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Thread: My Kenmore 117.??? Know anything about them?

  1. #1
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    My Kenmore 117.??? Know anything about them?

    I posted about this once before thinking it was a model 38. I have since found very similar machines and they are listed as 117.552 and 117.560. Dates on them range from 1938 to late 50's. It is mine now - regardless of what it is. The metal plate with the serial number is missing but I did find the holes where it should have been attached. No manual with it but I did find one on the web which is for a similar machine.

    How do I find out which model it really is? Any other way to tell when it was made? I cleaned it up and it sews a very nice stitch. But the light switch is bad and I am hunting for 1 of them. Anybody got any good sources for Kenmore parts?

    It was in a cabinet -no stool though - and had some attachments with it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bennett's Avatar
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    These have such a Deco style to them! Very neat to look at. You might be able to find a clearer date here:

    Helpful White/Kenmore/Etc. info .

    This album has how to find the serial number (looks like on the pillar, just below the hand wheel). It also has listing of the serial numbers. It may take a little page-by-page searching, but it's probably there. Looks like this one was the "DeLuxe Rotary."

    Editing to add: Ooopps, should have read closer, no serial number!! Sorry. That's about all I know.
    Last edited by Bennett; 12-27-2011 at 07:54 AM.
    I have a screw driver and YouTube--I can fix it!

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    Thanks for the site addy. I spent some time looking around. Interesting. Yes, it does look like this is maybe the deluxe rotary machine. Still trying to figure out the difference in the 55X, 56x, etc. They all look so similar in the photos it is hard to tell what is different. Wonder why they took the serial number tag off of this machine. Very irratating.

  4. #4
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    I have a 117.551 that was my mother's that was mfg in 1939. It looks exactly like your machine. I also have the original manual that came with the machine. If you need a copy I can scan, print it and send it to you. PM if you need it.
    Sweet Caroline

  5. #5
    Senior Member Grannyh67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scakes View Post
    I posted about this once before thinking it was a model 38. I have since found very similar machines and they are listed as 117.552 and 117.560. Dates on them range from 1938 to late 50's. It is mine now - regardless of what it is. The metal plate with the serial number is missing but I did find the holes where it should have been attached. No manual with it but I did find one on the web which is for a similar machine.

    How do I find out which model it really is? Any other way to tell when it was made? I cleaned it up and it sews a very nice stitch. But the light switch is bad and I am hunting for 1 of them. Anybody got any good sources for Kenmore parts?

    It was in a cabinet -no stool though - and had some attachments with it.
    There is a Yahoo Group for vintage Kenmore Machines. They may can help you out. Just go to Yahoo Groups and join it. Granny
    Life is SEW great!!!!!!

  6. #6
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Karl the Kenmore 117.551

    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline S View Post
    I have a 117.551 that was my mother's that was mfg in 1939. It looks exactly like your machine. I also have the original manual that came with the machine. If you need a copy I can scan, print it and send it to you. PM if you need it.
    Here are the photos of my mother's Kenmore. I named him Karl, just too masculine looking to have a female name.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Sweet Caroline

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grannyh67 View Post
    There is a Yahoo Group for vintage Kenmore Machines. They may can help you out. Just go to Yahoo Groups and join it. Granny
    Good morning Granny. Thanks for the info. I've joined 1 group already. Think I'll check and see if there are others.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline S View Post
    Here are the photos of my mother's Kenmore. I named him Karl, just too masculine looking to have a female name.
    Good morning Caroline. They look like twins! Think I'll name mine Kitty. Thanks for the photos. Wouldn't it be weird if they were in the same cabinet? LOL.

  9. #9
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scakes View Post
    Good morning Caroline. They look like twins! Think I'll name mine Kitty. Thanks for the photos. Wouldn't it be weird if they were in the same cabinet? LOL.
    Not quite twins. The foreward/reverse plate is different. I will check my photo file to see if I have pics of the cabinet. I am sure that Karl's cabinet is original to the machine. Did you get some of the funky looking bobbins with Kitty? I know I have one in the attachment box and at least in the cabinet.
    Sweet Caroline

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline S View Post
    Not quite twins. The foreward/reverse plate is different. I will check my photo file to see if I have pics of the cabinet. I am sure that Karl's cabinet is original to the machine. Did you get some of the funky looking bobbins with Kitty? I know I have one in the attachment box and at least in the cabinet.
    Good catch on the reverse/forward plate. I didn't see that. I'm going to hunt up some more photos on the internet and see what I can find. That 1 little difference probably adds or takes away a number. Guess they are fraternal twins instead of identical. Yeah, I have 3 of those funky bobbins. If it sews as good as it seems , I'm going to buy some new bobbins for it. I have already ordered a new pulley for it and like the lady who sells the parts. I'll take pictures of the cabinet (after we put the light back on) .

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    I am considering purchasing one of these, partly for the beauty, but mostly hoping it will have a good quality stitch. What's the word on these? Stitch? Loud? How easy to obtain bobbins? Any info appreciated.

    Thanks

    Laura

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraRG View Post
    I am considering purchasing one of these, partly for the beauty, but mostly hoping it will have a good quality stitch. What's the word on these? Stitch? Loud? How easy to obtain bobbins? Any info appreciated.

    Thanks

    Laura
    Hi Laura. I haven't done much sewing on this machine yet. The stitch looked fine on the little test run I did. I didn't think it was too loud. I didn't have any trouble finding a new pulley for mine, and the same lady I bought it from sells bobbins. The light switch was messed up on mine and we did a lot of hunting but did not find one. My dh rewired it - bypassing the switch - so that if the machine is on then the light is on. No problem there - it reminds to turn it off. There is a vintage kenmore group at yahoo groups. I've joined that and you slowly learn things and names of parts sellers, etc. Check them out. One odd thing about the machine is that the hand wheel turns opposite any machine I've ever sewn on. If you get the machine, feel free to pm me with questions. maybe we can figure things out.

  13. #13
    Member Tiptoeadventures's Avatar
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    I just found this thread after purchasing a sewing cabinet with a Kenmore de lux rotary model 117.551. The exact same as yours Caroline S. It's in fully functioning order with all the original stuff (manual eat) and the cabinet is in pristine condition. I was just wondering if you could tell me how I can learn to sew with it or where I can buy replacement parts like the needles???! Thanks so much!

  14. #14
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    Very old post...
    Welcome!
    Caroline is still active here though she doesn't post much. I'm working on a slightly newer Kenmore at the moment, a 117.959. As far as I know (based on my machine and other White Rotaries I have) your machine will use standard 15x1 sewing machine needles. In case you didn't already know your machine was made by White. It turns backwards compared to Singer and most other sewing machines. It uses old style White Rotary bobbins and bobbin case. Your machine uses top-clamp feet. Ones made for White machines will fit along with those sold for Kenmore.
    We use Sew-Classic.com a lot here. The owner has a very good reputation for being helpful and knowledgeable about older machines. She may have other parts that will fit your machine.
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

  15. #15
    Junior Member SherylM's Avatar
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    The OP's machine looks just like my 117.812. I have two of them - one of them is in beautiful shape cosmetically, but was missing the stop screw on the stitch length regulator and the wiring on the light needs to be replaced.

    After looking for a replacement part for a while, I found another 81 on eBay that was in rough shape, but cheap, and had the parts that I needed, so I bought that. I haven't had a chance to get it repaired yet, but my 95 sews beautifully and I'm fairly certain the 81 will too.

    Name:  IMG_20141125_053803.jpg
Views: 265
Size:  1.69 MB This is Barney Rubble, still minus his stop screw. One of the things that I like about him is that, compared to my other machines, he's so light. Only weighs about 19 pounds, so this is the one that I'll probably take when I want to take a machine somewhere.
    Last edited by SherylM; 07-07-2015 at 08:55 AM.
    Sheryl

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    Lucky you. No peeling paint. This looks like a White product. Check Ebay for White Sewing Machine Parts. They have quite an assortment. This is evidently an aluminum machine, as you mentioned it was light. The finish is good and that is rare as they are prone to peeling paint. It probably takes a bayonet type light bulb. Mine did. Good luck. Nice machine.
    Last edited by DonnaMiller; 07-09-2015 at 10:10 PM.

  17. #17
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Most 117 series Kenmores are White made. They are excellent machines. The stitch quality is very good. I've used both of mine quite a bit.
    Name:  IMG_5319.JPG
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    117-720

    Name:  (14)Kenmore 117-812.JPG
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    117-812

    The bobbins are available new and there are lots of used once floating around. I see them all the time on ShopGoodWill.com.

    The rubber drive pulleys are still available and there is a trick to keep them from flat spotting after installation.

    I don't have a black one yet. Someday.

    Joe
    I love the old iron and wood machines. They're solid and reliable.
    Founder of IAAA - I Am An Anachronism .

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    Junior Member SherylM's Avatar
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    Donna, I trolled eBay for quite a while looking for the part that I needed, before deciding to buy the parts machine. I never thought about looking for White parts though; I'll remember that for the next time.

    One of the advantages of buying the parts machine is that I'm also going to be able to replace a missing part on my Franklin Rotary with it (my avatar pic, and also a White made machine.)

    Joe, I've never seen a two-tone 117 before; that's an interesting looking machine!

    I replaced the drive pulley on my 95 and keep it away from the handwheel by putting a folded up cotton square between the motor and the machine. I probably won't get around to working on the 81 until late summer or fall, but I'm looking forward to getting him done so I can use him. It won't take me long, but just too busy right now.

    Mine also came with the case like yours and all the attachments and - a bonus! - it didn't smell like grandma's moldy basement, like some of my machines!
    Last edited by SherylM; 07-10-2015 at 12:35 PM.
    Sheryl

  19. #19
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    SherylM looks like I'm a little late but you might check ThayerRags.com. The owner (CD) is a member here. He doesn't advertise or promote his site here but he's an excellent resource for sewing machine parts. Sometimes we forget the resources we have available right here.
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

  20. #20
    Junior Member SherylM's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestion, Rodney. I've been lurking on the boards for well over a year, but have just recently started to post. Now that you mentioned it, I do remember reading that CD sold parts but it was never on my radar while I was looking for them. Going to bookmark his site for future reference.
    Sheryl

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    Kenmore deluxe rotary Machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiptoeadventures View Post
    I just found this thread after purchasing a sewing cabinet with a Kenmore de lux rotary model 117.551. The exact same as yours Caroline S. It's in fully functioning order with all the original stuff (manual eat) and the cabinet is in pristine condition. I was just wondering if you could tell me how I can learn to sew with it or where I can buy replacement parts like the needles???! Thanks so much!

    I am trying desparetly to find a manual for this same machine, is there anywhere you could send me? I am trying to fig out if I have the bobbin done right and same with threading the machine. If there is anything you can do I would very much appreciate it.

  22. #22
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    Your machine was made by White for Sears. All the White bobbin cases thread the same. You can search here for something like "White Bobbin Case". I know there are directions here.
    I don't know if White made the same machines badged as White or not. They may have been made only for Sears.
    You can try searching ISMACS. They have manuals for some machines available.
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

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