Sunday, May 8, 2016


Remember that old commercial and tune: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, with Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint Gum" where they featured twins? Today I'm going to feature a few of my recent doubles, or twins, of my sewing machines.

When I was a Ray White's Sewing Machine Repair class I brought six sewing machines as examples to work on. Included in that group was a Kenmore 158-17892 that would not zigzag. We checked it out, sprayed it with Triflow, and still no zigzag. There was a spring that didn't seem to be in the right place but could not figure out where one end should be for the resistance that was needed. Maybe this was the problem with the zigzag? Then an answer came in the form of another machine for sale that was the same model, in my neighborhood, at a fair price. I went over right before it got dark and the seller set it up on the back steps (hey, it was over 90 degrees, our first heat wave in Minnesota!) to test it out. It did zigzag so I dug out a screwdriver to look inside. It was pretty dirty with lots of debris from hanging out in the garage, but everything seemed to be working. I offered to tune theirs up for free if I could just borrow it but they were not interested in sewing, just selling. It was his grandpa's and even though they hoped to be able to use it he confessed that with all of their kids under the age of six it just wasn't going to happen. I now am the owner of two Kenmore 158-17892:
Kenmore 158-17892's
 I went home with this gem and started cleaning it up so I could then take it apart. I know, that doesn't seem like it makes much sense but it's my machine and I get to do what I want! It seemed to run very slow so cleaning and oiling was my priority and it helped but it still doesn't seem too speedy or as quiet as I'm used to for a Kenmore. Nevertheless, I took off the top, bottom, and side to see where that spring was located. So simple: the loose end of the spring was just on the internal metal framework. I get the first Kenmore 158-17892 out and get that spring positioned correctly but it still does not zigzag. Two hours later I finally figure it out: when changing the stitch selector dial the cam follower doesn't move along the row of cams.
Kenmore 158-17892 stitches
 Why did it take me two hours? The cam follower was somewhat buried but that still didn't account for two hours of experimentation. While going over the process of zigzagging, I knew there has to be some way the needle connected to the cam but I kept looking at the other end of it and how it moved and changed. I was looking at it from the bottom when I really needed to step back and look at how the whole mechanism worked. When I did that I found the cam follower with a side view of it and looked at both machines to see the difference: I found one machine didn't move like the other one did. Success! I moved it back and forth while turning the dial and it would then work, not every time but most of the time. I'm going to try and clean up some of the yellow gunky grease on the parts and then oil with Triflow to see if I can both of them moving. They should be nice sewing machines.

Another set  of doubles are beloved Elnas: the first one was a Carina that was dead. No power, no light, no response.
Elna Carina
A few weeks later I got another one, this one an Air Electronic 68, and it ran great. I switched power cords, foot controls, experimenting to find there was no problem with power cord or their unique bladder-type foot control. Nice to know I have a good set of controls but it still doesn't work. I took off the side panel and explored what I could easily see and found a lot of black soot and excess thread would around the motor pulley. Next I took out the motor to check the brushes to find they were very worn down and were uneven. That's what all of the black debris was from! I removed the errant thread, replaced the brushes, put it all back together, but still no power or light. There is a very nice service manual available but as I read through it, reading parts of it out loud to my husband, I see we are over our heads in understanding how to test it. We agree we now need to talk to our electrician son-in-law Mark. In the meantime, I used the 68 that is working to make a man-apron for a different son-in-law and just loved how this machine worked. It came without any of the cams or accessories but I just happen to have a spare set of cams and bobbins, hoping I can come up with a set of feet because this machine is a dream to sew with.
Elna Carina in back and Elna Air-Electronic 68 in front
Sometimes having doubles can be a real help but you usually have to be very patient while trying to find a twin. This time is was nearly instantaneous and success was nearby for the Kenmores, or hope for a successful outcome. Not yet, but soon for the Elnas!

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