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Some newbie questions about vintage Singer machines

Some newbie questions about vintage Singer machines

Old 08-16-2021, 07:28 AM
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Default Some newbie questions about vintage Singer machines

I've never really used a sewing machine before and really want to learn, and I want to learn on a vintage Singer.

My plan is to get one in running condition and try to learn as I go with servicing it, cleaning it up, etc. Looking at fully restored ones but also ok getting one that just runs and teaching myself how to service and change parts.


After some research I think I've narrowed it down to either the 66, 201-2 or 99. I just want a basic, straight stitch machine. Ideally one that can sew denim and canvas well.


A few questions:


1. As a beginner, should I avoid machines with belts and definitely go with the 201?

2. For some of these machines, the model tag on them will read with a dash after it (201- for example). Does that just mean it's a regular 201 or does the dash denote some kind of model?

3. Can/should vintage power cords be plugged into a surge protector or is it safer to test in a regular grounded outlet?

4. Can all of these Singer machines technically be used without a base? I see quite a few without a base and when pricing them I'm just curious if buying a base is absolutely necessary.


I'm sure I'll have more questions as I go, but I really appreciate any input as I get started.
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Old 08-16-2021, 07:52 AM
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welcome aboard.

1 belts are fine. They made millions and still are.
2.Model dash denotes some type of change. and many models have the dashes without telling you. ( part of the game)

3.I like to use surge protectors. Especially on machine with questionable wiring. Always turn off or unplug power to the beasties.

4. NO, Some of the drive parts rest on a table if put directly on them. An easy test for that is to put them on a table, turn the hand wheel and watch under the base to see if conflict happens.

Feel free to conitnue with the questions. All three you are looking at are great machines.
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Old 08-16-2021, 07:55 AM
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What do want to sew? I see that you have chosen all horizontal bobbin machines and was curious as to why. Those are all good straight stitch machines. The 66 & 201 are full size machines, whereas the 99 is what is considered 3/4 sized.

1. The ones with belts are fine for a beginner.
2. I don't know why there isn't a number after the dash, other than that the basic tag could be made and then depending on whether the customer wanted to have the so-called sub model as to whether it was a hand crank, treadle or belted motor. The 201-2 is the machine with a potted motor. There were 201s that could be treadled, hand cranked or had a belted motor.
3. I'm not sure, but I would suggest a surge protector - After checking the condition of the cord and replacing if necessary. Some will rewire no matter what.
4. No not all machines can be used without a base, as it will interfere with under workings of the machine. Depending on what you want to sew, a cabinet or table would be preferred. A base or case will sit up above the surface it is on and sometimes have a tendency to scoot ( or at least the modern machines do). Also a flat surface that is even with the bed is preferred to minimize the drag on the fabric through the machine.

I see Leon has posted, before I finished. I agree with him.

Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
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Old 08-16-2021, 08:00 AM
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1. I assume you're talking about a 201 with a potted motor; my opinion would be the opposite, unless the 201 you're looking at has had the motor completely rewired and serviced. I've done a few potted motors and am not a big fan on servicing them, I'd much rather take apart a regular external motor; external motors for a 66 or 99 are much more easily replaced/upgraded. There are no upgraded motors available for a 201/potted motor that I am aware of.

2. I have found this site useful for explaining the different model variations https://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/

3. If the wiring is good then you can plug it into a regular outlet, but do not leave it plugged in unless you are using it. Unless it's been modified these machines will not have grounded or polarized plugs which means the electrical parts could be cooking while it sits there plugged in; if you're testing one always test it in a power strip with some type of circuit breaker built into it, in fact I would always use one in such a power strip even if the wiring is all fine; I have a small inverter than runs off my 18v power tool batteries and I use that for testing

4. The three you're mentioning, 99, 66, 201, would need a base or a table (although I think you might be able to get away with sitting a 201 directly on a surface, it's been a while since I've had one); the undersides of the machines are open and if you keep them lubricated as you should then you will be dripping oil on whatever is underneath the machine

For sewing the heavier materials you're talking about I would lean in the direction of a 66 or a 201. A 66 is heavy and a 201 is noticeably heavier than a 66.
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Old 08-16-2021, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by leonf View Post
welcome aboard.

1 belts are fine. They made millions and still are.
2.Model dash denotes some type of change. and many models have the dashes without telling you. ( part of the game)

3.I like to use surge protectors. Especially on machine with questionable wiring. Always turn off or unplug power to the beasties.

4. NO, Some of the drive parts rest on a table if put directly on them. An easy test for that is to put them on a table, turn the hand wheel and watch under the base to see if conflict happens.

Feel free to conitnue with the questions. All three you are looking at are great machines.
Thank you so much!
So there is no way to figure out what the random dash is for one some? Couldn't find much even with a serial on some
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Old 08-16-2021, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by OurWorkbench View Post
What do want to sew? I see that you have chosen all horizontal bobbin machines and was curious as to why. Those are all good straight stitch machines. The 66 & 201 are full size machines, whereas the 99 is what is considered 3/4 sized.

1. The ones with belts are fine for a beginner.
2. I don't know why there isn't a number after the dash, other than that the basic tag could be made and then depending on whether the customer wanted to have the so-called sub model as to whether it was a hand crank, treadle or belted motor. The 201-2 is the machine with a potted motor. There were 201s that could be treadled, hand cranked or had a belted motor.
3. I'm not sure, but I would suggest a surge protector - After checking the condition of the cord and replacing if necessary. Some will rewire no matter what.
4. No not all machines can be used without a base, as it will interfere with under workings of the machine. Depending on what you want to sew, a cabinet or table would be preferred. A base or case will sit up above the surface it is on and sometimes have a tendency to scoot ( or at least the modern machines do). Also a flat surface that is even with the bed is preferred to minimize the drag on the fabric through the machine.

I see Leon has posted, before I finished. I agree with him.

Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
Not affiliated with off-site link(s)
Really just starting out, so basic stuff to being with, but eventually would like to be able to sew some simple denim and canvas projects.

Thanks so much! Really great info
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Old 08-16-2021, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeJr View Post
1. I assume you're talking about a 201 with a potted motor; my opinion would be the opposite, unless the 201 you're looking at has had the motor completely rewired and serviced. I've done a few potted motors and am not a big fan on servicing them, I'd much rather take apart a regular external motor; external motors for a 66 or 99 are much more easily replaced/upgraded. There are no upgraded motors available for a 201/potted motor that I am aware of.

2. I have found this site useful for explaining the different model variations https://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/

3. If the wiring is good then you can plug it into a regular outlet, but do not leave it plugged in unless you are using it. Unless it's been modified these machines will not have grounded or polarized plugs which means the electrical parts could be cooking while it sits there plugged in; if you're testing one always test it in a power strip with some type of circuit breaker built into it, in fact I would always use one in such a power strip even if the wiring is all fine; I have a small inverter than runs off my 18v power tool batteries and I use that for testing

4. The three you're mentioning, 99, 66, 201, would need a base or a table (although I think you might be able to get away with sitting a 201 directly on a surface, it's been a while since I've had one); the undersides of the machines are open and if you keep them lubricated as you should then you will be dripping oil on whatever is underneath the machine

For sewing the heavier materials you're talking about I would lean in the direction of a 66 or a 201. A 66 is heavy and a 201 is noticeably heavier than a 66.
Thank you! Interesting about the 201-2. I've read a lot online about how the 201-2 is the one to get because it's easier to maintain and more powerful without a belt
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Old 08-16-2021, 01:27 PM
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Most any of the old black Singers would do well for you, as would some early Japanese machines. Maybe I'm a sucker for the 15-91 because I learned to sew on one, but it would be a great machine. It has a potted motor as does the 201-2. It's not quite as quiet as the 201-2, but has the advantage of an oscillating shuttle and the bobbin is vertical, which is really nice if you intend to do Free Motion quilting. It also has a 15 bobbin which is the most common bobbin and available everywhere.

The 201-2 (with the potted motor, built in the machine and no belt) is a wonderful machine. If it's in good condition, it's quieter than most new machines. It's lovely. As Janey mentioned, the 201 mostly came with a potted motor, but also came as a treadle or with a mounted motor and a belt. The 201-2 is referred to as the Cadillac of old Singers.

The potted motors are said to be the strongest motors, as they are direct drive as opposed to the belted motor. I've never looked for a replacement motor, as I've not seen a potted motor that needed replacing. However, Joe is probably right about replacing or repairing a potted motor.

You asked about the dashes If I am understanding you correctly, you are asking about the dashes that are followed by a second set of numbers. The number after the dash represents a difference in that machine. As an example, Singer made the model 15 machine from before 1900 to 1953. As they made improvements, they put a different number after the dash. It might just represent that that particular model of a 15 now has a reverse lever.

So a 15-30 is a model 15 treadle sewing machine. The 15-86 is also a treadle machine, but was made much later. The 15-90 has an external motor and the 15-91 has a potted (direct drive) motor. Over the years, the 15 was made as a treadle, direct drive, external drive and as a hand crank.

I would not buy a machine knowing it needed work or was missing parts. There are too many good ones out there to take a chance on something you can't fix. I bought a pristine 15-91 in a really nice small cabinet (too bad it was mahogany) for $47.00 + 15% buyers premium and sales tax about a month ago. It came with the buttonholer and the box of attachments. It was an online estate sale auction. It runs like a dream - just oiling needed. I've always found the best buys, both price and condition wise, at estate sales.

As Janey said, try to get one in a cabinet. It makes sewing much easier.

bkay
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Old 08-16-2021, 01:50 PM
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Word of caution about the early Japanese sewing machines. I bought a White 764 (Japanese made) I thought I could use for quilting. The machine is left-homing though so it really doesn't work well for sewing 1/4" seams.
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Old 08-17-2021, 06:13 AM
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201 motor looks like this. The gear it spins is not visible in this pic.

https://www.quiltingboard.com/member...738-621659.jpg
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