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  • Recommendations for a tough simple vintage machine

    Old 09-23-2016, 05:47 AM
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    Default Recommendations for a tough simple vintage machine

    Good Morning All,
    My questions have nothing to do with Quilting but I am looking for a vintage Japan Built sewing machine. I found this board and the very interesting threads on Japan Built vintage machines, which I have read through several times. I may even start to collect some 15 clones as I find them fascinating.
    I've also been learning about cleaning and oiling from this board so I hope to do my own maintenance.

    The reason I am hear is my hobby is sailing and I am starting to sew some covers for my boat using Sunbrella material. I was pointed to a Kenmore 158 series machine to start and bought a Kenmore 10 158-12521 model. It has been working well but I wonder if if there is a better vintage machine for my tasks.

    Here is what I am looking for:
    Straight Stitch only - I was told that SS machines have the adjustment pinned so they do not go out of timing as easily as a SS/ZZ machine would when sewing tough materials.
    1 amp or more motor - I will be sewing up to 6 layers of sunbrella material and need punch the punch through factor . Maybe equal to demin material?
    Slow Speed - My Kenmore has a 2 belt system for speed reduction. I find that easier to sew with then the a vintage Brother SS machine or another older Kenmore machine I have tried. Both have external motors with single belt drives and they are hard to sew slowly.
    Lastly, I would like a longer stitch length than the what seems to be 4mm standard that these home machines have. I did read one post where someone commented on their vintage machine as doing a very long stitch.

    The alternative of course is to get a more industrial model but thought I would ask this community if they knew of a vintage machine that might meet my requirements, or most of them anyway.

    Best Regards,

    Ward
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    Old 09-23-2016, 07:32 AM
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    Random thoughts.... If you want a longer stitch you will need an industrial. That Kenmore should have a fairly long stitch for a home machine. I wouldn't spend much money on one though. Some zz machines have a kind of long stitch but you also need a bigger needle than your home machine can drive through the needle hole. Sunbrella isn't terribly heavy. If you are only making one item you might find a beater vintage machine and throw it out when you ruin it. Or you might simply have to have an extra throat plate to replace one that gets knawed by a needle. 6 layers is not your only issue, you also have to consider how much weight you are pulling through. Most vintage machines will go through 6 layers. Thread needs to match needle size or you will be shredding. You can do it on a vintage machine but your best results will be a vintage industrial set up for heavy threads. If you buy an industrial high speed machine you are wasting time and money. Some Japanese machines came with bigger than 1 amp motors. I use a 1.5 amp motor on my ugly beater 15-75 for speed but I don't have room to ream out the needle hole on the throat plate to use a bigger needle. I got a Davis VF treadle thinking it might do heavy stuff. It will but the stitches weren't long enough to suit me. For anything that is going to take high winds you really do want your stitches long. I don't know where you live but some times vintage industrial machines come up on CL. They could be run off a home motor if it is big enough. You might put a servo motor on one. Build your won box or table for it. A guy bought a long bobbin machine from me to keep on his sailboat in case he needed to mend. It likely worked fine. If you are using sunguard thread you will need at least a 20 needle size and that is too big for your hole. The small hole will shred thread.

    I'm thinking victoriansweatshop forum has a discussion of vintage industrial machines.

    Last edited by miriam; 09-23-2016 at 07:43 AM.
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    Old 09-23-2016, 11:36 AM
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    I'm thinking any model 15 will do very well, as long as a basic low shank has enough space under the presser foot, it will handle anything. Speed control varies a lot from machine to machine, I have a belt driven 201 I am very happy with (single belt external motor in the back), basic button bakelite controler and speed regulation is fine.

    15 clones turn up all the time, I'm sure one or two will turn up in your area withing a week. If you are interested in model 15 and it's derivatives, you should include two Americam made ones too, 15-91 and an early model 15 with out the reverse lever. They are very nice points of referance to any other make. Issues with speed control can usually be sorted out with either adjustment of the old or getting a new. These old straight stitchers get very far with the basic motor, noticeably more so than zigzaggers for some reason, and there's always the option to fit it with a stronger motor.

    Pfaff 30s are quite strong too, they have motor with more amps than the basic 15 clone, but alas, not Japanese.

    Last edited by Mickey2; 09-23-2016 at 11:41 AM.
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    Old 09-23-2016, 02:16 PM
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    Small problems, Mickey. The thread usually used for sunbrella fabrics is thicker than what should be use on the biggest needle on a home machine, an 18, plus heavy thread tends to shred on the throat plate hole. The stitch should be longer that the machines you mentioned are able to sew for material that is going to be under stress. Sails have to take a lot of stress. IT REALLY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW STURDY THE MACHINE OR MOTOR MIGHT BE.

    Last edited by miriam; 09-23-2016 at 02:27 PM.
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    Old 09-23-2016, 03:45 PM
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    I agree Miriam, sail canvas is out of domestic machine range, it's just too thick, luckily there are very intersting vintage industrials :- )

    Sunbrella is well within what my 201 does, and top stitch thread has been strong enough for my purposes (garden upholstery). I have inserted up to size #22 needle on my cast iron Singers (66 and 201) they take it with no problem. The later 50s models were made with a stitch plate with a slightly smaller needle hole for some reason (at least it looks like that from the 201s I've had my hands on) still I think they take up to size #21 (The green user manual for my 201 lists thread and needle recomendations up to 21, as well as the leaflet for my 1955 aluminium 201K. The pre 1950s models were made in time when polyester thread wasn't available, and they needed a thicker cotton or linen thread to get a durable seam. Models introduced post 1950 usually have the limit of #18, and this gives the old cast iron models an advantage thread wise. I have Schmetz sharp point size 19 needeles and size 20 leather tip, but the large 21 and 22 I have only found in a Chinese made brand, quality isn't as refined as Schmetz, but generally very acceptable.
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    Old 09-24-2016, 12:06 PM
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    Have heard of using Pfaff 130 for sewing sails. Very heavy, strong machine. Was made in Germany in the 1950's.
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    Old 09-25-2016, 04:37 AM
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    Keep your eye out for a used Sailrite machine.
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    Old 09-25-2016, 08:29 AM
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    Originally Posted by vschieve
    Have heard of using Pfaff 130 for sewing sails. Very heavy, strong machine. Was made in Germany in the 1950's.
    I have heard this also.

    I recently discovered Sailrite's YouTube channel and love their machines and tutes. Looking for a Sailrite machine is a good suggestion since they are made for your task.
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    Old 09-25-2016, 11:47 AM
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    Thanks for all the responses.
    It will be a while before I will be working on any sails so for now I am concentrating on vintage home machines. When I am ready to do sail work I will most likely go with a Sailrite or used industrial machine. The Pfaff 130 and Sailrite LSZ-1 are on my CL search list.
    My research so far and Sailrite.com, says the largest needle and thread combination that works well in a home machine is V69 UV Resistant Polyester with a #18 needle. Sailrite.com told me that I should be able to handle all the marine cushion/cover projects in their tutorials with my Kenmore. I've read comments that projects sewn with the heavier V92 thread may last a few years longer. If the outdoor covers sewn with V69 don't hold up or I am sewing for others, that will justify the higher costs of an industrial machine.

    So for now, I am looking for a good SS vintage machine.

    I was under the impression that the post war 15 clones were actually better machines and normally had 1amp or larger motors vs the pre war Singer 15-XX machines. Not true? I will add that to my CL searches. A 201 looks like it would be a good choice too. Another one for the search list.
    If I'm not careful I may end up with a fleet of machines.

    Many thanks everyone.
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    Old 09-25-2016, 01:18 PM
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    Pfaff 30 is a straight stitcher, perfect for the heavier jobs, a notch or two stronger than the average model 15, and the 201. My impression is that the later 15 clones are nice machines, but generally not noticeably stronger than the old Singer 15s. The Japanese made clones I get here are sometimes fitted with a UK made motor and lights. I think there must have been some sort of tax on electrical goods during the 50s that made it cheaper to import machines and set them up with motor and lights once they arrived. These motor setups are often slightly stronger, but it's difficult to generalize. Pfaff 30 has the strongest motor of these, the same for some of the old straight stitch Husqvarnas I've seen.

    Last edited by Mickey2; 09-25-2016 at 01:21 PM.
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