Sad Kenmore 117-552

Old 03-09-2023, 04:04 PM
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Default Sad Kenmore 117-552

Yesterday a friend gave me this machine. It had been sitting out in the rain for months. I applied kero, oil, and got it turning. Downloaded the manual. Threaded it as best as I could following the manual. The upper thread tension device is a nightmare, and threading it isn't possible the way it is shown in the manual, so I had to use tweezers, needle nose pliers and 20 minutes to get the thread in the way it is shown in the manual. I tried a few stitches by turning the hand wheel (away from me, CW as the manual suggests) and get massive loops underneath.

So I decided to take my life in my hands and put a plug on the wire. Risking fire or blown fuses, the motor actually ran without the drive wheel on. So I put it on, took the thread out, and ran it empty. It struggles to run, needs help starting, and hammers pretty bad when the needle bar comes to the top. Loud.

Is anyone versed in these machines? Is it worth trying to revive? Any one interested in parts?
Attached Thumbnails cab-552.jpg   back-552.jpg   upper-tension-552.jpg  

Last edited by Joe Ayres; 03-09-2023 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 03-09-2023, 06:29 PM
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That is so sad. It looks like at one time it was one of the nicer cabinets. There have been some woodworkers that have re-laminated some of these old cabinets. However, the laminate available now is generally thinner than what was on these cabinets.

The machine itself looks to be in fairly decent condition.
Originally Posted by Joe Ayres
...The upper thread tension device is a nightmare, and threading it isn't possible the way it is shown in the manual, so I had to use tweezers, needle nose pliers and 20 minutes to get the thread in the way it is shown in the manual. I tried a few stitches by turning the hand wheel (away from me, CW as the manual suggests) and get massive loops underneath....
Yes, they can be a little fiddly and not the best instructions and diagrams. I had to read the instructions several times, but once you get it to click - both figuratively & actually - it really isn't that hard. It seems that after you go down and back up, if you take the end piece of thread and hold thread above and below the whole assembly and pull toward the front of the machine it will pull it into the little spring. Clear as mud, probably. I'm not sure I explained that right. There is a picture of my White threaded with crochet thread to make it more visible Need help But I think once it is place, it will probably sew better.
Originally Posted by Joe Ayres
...So I decided to take my life in my hands and put a plug on the wire. Risking fire or blown fuses, the motor actually ran without the drive wheel on. So I put it on, took the thread out, and ran it empty. It struggles to run, needs help starting, and hammers pretty bad when the needle bar comes to the top. Loud. ....
Besides probably needing some good oiling it will probably need the friction pulley replaced. They are available.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sewing-mach...2/383702102739 What happens is the motor is sitting on the hand wheel when stored in the cabinet and it develops a flat spot that shouldn't be there. Some have put something between the machine and motor to make sure the pulley isn't touching the hand wheel when the machine is stored.

Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
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Last edited by OurWorkbench; 03-09-2023 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 03-10-2023, 09:59 AM
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I have had a half a dozen or so of these 117 series machines, and in my opinion they're worth saving...the machine that is, I've not seen a table that bad and it would be scrapped if here.

Because of the finish, I have used degreasers to clean the machines, after removing what I am comfortable removing, has worked fine as long as I don't scrub too hard. You'll want to service the motor, not just changing the drive wheel, but they clean up pretty easily. The nose piece is held on with two bolts and is worth removing to clean up inside, takes some lining up with a needle when you put it back on before tightening it up.

Once you learn the trick to threading it's pretty easy, I learned using a White Rotary manual as White made these machines for Sears.

If you decide to part it out, please message me.
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Old 03-10-2023, 10:27 AM
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Here's a photo of the upper threading page from a 117 manual. Hopefully it is clear enough to be helpful.
Attached Thumbnails 20230310_122157.jpg  
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Old 03-10-2023, 12:36 PM
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Default Upper thread feeding

Note the spring. There is no opening in the triangle that is at the head of the spring. (5) I have tried to get the thread into it, no luck. I finally got it through there with tweezers, pliers and an awl. What confuses me is how the thread is supposed to go around the hook (4) at the bottom under the spring, and go up through the spring at all! I assumed the spring was bent closed, and even tried to open it a little without success. I didn't want to break anything!

Joe Jr, If I decide to get rid of the machine, do you want it?
Attached Thumbnails kenmore-552-tension.jpg  

Last edited by Joe Ayres; 03-10-2023 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Wasn't finished editing it
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Old 03-10-2023, 12:56 PM
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Here are two pictures, the first is with the thread around hook #4 (from the threading diagram) before pulling it up into the check spring.

While holding the thread from the top, so you don't pull more off the spool, pull up and over to the right slightly on the thread, it will snap into the triangle on the check spring and then go over the upper hook (obscured by the wire guard in the second photo), then follow the remaining steps in the threading instructions.

I am messaging you separately.
Attached Thumbnails 20230310_144442.jpg   20230310_144544.jpg  
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Old 03-10-2023, 01:15 PM
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Default That triangle

It looks to me from your pictures that the triangle has a gap at the top, narrow, but maybe the thread would fit through there. The triangle on the machine I have does not have a gap, and no matter how hard I tried to get a thread to snap in, it wouldn't. I had to thread it through there manually.. It should go into the eye of the triangle, right?
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Old 03-10-2023, 01:39 PM
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Yes, the thread should "snap" into the eye of the triangle on the check spring when you pull upwards on the thread. If you're comfortable doing so, you can try opening up the top of the triangle just a bit to make a gap for the thread.
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Old 03-12-2023, 09:08 AM
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you have not mentioned taking off the faceplate assembly and oiling the needlebar and presser bar. It is a tricky job and getting it back together is not fun. There is a connecting rod that is not tied down and is tricky to align when you put it back together. but if it is noisy, it would probably be a good idea to open and oil. Have a camera ready. I used tweezers to thread min the first time or two.
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Old 03-21-2023, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by leonf
you have not mentioned taking off the faceplate assembly and oiling the needlebar and presser bar. It is a tricky job and getting it back together is not fun. There is a connecting rod that is not tied down and is tricky to align when you put it back together. but if it is noisy, it would probably be a good idea to open and oil. Have a camera ready. I used tweezers to thread min the first time or two.
You are right, it is a little tricky getting that connecting rod back on. It's attached to the needle bar, and the needle bar rotates with the con rod disconnected. A good balancing act. I oiled things up, put it back together, and now it sews, still noisy, but a halfway decent stitch. It is interesting working on these old machines!
Attached Thumbnails open-head.jpg   open-faceplate.jpg  
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