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Thread: Featherweight -- What year to look for?

  1. #1
    Junior Member RavenLunaStitch's Avatar
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    Question Featherweight -- What year to look for?

    Are all 221's basically equal or are there some years and/or places that they were made with different/improved mechanics? I'm looking for one and would like to narrow it down to a model/year for searching purposes so I can get the best machine I can for the $$. I will wait for the "perfect" one for me but it would be helpful to look for the best model I can afford. Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    Black Featherweights are basically the same but there were small changes through the years. Light switches can be in different places (right side, base of machine or up on the end of the light itself), the face plates (Egyptian scroll in earlier models, striated after 1952 or so). Later models also had a different style of decals on the base and the accessory trays and cases have several variations. The white and tan ones are different again, shorter fold up base, no decals, painted metal face plate and a wired in cord that directly attaches to the foot controller. It really depends on what you want, overall condition and whether any of these small differences matter to you.
    Shelbie from the High County in Southern Ontario

  3. #3
    Junior Member RavenLunaStitch's Avatar
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    Thank you Shelbie -- I appreciate the detailed answer. Basically, cosmetic changes, even the light position doesn't matter to me as much as the mechanics of the models. Like cars, I would like to know if there are particular years where manufacturing was better (or worse!) than others. The shorter fold up bed might also be something I would consider a factor, but wiring would be much more important to me. I would like to invest in a machine that is in the best condition possible so I can keep and use it for a long time. I'm a "user" rather than a "collector"!

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    The search for the right machine is half the fun! Let us know which year you decide to get, I'd love to see a picture.

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    Junior Member RavenLunaStitch's Avatar
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    I'll keep you posted! I am heading down to the lower 48 in a month or so, and what do you think I'll be looking for while I'm down there? There certainly isn't anything to be found in MY remote neck of the woods in the way of vintage machines! I'm looking forward to just being ABLE to look at some and searching for THE ONE! I'd love to get a treadle too (ha ha!) but I'd never be able to afford to get it back home!!! At least the featherweight will fit under the seat in front of me on the plane!

  6. #6
    Super Member kitsykeel's Avatar
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    I wish you so much luck. Just finished cleaning, oiling and adjusting a 1951 black featherweight for our Habitat for Humanity Restore. It is in excellent condition now. I also own one. Such a great little machine, have had mine since 1959 and believe me it has been used over the years, from slipcovers to curtains to clothing. You will never be sorry you bought one and they are so easy to keep clean and fix by yourself. No service charges, whoopee!!
    Kitsy

  7. #7
    Junior Member RavenLunaStitch's Avatar
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    I did some volunteer work for Habitat years ago in Appalachia but I'm not familiar with the Habitat for Humanity "Restore." What is that, if you don't mind me asking? (and thanks for the luck finding my new machine!)

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    I've narrowed my search down to ones made in 1951 - the year I was born.
    Deb

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    Here is what is one their website:
    Sells used and surplus building materials at a fraction of retail prices. This raises money and diverts materials away from landfills.
    They advertise on CL in my area. Went there to look at what was called a sewing cabinet. It was office furniture. Even so, there are lots of things to look at. I'm going back to look for a cabinet for the rental house.
    "Proud Parent of an American Airman"

  10. #10
    Super Member lovelyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RavenLunaStitch View Post
    Are all 221's basically equal or are there some years and/or places that they were made with different/improved mechanics? I'm looking for one and would like to narrow it down to a model/year for searching purposes so I can get the best machine I can for the $$. I will wait for the "perfect" one for me but it would be helpful to look for the best model I can afford. Thanks for your help!
    The FWs made up through 1936 or 1937 do not have numbers on the tension dials, later models do. I have never found this to be a problem, though. I think the main "mechanical" changes came with the white FWs. I have heard others comment that the white ones are not as good as the black ones - something about the way the belt is driven or something like that. Someone more knowledgable could tell you the difference between the black/white ones and I hope someone will jump in here with more accurate info. I just returned from a 4 day trip with 10 teenagers and I seem to having a major senior moment.... Or maybe a nervous breakdown...
    Linda
    There may be times we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. - Elie Wiesel

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