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Thread: For those who have bought used machines...

  1. #1
    Member ssgirly's Avatar
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    For those who have bought used machines...

    There is a rummage sale in a nearly town that they do twice a year. Apparently its one of the biggest in the state, and I hope to find a new(old)/second machine for a great price. I was wondering for those of you who have bought second-hand machines without any sort of dealer involved what I should be on the look out for before buying. Also, if there are brands that seem to hold up better or brands to stay away from. Anything is helpful. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member FURBALLS's Avatar
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    I have a few machines that are not new. I have a brother festival 461 and just got a pfaff both from the 70's. I get them at the thrift shops. They both purr like a kitten and have a great stitch. Also they both have feed dogs that drop so I can FMQ with them. I really like the older brother machines from the 70's & 80's.

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    Super Member jlm5419's Avatar
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    I have older Singers, one Kenmore, and one White, all pre-1980. They are all solid, reliable machines, and I would recommend any of them. Things to look for: bobbin, bobbin case, good wiring, controller, necessary attachments, and a user manual. Also check to see that it moves freely, although some frozen machines can be unstuck with a good cleaning/oiling. I would pass if there was obvious rust or a lot of missing paint, unless you plan to repaint.
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    I wish I could go with you! I LOVE these types of sales. I am on the look out for an older Pfaff that has a walking foot without spending an arm and a leg.... Once people get these they tend to hang onto them and pass them on to family...

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    I was in a class a couple of weeks ago with a lady who was sewing on a Bernina that I think she said was 40 years old. A basic machine, but she had taken good care of it and it ran like a dream. My sister sews on a 31 year old Kenmore machine that she got for college graduation, and it also runs perfectly. I'm not sure the brand is as important as the care the machine has received. A good machine of any brand will run for years and years if it's serviced regularly and cleaned frequently.
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  6. #6
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    I agree, how a machine has been cared for is most important. The majority of those machines are metal not plastic and when built were built to last, not be disposable like so many of the newer ones.....IMHO a good old American made Singer is worth it's weight.......and of course a Bernina is and was a fine machine.

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Any machine that is all metal and heavy will be much more apt to live another 50 years in your house. Any newer machine with electronics you should really try out and test before buying. And doing this at an outdoor sale is very tricky.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Take a spool of thread with you, a piece of fabric, and a pair of scissors. Often there is thread in the bobbin but not on top. Even if you can't plug a machine in, you can often thread it and hand turn the wheel to make sure it forms a stitch. That's my bottom-line on a used machine; if it won't form a stitch, I give it a pass as it probably needs to have the timing re-adjusted (which in my case means a trip to a mechanic, which is not inexpensive here).

    If at all possible, ask if you can plug the machine in to make sure that the foot pedal actually runs the machine.

    Make sure the bobbin case is there (sometimes it's missing) and that the wiring is supple and looks good (and isn't the old cloth-covered type of wiring).

    Vintage Singers are always good. The name does not always mean much, as many machines were "badged" with different names. I have bought newer basic Whites and Kenmores that were fine.

  9. #9
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I look for non-computerized machines. The mechanical machines , are the simple easy to investigate their soundness. AS the others have mentioned , make sure the vital parts are there. You can test a mechanical machine with out plugging it in , by turning the wheel. Owners manuals are A plus , but not a deal breaker.

  10. #10
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I've bought many used machines at yard sales, estate sales and at thrift shops. I've never paid over $35 for one. Usually the bobbin is missing or there is no machine needle. That doesn't bother me but it's a good bargaining tool to say a part is missing. Plug it in and hear it run and check the bobbin winder to make sure it works. I was buying two or more machines a month at sales. I cleaned them up, checked them out and donated them to 4H and Scout troops. It was fun to sew on many different types of machines and learn about them. I got over my hesitation of taking one apart to see what was wrong. Most were simple fixes that was obvious to see. Gears jammed, set screws loose, belt slipped off, etc. I don't buy any now unless I know of someone that needs a good machine. One machine was a great find but a sad find too. I found a Pfaff with all accessories and the man said it wouldn't turn on and he was selling it for $25 or better offer in cabinet. He didn't know there was an off/on switch and didn't care enough to read the manual. Just wanted to clear out everything from his mother's house in one day.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
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    Always make sure there is a bobbin case if it needs one.I agree with Prism99. Take a scrap of fabric and spool of thread. If it is computerized I would find a plug in and put it through it's paces maybe throw a extension cord in your car just in case. Remember feet are expensive so the more the better.Getting the manual is always a plus

  12. #12
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Check out the vintage machine thread for great info on all of the vintage machines. They are actually easier to take care of and definitely built to last! I discovered that one I had was actually classified by Singer as an industrial machine! Never considered it anything other than a regular home sewing machine.
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    So where is this great sale??? I might need to go! All the others have given you great advice. I've purchased a few machines used - mostly singers, either at yard sales, craigslist, whatever. Never had a problem with any of them and I won't pay alot of money for a vintage machine. I got my FW for $40 and my 66 Redeye for $50. Paid $35 for a 99-15. Just make sure everything turns and you can get everything that comes with it. If it's a vintage machine there's not much to go wrong with them that can't be easily (and reasonably) fixed.

  14. #14
    Member ssgirly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Quilter View Post
    So where is this great sale??? I might need to go! All the others have given you great advice. I've purchased a few machines used - mostly singers, either at yard sales, craigslist, whatever. Never had a problem with any of them and I won't pay alot of money for a vintage machine. I got my FW for $40 and my 66 Redeye for $50. Paid $35 for a 99-15. Just make sure everything turns and you can get everything that comes with it. If it's a vintage machine there's not much to go wrong with them that can't be easily (and reasonably) fixed.
    I'm not sure I should tell you! You might beat me out of a deal!! haha. Its actually in Far Hills on Route 202. Its sponsored by the VNA (Visiting Nurses Assoc.) and is a major fund raiser for them. They hold it every spring and fall. They have all sorts of things and it draws in thousands of people.

  15. #15
    Junior Member seazteddy's Avatar
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    Make sure you have your lifting muscles in good shape, cause the older machines are usually heavy. I envy you, that sounds like alot of fun. I love rummage sales, I have found great things there.

  16. #16
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
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    I'm with Lori S, I only buy mechanical machines at yard/rummage sales. If I buy a used computerized machine, I always buy it from a dealer because they will generally give me a 1 year warranty. If it looks good, if you can turn the wheel, if the obvious parts are there (bobbin case, stuff like that), and it's really cheap you won't be out much if you do have to get it serviced. I always take a bag with thread, scissors, fabric so if I can plug a machine in and test it, I have the means to test it.
    Thought for EVERY Day: You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You should go do them.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Katia's Avatar
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    I have bought lots and lots of sewing machines at yard sales or on Craigslist. Everyone has given great advice. Although I have bought a couple of computerized Vikings and they have been fine. I figure if I pay 25.00 for a computerized machine and it only works for a few months, I have not lost too much. But I have never had that problem. You might want to get the persons word that they work and that they will take it back if you are not happy about it. I think looking for good brands is important. I would not pay 20 bucks for a machine I know only costs 100 or less at Walmart, if you know what I mean. Although I have picked up a few cheaper models that were new in the box for next to nothing. I usually make sure they are in good working order and then pass them on to someone that needs a machine.

  18. #18
    Super Member Latrinka's Avatar
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    Good Luck, hope you find a good one!
    If a woman's work is never done....why start?

  19. #19
    Super Member Yarn or Fabric's Avatar
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    I know of the sale you speak of... the Visiting Nurses Rummage sale...
    I can add some first hand experience for you on this one.
    My parents have volunteered there for years and my mother is in the electronics department. All of their machines are tested before they are sold. They have a woman that fixes anything that is wrong with them. When you buy a machine from them, you know it's working when you purchase it

    As a fyi they sell a lot of irons. She says the Rowentas are always junk when they come in. They rarely work. Go figure. I usually get a lot of behind the scenes info about what is being donated so if you ever are looking for something in particular, you can drop me a line.
    Oh and the bread machines in that department? My mother takes home every single one of them, cleans them and makes a loaf of bread in it - which she usually brings in for everyone to eat while they work




    Quote Originally Posted by ssgirly View Post
    There is a rummage sale in a nearly town that they do twice a year. Apparently its one of the biggest in the state, and I hope to find a new(old)/second machine for a great price. I was wondering for those of you who have bought second-hand machines without any sort of dealer involved what I should be on the look out for before buying. Also, if there are brands that seem to hold up better or brands to stay away from. Anything is helpful. Thanks!

  20. #20
    Super Member Lilrain's Avatar
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    I bought one at a garage sale recently for $15. had her plug it in and it seemed to work. got it home and the feed dogs appeared to be working but didn't move the fabric. My boyfriend took the plate off and lubed it and it works fine. he also downloaded a manual from the internet free. i just would spend a lot on a machine at a sale like that without plugging it in. Maybe take a scrap of fabric along to test it on, and having the manual is great

  21. #21
    Super Member Weenween's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssgirly View Post
    There is a rummage sale in a nearly town that they do twice a year. Apparently its one of the biggest in the state, and I hope to find a new(old)/second machine for a great price. I was wondering for those of you who have bought second-hand machines without any sort of dealer involved what I should be on the look out for before buying. Also, if there are brands that seem to hold up better or brands to stay away from. Anything is helpful. Thanks!
    Go for it I have a total of 11 machines and only 3 of them bought new.I have a used singer,kenmore,universal,I think that is all.Just make sure the move,wiring good,bobbin in place.
    Singer 110 , Singer 7422,Singer AH458923, Singer AD075758, Singer 5528 Singer AE234907, Universal H300795 Kenmore 158.16540, Necchi 3354, Dressmaker S2402, Signature 103-303340, BICOR VX1005 Singer 242

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssgirly View Post
    There is a rummage sale in a nearly town that they do twice a year. Apparently its one of the biggest in the state, and I hope to find a new(old)/second machine for a great price. I was wondering for those of you who have bought second-hand machines without any sort of dealer involved what I should be on the look out for before buying. Also, if there are brands that seem to hold up better or brands to stay away from. Anything is helpful. Thanks!
    I have two Elna Air electronic 68 s. I have an old singer. I have a Bernina 185. I bought a Kenmore 1941 heavy duty machine at a thrift store for 9 dollars and it is like new. runs great.. I have a new kenmore machine I bought still unpackaged at a consignment store for 40 dollars. It sells on line for 179 dollars. I also have a Husqavarna 21 S serger. I would buy more if the price was right....Good luck hunting......

  23. #23
    Super Member oldtnquiltinglady's Avatar
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    Good advice from one and all--if you can keep all these things in the back of your mind as you trek through the crowds and heat, you'll find the one you are hoping for. I've left out a step or two in the past and came home with the machine anyhow, only to find out it wasn't such a bargain after all; but at the price of today's new machines for what you are getting, some diligence on your part will pay off big.
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  24. #24
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    Don't forget to take a machine needle in your sewing machine testing kit. In my purse, I carry a small spool of thread, sewing machine needles, a scrap of fabric and also s small pair of scissors. This is my 'just in case' kit, just in case I come across a vintage or used machine where ever I go, yard sales, flea markets, Goodwill, etc. This way I'm ready to try any machine I come across. I also have my little camera in my purse too. I don't use the cell phone camera as I prefer the other one instead. Good luck at the sale and let us know what you find there!

  25. #25
    Senior Member IAmCatOwned's Avatar
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    Just don't pay a lot unless you can talk to the owner or someone who knows what is wrong with the machine or the conditions it has been kept it. If kept in a damp area, there is a chance that it has internal rust which may require more than general servicing.

    Huskvarna, Bernina and Janome - all good machines. If they are a cheap price, chances are, the original owner passed away or is in a nursing home and it's being sold by relatives who don't know the value. I personally have not been happy with my Brother, so you'll have to ask others about them. Most machines lack features you might want, missing pedal or need a complete cleaning (we're talking replacing the oil). I had a local place completely service a serger that had been in a garage for 15 years for about $80. My sister, who is more mechanically minded, did it herself on the Bernina she found for $10.

    edited to add: Bread machines are a GREAT buy at garage sales. Most have rarely been used more than 5 times, so you are pretty much getting a new machine that sat around 3 or 4 years (or more). My Mom uses it for all her kneading and just bakes the bread/pizza in the oven in regular pans. I get her a new garage sale one every 6 years or so since she really only needs it for the kneading and proofing. So unless you have special needs - you can save yourself a lot!
    Last edited by IAmCatOwned; 07-21-2012 at 08:51 AM.

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