Welcome to the Quilting Board!
Thank you for the picture of the motor with the oil hole circled. I'll be checking all my 1950s machines.
When I first looked at this Kenmore I could see it hadn't been oiled in like forever ......... at least many many years.
I oiled the motor while I was freeing up the main shaft and again after it was free. When the oil finally soaked into the bearings you could see, hear and feel the motor free up and run faster and easier. I oiled it a couple more times after it was freed up so I'm pretty sure it's good to go for a while now.
I have 2 vintage FW's and whenever I get a "new" machine I take it apart, clean all the dust & crap out of it and oil & lube with sewing machine oil & sewing machine grease. Usually in the manual it tells you only to grease in certain places (gears, small holes in motor) and never put oil on those places. I just got my 2nd FW the other day and when I opened it up, everything was dry looking and the machine ran sluggish. After cleaning and oiling, I put the machine back together and put the needle back in and the machine would not sew at all. It had no tension , it was skipping stitches 1 to 2 inches at a time ..I had put the needle in wrong. I had checked the manual to see what I could have done wrong....put needle in right and it runs like a charm. I do have another machine (newer one) that I think has a timing problem. It will not even pick up the bobbin thread. There are web sites where they show you how to fix stuff. Good luck
I might be buying this exact machine and am so excited about it! I am waiting on a response from the seller as I write this! Should I buy it?? Were the needles you mentioned, the DCx1f able to be found and workable Joe?? I think she's a beauty and mine comes in a gorgeous stand of her own! Thanks!
Don't let your heart outsmart your brain. That machine is not a good machine to use. I got mine to sew only after many months of on again - off again working on it. The bushings were seized, the tension was way off, there are no proper needles currently available for it only a few here and there if you can find them. The DBx1F needles do work quite well but you have to seat them out just exactly right. A little bit wrong and it won't pick up the bobbin thread.
Should you buy it?
Well, if you want it cos it's ugly and would add something to your collection, go ahead.
Or if the cabinet is what you want, most other White machines of that vintage and some Kenmores will fit ... I think.
If you want it to sew with ... pass it by. There is much better Kenmores to be had.
Hi everyone. I've been working on sewing machines for about 30 years, and have had a few of these 120's. They are some of the strangest sewing machines I have ever used. Strange because they implicitly instruct the owner to never oil the machine, yet if it isn't oiled, it will quit running. PLUS, as Joe mentioned, there are actual oil ports on the motor, which means, IT NEEDS TO BE OILED!! That slays me.
As far as I can tell, these were semi-bottom of the barrel sewing machines. They were fairly inexpensive and made almost as throw-away machines. They have a stitch length adjustment, using a really strange side to side lever system that no one else has ever employed. You can open the case to get beneath the machine and drop the feed dogs by sliding a nylon bushing out of the way. Not a very practical way to do that, but it works. It is just difficult to imagine a machine like this, that has virtually zero maintenance, and then they expect you to lift the entire machine up so you can fumble around with a difficult to move nylon cam to drop the dogs. Weird.
Taking everything into consideration, Joe is also probably right about Sears wanting this machine to seize up so that you buy a different one. Since it isn't supposed to be oiled, it isn't user friendly, and you either have to take it in to a Sears store, where they will oil it up, or get a new one. Sears wins both ways financially on this machine through service or selling a new machine.
Every one I had, and I have one sitting next to me as I write this, every one I had ran like a tank. Yes, the stitches were good, but if a metal machine can be said to be cheap, this would be it. But hey, this is a no muss, no fuss sewing machine that will literally work until it doesn't, and then you are stuck with it after that.
The Sewing Guy,
Welcome to the QB.
I've got mine working. Took a lot of work but it sews. The only thing is, I dislike it immensely. It's a lousy design but worst of all, there is so little room under the needle bar area I have to use a set of needle nose pliers to change the needles. I can't get my hand in there.
I keep thinking I'll just sell it, then I change my mind and say I'll use the case for a better machine. Then I hem and haw and say, but I put so much work into it and it does sew now, so why not use it.
So it sits on the shelf.
Too bad about the design flaws. I don't see it as an ugly machine at all. I like the sleek lines of it. It does sound like the beginnings of "planned obsolescence" at work though. Sears was pretty much at the front of the pack when it came to that sort of thing.
The looks is what attracted me to it as well. But along with looking good a machine has to work good too. This one does but it's got a few features that make it difficult for me to use.