Welcome to the Quilting Board!

Already a member? Login above
loginabove
OR
To post questions, help other quilters and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our quilting community. It's free!

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 49

Thread: "Machine works and is in good condition" ,... really? Inspection List

  1. #1
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795

    "Machine works and is in good condition" ,... really? Inspection List

    I had a lady contact me about a few machines she wanted to sell. She'd formerly worked at a local SM shop and told me that all the machines she had worked and were in good condition, and if she'd like, she was traveling into town and could drop them off on her way by. I chose 2 that she was selling - a Singer 185J and a Pfaff 362.

    Because she was dropping them off, I felt like I shouldn't refuse regardless of shape, so I didn't inspect them too carefully.

    No way the Pfaff has worked right in years! I'm pretty sure this tensioner hasn't worked in some time. This is what I found under the dial after it came off in my fingers from being assembled incorrectly (note, the loop is supposed to curve the other way based on the replacement spring I saw online, and the service manual and "pretzel" isn't a proper tension spring shape):
    Name:  pfaff1.jpg
Views: 1070
Size:  51.3 KB

    At least, the two plastic gears were intact.

    So, thanks to the problems I found on this machine, I'm adding the following to my list of things to check when I buy a machine:

    • Is the upper tensioner working /assembled correctly
    • (If Applicable) Is the needle threader there / bent / damaged, etc
    • Does it have the original pedal - doesn't matter with most of the vintage machines, but apparently this one does, and others will too I'm sure.
    • If it's "lumpy" turning, what's the pattern - every half turn, every turn, etc.
    • Do model specific features work? (Stopmatic, etc)


    I also have a new rule - I must go see the machine. Then I won't feel like I have to buy.


    Up until yesterday, my list had things like:

    • How do the wires look?
    • Does the light turn on?
    • Wiggle the power cord, does the light flicker? (Assumes the wiring looked safe enough to do that)
    • Basic timing check - stitches both straight and zigzag stitches (I check the timing first, because I don't like smashing needles in front of people but it's usually not necessary to do that - I've only had 3 that I've saved a needle or bobbin case that way.)
    • Does it look like the machine has been dropped?
    • Pedal works
    • All plates are present
    • All dials move freely
    • belts?
    • how does it sound? Does it labour on startup? While running? Does it sound "loud"?
    • Does it run on its own?
    • Rust? And where is it? Some surface rust is OK because a lot can be "removed", but there's a lot that's not. If the machine will be decorative, in some cases, no big deal but if it's to be used, it's important.
    • Condition of the sewing surface
    • General Cosmetic shape - decals, etc
    • general look of the machine - the appearance can tell you a lot about how the machine was maintained.


    None of these alone rules a machine out. It just let's me know what I may be dealing with, and lets me decide if I want the machine badly enough, or gives me a bargaining position.

    What does everyone else have on their normal "inspection" list?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by ArchaicArcane; 05-23-2013 at 09:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Chula Vista CA
    Posts
    6,072
    It amazes me that people selling items tell deliberate lies, as if you are not going to figure it out. Sorry you felt obligated to buy them. She should have greatly reduced the costs.

  3. #3
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    30,796
    That tension spring looks like a rat's nest, appalling!

  4. #4
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    If it was anyone else, I would have thought it was just that she didn't know. But the shop she worked at is also the one who has a tech there who sold another lady a 99 that was electrically unsafe, and serviced the Bernina I've been fighting with (brushes worn down to nubs, and turns so hard you almost need both hands - She'd taken it in complaining that it ran slow...).

    I should have listened to my "Spidey senses".

    Like that post in the tensioner too? That's supposed to be straight out!

  5. #5
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    1,954
    Sometimes even using a check list like yours, you get surprises with vintage machines. i bought a hand crank Singer in perfect shape stitching really well for $50. After getting it home and checking it out, it seemed almost too good to be true. After checking the serial number and searching on the Internet, I found out that I had bought a much newer machine than I thought. It was actually a Singer reproduction made in India. I can't be mad at the owner as I don't think she realized exactly what she had and I had never seen one before. The machine does stitch and the price wasn't ridiculous. I will look even more carefully next time.
    Shelbie from the High County in Southern Ontario

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mom3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    suburb of Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    651
    1. Try to determine the model before you go so if the machine is not threaded up at least you can a.) look up how to thread it, b.) know the needle size and how to properly seat the needle.

    2. Determine, before hand, if there if the bobbin case and at least one bobbin is available for testing.

    3. Take the proper needle with you.

    4. Take thread with you.

    5. Take fabric with you.

    6. If the machine has none of the above (and you didn't bring any of the above with you) , hand rotate it to get a feel if you 'think' it will work.

    7. If the machine has none of the above available (and you didn't bring any of the above with you), use that as a bargaining point if you 'feel lucky'.

  7. #7
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    2,116
    Hmmmm Wish I had a list like this a few months ago. I'll print this for future reference. Thank you!

  8. #8
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    West Texas
    Posts
    1,869
    And it doesn't hurt to have an extension cord in the car just in case. You may be testing a machine in a garage or driveway.

  9. #9
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    Shelbie - Definitely true. The reproductions are almost not fair, because you don't expect them until you've seen one first, or heard about them.

    For me, the give aways on those are:

    • The decals are usually "more". The older ones, even la Vencedora, the Lotus, etc are more understated than the new ones.
    • There's a plastic knob on the bed of the machine to drop the feed dogs
    • Often the case or cabinet it's in gives it away. They just don't seem as heavily built as the old ones.


    Mom3 - Great adds!!

    You know, I was driving into the city after I posted this, thinking the same things. "Ugh! I forgot the bobbin case! Ugh! the needle thread fabric!! " I used to take supplies with me, I don't anymore. What I usually do is first turn the machine by hand to make sure the timing isn't scary bad, then if there's thread and a bobbin there, I watch for the "twist" the machine will make when it locks the stitch.

    In a good twist to the story, when I went into the city today, I scored a 1950 201-2 in excellent shape, even the wiring looks good. I was all ready for a bargaining point, and had none.

    I've only had to look up one model as far as threading so far - Elna Supermatic. All of the rest I can usually fumble through.

    Quilt Novice - Wait til the end! as mom3 has already pointed out, my morning rant did miss some things

    Daylesewblessed - Ha!! Good call. I've done this. I looked at a featherweight on top of a table saw in some guy's back yard. Then there was the 201-3 on the sidewalk at about 11pm... I'm sure that didn't look suspicious or anything.

    The other thing I like to have with me are some basic screwdrivers. I have a bad habit of having the car with me, instead of the truck when I find a good machine, and I sometimes have to disassemble things to get them home. Don't ever let anyone tell you that a Mustang has no storage space. Most Singer cabinets will come apart into many pieces with only a blade screwdriver.
    Last edited by ArchaicArcane; 05-23-2013 at 07:55 PM.

  10. #10
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Corpus Christi, Tx.
    Posts
    15,954
    Blog Entries
    3
    A guy that knows my DH wanted to know if I wanted to purchase a machine his sister had. Same words, worked and in good condition. When it comes to any kind of purchase, DH always asks, "Well does it work NOW and what is it's "CONDITION NOW". The guy wanted $500.00 because it was an antique. Right off the bat NO. It was a mess. Not at this time or any other time. We also don't buy anything sight unseen.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    SW TN
    Posts
    588
    Such great advice from everyone. I remember advice from long ago which is still relevant today: Buyer Beware.


    Linda

    Sew little time and sew many ideas

  12. #12
    Super Member mlmack's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Kansas City, MO
    Posts
    1,384
    Quote Originally Posted by linda faye View Post
    Such great advice from everyone. I remember advice from long ago which is still relevant today: Buyer Beware.
    I'd say it is even more relevant today.

  13. #13
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    Quote Originally Posted by tessagin View Post
    A guy that knows my DH wanted to know if I wanted to purchase a machine his sister had. Same words, worked and in good condition. When it comes to any kind of purchase, DH always asks, "Well does it work NOW and what is it's "CONDITION NOW". The guy wanted $500.00 because it was an antique. Right off the bat NO. It was a mess. Not at this time or any other time. We also don't buy anything sight unseen.
    That's definitely good practice. I don't know why I suspended my judgement for this particular set of machines. I'm usually quite careful. The only thing I can think of is that the machines came in under my "squeamish" threshold. But I did have a niggling feeling that I shouldn't be getting the one machine, and I was right.

    Quote Originally Posted by linda faye View Post
    Such great advice from everyone. I remember advice from long ago which is still relevant today: Buyer Beware.
    Too true. And as mlmack says, more so today. It's a shame really that we can't just trust one another, but some people make it so hard to.

  14. #14
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,409
    Blog Entries
    2
    I've been fooled a few times by machines that look really nice like they haven't been used. There is usually something wrong with a really nice looking machine. Go figure.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  15. #15
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    I've been fooled a few times by machines that look really nice like they haven't been used. There is usually something wrong with a really nice looking machine. Go figure.
    Aww, don't tell me that! I haven't dug into the 201-2 from last week yet. I don't want any more character building machines for a week or two. Between this Pfaff and the Bernina, I've done all the character building I can handle for a month or so.

  16. #16
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Northern CA near Sacramento
    Posts
    1,105
    Tammi,

    I really like your term: 'character building machines'. I will use that one.

    Cathy

    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    Aww, don't tell me that! I haven't dug into the 201-2 from last week yet. I don't want any more character building machines for a week or two. Between this Pfaff and the Bernina, I've done all the character building I can handle for a month or so.
    Cathy

    "Most sewing machine problems are due to the carbon based unit in the chair in front of the machine"

  17. #17
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    Quote Originally Posted by Mizkaki View Post
    Tammi,

    I really like your term: 'character building machines'. I will use that one.

    Cathy
    Thanks Cathy. That's not what I always called them, but I'm evolving.

  18. #18
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,409
    Blog Entries
    2
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Ccorazone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Midlothian,Texas
    Posts
    718
    I have an invertor, which I plug into my lighter socket in my car. It converts DC current to AC current and I can test if the machine runs if I have to meet at a half way location for a viewing. It has a plug in socket just like in your house, so just plug and test.

    "Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned"
    Peter Marshall

    "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that
    take our breath away". - Hilary Cooper
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/2HartsCreations?ref=si_shop

  20. #20
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    Quote Originally Posted by Ccorazone View Post
    I have an invertor, which I plug into my lighter socket in my car. It converts DC current to AC current and I can test if the machine runs if I have to meet at a half way location for a viewing. It has a plug in socket just like in your house, so just plug and test.
    Those are great! I use one on the road to charge my laptop. I never thought to use it to test a machine.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jersey Shore
    Posts
    528
    Prudent check list. I might add...make sure feed dogs are present. In foreign models they are nearly impossible to find.

  22. #22
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    Quote Originally Posted by DanofNJ View Post
    Prudent check list. I might add...make sure feed dogs are present. In foreign models they are nearly impossible to find.
    Oh yuck! You've ended up with feed dogs missing? The worst I've had for dogs is the rubber ones disintegrated. Or on the Winselmann - the entire lower portion of the machine was disengaged. LOL! The lesson there is don't look at a machine in the dark.

    Another one to check is that all 3 screws are in the bobbin case. I got a 301 this week that looked like all the parts were there... then I went to clean the bobbin case. Missing the tension screw. I wonder if that could have anything to do with it ending up for sale. At least I can still get that screw, and it doesn't effectively write the machine off.

    Still need to dig into the 201-2 to see if it has any surprises like Miriam said it might. That's tomorrow (later today?) I didn't check that one for bobbin screws either... but it's in awfully good shape...

  23. #23
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,409
    Blog Entries
    2
    I have some friends that are constantly buying machines and asking if I want them. NO I DON'T WANT certain models. They weren't any good when they were new. Age did NOT improve them. They are merely the forerunners of the plastic wonders. In other words have some idea what machines are worth keeping and what ones aren't. If you are Joe you probably can make them all work. If you are not chose carefully. You do not have to limit yourself to Singer Featherweight or Singer 301. They did make other good machines. And YES, there are machines other than Singer that are good machines as well. You will need to know what machines have odd needles or ask or research before you buy. There are some models so NOT worth buying at all. Do some searching.

    It is nice when you can find something in really good shape. Yes Tammi, check it over... I've seen feed dog height too tall. I've seen the tension spring set wrong more than once. Just little things but annoying when they don't work quite right. I have one right now - very pretty machine but the light switch doesn't turn the light on at all. If I could get it to go on I think I would just weld it light ON all the time - unplug it when you are done......
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  24. #24
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Not Here
    Posts
    3,795
    LOL! I often take them if they're free, fix them up the best they can be (within reason) and then find someone to give them to. Free usually implies little to no support, so I can give them away with a clear conscience. Besides, even an early 80s machine (like the one I learned on) is better than a plastic wonder from Wal-mart today. At least, it will sew through jeans.

    That said, there are some that I just hide in the basement and pilfer for parts. Almost anything labeled Brother is ending up down there lately. Broken gears on everything. Or the Touch and Throw that ended up in the basement when it sewed only in reverse with a cam but otherwise was perfect, even the wind in place bobbin winder worked. *sigh* At least I got parts for the 431G off that one.

    Truth be known, in a lot of cases, the Singers are still running because their tolerances were pretty loose. The European machines tended to be tighter, so they're more fussy about rust and lack of lubrication. If they were maintained, they're great, if they weren't, UGH. One of my favorites right now, I've admitted this to Miriam already, is a Pfaff, and it's not even vintage, well, not the vintage we talk about, it IS probably 15+ years old... and one of the last German made Pfaffs.

    I definitely avoid the machines that take special needles. That can be a real nightmare. Especially, what was it, the 306, or the 206? That some people timed differently and cut the bobbin case so it would take regular 15x1 needles? That's a repair nightmare before you even begin. I won't touch those machines at all.

    Well, this 201-2 wanted a lot of time from me. I cleaned it up, gave it the usual scrubbing of its life. It needs a tension spring, and a bobbin case screw. Both are functional til the replacements arrive. I'm not too upset about that. I paid little enough for it that $2 isn't going to sour me towards it. The decals are 99% intact, and there are only minor scratches.

    I did pull the brushes and found them wet though. Ugh. Pulled the motor, disassembled, cleaned it up (it didn't seem wet inside, maybe just inside the brush tubes, but an unreal amount of carbon), and figured while I was in there, I'd change the grease, and grease wicks. LOL! The neighbor dropped by while I was taking the motor apart. I answered the door with it in my hand, covered in grease. He already thinks I'm a nut anyway.

    Runs like a top and so quiet now. DH and I was were watching TV while I was doing this (normally I don't work on a machine in the Living room, I'm not sure what happened tonight.) and he saw movement and realised it was running. Could barely hear it over the tv. Dogs looked good. Typically, I don't even consider the tension spring being set wrong to be an issue, because I disassemble the tensioners completely while cleaning anyway.

    I really need to make a checklist of things to go over when I do a"First" service on a machine. I actually forgot the bobbin case today. I realised it as I was putting everything back together. Duh.

    You could put the light on an inline switch. I know I rarely if ever sew with the machine light on. I don't like the heat it generates (or the burn scars for that matter). I often leave the bulbs out altogether. Thrills people to pieces when they buy a machine from me and there's no bulb. I'm sure they wonder what else I "missed"

  25. #25
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,409
    Blog Entries
    2
    As far as a clean up check list. I start in one end and go around the whole machine. I try to get every little part as I go. I get too distracted for a check list. I had a machine I was working on and the DGKs showed up. Well, I let them take out the lint and pick at cleaning oil out of it. We shined it up pretty... Then they left and the machine went into time out... BUT I totally missed something... and totally forgot I never finished working it over... I never did a test sew with that one - I assumed I had finished cleaning it. It was one of the worse stuck up machines - beautiful looking though... and it's motor was perfect but the machine would barely chug along. Somewhere we missed one little bit of dried on goo. It was fun letting the DGKs help but I should have gone back over EVERYTHING the next time I looked at the machine.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.