Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reader Questions: Eric's Knee-Operated 15-91

All photos in this entry by Eric from Ottawa

Eric from Ottawa writes,

[The 15-91 I recently acquired] looks like it's in great shape, but it doesn't run. It has a knee switch rather than a foot pedal and it looks like the motor controller has failed. 

To test it, I unscrewed the center of the flywheel so there was no load and plugged it in and got nowhere, even with the knee switch in and fully engaged.

Do you think it's worth re-wiring it to use a standard foot pedal like most of the ones I've seen?

Hi Eric, first off, a little about your machine. The chrome rim on the handwheel plus the design on the faceplate, from the little bit of it that we can see in the photo up top, indicate this machine is from the 1930s or early 1940s (assuming those parts are original). The old-school cylindrical Singerlight visible in the photo below also indicates the machine is from that era.

The “J-“ prefix on the serial number plate indicates your machine was made in Singer’s Canadian plant in Quebec.

Secondly, good on you for trying to run the motor with no load, that’s exactly the correct first step to test out a motor.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hans and the Singer 206, Part 2

Here's Part 2 of Hans from Chicago's questions about his Singer 206.

Is there any type of regular maintenance a 206 requires (oiling?) to care for them?
Of course. Every vintage Singer requires regular oiling at a minimum (click here to learn how to oil your machine), and I always check the wiring and the motor for safety’s sake. You'll also want to check that the belt is properly adjusted.

This machine came with a needle, bobbin and bobbin case, so I believe it is operable. Are there other attachments that are needed/beneficial?
Needed or beneficial for what? Please understand it is impossible to answer vague questions like this.

I have read this machine uses an unusual needle (206x13) and using the wrong one will nick up the bobbin case.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reader Questions: Hans and the Singer 206, Part 1

Time to answer some reader questions. These photos here were sent to me by reader Hans in Chicago. As he writes,

In a thrift store, my wife bought this Singer model 206. Our six-year-old recently expressed interest in sewing and we were looking for a machine to get her started.

Hi Hans, I really like the 206 and own several. That being said, the 206 wouldn’t be my top choice to teach sewing to a child, for two reasons:

One, the zigzag adds a layer of complexity you could avoid with a straight-stitch model like the 15, 201, 99, 66 or 221.

Two, more significantly, the design of the 206 requires that the entire machine be tilted back on its cabinet-mounted hinges in order to access and change the bobbin. Some 206s are aluminum, rather than the heavier cast-iron, but even with an aluminum model, this process will likely not be easy for a six-year-old child. You’ll also have to ensure they don’t let the machine slam back down on their fingers.

From what I’ve read in the forums, many people teach children to sew using handcrank machines. If you go this route, I think the most economical route to go would be to acquire a cheap model 99 or Spartan and buy an aftermarket handcrank. Jenny at Sew-Classic sells them.

I should also mention that I’m not a skilled seamster and have no experience teaching sewing to either children or adults. If any readers have any experience in this area and can help Hans out with recommendations, please feel free to sound off in the comments.

More to come in Part 2.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Complete “How to Re-wire a Potted Motor”

If you are arriving at this entry for the first time, this is a comprehensive guide on how to re-wire the potted motors found on vintage Singer 15-91 and 201-2 sewing machines. It is my attempt to walk someone with zero experience through the entire process.

For your convenience, here are links to all 20 entries in the series. This way you can bookmark this page as a Table of Contents and quickly get to the entry you need.

Part A: Skills Building

1: Wire, Wire Stripping and Wire Braiding
Learn about the tools and wiring basics you’ll need to know to re-wire a motor.

2: Tools & Materials Required for Soldering
Learn what equipment you'll need to complete basic wire soldering.

3: Learning to Solder
Learn and practice basic wire soldering.

4: How to Terminate Your Wires
Learn how to create connections for attaching wiring to power terminals.

5: Covering Wire Joints with Heat Shrink Tubing
Learn how to clean up exposed wiring.

6: The Underwriter's Knot
Learn how to tie wiring into a strain-relieving knot.