Saturday, March 16, 2013

Singer 401A Cam Stack

The Singer 401A is considered by many, including the Singer Company at the time, as "the finest zigzag sewing machine made". The company had good reason to be proud of their 401 though. It was built with precision and had scads of built-in stitches, plus it had the option of using Singer top hat cams. To top things off, it was 100% gear drive.

I recently acquired a second 401A machine and decided to prep it for sale. After popping the top cover off, I noticed the cam stack was quite discolored with old oil remnants and decided to venture into the unknown realm of cam stack removal. It was actually quite easy. The top screw that holds the top hat spring clip is all that holds the cam stack in place, so once that screw is removed, it is just a matter of getting the cam follower fingers out of the way and the stack lifts free of the machine.

Three small screws on top of the stack hold all the pieces together, but after 50 years of being clamped together, it took some gentle persuasion to get all the cams apart.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kenmore 158.850

I wonder how much the heaviest domestic sewing machine weighs? Certainly 36 pounds has got to be near the upper end. And why, pray tell, do I arbitrarily choose 36 pounds? It just so happens that this Kenmore 158.850 tips the scale at 16.25 kilograms, or 36 pounds. I'd weigh the machine in pounds but the balance beam scale in the basement is metric.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Goodwill Purchases

50% off anything is usually a good thing. When it comes to Goodwill, it's even better because the prices are usually fairly low to begin with, but the sale days are how the company keeps fresh stock on the shelves. Goodwill had a couple machines that interested me so I talked the trusty wife into taking the loving steed... I mean the loving wife taking the trusty steed (she offered, I didn't have to bribe or beg) to the two local stores to pick up a Montgomery Ward Signature 276C portable and a Singer 288 in a cabinet. A bonus was that the Singer cabinet had a motor control for a 401-type sewing machine. I had just purchased a similar cord set/motor control off ebay for my recently acquired 401, so I now have a spare. Sigh.

Monkey Ward 276C, with a fairly complete set of accessories

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sewing Machines come and go

When I started acquiring (collecting?) sewing machines, it was purely for the enjoyment of getting a neglected machine back into an operating state and watching/listening to it purr along after being oiled and adjusted. As with most things in my life, my sewing machine hobby has evolved to something different than what it was. I still enjoy a finely tuned machine but now I also look at all those neglected machines at the thrift stores and think, I can make a few bucks on this if I were to resell it.

So now with that mentality, I started selling a few machines on Craigslist. Needless to say, the endeavor was hardly a money-maker. Enter that popular online auction place. Two weeks ago I decided to try my hand at auctioning off some machines. Let's just say that online auctioning is now my new friend. The bothersome part of selling to a non-local person is the hassle of packaging and shipping, keeping in mind that the machine had better make it to its destination no worse for wear. The good (great?) part of selling on an auction site is the fact that I don't get left "high and dry" by those flaky Craigslist buyers who don't bother to show up and don't bother to let anyone know they aren't going to show up. I am totally in control (usually) of when my sewing machines leave the house.

 I have a newfound knowledge of double-wall shipping boxes, the realization that I now have to buy packing peanuts/bubble wrap that in the past I used to throw out in the garbage, and the fact that strapping tape isn't cheap. The good thing is, the buyer pays a fee for shipping (to cover a $10 box, a couple bucks worth of bubble wrap and strapping tape, and the $35-$40 USPS fee). I also throw in a package of needles, a couple bobbins and a spool of thread in the box.

I've been sick lately so I'll hopefully get back to taking photos and posting them of the machines I'm working on. I also picked up another machine. A Brother. Looks to be 70's vintage - white with kind of a burnt orange theme for the knobs.