Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Even the best machines have their drawbacks - Pfaff 130

We sewing machine nut-types hear a lot about sewing machines having all metal construction, steel gears, et cetera. I for one like those types of features, so when I was poking around in my latest project, a Pfaff 130, I was more than a little startled to see not one, but two gears that were not steel.

I didn't get photographs of the two offending parts but I can tell you where they are. A white colored nylon gear runs off the upper main shaft and provides the movement for the needle zig zag swing. The gear can be seen if you pull off the back cover of the machine. The second non-steel gear is on the rotary hook shaft. I don't know the technical term for the gear material but I'd call it a fiber gear. It is a brownish color. I did an online search and came up with "Linen Phenolic", which might be what it is.

The two non-steel gears are to me a drawback (albeit a small one) of the Pfaff 130. Then of course there is also the fiber timing belt that drives the lower shaft of the sewing machine. I can fully understand and appreciate that Pfaff chose those materials for the gears and timing belt because of the unique qualities of the materials but it wouldn't be my first choice in a machine that will last several lifetimes only if those parts can withstand the aging process.

Now on to the photos of the sewing machine. The Pfaff 130 is a fine machine that has a powerful 1.3 amp motor and has a large following.












8 comments:

  1. I have a Pfaff 130 I bought very cheaply, in a cabinet with lots of accessories. Discovering those nylon gears, when cleaning it up, gave me the same feeling. I'm always concerned about the cleated drive belt. This belt is in many of the Pfaffs of the 1950-1970 period; I have one in my Pfaff 90 and 260. It's a real shame no-one seems to make it amymore. I have often thought about how I might remake it using the existing metal cleats if the cording breaks. Working that out might help a lot of folk.

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    1. There are new replacement cleated belts on ebay.

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  2. I just acquired a Pfaff 130. It sewed zig zag only because the lever that directs straight stitch to zig zag was frozen. After removing the lever, I poured kerosene on the stuck part and let it soak. It finally decided to give, but I had a hard time adjusting the lever to make it work as it should. Since I paid a fair price for this machine, I am disappointed knowing now that there are gears in the machine that are non-metal. I am looking to buy a Necchi BU, but will do some research on non-metal gears first!

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  3. There is a seller on ebay making replacement belts using the existing cleats. Not cheap, about $130, but worth it to save the machine!

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    1. That's good to know Anne. Thanks for the information. These old workhorses are so cool.

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  5. Linen Phenolic.....may be some variation of Bakelite which is pretty tough stuff as far as plastic goes.

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  6. So, funny thing about this: All-metal gears sound like a nice idea in theory, but machinery manufacturers actually knew what they were doing when they put some *gasp* plastic parts in there. If for some reason a machine jams or malfunctions, the plastic parts are sacrificial and will "let go", protecting the rest of the mechanism. If they were to be replaced with metal gearing, likely something much more difficult to replace would break instead. Also, steel on plastic is much less noisy than steel on steel for certain gearing. Trust those old designers! They weren't just cheeping out on a few parts.

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