Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rock Star Kenmores

There are rock stars even in the sewing machine world: Singer 201 and 221, Bernina Record (pick your number), Elna Grasshopper, Viking 6000's, and Kenmore 1914. I want to sew on a Kenmore 1914 just to see what all the hype is about. In my pursuit of such a sewing machine I came close last week via Ebay auction but didn't have a reliable internet connection and lost that final bid. Just when I feel downtrodden (yea, a little dramatic here) another machine pops up that I think is just as good.

On Saturday I found a Kenmore nearby that was way cheap, in a cabinet, with accessories. It looks like one of their top-of-the-line models so I quickly get over there only to find they cannot find the power cord and foot control. Some of the accessories are there but no pattern cams either. I check the model number and it's a 158-17032 and looks like my 158-1802 that I've recently been sewing on and have come to appreciate (when it's folded down into the cabinet with two sewing machines on top it's harder to appreciate it on a regular basis). I take it anyway and they promise to keep looking because they had it when they went to list it so it can't be too far gone. When I get it home and check with Sears Parts Online I find out it takes the same electronic cord set at the 1802 so I can at least try it out.
Kenmore 158-17032
But the sellers were right: it doesn't run right. The clutch is disengaged so it's always in bobbin winding mode and I can't figure out how to engage it. With the hand wheel off and a penlight probing into its innards, I'm mystified. Then I check the Kenmore Yahoo group postings and note there is a bobbin winding button that can cause problems.
Button for the bobbin winder on right
 Sure does but I can't figure out how to get it to work again. I next day I get out the hair blower and get everything all warmed up so I get more movement in general (who doesn't like to get all warmed up?) and voila, the button pushes and the lever engages: we have movement!
Green arrow points to clutch engagement lever

We have more than movement when this sewing machine takes off and stitches like nobody's business. Kenmore's are not known for being speedy and this one isn't either but it performs remarkable well with no adjustments, just a cleaning and oiling. She is perfect. Except... no foot control.Yet isn't she a beauty? How does this Kenmore compare to the 1802 and 1914? The Kenmore Yahoo group has a spreadsheet with member contributed information on all of the models we own. This is quite valuable since, in a chart format, I can see features of all and compare apples to apples, so to speak. Here are the differences as reported by owners:

External cams only on 1802 in contrast to internal and external cams on the other models.

That's it? According to the self reported spreadsheet. I think there is a margin of error there because new models are introduced with additional features. All have buttonhole attachments, external C-cams, and a monogrammer attachment.
Top open with cam inserted for decorative stitches
 Maybe I don't have to wait for the 1914 to come into my hands because I already have an excellent top-of-the-line Kenmore with my own 1802.

I can't wait for the 17032 to have it's own electronic foot control and think I'm not going to get one from the sellers but it's not an expensive purchase, only $20 on Ebay and I should just break down and buy one. But not yet. Hope springs eternal, doesn't it?

Before I even get to post this I get an email from the sellers with an apology for not finding the foot control. Here's the deal they propose: refund of half of what I paid in lieu of the missing foot control OR they will take the machine back and refund the whole price paid. What? I sleep on this and in the morning I write back: no return, no refund, it's a great sewing machine at almost any price and their honesty should be commended. I've already ordered the foot control and found I have a complete set of attachments sans the templates for the monogrammer. Isn't this just the best ending for an item that is lost yet it has restored my faith in my fellow man to take responsibility, even with a stranger. May the Lord love you a bit extra today, Ryan.


Anonymous said...

Hi I have a 1802 with attachments but no books for attachments, haven't been able to find either, I love this machine. Bought others at yard sales or flea markets took them to repair shops, before trying them out. My kids have them. I always go back to this one.

Karen said...

There is an attachment manual for the various feet that is freely available online. I could send it to you if you send a request via email.