchi BU's that have parts that have failed, cannot be replaced, and are excellent for parts on better Necchi's. I don't have too many regrets stripping Kenmore's or White's for parts but a really good Singer, Necchi, Pfaff, or Bernina just can't be that far gone could it? It's a difficult decision to finally give up on a sewing machine but to buy one knowing it's not going to be used to sew with but just for parts is just a bit sad. But no, most of those sewing machines have been around even longer than I have so maybe it's just their final resting place. Hey, maybe they are even happy to be sitting there resting with their compadres. I'll just have to keep telling myself that.

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