Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Singer 301a

Soo--was checking out Craigslist and what to I see? A 301a at a reasonable price! So it involved a day trip to Panama City (there is a nice quilt shop there), but what a nice machine (even though it is very, well, beige).

Overall, it's in pretty good shape aside from the lack of a bobbin case and a bad electrical cord. The cord is no big deal, but the bobbin case suffers from Featherweight syndrome. Featherweights are nice, cute, super-lightweight machines that have become a collectible fad. This drives the prices way up, and it also drives the prices of parts up. And the 301a uses the same bobbin case as a Featherweight. Vintage bobbin cases for these machines cost more than I paid for the machine. So, I'm taking a risk and ordering a new, reproduction bobbin case, despite stories of some of them not working well. It still was not cheap, but is half what a vintage original costs. I'm going to view this as an experiment. I found a TOWA Japanese-made case, and I am crossing my fingers and hoping it works.

I have been cleaning and oiling it and trying to make it sew well. I borrowed a bobbin case and power cord from my Featherweight. I have had some problems with thread breaks, but they seem to happen less often now. I cleaned some thread out that was wrapped around the bobbin assembly and took apart the tension. I still need to do some more testing and wait for parts. I wonder if the bobbin winder works.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sewing Machine Tension

So, I took apart the upper tension assembly on the Kingston Japanese clone machine.

It's a little difficult to see in the photo, but the check spring was broken; it should have a little wire loop sticking out. It's interesting seeing how the tension units are designed. Really all they are is a bunch of plates, springs, pins, and washers. It can be tricky to get all the pieces back on in the correct orientation, especially if you have been handling them to clean the parts, so take lots of pictures as you go. And try to get a service/adjuster's manual that shows what orientation the parts are supposed to go in. Just because it was that way when you got the machine doesn't mean that is the correct orientation for the parts. Who knows what kind of moron owned the machine before you got it and what they did to it.

It took me a couple of tries to get the tension assembly back together correctly. The first time I had a pin in backwards (it popped out of the machine while I was disassembling the tension unit & I didn't see what direction it was originally in). I've taken apart the tension assemblies on 3 machines now, & I'm getting better at figuring it out.

Finally got it all put back together again! New check spring on and I'm good to go.

On a quilty note, I've been sewing a rainbow of string blocks on the vintage machines (plus the Megasaurus, whhich is only about 12 years old). Here they are up on the design wall. BAM!