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Thread: Plastic .... dontcha just love it ...... NOT!

  1. #1
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Plastic .... dontcha just love it ...... NOT!

    Since we have accumulated way to many sewing machines we've started working with each one to see which contributes to what we need to do, or which give us satisfaction just to have and use it.

    A couple weeks ago I pulled out our Singer 413 and looked it over. The motor was kinda cranky. My local SMG said to take the belt off and run it wide open for a while. He also said to clean the brushes and commutator with lighter fluid and then run it again. Well, I did run it WOT and I did clean the brushes and commutator. But not with lighter fluid.
    It ran better. Made wonderful stitches too. Well balanced tension.
    I used it to sew some batting for my treadle machine quilt cover. Used Gigantafooticus to sew over the batting.
    Worked beautifully.

    We just about decided to put it up for sale and I asked my wife to use it to sew one of the shopping bags she's making to sell. She said it worked great. No problems at all. Even commented on how nice the tension was.

    Then all of a sudden she said something like "What's going on?". We looked and the needle wasn't picking up the bobbin thread. Then I saw the bobbin hook wasn't turning. Oh oh. Pulled it out of the case, took the bottom off and was really hoping for a broken belt. No such luck. Traced the problem to a broken plastic gear at the top of the vertical shaft that drives the cogged wheel that the belt that drives the other cogged wheel that runs the bobbin hook runs on.

    No noise, nothing. Wife just stopped to rearrange her material and when she started again, nothing.

    Nuts!!! I guess it's not fit to sell anymore.

    The good part of the story.

    My wife has a cranky Singer 538 that quit working. It's actually the very first sewing machine she bought with her own money so it has sentimental as well as functional value. Over the years she's used it to death. Literally to the point it just quit working.

    Some time back I replaced the fiber thrust washer on the left end of the main shaft with a new polymer (plastic) snap in one. That way you don't have to remove the entire main shaft and re-time everything.
    The machine worked beautifully for about 3 minutes then went bang, bang, clackty clack and the satin and stretch stitches quit working.

    I downloaded and printed a parts book for the machine and as I was looking at it found there should be two springs on the top right working with the reverse and cam drive linkage. One was missing. Don't know if it broke and sprung off as I was working on it, or if someone else just didn't put it back on, or what, but it was gone.
    The 314 uses much of the same linkage. Had the same spring. I took it out and put it in the 538. Readjusted a few things. Straightened a bent linkage stop and now the machine works again. The plastic cam drive gear is well worn, but it works.

    So, the moral of the story is ..... ( you all know this ) - stay the heck away from 400 or later series Singers. They are junque.

    So, now I have another machine to really fix. Our 338 uses the same design gears, I'm gonna find out if there are interchangeable. Cos those in the 338 are STEEL. They probably wont though.

    Joe
    Last edited by J Miller; 05-28-2012 at 03:55 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    I have to disagree! I like my 403, my 437, and my 500...none of them are junk, they are all machines that have nice stitches and work well.

    On the other hand...there are some that I don't have much use for!
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

    http://charleeturner.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Perhaps I used the work "junk" out of frustration. I guess they do sew nice stitches. However they do have plastic gears that have a tendency to die. Something the metal gears don't do.

    Joe

  4. #4
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    533 rescued on its way to the dumpster sews a wonderful straight stitch but clunks if asked to ZZ. My granddaughter has it and has been told to use it as it is unless her stepfather (my son) wants to deal with it. I don't. 639 Touch and Sew may become a Touch and Throw. The black metal spring that holds the bobbin holder in place isn't seating right and doing its job. I want this one to sew badly, but so far no luck. The 1978 MW (made by Juki) sews wonderfully, both SS and ZZ. So I'm batting 500 here. 1 1/2 out of three plastic machines are functional. All my metal machines do exactly what they are supposed to.

  5. #5
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    irishrose,

    RE: The clunking 533.

    The Singers of that era seem to use the same basic linkage for the cam drive. Our 413 uses almost the identical linkage as the 538. So much so that when we had the tops off of both of them the 413 let us see some damaged and missing parts in the 538.

    I just checked my exploded drawings and the 533 is very similar to the 538, even using the same parts book. When our 538 is set for satin or stretch stitches a separate follower rides on the top half of the white cams. It's a solid finger kind of part and when it rides off of the back side of the cam lobe the linkage clunks loudly. My wife thinks it's caused by the worn cam drive gear but I'm of the opinion it's in the linkage.
    When you run it on the black cams it uses a different follower with a rounded wheel like finger and it doesn't clunk near as much.

    So have your granddaughter try different ZZ settings and perhaps take the top off the machine and watch what clunks as you sew with it. You can lay the top on a shelf or box behind the machine and the top tension will still work.

    Also if she does not have an owners manual, have her get one, or get one for her. The controls for the stretch stitches are sorta complicated and if you set them wrong the machines will get upset and throw a tantrum.

    Give me a while and I'll get some pics of our 538 and post them.

    Joe
    Last edited by J Miller; 05-29-2012 at 04:14 AM.

  6. #6
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    Perhaps I used the work "junk" out of frustration. I guess they do sew nice stitches. However they do have plastic gears that have a tendency to die. Something the metal gears don't do.
    Joe
    As a complete novice this is startling news to me! We gave my daughters a Singer 401A and a Singer 500, thinking they were all metal and would last ages. I didn't see any plastic gears while cleaning, oiling and lubricating them...but didn't dare to take the machines completely apart. Are they hidden deeper inside?

    Good luck getting your wife's beloved but cranky 538 back in the game!

  7. #7
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I don't know about all 401A's but ours is almost all metal. The only non metal part in it is the gear on the back of the hand wheel. And that's a fiber gear rather than plastic. I have seen them listed for many different machines though and the replacements are plastic.

    I suspect the 500 will have some plastic in it, but we don't have one, so I won't swear to it.


    The 538 is back up and running. A bit noisier than normal but it's working. It does need the cam drive gear replaced and I'll get to that as soon as I can.

    Joe

  8. #8
    Super Member jlhmnj's Avatar
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    You can see the metal or plastic gears by simply opening the top and bottom covers. The Singer 600 Touch and Sew was about the last of the metal gears. The later T&S had plastic. Sort of confusing because a smaller model number doesn't always mean an earlier machine, so you have to know or research the model. The plastic gears are solely a cost saving measure and are only junk 40 years later after a long life when they start to fall apart. (sort of like myself)

    I've always liked the Class 15 action which does away with the bevel gears.

    Jon
    Last edited by jlhmnj; 05-29-2012 at 10:23 AM.

  9. #9
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, 40 years is a bit optimistic on those plastic gears. My wife's 538 has been shedding plastic gear teeth since it was around 10 years old. And she bought it brand new. The problem is, she USES the machine. It's not just an underwear repair machine. She's made crafts, clothes, a vinal seat for my PU, a head liner for our Buick,
    and only God knows what else.
    Twer the gears steel, that would have never happened.

    I agree on the Class 15 design. Right good work there.

    Joe

  10. #10
    Super Member jlhmnj's Avatar
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    My first experiences and only with plastic gears was with two Singer T&S model 628 and 648, late 60's vintage. I was pretty happy to get both for $10 and they both looked fine. I busted up a gear on each one as soon as each started running. Never fooled with plastic gears again. I figure there are too many good machines to be had cheaply and life is too short to fool with them. An exception to this is a machine with family history or for the experience of replacing gears.

    On the flip side, there are Singers and some others with all metal gears but are poorly designed or have weak internal motors which I would avoid.

    Jon

  11. #11
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Yep, no arguments from me. The 538 is the wifes first machine, it will stay. The 413 will be a learning tool, then if I'm successful it will be sent down the road.
    And I'm in agreement with you, I'm not gonna mess with any more machines that have plastic gears.

    Which Singers are poorly designed and or have the week motors? I've probably already got one, but I'll avoid them if I know ahead of time.

    Joe

    PS; my wife is in her sewing area making grocery bags. Sewing up a storm with her old 538. Happy as can be.

  12. #12
    Super Member jlhmnj's Avatar
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    Didn't care for my 206 and 327 or 328. My preference is to avoid Singer's with timing belts, though many work great. I try to stick with the Classics that are available in my area----15, 66, 99, 127, 128, 201, 301, 401. I've found these models I can easily sell, are very simple to work on, and relatively trouble free.

    Jon

  13. #13
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Jon,

    Sounds like good advise to me.

    Joe

  14. #14
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    Joe, don't worry about the pictures for the 533. I don't have access to the machine and it won't be here until mid June when my GD comes to stay. She will be fine with a SS machine at 13 years old. She made an entire quilt on it with the exception of the FMQ - she used my 301 for that. Her father said she couldn't bring it home until it had a thread jam so she could learn how to fix that as he works on the road and her mother doesn't sew. It never once jammed. Yes, I have been able to get her a manual through the generosity of a board member.

  15. #15
    Super Member ccthomas's Avatar
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    Plastic. I totally agree. I just had the even feed plastic hook to break off. I just got a new one. I was putting the machine back in the sewing cabinet. I heard and saw something flying off the sewing machine. It is a PLASTIC presser foot "lifter." Somehow it broke off and flew across the room...calling today to see if this can be repaired.
    Carol

  16. #16
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    Love this discussion. I tell all my sewing friends to only buy an all metal vintage machine, because the new ones have so much plastic they could pass through a metal detector without setting it off!

  17. #17
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    It's not just an underwear repair machine.
    LOL!
    I enjoy reading your posts Joe, because you have such a humorous way of turning phrases!

  18. #18
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    The Singer 3810 we traded for has a plastic shell on it. Under that a cast light weight aluminum frame and inside of that all the workings.
    All the drive gears are plastic
    Many of the stitch controls, levers, nobs, gears, sliders, are plastic.
    Some of the parts in the needle area are plastic.
    The stitch length parts are plastic.
    The bobbin carrier is plastic.

    It has just enough metal to hold it together and function and I'm sure if they could figure out how to make that out of plastic they'd do it.

    This machines only saving grace is that it stitches very nicely.

    Joe

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