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Thread: A switcheroo ........... and a story too ... :-)

  1. #1
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    NE Indiana

    A switcheroo ........... and a story too ... :-)

    We won a Singer 518 Stylist on GW.

    It got here yesterday.

    My wife wanted it because it would be a companion to the 538 Stylist she bought in 78 or 79.

    It seams that she wanted the free arm and the cams and when she first saw the 518 it was almost what she wanted, except it wasn't a free arm machine. The salesman told her the free arm models would be out in due time so she said she'd wait. Sometime later DH#1 went and bought the 538 for her. That's all we'll say about him.

    In the years since she's used the machine till it just gave up. Several sets of plastic gears have succumbed to her extensive and heavy use of the machine.
    Then sometime some years back something else went wrong and the stretch and satin stitch controls never worked right again.
    Last year I took the top off of it and noticed the top shaft was moving back and forth quite a bit. Went to the local SMG and he sold me one of the snap in thrust washers. The machine started working again, but not for long. Something went bang, bang, bang, clatter clatter ...... and the stretch stitches quit working again.

    When we got the 413 I noticed just how similar it was to the 538, but not exact. Then when looking at the parts lists I noticed the 518 was identical internally.
    The 413 had a gear break so using it as a temporary guide I decided to work on the 538 again.

    Using it I was able to straighten a bent linkage stop ( B ) and adjust the cam drive part (1). I also noticed that the cam drive linkage spring ( A ) was missing. So I borrowed that from the 413. Then we tried the 538 and wouldn't you know, it worked again. For several days my wife ran and ran and ran the machine. I think she was reverting back in time a bit as she sat there using the machine.

    As I compared the 413 ..... I'll get back to the 518, I promise .... to the 538 I noticed that the cam drive gear teeth were badly worn on the 538. I told my wife we really needed to replace the gear before the teeth give it up. So I contacted a couple of sources and should have the gears and springs coming fairly soon.

    The 413 is up on the shelf awaiting it's new gear and the 538 is being used off and on.

    Last night as I was examining the 518 I got curious and set the 538 next to it. Inside the differences were so minimal as to be non existent. I didn't plan on working on or adjusting the 538, just looking but I did notice one other possibly worn part. Not sure yet. I put the top and face plate back on and proceeded to clean a quilt worth of lint out of the bobbin area of the 518. By the time I was done I had wads of lint all over me, my quilt cover for the 201 ( my impromptu work bench ) and the floor. I noticed that two of gears in the 518 look to be newer than the others so I figure it had at least some maintenance. Then as I was cleaning the lint and gunk out of the bobbin drive gears I noticed there was a lot of backlash in them. WAY too much. From the top I could rotate the hook a full 3/8th inch from one way to the other. That could not be be good for the timing at all. I traced the problem down to the gear at the right end of the horizontal shaft. Who ever had it apart the last time did not get the set screws tight. OK, an easy fix. But, just were do I set the hook to get the timing right?
    The light bulb went off in my pea brain and I got the 538 out again. I pulled off the face plate and found a reference point and measured how far the needle came up from full down when the hook was right behind the needle. Then did the same thing with the 518 and when the needle had come up that amount I rotated the hook and it lined right up behind the needle. At that point I tightened up the set screws, put it back together, grabbed a scrap, threaded it up and began to sew. It sews really nice. My wife tried it and said the tension and timing is right on.
    We then made a little denim pad for the presser foot and then called it good for the night.

    So the switcheroo is that we bought the 518 and intended to use it to help fix up the 538, but the 538 has helped fix the 518.

    Having more than one of the same thing can be handy at times.


  2. #2
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Well aren't you clever! Someday I may tackle a couple of my 'middle aged' machines that need some TLC. Right now they're just glorified stack holders (stacks of this and that needing to be put where it really belongs).
    Just discovered I qualify for FABLE (Fabric Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy)

  3. #3
    Super Member kitsykeel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Salisbury, North Carolina

    You have the mind of a mechanic, me thinks. So fortunate for you and your wife and it sounds as though the both of you enjoy working on your machines so much. I know I enjoy hearing about how you work on them.

  4. #4
    Senior Member harrishs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Council Bluffs, Iowa
    How totally kool to be able to figure all that out!

  5. #5
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    It is a good thing that you are so mechanically inclined Joe. Your tale of the 518 and 538 is all why I do not consider adding those models to my collection. Too complicated for my limited abilities.
    Sweet Caroline

  6. #6
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    WoW!! Great job, Joe. I can understand your obsession about fixing these beauties. ... and I think you answered the question about how many machines are too much. Having a lot of models to use as a reference is truely invaluable.

    I just bought an old Elna from my sister-in-law so my 92 year old mother can have a machine for sewing repairs, etc. so I may be asking you some questions about how those cams work. The sister-in-law said she had the cams but they weren't working and I suspect there is some wear or a spring missing. I haven't gotten the machine yet because I'm up here at the cabin for the summer and the machine is down state..... but I'll be sure to ask for help along the way to getting it up to speed for my mom. I just cringed when my mom told me she threw her old Elna in the trash because it was too far gone..... that was the machine I used as a child. I would have loved to see what I could do to save it.... but too late. I might have been able to use it as a model as you did with your 413, 518, and 538. Oh well...... this one will be a challenge, for sure.

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