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Thread: Year plastic parts started showing up?

  1. #1
    Super Member Foxflower's Avatar
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    Year plastic parts started showing up?

    Hello vintage enthusiasts. I like vintage machines but know they are not all made alike. Can anyone tell me when the plastic gears/parts started showing up? I'd like to be a wise shopper when looking at on-line listings. Thanks!
    "Life is mostly froth and bubble, but one thing stands as stone. Kindness in another's trouble, courage in one's own." Adam Lindsey Gordon

  2. #2
    Junior Member totosmom's Avatar
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    Well, I'm going to say somewhere in the 70s, although I'm sure it varied by manufacturer. I know for example that my Bernina 830 (ca. 1973) has metal cams to produce decorative stitches, but my Viking 6570 (ca. 1979) has plastic cams in its camstack.

    I'm curious to hear what other say.
    Dorothy in PA

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    My Singer was purchased in 1975 and the gears are plastic.

  4. #4
    Super Member Foxflower's Avatar
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    I have a Singer Touch and Sew from about 1969 and it has plastic cams and gears. I don't think I can measure by Bernina because they have been a company that stays with mostly metal. My Bernina 1008 is all metal inside and I purchased it in 2000.
    "Life is mostly froth and bubble, but one thing stands as stone. Kindness in another's trouble, courage in one's own." Adam Lindsey Gordon

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    Senior Member vanginney's Avatar
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    My Pfaff 295-1 made in the 70s is all metal but with plastic gears...made in west germany. The 60s and 70s must have been the downfall of quality products kidding.

  6. #6
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Sorry folks, Bernina uses nylon gears in their vintage machines. It's not super important to me, but I have a 1954 Bernina with several nylon gears and the 830 has some nylon/plastic gears too.

  7. #7
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    At least the early / mid 50s. The Kenmore 120-491 has lots of plastic in it. It also has an aluminum skeleton on the inside and a clam shell body. It was the precursor of bad things to come.

    Joe

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    Super Member Foxflower's Avatar
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    Wow, I guess there's nothing for it but to have a look-see inside. I just looked at an interesting machine today....a Dressmaker De Luxe "Ämerican" model 125 made in Japan. I'm wondering if it's been refurbed because it is in beatiful condition while the case looks horrible. It has a "mamco" motor and the belt is too loose. There is also an extra, new belt with it. Now for some research to see what it might be worth.
    "Life is mostly froth and bubble, but one thing stands as stone. Kindness in another's trouble, courage in one's own." Adam Lindsey Gordon

  9. #9
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I have bought many machines that look all but new, and the case is horrid. The cases took the brunt of everything. Water, smoke, oil, body oils, animals, and worst enemy of all, moisture.

    Joe

  10. #10
    Super Member Foxflower's Avatar
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    Well this one, if it is from around here, has stayed pretty dry. There isn't a spec of rust on the machine, a few slight scratches on the paint. The pedal is even shiney. Decals and badges, everything is shiney and moves. It has 4 feeddog positions, the bobbin winder, light bulb, etc.
    "Life is mostly froth and bubble, but one thing stands as stone. Kindness in another's trouble, courage in one's own." Adam Lindsey Gordon

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Elna used nylon gears back in the 60s - maybe earlier - worry more about the plastic than the nylon
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  12. #12
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Here is what bothers me as much as disliking plastic gears, how to tell the difference between plastic and nylon gears.
    To me they look the same.

    I can tell Bakelite at a glance, but not the plastic / nylon difference. I tend to lump them both into the junk category.

    Joe

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    Junior Member makitmama's Avatar
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    I have a morse from the mid 50's that has one plastic piece in it. And it is impossible to see unless you know where to look.
    Cil



    I'm a Queen.... at least my pantyhose say I am!


    (proud caretaker of a magenta 221, purple 222, assorted 66's, a 301, a pink Atlas and Monarch, and Granny's 201-2.

  14. #14
    Super Member Foxflower's Avatar
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    Is there a strength difference between the nylon and plastic gears? I've been thinking of them as being the same junk as well.

    Makitmama, I love your little comment at the bottom of your screen.
    "Life is mostly froth and bubble, but one thing stands as stone. Kindness in another's trouble, courage in one's own." Adam Lindsey Gordon

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    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxflower View Post
    Is there a strength difference between the nylon and plastic gears? I've been thinking of them as being the same junk as well.

    Makitmama, I love your little comment at the bottom of your screen.
    "Nylon is a type of plastic popular in a wide variety of applications due to its flexibility and strength. The difference between nylon and other similar plastics is a result of its molecular structure."

    Nylon to plastic would be comparing two different grades or types of metal in my thinking.

  16. #16
    Junior Member makitmama's Avatar
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    I agree with Joe on this... If it isn't metal, I don't really care whether it is nylon or plastic.

    Glad ya'll like my tag line. I do change it around though....
    Cil



    I'm a Queen.... at least my pantyhose say I am!


    (proud caretaker of a magenta 221, purple 222, assorted 66's, a 301, a pink Atlas and Monarch, and Granny's 201-2.

  17. #17
    Super Member Foxflower's Avatar
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    That's interesting Candace, thank you. So, are the nylon gears pretty strong? If we were to compare nylon and other plastic gears to similar strength/durability metals, what would they be do you think? or if the don't compare in actuality, how would they compare to each other, i.e..... nylon gears are to plastic gears as tin is to aluminum?
    "Life is mostly froth and bubble, but one thing stands as stone. Kindness in another's trouble, courage in one's own." Adam Lindsey Gordon

  18. #18
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    "The plastics industry was revolutionized in the 1930s with the announcement of polyamide (PA), far better known by its trade name nylon. Nylon was the first purely synthetic fiber, introduced by DuPont Corporation at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City."

    "It took DuPont twelve years and US$27 million to refine nylon, and to synthesize and develop the industrial processes for bulk manufacture. With such a major investment, it was no surprise that Du Pont spared little expense to promote nylon after its introduction, creating a public sensation, or "nylon mania"."

    "Nylon still remains important in the world of plastics, and not just for use in fabrics. In its bulk form it is very wear resistant, particularly if oil-impregnated, and so is used to build gears, plain bearings, valve seats, seals and because of good heat-resistance, increasingly for under-the-hood applications in cars, and other mechanical parts."

  19. #19
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    And don't forget the Remington Nylon 66 series of .22 Rim Fire Rifles. The stock which also held the metal parts of the action was made from Nylon. The rifle was virtually immune to wear, rust, corrosion and other ailments common to all steel rifles.

    I suppose Nylon as used in gears and other sewing machine parts is far superior to regular plastic. ~~ BUT ~~ how to tell the difference in a used machine? That is still my quandary.

    Joe

  20. #20
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    I know this is next to useless for that purpose, but nylon has "fibers" and whereas regular plastic is cast and has a "grain" structure like clay or cast iron.

  21. #21
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    Even the venerable and much loved Pfaff 130 has a nylon piece in it. It is hard to see but it is there. Someone may come along and say it isn't nylon it is Delrin. I'll concede the point as I don't know 100% what material it is made of.

  22. #22
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    My Kenmore 120-491 supposedly has nylon gears in it. The instructions says so anyway. To me they look like cream colored opaque plastic material. I've cleaned them and I can't see any fibers or grain to any of them. They are just cream colored.

    I do know they don't like to be oiled. They work better without it.

    Joe

  23. #23
    Super Member BoJangles's Avatar
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    Geeze you all this is a very interesting conversation! I never heard of Delrin? Well, I'd say if the machine has a plastic/nylon knob on the outside - there is a probability that there is also plastic/nylon on the inside!

    Steve, very informative information!

    Nancy

  24. #24
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Delrin is a highly "slippery", hard wearing type of plastic(?) One of its uses is on the slider pucks for sport motorcycles to help keep the breakable bits off the ground in a crash. The idea is that the delrin "puck" slides across the ground, grinding down as you hopefully scrub off speed and come to a stop, and preventing the bike parts from hitting the ground and disintegrating, causing fluids all over the road, which multiplies the problem, or from a body part digging in and flipping the bike.

    Strong stuff.

    Don't forget the "rubber" hook gears on the newer vintages too. The ones that don't like oils of any kind, and sit right below the hook that you oil.

  25. #25
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I also don't much like stamped metal parts.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

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