Thursday, March 31, 2016

Frankenstein

I have not created a monster but I did combine two of the same model to make one working machine, giving me that heady feeling of saved another one!  Linn called and asked if I would look at two of her sewing machines and gave me model numbers that didn't exactly match up with models I could find research on. But, several weeks later I finally did get back to her and said I would look at her Singer Graduate model and a Brother XL-530. She walks in with one machine, goes back for the second one, but wait, she has more, and finally comes in with three Singers and one Brother. Wow, did they multiply since our last conversation? Not exactly, but she was hoping to get at least one machine that would work out of the whole lot of them.

One of the Singer's did stitch but when I took the top cover off we could see a cracked nylon gear as part of the zig zag mechanism. It was still working but could go at any time so I didn't think it was worth putting much time into it.

Next up was a Singer 935, two of them to be exact. The first one would not move the fabric and I suspected a cracked gear in the feed dogs. The next one worked much better but it was missing the bobbin cover plate that was, fortunately, on the first 935. This could be a good situation to combine good parts from a broken machine to get the second 935 functioning again. It sounded fine and under the hood it seemed...well, I could not get the cover off. I did manage to find the screw that was holding it on later but I hesitated to take too much of it apart at this stage when I was pretty sure I could just swap parts.

The final machine was the Brother XL-5130 without a foot control or power cord. I found a donor set and could see that it was going to run fine but it wasn't much of a machine to begin with. It was missing the front storage compartment which makes it awkward to sew without a front surface yet most of the free arm Elnas are like this so it was worth keeping.
Brother XL-5130

Now Linn had some decisions to make: which to keep and which ones to let go? She decided to have the Singer 935 complete and running, to donate the Brother to me since I had the foot control cords, and to let the others go. She was going to donate the first Singer and I was going to strip one of the Singer 935's for parts. Her goal was to end up with one working machine and it appears that's what she is getting.
Singer 935: the Graduate
The 935 did take a bit of cleaning up, replacing the missing slide plate that was missing the spring plate to keep the slide plate on the machine. In taking the bottom covers off for cleaning and oiling, I found half a dozen broken needles in each one but not a broken gear to keep those feed dogs moving. Did I misdiagnose? I worked and worked with it to see why it wasn't moving the fabric (yes, the stitch length was set at 3) but I didn't figure it out. I ended up using different top and side covers to use the best looking pieces but she still looks like she's had a difficult life. I suspect these were school models, hence the name Graduate, due to a couple factors: heavy duty three prong plugs on both machines and this funny little contraption over the needle:

I think it's a finger guard to protect you from running your needle into an unsuspecting finger. It's a fairly simple device that swings to the side so you can access the needle for threading, but provides a barrier or a stopping off point before your hand gets any closer to the needle. I've had a serger with a plexiglass-type shield but this one is just a bit more primitive. I kept the one from the donor machine, just in case.

The Brother XL-5130 got cleaned up, oiled, and adjusted for tension but it's just not a really great sewing machine. Lightweight and portable but not very substantial, it will do some minor repairs but I even hate to sell it for a starter sewing machine: will the new sewer walk away from sewing because of the under-performance of this machine? Be careful...is it skill or is it equipment that can lead to discouragement? It might sit on the shelf for quite some time.

I had some fun on a cold afternoon listening to books on CD while puttering with my machines and Linn got one sewing machine that will sew fine even if it's not too memorable. She thought maybe she would give it to a young friend. It kept one out of the landfill and maybe would launch someone into a love for sewing. There's always hope.

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