Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Hit and a Miss

This is the tale of two sewing machines and goes to show that it is not always clear which ones are keepers and which ones are losers. My friend Ellie, who sends sewing machines to Haiti, brought over a Singer Scholastic 717 to see if it could be sent off. She heard it had plastic gears and didn't want to bother with anything that might not hold up.
Singer Scholastic 717, oh so '60's
Sure enough, when I looked inside I found four plastic gears for the hook and feed dogs but they all appeared to be in excellent shape. Removing the top cover showed a big plastic gear under the top one pictured below that I couldn't see very well. There were other plastic parts that were oddly placed such as part of the take-up arm and on the main shaft:
Under the lid of the Singer 717
Why? After removing the bent needle and running it a bit, everything sounded normal, at least normal for this model that tends to grind. It does have the geared hand wheel and is very similar to the Singer 400 series, a real favorite of mine. As I cleaned out lint and old grease, it started to run slower. I could not figure out what was causing the slowing down. The foot control had something rattling around in it but that didn't seem to be the problem. I loosened the clutch to see how the motor would run when there was no load: it spun freely and strong. Then I noticed a light coating of cream colored shredding: shredding of plastic? That would be a reason for it to be slowing down but where was that shredding coming from? I bet when I started this machine up the hidden gear worked at first and then started to break down, causing it to spit parts out and kept the machine from running. It's not going to Haiti with all of those plastic gears anyway but I just wanted to find out what happened.

The next day I found a sorta sad sewing machine at Savers, a J.C. Penney model 7102. I say it was sad because the plastic parts that were exposed to daylight were yellowed while the metal part was still cream. It appeared to be very lightly used with all by two of the snap-on presser feet in the front storage compartment and very little lint inside. It cleaned up nicely and started to run smoothly once it was oiled.
J.C. Penney model 7102 storage compartment up front
There was about eight inches of thread wound around the take up levers/arm next to the needle bar so that could be why someone gave it up, thinking it was having problems.  The thread /spool holder on the back of the machine was positioned in such a way that the built in handle for the sewing machine would fold down and catch one of the plastic pins and it was nearly broken off. I checked my parts and found the exact same configuration, just a thicker pin so it was traded out:
New spool pins in place
All cleaned up and threaded, it sewed a great stitch, including stretch stitches and a four-step buttonhole stitch. This is one nice sewing machine even if it does have plastic gears inside. It runs smoothly and is probably twenty years younger than the Singer 717, something to pay attention to. There could easily be only thirty years of wear on the J.C. Penny's sewing machine and fifty plus years on the Singer. That's just something to keep in mind.
J.C. Penney 7102
Out of these two sewing machines, one a classic Singer but with many flaws and the other sold under  other names of department stores, it's a bit of a switch to find the no-name runs better at this point in time than the Singer. When new, the Singer models were quite nice and more modern that the earlier 400 series that introduced  the slant needle, built in cams and removable cams for decorative stitches, plus the gear to gear smoothness and strength like the earlier 15-91 and 201-2. Yet, over time, the switch to plastic was the big downfall and the Singer name has never been the same. For my time and money, I'll take the J.C. Penney's, thank you very much.



1 comment:

  1. Ha! I went searching pinterest for a blog post I read about bleaching those yellow parts, and
    it was from YOUR blog. So I'm not posting the link. I remember my mother shaking her head about singer quality in the 70s. Of course, by then she had obtained her top of the line Necchi in post war Germany. They probably bought it in the BX, and I don't know why she got an Italian machine as opposed to a Pfaff or Bernina or whatever European one she may have chosen. She loved that machine though.

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