Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Oh Those Kennies!

I continue to love the older Kenmore sewing machines and wished more people could see the value in them. But maybe I'm singing to the choir on this one! Here's my adventure this week:

A free Kenmore 158-1430 came my way a few weeks ago because it wouldn't zig zag. It started out at only $10 (or maybe it was $5?) but in the end the seller just said to come by and pick it up while they were gone. That works for me! She was right: it wouldn't zig zag. After taking the cam mechanism off so many times I could now return it into place and connect up all the various points almost in my sleep. It would zig zag on the downstroke rather than the upstroke, meaning it would make the movement from left to right and right to left when the needle in in the fabric instead of at the top of the stroke. Research showed I might need to loosen the worm gear and rotate it but I couldn't get the screws to loosen. After a failed trip to Ace Hardware I took it back and did some deep contemplation. That means I left it on the porch floor in pieces until I had some inspiration. It worked! I thought instead of rotating the worm gear maybe I could rotate the gear it attaches to. I gave this a try and I got it to zigzag at the top, making a perfect stitch. An adjustment was needed to center the stitch, probably because I don't have tools to measure the exact distance I need to change the gear, but it works now and I'm happy. I placed it in a cool cabinet and I'm thinking about leaving it there since I don't like the machine that came in said "cool cabinet."
Kenmore 158-1430 in cabinet with built in chair (cool, no?)
A second Kenmore adventure came right before lunch when I get a text from a number I don't recognize letting me know there is a 3/4 sized Kenmore at a particular thrift store today for a very good price. I was in my car and there before she could go back and get it! We weren't in competition but I didn't want her to have to do this for me. It was a Kenmore 158-1040 in fair shape but I'm certain it will stitch and look much better when cleaned up. It came with a power cord that I'm sure isn't original, the bobbin case (common) is missing as well as the front storage compartment, but the rose embossed case was there and in good shape. Score! As I was looking around for the storage compartment I found a Singer buttonholer in the dark red box, the one for the Singer 301 or other slant shank, straight stitch Singers. This just keeps getting better and better, especially since today is senior discount day and I save 40%. Sometimes you just gotta love being old.
Kenmore 158-1040
Missing storage compartment
Rose-embossed case in perfect condition
Who was this mysterious text from? None other than Ellen who travels to Haiti to teach women to sew items to become independent business women. She already had a Kenmore 158-1050 and just loved it. I should have guessed because who else would call this very special sewing machine by its know nick name, a 3/4 sized Kennie? This one is going to make someone else very happy one day. Thanks, Ellie!

Once home and working on the 1040, I can hear it's not catching just right and suspect it's the belt. An inspection reveals the belt is nearly shredded but I have a parts machine and use one of those belts. As far as the missing storage compartment, I find a nice white plastic box (see photo) for accessories that is going to work just fine. That foot control that seemed a bit off? I find another one that fits much better into the case. Yup, it was meant to be, another sweet Kenmore ready for a new home.


Thin Man Sewing said...

I passed on a Kenmore just like your 1430 at the thrift store last week. It was a sea foam green and portable. I wanted it for the price of $8.50, but no place to put it. Since I was buying a Singer 201 in a Queen Anne desk for $2 at the same time. Decisions...Decisions!

Karen said...

Life is full of those tough decisions but I think you chose the right one. Just think about the next person who came along and said "I can't believe this is still here!" and claim that Kemore. Thanks for sharing!

Jonathan said...

My first Kenmore was a 158.1946. It was a $20 garage sale purchase. It's an all metal free arm machine with a great selection of utility stitches! The owner told me she purchased a new machine. Her friend tried to convince her to keep the Kenmore as a back up. The paint on the machine was in great condition so I grabbed it. I love that machine & still use it! In my humble opinion, Singer made nicer looking machines in the 70s but unfortunately they came with nylon gears.