Monday, April 20, 2015

Early Birds

I love Necchi sewing machines! It is true, they are finely made like Italian cars but that's just what someone else says because I don't think I've driven an Italian car. Or even had a fast ride in one. Now I'm just feeling sorry for myself but I have sewn on some of the fine Italian sewing machines. I'm thinking of Julia, Leila, Supernova, and now another BU. By first BU, a sleek black one, needed rewiring but it ended up running just fine. It was sold as a swap: a lovely Singer #42 cabinet but the Singer 306 was swapped out for the Necchi BU. It was a bit hard to see both the cabinet and the Necchi go but the gentleman that purchased them could not get them out the door fast enough. Clearly, he thought he was getting a deal and didn't want me to linger too long and change my mind. I think the first BU is in a happy home now.

On my local Craigslist I saw an ad for a sewing machine at a garage sale and my heart stops: it's another black BU, in pretty good shape, in a small cabinet. I drive by the house on my way home the night before the sale but no one is out working in the garage so I don't think they are ready for an early-bird sale call. The day of the sale I'm there in the first hour but there is no sewing machine. It's an estate sale, run by the children of a 95 year old woman that doesn't appear to have died, just is moving from her home. They are cheerful and helpful so I ask about the sewing machine and they say it's right inside the back door. It was brought up from the basement so the legs still have cobwebs on them and it looks a bit worse for wear. One of the daughters tells me how much their mother used this sewing machine and loved it so, dated 1952. Gulp: that's my birth year. I look it over and think it will clean up but on the floor there are flakes of black...paint?...plastic?...bugs? I pull the head up and look at the wiring and see there are bare wires leading into the motor block. I step back and tell them not to plug it in. She looks, too, and blanches because I think the next step was to plug it in to show me that it still runs. I make an offer, less than the asking price due to the wiring, and one of the sons counter offers because "she can just wrap black tape over the wires and it will be fine." I don't think so but we agree on a price and get it out to my car. The tray inside the door of the cabinet is chock full of pins, buttons, circles of iron on tape, etc., so we scrape all of that into a bag first so it doesn't end up on the floor of my car. Once home I have to go through all of it, including the box of accessories:
Accessories from box but what's that on the right?
Not much is missing, maybe just the larger screwdriver and oiling can. There are only 3 bobbins but I have other Necchi bobbins which are nearly identical to class 15's but I try to only use the vintage bobbins just for this sewing machine model. Once all of that stuff is sorted and put in its many places I can get the machine out onto the table:
Necchi BU
Now I can see the wire that is crumbling leads to the light but the bulb end has been taped shut with black electrical tape. When it's peeled off I see an old broken bulb is stuck in it so, even though I try to get it loose, I'll take to a bulb shop that probably has a tool to remove it. The motor wire is quite good so I carefully remove it from the head, check it over, test it with a multimeter, and then plug it in. She's strong and hearty! Now to tackle cleaning the head: I wipe it down with a cloth rinsed in soapy water to get the grime off the backside and then work on it with sewing machine oil. It comes out pretty clean and I can even remove some of the chrome plates to clean with metal polish. Clean outside and then clean inside with sewing machine oil on cotton swabs. At first I can get the needle position lever to move but after oiling it won't move. The lever for zigzag width isn't moving at all and oil is not helping. Time for the hairdryer treatment!
Needle position lever and zigzag lever
The original manual was included but it's been repaired with masking tape that doesn't age well. This manual is available free online so I might print one off for my own use. I put things back together and thread it up, even without the zigzag working, and she stitches just beautifully. The next morning I try the hair dryer treatment and it helps but there's more to this baby. I'm going to need to look at schematics since it's difficult to see inside that part of the machine. Bat when I look at the photo above I see there are four screws holding that plate on so I can take that off and see much better. Not that I have now found the problem but I can get at things that need attention. This is going to be a project, that I can see. But she's going to sew again and be a real beauty when it's all done, Sometimes it pays to be the early bird on garage sale days!

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