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Thread: Singer 66 from 1919: to buy or not to buy

  1. #1
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    Singer 66 from 1919: to buy or not to buy

    I found this girl at my local antique store and I'm not sure if I should purchase it for $50. I'm a new quilter currently using a used Brother XL-3030 that my mom gifted me in college. My Brother doesn't like it when the fabric gets thicker and I'm not able to do a few other projects that require a bit more power either.

    It looks like a red eye Singer 66 electric sewing machine in a nice travel case. I looked up the serial number at it said it was made in 1919. It's missing the cord and foot pedal, so I don't know if the motor works. They are asking $50 for it, but I'm not sure if that is worthwhile or not since 1) I don't know if it works and 2) it's missing parts. It looks to be in pretty good condition. Hand cranking the wheel(?) results in a smooth movement of the machine. A nice person a reddit mentioned verifying the hook moves, but I'm not entirely sure what that means.

    I have until tomorrow afternoon to make up my mind. I could try to talk them down too, but I'm not really sure what it's worth since I was told Singer 66's are pretty common. What do you think? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member vanginney's Avatar
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    I would buy it, but I have learned over the last year how to tune them up. Love the decals! Hope all works out for you. If working it would be a great straight stitch machine. The missing foot & cord & tune up will add to your final price. Good luck.

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    look up sew classic web site, they have cord sets , motors ect....

    66 redeye's may well be the most common, problem is finding one that looks as nice as that one. It looks like it's all there , less the cords..

    guessing by the base that it has a dome top/bentwood.

    The hook, turn the hand wheel and watch around the bobbin, you see movment , google singer 66 hook , you see what it looks like...

    That has the old singer motor on it, there low power by todays standards, you will have to buy the cords and pedal for a few more $$ there are cord pedal, motor sets ,, giving you the updated type motor with as much as twice the power.. check the amp rating, I think the old motor on that is something like .46 amps , I see the sets with .90 and 1,0 amp motors. You may know this, that machine will pop right in a treadle or can be handcranked, you'll see those on that web site also...

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    I like it! It's pretty, and you cant beat the quality of the machine. Of course with something as old as this gal is putting in that bit of extra $$ will yield years and years of good usage. She was made to sew for years with a possibility of being there for future generations. If i were you, i would buy it. but thats me i love the old machined.

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    Nice. Thank you very much for the advice. I'm going to see if I can talk them down a bit due to the money I will have to put in it, but I'm glad to hear that it looks like a high quality machine. I don't have room for a treadle right now, but I would love to modify it eventually. I've always wanted one of these old Singers

    In other news, I saw a White Rotary at another antique store for $33 that HAD its cables/manuals in a travel case. I don't have any shots of that because the store was about to close, but I had never heard of that one before. Thoughts?

  6. #6
    Super Member quiltjoey's Avatar
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    I think the Red Eye is a little high in price as it apparently doesn't work in the condition it is in. I would look up the costs of foot pedal, new belt, motor, attachments, etc. to determine if I wanted to put all the extra money into it. I think you could find one with most of that stuff if you just keep looking. imho...

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    You are right, quiltjoey. If the motor doesn't work it's going to cost more than the purchase price to repair it.

  8. #8
    Super Member jlhmnj's Avatar
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    Hi,

    New and used motors, controllers, cords can be gotten fairly inexpensively on ebay or the internet sewing supplies like sew-classic. The expensive part will enter in if you have to take the machine in to be serviced. Many enthusiasts have tons of good controllers and motors from hand crank conversions. Good chance the motor is fine, like the machines they were built to last though check the little bit of wiring carefully. Never hurts to negotiate and hem and haw about all the money it will cost to fix up

    Jon

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    It's an early 66-1 or 66-3 back clamper. Notice that the presser foot attaches from the back. Only early 66s used this type of shank. These feet are hard to find and pricey, but you may have a good selection in the accessories box. I think I see a quilting foot and a guide bar, part of the binder, the adjustable hemmer in two pieces (might be fixable), parts of a tucker. I think there's more but I can't see.

    A lot of people convert back-clampers to side-clampers by swapping out the presser bar with that from a side-clamping 66. I've seen the parts for sale. Another option is an adapter that screws onto the presser bar mount. If you convert it you can use the readily available side clamping feet and attachments. You're not going to find a back-clamping zig zag attachment or buttonholer -- they don't exist. But if you're not buying the machine for that purpose it doesn't matter.

    This machine was originally a treadle or a hand-crank that was electrified. Check out the leather belt! Early! It doesn't seem to have been used much because belts don't last that long. The motor is an original singer, and might be good, or it might not. It's .6 amps, which may be adequate. An aficionado would convert this machine to a hand crank or treadle, as oneday said. Original hand cranks are hard to find but Chinese replicas are available for under $20, and I've heard they work well. (Check out sew-classic) And it's very easy to take the motor off and put a hand crank on. BUT, if you want to convert to hand crank, verify that the motor is attached to a "boss", and not just drilled into the pillar. The hand crank boss is a little protrusion from the pillar that is cast in the metal. I'm pretty sure I see it but I'm not positive. I think Sew-classic has the cords and controller if you want to use this motor. You could also ask her advice on whether to buy a new motor & controller all together or replace the cords and controller. Lately I've been pricing attachments and feet and she has great prices.

    The decals are great, but I see some "crazing" and I'm not sure what that means. The machine has been well protected in it's case.

    I think a collector who doesn't have a red-eye machine would buy this and convert it to hand-crank, and probably leave it as a back clamper. But that collector has more than one machine.

    Keep in mind that any thrift shop machine you buy is going to need some tlc (cleaning, oiling, lubing at the least) because it has probably been sitting unused for decades. It's a bit of a project and not everyone is into it. But the craftsmanship and quality of the old machines doesn't exist today. You can find the threading diagram online and actually try to sew a few stitches, but if the tension discs need polishing it might give you trouble. It's a little hard to tell from the pics if there is corrosion or rust in that area.

    Also, I would want to check underneath for rust, but one of the hinge pins has come out of the base, and that needs attention. If you try to tilt the machine back you might damage the wood. The way it is the top will not fit back on the base. It looks like you'll have to carefully put the hinge back into the wood (you'll need two people, I think -- one to hold the machine and the other to fiddle with the hinge) and then figure out how to fix it later.

    Wow, am I long winded! In short, I think the value is there. Heck the feet are probably worth the price-- if you just need the straight stitch foot you could sell the rest and possibly get your money back! If you like tinkering and you're up for the project, and are willing to put more money into it for the controller/motor or hand crank, go for it. It doesn't hurt to try to get the price reduced.
    --Sheila

    PS - Okay, I know I've written a ton already, but I just looked at the pics again and it looks like the presser foot doesn't exactly line up with the feed dogs (in your pic labelled "bobbin"). It could just be the angle of the picture but check that out before you buy. Could be that the foot just needs to be screwed on more tightly. If the presser bar is bent or twisted and it's causing the foot to be crooked, well then you'd definitely want to convert it to a side-clamper, and hope that fixes it.

  10. #10
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    If it works it is less expensive than ONE visit to your service man with your newer machine. It WILL work as long as it isn't all rusted up... even then those old machines can be revived it's even a lot of fun doing so.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    I agree it's fun. Miriam, what do you think of the presser food/feed dog alignment? Does it look off to you?
    Sheila

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    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I would buy it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheluma View Post
    Also, I would want to check underneath for rust, but one of the hinge pins has come out of the base, and that needs attention.
    I wiggled the hinge pin back into place while I was there and it didn't look rusty underneath. The area from which I found this machine can get very hot in the summer (it was 115 recently) - do you think that would cause some of the crazing if stored in a place without temp control?

    I'm not a collector, so I'd likely be wanting to use this for quilting and some other basic home decor projects. Fixing this up myself does sound like a really cool project. I have always loved tinkering and figuring things out.

    I'll double check the presser foot when I go back today to haggle.

  14. #14
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    Heat would definitely be a potential cause of that kind of crazing.

    The good news is members here have posted detailed instructions on how you can fix that yourself and in some cases bring them back to almost new looking. Good luck!

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    If you like tinkering and figuring things out, then you will love it. There are lots of resources to help you, on this board and elsewhere. If you didn't like tinkering, it might be cost prohibitive to have it serviced in a shop. And I've heard that SM shops sometimes mess up old machines.

    I don't know about heat and the crazing. I don't have enough experience to know, but the machine has been protected for decades in that case, and it's possible that the clear coat is gone in places and the decals might wear off as you use it. I'm just talking out of my hat on that. The decals might last a lifetime. You could use this machine with a hand crank and a motor. If your power goes out, you can take off the motor and put on the hand crank and sew. It just takes a screwdriver and a couple of minutes. You can take it camping or sew outside on nice day. It is more challenging to sew with one hand while cranking with the other, though. Good luck! --Sheila

  16. #16
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheluma View Post
    If your power goes out, you can take off the motor and put on the hand crank and sew. It is more challenging to sew with one hand while cranking with the other, though. Good luck! --Sheila
    The only two thing I am on different ground on are these.

    The handcrank and the motor bracket can almost always be mounted at the same time, so you only need to pop off the belt.

    Most everyone who has tried the handcranks at our "Victorian Sweatshop" shows go into it believing it will be harder and then find out that after a couple minutes of practice it really is just as easy. In fact, my DD prefers the handcrank now for more control.

    my .02

  17. #17
    Senior Member Vridar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kezzali View Post
    Fixing this up myself does sound like a really cool project. I have always loved tinkering and figuring things out.
    Buy it! You'll have more than $50 worth of fun and pride in the machine when done. If nothing else, leave it out on display and hide your Brother to impress people like me.

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    I would buy it in a heartbeat.

  19. #19
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    The feet are just a little off but it can be turned. Joe has posted some about turning them. The foot will not have the 'give' the newer spring loaded feet will have.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  20. #20
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
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    I love sewing with my 1916 Singer 66 red eye. My machine works nicely in my Singer/Elgin treadle. It is what I've heard termed a Frankentreadle, has a Singer top and Elgin treadle irons.
    Sharon
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  21. #21
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Frankentreadle works for me. I have one for my 401G. It is the top off a clone table on Singer irons.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
    The only two thing I am on different ground on are these.

    The handcrank and the motor bracket can almost always be mounted at the same time, so you only need to pop off the belt.
    Steve, That's great news! I've never tried it, but I couldn't picture it. The OP's machine (I hope she bought it!) has the motor terminal mounted on the boss -- could a hand crank fit on there too? Maybe with a little modification? I confess I am talking out of my hat because I only recently acquired a hand crank and it's still at a friend's house so I haven't sewn with it much. It is so much fun, though!

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    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    The feet are just a little off but it can be turned. Joe has posted some about turning them. The foot will not have the 'give' the newer spring loaded feet will have.
    Very interesting. I'm new to this board and am looking forward to learning a lot here! I haven't sewn much with my back-clamper yet, but I was thinking that the only reason I might get the side-clamp adaptor would be so that I could use a hinged presser foot. But this one might serve me fine -- not sure yet.

  24. #24
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    here is the Singer 99 we rigged up this way and shipped to Afghanistan for a soldier student of mine.

    Name:  Kevins Machine 2.jpg
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    Name:  Kevins Machine.jpg
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    Sadly, they wouldn't haggle in price very much. I'm going to wait until the right machine comes along.

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