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Thread: Necchi 544 Excited then Upset!

  1. #1
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    Unhappy Necchi 544 Excited then Upset!

    So Saturday i went to a thrift store and found an old sewing machine tucked away in her carrying case for 5 dollars. when i lifted the lid, i found an old, musty Necchi 544 starring back at me. I had read the name pop up in several sewing groups and that these machines were a work horse. so for 5 bucks i couldnt leave her behind and took her home.

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    I spent a little while Saturday cleaning her, and today i took some serious time to look at her. She was missing her foot pedal which i thought would be easy to find (its not!) and then today when i finally opened her up without fear of breaking her i came face to face with a huge disappointment All of her cams are broken clean through!

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    im really bummed as i thought i had a good machine on my hands... but i dont believe these are cheap to replace. Right now im besides myself. (i never thought id be so upset over a machine. i guess this means im in deep with all these antique and vintage machines.) not certain what i will do with her now.
    Proud owner of: Eleanor, a 1896 Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitch Treadle; Tucci, a 1952 Singer Featherweight; my mothers Singer Touch & Sew 758; Brother XR 6060
    1910 Singer 66; Singer 99K Shadow, 1929 Singer 128 (currently w/hand crank)

  2. #2
    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
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    I don't think the cams are broken. A lot of cams look like that, so don't give up just yet.
    Stephanie in Mena

  3. #3
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    really? i thought it was odd that they were all so cleanly in a straight line... but i have no way of telling??
    Proud owner of: Eleanor, a 1896 Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitch Treadle; Tucci, a 1952 Singer Featherweight; my mothers Singer Touch & Sew 758; Brother XR 6060
    1910 Singer 66; Singer 99K Shadow, 1929 Singer 128 (currently w/hand crank)

  4. #4
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    The cam stack is busted, boo boo'd, and kaput. If that was normal it would be a nice straight seam.

    Now, I know nothing about Necchi machines or broken cam stacks but since you have but $5.00 in it to my way of thinking it's not gonna hurt to try and fix it. I'd try at to at least find the parts, price them out, find a service manual, then decide.

    Here is one thing I might try if and I mean if you can disassemble the cam stack from it's shaft. Clean it till it's sanitary, then degrease it and glue it back together with LocTite Black Max. Then use automotive hose clams to draw the edges together while the Black Max cures. That stuff is the best adhesive I've used. It will glue things that epoxy will not and that super glue will not.

    It's hard to find though and I don't know how the cam stack is made.

    Just thinking out loud.

    Joe

  5. #5
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    thanks for the advice Joe. I havent tried to remove the cam stack yet. im sure its possiable. the machine is otherwise clean enough and turns and moves the way it should. i think the cams are rather expensive though. and im not sure if glueing them would alter the nesacary movement? im not sure what they do? i believe change the stitch right? but it is an idea to consider!
    Proud owner of: Eleanor, a 1896 Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitch Treadle; Tucci, a 1952 Singer Featherweight; my mothers Singer Touch & Sew 758; Brother XR 6060
    1910 Singer 66; Singer 99K Shadow, 1929 Singer 128 (currently w/hand crank)

  6. #6
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    As with all pattern cams or removable cams there is a follower that traces the shape of the cam, then turns it into the pattern via the linkage inside the machine. That machine will have a follower that moves up and down to ride on each different cam.

    It should not matter if it's glued so long as the glue does not block the follower from tracing around the cam or moving up and down.

    Oh and the plastic gear in the lower right of the second picture is also broken.

    Joe

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    It's very likely that the camstack removal and replacement could require retiming of the pendulum swing of the machine. This is not an easy fix for someone not schooled in timing sewing machines and repair. My advice is that you part it out and recoup all of your money. $5 is not much for a lesson learned. This model is prone to having broken gears and camstacks. No glue is going to get it working like it should.

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    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
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    Joe, your eyesight is a lot better than mine. For the life of me, I cannot see where the teeth are broken in the gear in the lower right of the photo.
    As for the camstack, I have read a lot of complaints about broken ones. All I know is that I have seen some that I thought were broken on first sight, that turned out not to be when all other parts were cleaned and lubed. I don't claim to know what the follower does or does not track for each stitch without testing it out. As for glueing, I'm not sure I'm following what Joe is saying; I'm sure that in person you could point it out in a second. There are a few limitations to e-communications, eh?
    I do agree that for a $5 investment, you can afford to experiment a bit. One owner who had a camstack problem just kept it as a straight stitch machine and was happy with that.
    Stephanie in Mena

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    Just a thought...
    I've been looking at Ebay and they are asking ridiculous prices for 544 parts. I would piece it out and you'll make money!!!

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    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanofNJ View Post
    Ouch!! It would have to be love to spend that much.
    Stephanie in Mena

  12. #12
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. I will probably part it out then. How do you advise I do so? There are not too many removable parts on this machine. :P

  13. #13
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by k9dancer View Post
    Joe, your eyesight is a lot better than mine. For the life of me, I cannot see where the teeth are broken in the gear in the lower right of the photo.
    As for the camstack, I have read a lot of complaints about broken ones. All I know is that I have seen some that I thought were broken on first sight, that turned out not to be when all other parts were cleaned and lubed. I don't claim to know what the follower does or does not track for each stitch without testing it out. As for glueing, I'm not sure I'm following what Joe is saying; I'm sure that in person you could point it out in a second. There are a few limitations to e-communications, eh?
    I do agree that for a $5 investment, you can afford to experiment a bit. One owner who had a camstack problem just kept it as a straight stitch machine and was happy with that.
    gear looks cracked by the screw - they don't last long under pressure - part that machine out. Does it have a decent foot control? How about a presser foot? Needle holder? bobbin winder? motor? throat plate? bobbin case? If it has a screw in it it will come off. I think I have learned a lot just taking a junk machine like that apart. You can kind of see how it should go back together as you go along.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  14. #14
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    gear looks cracked by the screw - they don't last long under pressure - part that machine out. Does it have a decent foot control? How about a presser foot? Needle holder? bobbin winder? motor? throat plate? bobbin case? If it has a screw in it it will come off. I think I have learned a lot just taking a junk machine like that apart. You can kind of see how it should go back together as you go along.
    The only parts (that I'm aware of) that is missing is the pedal with cord and the metal bits that go around the free arm and hold the extra bobbins and stuff. Otherwise it has a needle, needle arm, bobbin, bobbin case, all knobs I believe in good condition, it has the sewing machine cover. Etc. so I will part it. But I wasn't sure since im not well informed on what the parts are.

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kittywolf13 View Post
    The only parts (that I'm aware of) that is missing is the pedal with cord and the metal bits that go around the free arm and hold the extra bobbins and stuff. Otherwise it has a needle, needle arm, bobbin, bobbin case, all knobs I believe in good condition, it has the sewing machine cover. Etc. so I will part it. But I wasn't sure since im not well informed on what the parts are.
    I have found that I need to leave the machine in tact. Pull parts off as needed.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

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    As much as I think Necchi is a great machine, this is a clear case of why, under all circumstances (Except perhaps the Bernina's) that we all should stay away from the plastic machines. I feel your pain.

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanofNJ View Post
    As much as I think Necchi is a great machine, this is a clear case of why, under all circumstances (Except perhaps the Bernina's) that we all should stay away from the plastic machines. I feel your pain.
    Tell me about the plastic Bernina machines? I have an old one with plastic gears - I'm scared to use it. Are those ok? Mine is a Favorit - don't remember what numbers. The bobbin goes in from the back - makes sense but seems hard to use.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  18. #18
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Nylon gears last up to 35 years or longer, Miriam. Once replaced, they're good to go for another 35 years. If you're scared to use them, send them to me:> I own a vintage Bernina 830 and many vintage Elnas. A few have a nylon gear or two and I certainly don't consider them plastic machines. This model, Lydia, was prone to problems. One model machine is not representative of all Necchi machines.

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    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    gear looks cracked by the screw - they don't last long under pressure ....................
    Ahh. I thought that was dirt!
    Stephanie in Mena

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    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    Yeah I doubt I would buy another 544 if I came across it. It would mean living with screwdrivers in my purse or pocket! I guess it was a practical monetary change to put plastic in an otherwise sturdy and metal machine. It's a shame really. Even if they last for 35 some years. Still I wouldn't right off the brand as whole. Im not fond of the "one bad apple spoils the batch" mentality.

  21. #21
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    What year was this machine made in? Ballpark guess is OK.
    I personally think $170.00 for a piece of plastic with a rod through it is certifiably INSANE. The manufacturers have to be doing this with full intention that they fail and so that people will not pay the outrageous prices for the replacement parts.

    Which is why I have told my wife NO MORE MACHINES WITH PLASTIC GEARS. Not even another Bernina.

    And some might last 35 years, but others don't. The feed dog gears died on my wife's Singer 538 in less than 10 years of use. Since then they've been replaced twice more. PLASTIC = JUNK.

    Joe

  22. #22
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    What year was this machine made in? Ballpark guess is OK.
    I personally think $170.00 for a piece of plastic with a rod through it is certifiably INSANE. The manufacturers have to be doing this with full intention that they fail and so that people will not pay the outrageous prices for the replacement parts.

    Which is why I have told my wife NO MORE MACHINES WITH PLASTIC GEARS. Not even another Bernina.

    And some might last 35 years, but others don't. The feed dog gears died on my wife's Singer 538 in less than 10 years of use. Since then they've been replaced twice more. PLASTIC = JUNK.

    Joe
    I think it's estimated to be 50 years old give or take. And I agree, I think I want an all metal machine. There's something to be said that my W&G is a 116 and still working perfectly.

  23. #23
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I've got an Alden ZZ machine with 30 + patterns on the dial. Really neat machine with lots of great patterns. By the time you alter the needle position and other settings you can do about 90 + variations on it. I was thrilled with it until I found the cam stack was plastic. Since then I've hardly touched it. When it finally breaks the machine is junk. I can't even find a mention of the brand name ALDEN or an owners manual even. So parts would be a practical impossibility.

    Joe

  24. #24
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Plastic does not equal nylon, Joe. And a new Singer does not equal a vintage Bernina in quality. Nylon gears give a bit and the engineering of the machine may need that slight give whereas metal doesn't have that capability. I don't think it's about saving money on these vintage machines, it's all in the engineering of the machine. If all the internals of the machine are metal except for one gear or nylon cam, there's a reason that goes beyond saving a dollar. Now, the new machines are a different story....

  25. #25
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Candace,

    In this instance, I've got to disagree with you. I've seen way too many things over the years that transitioned from having metal parts to plastic, and yes nylon is a form of plastic, and always the quality and longevity goes down the crapper.

    I will not argue that Berninas are far far better than the machines Singer sells. But the reason for casting plastic parts is cost.
    To machine the cam stack for the Necchi that started this thread from steel would take a major amount of machining, assembly, and fitting. They can create a mold and cast it out of plastic for cheep cheep cheep. Then charge outrageous prices for it. I'll bet that $169.99 cam stack didn't cost any more than $5.00 to make and I'd include the designing and making of the mold as well.

    There are earlier Singers that share the same design yet some use steel gears whereas the other ones use plastic gears. Same exact designs, just the difference in the gears. The reason, cost. A plastic gear ( nylon if you insist ) can be cast for pennies whereas the steel gears must be machined and fitted. That is the bottom line, cost.

    One more thing. Starting in the early 60s American manufacturing went though a rethinking process that cheapened almost everything. Parts that had been previously forged and machined where now stamped or cast. This occurred across American industry from the sewing machine industry to firearms, cars, electric fans, you name it.

    Look at 50s or earlier sewing machine and you'll find machined parts. Rarely will you see a stamped part. Then in the 60s machines went to stamped metal parts and yes, plastic gears. Just pop the top on a "modern" machine and what do you see?
    Everything except rods or shafts will be stamped or plastic. You can stamp metal cheaply and you can cast plastic really cheap.
    It's all cost related. It doesn't matter if it's a Bernina or a Chinese made Singer. Gears are complicated to machine, so they use plastic cos they are cheap.

    Joe

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