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Thread: German Vintage Machines and Their Ingenious Features

  1. #1
    Muv
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    German Vintage Machines and Their Ingenious Features

    Rain has recently started a thread about how to fix stop motion screws, and I mentioned that I particularly liked machines that didn't have them. This led on to me enthusing about German machines because they have so many ingenious features. They make Singers seem a bit pedestrian. Rain and Miriam said they were interested in hearing more, so here goes!

    I know there are a few German machines lurking about on the opposite side of the Atlantic, so please feel free to post pictures here. Meanwhile I will put up pictures of my machines to show you why I find them so fascinating.

    The first machine that I will show you is the Little Vesta. Photos showing the whole machine are at post 46 of the thread Vintage Sewing Machine Shop Machine Photos. The photos below show the wheel and how the shaft is driven. The main central cog links to the upper cog which drives the shaft. The smaller cog to the left drives the bobbin winder, which is pushed into place when in use so that the cog engages with the teeth on the inside of the wheel.

    To disengage the shaft when winding bobbins, the metal stud (at the right of centre in the first photo) is pulled out. It is on a spring. Then it needs to be rotated 180 degrees and the tiny pin on the back of the stud keeps it in place in the out position. This is just about visible (I hope) in the second picture. By doing this a larger pin is pulled out from the hole in the large central cog (the hole is visible in the third picture), disconnecting the large cog from the wheel.

    I hope you enjoy squinting at these photos. Tomorrow I will post more photos of this machine showing more fascinating features.

    I should have been a sewing machine salesman in the 1920s.
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  2. #2
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    I so need one of the Vesta machines! That's just way cool!

    My only German made machine is the Köhler that I just got, and it's got the stop action screw/nut/knob/whatever...

    My A.G. Mason (now known to be made by White ) however, has a little lever that you pull out. I don't know if you want any American machines in this thread or not.
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

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    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    It is so interesting that the German engineers would come up with a completely different idea instead of copying Singer.
    Sweet Caroline

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    Muv
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    Charlee - Congratulations on your Kohler! Tell us more, is it a transverse shuttle? Post pictures here as soon as you like. I think it will have to be German machines only here, otherwise they could end up hopelessly outnumbered by American machines. But there is a scope for a thread on interesting features on American non-Singers, surely?

    Hello Caroline - German engineers are geniuses, that's the whole point. Just wait till I get onto bobbin winders...

  5. #5
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    Muv, this one is post WW2, there are a couple of "pre-pretty" photos in the Vintage Shop thread...this machine is interesting (to me, anyway) in it's likeness to a Singer!
    It's much like a clone in that the bobbins, bobbin case and slide plate from my Singer 115 will fit it. It's got the front tension tho, of a 66. The feed dogs drop. It has a reverse, altho in the Singer the lever for stitch control is down for forward stitching, and up for reversed stitches. The Köhler is opposite of that...up is forward, down is reverse.

    I'd love to find a manual for it... it's a model 11-30. That's in big gold lettering on the front of the machine, and reminded me of a Pfaff in the way they put the model numbers on the front pillar.
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

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    Muv, how cool! It looks like a clock with all of the gears. I really respect that German engineers of the time devised clever and original solutions rather than copying market leaders.

    You mentioned the 1920s, is that the era the Vesta model shown is from?
    - Rain

    Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog
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    Muv
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    Hello Charlee - Yes, I've found the pictures of it now, and I've been grubbing around on the net for information about Kohler. Kohler was a partner of Dietrich, but they parted company and Dietrich later used the trade name Vesta. Pre-War Kohler and Vesta machines look very similar. The best information I have found about Kohler is on the Needlebar website in the article about L. O. Dietrich, the manufacturer of Vestas. Also, if you go to Treadle Lady's Youtube channel she has a video about a post-war Kohler zigzag machine in a cabinet. The cabinet has a wooden treadle like yours. It was made for the Russian market and she has a manual in Cyrillic.

    So how did machines made in Eastern Germany for the Russian and Eastern European market end up in the States? You need to interrogate the person who sold it to you. There is a Cold War tale of intrigue attached to your machine.

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    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    Oh Muv, my imagination has run wild, but alas, there is no one to ask! The machine was donated to a local thrift store.


    I would SO love to know the story behind this machine!
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

    http://charleeturner.blogspot.com

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    Muv
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    Hello Rain, Glad you liked it! Yes, this machine probably dates from the late 1920s or early 1930s, but it is hard to be precise. Vestas were made in Altenburg, way over in Eastern Germany, near Dresden. This type of machine, with the large handwheel and open gears, is known as the Saxonia, named after Saxony. It is especially interesting because it is a very antiquated design, dating back I believe to the 1870s, that just kept on going - probably because it worked so well and was pretty.

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    Today's pictures are of the lubrication holes. They were outlined in red, easy to spot, match the decals and save you wasting oil down holes where it doesn't need to go. The manual doesn't need to show the impossibly tiny illustrations pointing out the lubrication points with a maze of arrows, which you will see in Singer manuals.
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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Wow - smart way to do the bobbin winder - I have never seen one with the gears. Some times when I am working on the old machines I marvel at the engineering. The newer stamped out machines just don't hold a candle to those old ladies. I have two German machines, a 401G and a 411G - you would like them - they are made to treadle or run on electric.
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    This Singer 401G machine shreds belts - that machine was rescued from the garbage across the street
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Muv
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    Hell Miriam - Thanks for posting the pictures. I always think those machines look hilarious with the giant sized Mickey Mouse button on the front. Interesting that they kept the treadle option, and there's nothing flimsy about them, is there?

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    nope nothing flimsy - I think that giant button looks like a pig nose - this machine should be named Miss Piggy but Miss Piggy never looks this beat up and dirty. She shreds belts - the opening for the belt is rather small. Someone told me to get a spinning wheel belt for her but I haven't done it yet. She is a bit hard to pump.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Here is an old Pfaff - 1950s vintage - the zz lever allows you to adjust the width as you sew - I bet it would do some cool monograms once you get the hang of it
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    The motor is in the middle of the bottom - kind of direct drive and two belts
    The bobbin & case go in the shuttle in an awkward position - I'm sure they had a reason and very small hands
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    also had a needle threader - I don't know if it works though
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    The Pfaff is one I got last week - it was covered in goo - I still see more to come off
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Super Member SunlitenSmiles's Avatar
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    is the red outlining the oil ports original or did someone do that with fingernail polish

    what is strange to me - my MIL was german and she said the vesta was Italian
    Last edited by SunlitenSmiles; 06-10-2012 at 03:59 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I've seen other machines outline the oil ports in red - must come that way.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunlitenSmiles View Post
    is the red outlining the oil ports original or did someone do that with fingernail polish

    what is strange to me - my MIL was german and she said the vesta was Italian
    The Italian's were pretty inventive too! I like a good old Necchi.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  20. #20
    Muv
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    Hello Miriam (see, I remembered to add the O this time) - plenty of work ahead getting that muck off the Pfaff! The needle threader is handy if it works...

    SunlitenSmiles - it is definitely not nail varnish. I have a manual for this machine (a treasure in itself) which I bought separately. It refers to the oil holes being marked in red, so in four words they dispense with the need for a diagram. Also, it's surprising how many people assume that a machine with a name ending in A was made in Italy.

    Today's photo shows the shuttle. It is a transverse shuttle machine. To remove the bobbin you have to turn the wheel to make sure that the bobbin is in position on the left of the needle, then pull the slide plate back and the shuttle automatically ejects. The Germans continued to make transverse shuttle machines right up until the Second World War, even though the design pre-dates the vibrating shuttle. Transverse shuttles make an excellent stitch - I love them.
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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I saw a machine like that at Ray White's class - the shuttle goes back and forth - it doesn't swing - very interesting. I would like to see that one on video Muv.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Muv
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    It is on video Miriam - How the Thread a Little Vesta!

    It's a wonderful economical shuttle action, but the only way you can watch it is to tip the machine back and then turn the handle so you can watch from the underneath. Because the slide plate controls the shuttle ejector mechanism you cannot run the machine with the slide plate open. All too clever for words.

  23. #23
    Muv
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    Today's picture is the bobbin winder, showing the plate that rests against the bobbin while it is being filled. Once the bobbin is full and pressing against the plate it operates the mechanism to disconnect the winder from the wheel. Singer did this with round bobbins, but not with long bobbins.

    I hope I'm not boring you all - I could go on for weeks like this. A bit like droning on about a new boyfriend where nobody else can see the attraction...
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    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Not "droning on" at all Muv. I am finding the pictures interesting. Who knows, I might find a little German fraulein to to join my group.
    Sweet Caroline

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    Senior Member Bennett's Avatar
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    Except that here we all like to hear about those "boyfriends." Very neat to see the mechanisms up close and personal. I haven't seen any vintage German machines here in person, so you are sharing some interesting information and pictures.
    I have a screw driver and YouTube--I can fix it!

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