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Ralph
11-08-2013, 02:40 PM
I make much of my own gear, partly as a hobby, partly to save money but mostly so I can get exactly what I want. Designing and making gear is very satisfying and is a splendid addition to your set of skills. I can hand sew, but a sewing machine is faster and neater as well as more durable with a lock stitch.

I’d like to have a commercial machine but those are heavy, bulky and fairly expensive – a used commercial machine runs around $500 and up. For most hobbyist uses a good household machine will do just about everything you need done at considerably lower cost.

I favor Singer machines. An old black Singer was the machine my mother, an accomplished dressmaker and tailor, showed me how to use many years ago so I’m used to them. Singers, especially the older models with steel gears, tend to be fairly simple, durable, are readily available along with parts and accessories and have user manuals free for download for just about every model ever made.

Other makes are certainly available and most are fine machines but before buying an old machine check the availability of manuals, parts and accessories.

For the type of work I do I need only two stitches, straight and zig-zag (for bar-tacking). I prefer a bobbin that inserts horizontally and to have a reverse that sets, rather than a pushbutton that has to be held down when reverse sewing.

My current battery of machines consists of a Singer 99K and a Singer 347, both bought used. Both machines are “short-shank” and use the same attachments, the same bobbins (Class 66) and the same needles, simplifying the inventory. Both also have steel gears and have no trouble pounding through multiple layers of canvas, Cordura, lining and webbing.

The 99K is the classic black Singer portable (about 30 pounds of iron but still considered portable), made in the UK in 1956. It is my workhorse. This has straight stitch only though a zig-zag attachment is available. The motor on the 99 is external so easily serviced and replaced. When I received it the machine was dusty and missing a few small parts (the slide cover over the bobbin case, the presser foot and the presser foot screw) all available and easily replaced. The electrical parts were all in good shape so I cleaned and oiled it, installed the new parts and it was good to go.

There are a lot of Model 99s around. This model was made in electric, hand-crank and foot treadle forms. There are cases, bases and cabinets available. There are feet molded into the base so you really don’t need a base to elevate the working parts on the underside, however I came across a wooden base that makes a neat looking unit.

The old Singers are set up a bit differently from the new ones. Threading can be a bit tricky and a lot more lubrication is required. If you get one be sure to download the user manual – and read it.

The 347 Stylemate is one of the early model zig-zag machines with straight, zig-zag and blind stitches. I use it primarily for light duty, to apply PALS grids, bar-tacking stress points, applying overlock binding and making small pouches. It also serves as my back-up machine. This one arrived in fine shape and gave me exactly what I wanted.

I mostly use German-made Schmetz regular sharp needles Jeans/Denim weight in size12, 16 and 18 depending on the fabric weight. I use a lot of heavy canvas and Cordura so size 18 is generally on both machines.
For sewing light leather and other non-woven material leather needles are available. Leather needles have sharpened edges to cut through the material and should never be used on woven fabrics since the edge will cut the threads of the fabric and weaken the seam. Most household machines will NOT sew leather heavier than 4 oz. (4/64”) or so – the motors just aren’t powerful enough.

I like the metal bobbins. These are more expensive but also more durable so I use these for the heavy nylon thread while the plastic version is used for the lighter polyester thread.

I have a small assortment of attachments that can be used on both machines.

The low shank presser foot holder adapts the machines to use the modern snap-on presser feet and is more or less permanently attached to the 347. The snap-on feet are very quick to detach and attach and come in a wide variety of inexpensive special configurations. The most useful for making outdoor gear are the general purpose foot, the zipper foot, the roller foot (for “sticky materials like non-skid Hypalon and such), the binding foot and the roll hemmer foot.

The walking foot adds a top feed to the usual bottom feed to help keep multiple layers of fabric together. Most seem to be less than $20.
Virtually all household machines have two threaded holes to the right of the presser foot for an adjustable seam guide. This is usually in the included accessories but if it isn’t it sells for $5-6.

One item you can make yourself is a fabric weight, a simple square bag about 3” x 3” filled with lead shot. This keeps fabric and patterns in place during the layout and cutting process.

I generally use two types of thread. For most uses the #69 bonded nylon thread is the heaviest most household machines can use. This thread is sold by the pound (about 6500 yards/lb.) for about $28/lb in ¼, ½ and full pound cones. I keep this in olive, black and coyote brown. For lighter duty use and when I need other colors I use Gutterman’s polyester. These are excellent all-purpose threads with a novel spool design to capture the loose end of the thread. For use on outdoor gear stick with nylon or polyester, cotton can deteriorate quickly.

The Gutterman’s spools sit on the standard spool pin, but the cones need a thread stand. You can make or buy one. I bought mine, used, with a heavy cast iron base, for $6. Adjust the thread guide to the height of the machine and run the thread from the spool pin through the normal threading sequence for your machine.

I bind the edges of the larger packs and bags but have taken to using an overlock stitch on the edges of the smaller bags and pouches except sacks made from silicone nylon. The silicone impregnation prevents sil-nylon from unraveling.

Although you can use the zig-zag stitch to run overlock binding a serger, designed for that specific purpose, does a better job. I don’t have one yet but will likely get the Singer Tiny Serger Overedging Sewing Machine. This small machine lacks some of the features of the larger and considerably more expensive sergers but for the light use I envisage it should do fine. The Tiny Serger uses three needles and three spools to form a tight overlock binding. Using threads of different colors makes the binding quite attractive. Gutterman’s polyester thread will do nicely for this purpose.
A few other hand tools and supplies are needed.

I use Fiskars Softgrip spring-action scissors – large tailor’s scissors, craft shears and small embroidery scissors. A pair of thread snips is also useful. A needle threader makes that task a lot easier, especially for those of us with aging eyes. There are many “notions” available at sewing shops, usually a wall full. Browsing this wall may reveal other odds and ends you may find useful – depending on the project in mind.

Layout tools consist of a yard stick, a 12” ruler, and a few pieces of tailor’s chalk. A 6” sliding scale is also handy. I made a special template to help with laying out PALS grids from the heavy cardboard backing for a writing tablet. At the top is a 45 degree cut corner and the existing 90 degree corner. The top is marked with a 7” space with the centerline for placing the common loops for hanging pockets. The bottom corners are cut in arcs with 2” and 3” radius. Along one side are marks at 1” intervals for PALS rows, on the other side are marks and 1.5” intervals for PALS channels. One of the channel intervals is marked for the center. (PALS is the base grid of 1” nylon webbing required to handle MOLLE-compatible pockets.)

A seam ripper is a necessity – you WILL make mistakes. The small size seems to work best. A bodkin is needed to run cord through the tunnel of drawstring bags. A small nail brush with stiff bristles works well for removing chalk marks.

You need something to hold pieces together while sewing. For multiple layers of heavy fabrics dressmaker’s pins won’t do, you need ball-head pins. I also use small (1” or so) paper clamps. You can sew over pins but I usually remove the pins as I go along. The clamps, of course, have to be removed just before the material goes under the presser foot.

I use 3M masking tape to hold webbing used in PALS grids. Cheaper tape doesn’t hold on the material that well. In theory you can sew through the tape but don’t do it. The 3M adhesive sticks under the stitches and is a tedious nuisance to remove.

Many pieces for projects are simple rectangles so I don’t bother with patterns, just lay out the pieces with the yardstick. I use light poster board to make some patterns for more complex shapes.

Never use any lubricant on a sewing machine that is not designed and marked for sewing machines. All sewing machines need oiling, some require a light grease. You use only a drop of oil on an oil point so a small bottle of oil will last a long time. The user manual will show each oil or grease point. Before lubricating use a lint brush to remove lint and dust from the working parts. A set of small screwdrivers is also handy.

The user manual will also show you how to sew and it is a good idea to practice on scraps. Most places that sell craft and sewing supplies also offer sewing classes although these are commonly oriented toward clothing.

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shtfco
11-08-2013, 02:54 PM
Ralph thanks for sharing this Ive been wanting to do this also to make my own gear. Its been a plan of mine for a while. We get a lot of folks here and on Rokslide that are doing it now. can you do a display of some of the gear you have made? Your Post gives me a good idea of what I should look for in a machine. Does it sew 1000 cordura?

James

techbrute
11-08-2013, 03:14 PM
Thanks for the info and pics. I can't see myself undertaking yet another hobby, but this was a fun read, and as soon as I saw the pics I realized that my Grandma and my Mom had those two machines. Thanks!

Ralph
11-08-2013, 04:18 PM
Both machines handle 1000d Cordura just fine. The key is a good size 18 needle. As for stuff I have made, here are a few of the larger packs. I also have many sheaths, pouches, pockets and stuff sacks.

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If you are just starting out I suggest stuff sacks are a good first project. If you are going to try something larger, pick up some cheap cotton muslin and try a model before cutting into expensive stuff like Cordura. You can also use old sheets that most housholds accumulate. The thinner, softer fabric also allows you to work up stitch details and methods without wrestling around with heavy materials.

I started years ago with canvas and muslin. Finding materials and supplies was a real problem since these were specialty items not easily available in the small town I lived in. The Internet has changed all that. Specialty shops and easily available from your living room now.

shtfco
11-08-2013, 04:30 PM
Ralph that is completely awesome. The 2 bag picture looks like a Scout and another kifaru pack. Thats great.

Ralph
11-08-2013, 04:57 PM
These are all my versions with detailing I wanted. I am influenced by Patrick's designs, of course, and he has seen many of them. From the top, left to right: a European-type rucksack, detail of a version of the E&E, large canoe pack with chest pack in front, my versions of the Scout and Tail Gunner packs, and detail of the back on a Zulu-type pack. All made of 1000d Cordura.

CTskywatch
11-08-2013, 05:06 PM
Wow! awesome work, your threads never cease to educate, amaze, and inspire me thanks for sharing.

Motivates me to get started on a pair of reversible snow/ Multicam goretex mid-calf gaiters I've had designed in my head.

Kevin Dill
11-09-2013, 09:19 AM
Ralph and a few others here gave me some confidence and inspiration to do my own mods and revisions. I never trusted my sewing abilities, but launched into a couple things. I took a 'naked' packframe and added 1" webbing and buckles in key locations to create a heavy-duty meat hauler. Sewing multiple layers of webbing by hand isn't easy, and I used a heavy crewel (needle) with upholstery thread to accomplish the bar-tacking. I've hauled heavy loads and stressed these straps to the max without any damage.1379613797

In any event, I've been looking at sewing machines for 2 years. Every time I'd get close, something would derail my efforts. There are so many vintage machines out there which are very strong and capable of sewing gear. I just wanted ONE, and I wanted a good one. I selected a Bernina Record 830 made in about 1980...Switzerland. It's not a powerhouse leather-stitcher like some commercial units, but I've sewn 8 layers of medium packcloth just to prove it could be done. I know I can sew light to medium leather if I wish, plus webbing and coated heavy materials. The key (after machine lube and timing) is correct needle, thread and tension. I searched long and hard; mostly on Ebay for a machine. In the end, I located mine on Craig's List and drove 4 hours one way to see it/buy it. That ended up being a very good thing, as the seller kindly spent hours with me explaining many things about the Bernina 830....things I wouldn't have gotten via an Ebay seller. My machine came with an original carry case, accessory box, many bobbins, tools, all the original feet, foot pedal, etc. It even came with an original Bernina walking foot, which commonly sells for over $100 alone. I am really happy with my new machine, and look forward to many years of use.1379813799

Ralph
11-09-2013, 10:10 AM
Good for you, Kevin. That looks like a fine machine.

beachbunny
11-11-2013, 11:22 AM
thanks ralph.my kid keeps thinking i'm gonna turn into Martha stewart by buying a machine, this will turn him!

dotman2
11-11-2013, 08:00 PM
Ralph,

If you could only have one of your machines which would it be?

Ralph
11-11-2013, 08:26 PM
If I could have only one machine I suppose it would be the 99. You can bartack by using the reverse. About the only thing you can't do with the 99 is overlock stitch.

dotman2
11-11-2013, 08:37 PM
Thanks, I have been wanting to pick one up for awhile now and the 99 is pretty common. I'll have a new hobby shortly :)

widowshooter
11-11-2013, 10:18 PM
I may have to look at getting one of those 99's as well and start working on sewing. My wife won't let me touch hers. In fact, I am not allowed in the same room as it is in unless she is in it. Those are some awesome packs Ralph, great work.

dotman2
11-18-2013, 10:19 AM
Well after trying to get a 99 locally it just wasn't happening, no one really acted as if they cared to sell and I wasn't even trying to low ball just asking simple questions such as "does it run?" with hardly a response or replies every 3 or so days. Well gave up on the local option and went to Ebay.

I am now the proud new owner of a model 66, not the 99 like i had planned. It should arrive in the next week or so since I just won the auction last night.

So now does anyone have any info or experience using this Singer 66? From everything I have read it can sew nylon to leather, is very reliable, same machine as the 99 just fullsize not 3/4 and weighs probably 8lbs more.

Ralph
11-19-2013, 05:49 PM
As I recall you are right, the 66 is the fullsize version of the 99 with no other differences. They are heavy machines. Good for you and happy sewing.

Benny BC
11-20-2013, 05:13 PM
Thanks Ralph, very informative. I'm heading down this path myself.

Ralph
01-17-2014, 05:23 AM
I started having a problem with the drive belt slipping on my 99. Examination showed the belt was stretched and had some damage so I replaced the belt - end of problem. While I was at it I decided to replace the foot controller with a newer model. The old one worked, but had a much longer throw so the new one is an improvement. I also glued a piece of non-skid mat to the bottom of the controller so I'm not chasing it over the carpeted floor now.

If anyone would like the old controller (unassembled with new wire and 3-pin plug) I'll send it to you for $5 to cover mailing cost.

Awhile back I picked up a couple of new army shelter halves for cheap. I'm going to use the OD canvas to make a set of bushcraft-type packs and bags with dark brown pebble-grain leather accents. I've sketched up designs for a Cruisier-type canoe pack, a Nessmuk-type day pack, a shell bag and a belt pouch.

jljmonky
01-17-2014, 11:59 AM
I look forward to seeing those. I used an old shelter half to make an oversized tote bag with tubular webbing handles, was great for hauling firewood! My brother-in-law snagged it and I will never see it again I am sure. I did score some big chunks out of an old cook tent, even heavier canvas than the shelter halves that I would like to make into heavy duffle bags with a zipper cover flap, much like some of the leather ones Duluth Trading carries but I haven't a machine strong enough for that type of work... the canvas isn't going to go away so one day it will get done I am sure.

Ralph
02-20-2014, 08:56 PM
One thing I forgot to mention about the foot pedals - most are set up essentially backwards for some reason. The way to use them is to set the pedal so the high point is facing you. This way you rest your heel on the floor and press down with the ball of the foot. The way most are wired has the high point facing away so the ball of the foot is on the floor and you press down with your heel. This can be tiring after awhile, but some may like it. Try it both ways to see which method is most comfortable for you and gives you the most control. It is also a good idea to glue a piece of that rubbery non-skid stuff used on rugs and such to the bottom of the foot pedal - otherwise it tends to drift away.

I started poking around to see what was available in bobbin winders. All machines have a bobbin winder but this means if you run out you have to disable the sewing mechanism and unthread the machine, thread up the winder, wind the bobbin and then rethread and enable the sewing mechanism again - that can be a time consuming nuisance. Turns out I can get a new Sidewinder bobbin winder for about $25-30 shipped. This is free-standing and portable since it uses 2 AA cells or has an AC adapter. For the small price I'm in favor of eliminating as many minor nuisances as I can.

jljmonky
02-22-2014, 10:01 PM
Ralph, I am having tension adjustment issues. I am using an older Kenmore currently. Lately, while sewing some name tapes on to some towels (work outs at work and towels disappear) everything is fine, switch to a couple layers of Cordura or webbing and the bottom side bunches and leaves chunks, looks like loose bobbin thread. I can't figure out the right adjustment in bobbin tension or top tension, thoughts?

Ralph
02-22-2014, 10:23 PM
First, remove the bobbin and carefully examine the area for any pieces of thread and debris that may have gotten in there. Then make sure the machine is correctly threaded. Don't mess with bobbin tension. This almost never goes out of whack but will if you fool with it since it is very sensitive. Your problem likely arose because terry cloth used for toweling is very squishy. Use scrap Cordura, two layers is fine. If you remember what the top tension setting was before you sewed the towels turn to that and try it. Otherwise, set it in the middle. You are going for equal tension, top and bottom. The idea is that the loop should be in the center. You really can't see that but the stitch should look the same on both sides. If the bottom stitch is loose, move tension up a notch. If the top stitch is loose move down.

If you can't get it right you may have thrown the timing out. I advise against trying to re-time your machine unless you have the service manual and understand what you are doing. Take to a sewing machine mechanic and figure it will be $50 or so to clean, lube and set up the machine for you.

In the future, sew nametags onto the selvedge - the non-squishy part on the top and bottom of the towel. I hope this helps.

firecog
02-22-2014, 10:42 PM
Ralph is right on the bottom tension, it's definitely the more finicky of the two. Sometimes you have to start over. Back out the bottom to basically nothing, set the top at a 'normal' setting (usually 3-4), and slowly (like 1/4 turn at a time) adjust the bottom until you get even stiches on something normal, like a light woven material. Then adjust the top as needed when you start switching to heavier stuff.
While the bottom tension might be playing into it, from what you're describing, there are some other things you should check as well.
First, needles. Dull or bent (even the slightest bit) needles will wreak havoc sometimes. Change it out for a new one and it's like magic. They're cheap, change 'em early and often. Making sure you have the right size and type is important too for the material and thickness you're sewing.
A worn bottom plate may be the culprit as well. That little hole actually helps hold tension on the thread in front of the needle and when it's worn, things can get funky.
Don't forget to check the threading. I've lost track of how many times I was in a hurry and missed something on the top or bottom and after a lot of frustration realized it was a PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair).
If all that fails take it to the shop, 'fess up that you're abusing your machine and accept their ridicule and derision. Although, they have to be careful, because if they're smart, they figure out that you're going to be in there pretty regularly, so you're basically a cash cow for them.

wetzel
03-05-2014, 11:32 AM
Ralph,
Thanks for taking the time to post this. Am I wrong thinking the Model 66 might be better to get due to it having more room for larger projects or should I just stick with the 99? I don't see myself going much farther than the projects you have made so maybe the 99 is best. Thanks for your time.

Ralph
03-05-2014, 12:10 PM
Unless you are sewing tentage or maybe sleeping bags you don't really need a deep throat. with packs and such most of the seams are sewn along the outer edges. That is one consideration. The other is that there seem to be more 99s than 66s available so the price for the 99 is generally lower.

wetzel
03-07-2014, 04:35 PM
Just picked me up a 1956 99, I'm pretty excited, going to be ordering some fabric and such. Where do you get your #69 thread from? Also can you post a picture of the base piece you use to keep that thread on? Thanks Ralph!

Ralph
03-07-2014, 05:04 PM
#69 thread is sold on eBay, though there are usually limited colors. Mostly I get mine from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics owfinc.com
good folks aand a good assortment of outdoor colors. I get black Fastex hardware and YKK zippers there, too.

This is one type of thread stand. You can get them in plastic, cast iron or wood. The cast iron base is the most stable. They are pretty simple if you want to make your own.

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mint
08-30-2014, 05:42 PM
Hey Ralph, first I want to say thanks for sharing your knowledge on this subject. Thanks to you and some other blogs I decided to purchase a 1937 Singer 201 motor driven machine I luckily found on c-list. I am currently trying to work with #69 nylon thread, size 14&18 needles, new metal bobbins, and 500d cordura fabric and am having some tension issues.

First I studied the manual online and oiled everything, took apart and cleaned the bobbin casing and tension assembly.

My issue is the only way for me to get somewhat of an even stitch on the bottom side, I have to crank the needle/top thread tension up to max and loosen the bobbin case tension all the way (basically until the screw wants to come out) and I get a decent "hidden knot" well spaced stitch on the bottom, but on the top side I get small, unclean, visible "knots". If I crank the tension back the other way (loosen) just by a hair the top looks beautiful but the bottom is super sensitive (from 8 to 7 decent, from 6 on down it gets really loose and ugly.

I feel like I dont have alot of wiggle room on the tension adjustment.

My question is well, is this normal for the size thread and needle? Ive been experiencing this on two layers of 500d. If I sew with 4 or more layers it starts to look pretty even on top and bottom, the knot is hidden between the layers mostly, but most of my stitching is on 2 layers at the moment.

Overall im getting a strong stitch (I think) but I want all my visible stitches to look good and sometimes based on how im assembling my pieces, I cant have my top stitch on the visible side.

Thanks in advance man, just wanna see if you have any ideas.

-matt

Ralph
08-30-2014, 06:43 PM
As you are discovering, thread tension can be a bit tricky. #69 thead and a #18 needle are what I use my machines and no, the problem you describe is not normal.

If you don't have the user manual Singer has them for virtually every machine they ever made for free download on their website. The technical/servce manuals are also available but there is usually a fee for them, about $12 as I recall.

Bobbin tension is VERY sensitive and normally does not need adjustment. Since you have already tried to adjust it you want to get the baseline for that first. Snug down the screw - not super tight but tight enough that there is conderable resistance when you pull on the thread. Then back it off a quarter turn.

Be sure the top thread is correctly threaded, every one of those holes and guides are important. Set the top tension to the midpoint and try a few stitches. I keep a couple of pieces of scrap for that purpose. Check he stitch. The first time the bottom stitch will likely be too tight, so back off the bobbin tension another quarter turn. If too loose tighten about an eighth of a turn. Keep doing that until the stitches are even tension top and bottom. It is very rare that you need to give the bobbin tension a full turn. It is a tedious nuisance but once you get it set correctly the chances are good you will never need to do it again. Almost all tension adjustment is done from the top - and you should not have to make bold changes there, either.

If that won't work or if you get erratic stitching without changing anything there may be a problem with the bobbin case or the macine may need a general going over. A sewing machine mechanic will usually charge about $50 for that.

Hope this helps.

Kevin Dill
08-31-2014, 03:25 PM
Just in case I'm not the only goober who had trouble with threading and tension...

I bought a great used Bernina a year ago and I am completely in love with it. The first time I sewed (tried) with it, I couldn't get it to sew at all. By that, I'm meaning the bottom thread wasn't catching and I was having a plethora of difficulties. I started thinking thread tension, and it was extremely loose. I messed with it for an hour to no avail...I simply couldn't get it to sew or hold good tension. I discovered that I was trying to check thread tension with the presser foot up...dope!....and when I lowered it everything was nice and taut. One problem...it still wasn't catching the top thread and stitching at all. That's when my brainy better-half suggested that I try threading the needle from the opposite direction. I was irritated to deal with trying something so minor as which way the thread poked through the needle...but I humored her. Well, of course you already know what happened. My fickle 20-pound future boat anchor suddenly turned into a humming sweetie who couldn't wait to impress me. I've been having fun ever since. I learned that the smallest little thing can make a huge difference with a sewing machine, and that's why the best ones have always been built with strong components held to tight tolerances. Learn what your machine needs and likes, then write it down if needed. Take care of her and she'll treat you very well for many years.

Ralph
08-31-2014, 05:23 PM
That's why it is useful to have the user manual - it covers details like how the needle is threaded. As said, on a sewing machine every little hole and loop is important, if it wasn't it wouldn't be there.

The Bernina only weighs 20 lbs.? My Singer 99K is abput 35 lbs. but it was built before plastic was invented. Solid cast iron and steel throughout.My 347 has a plastic case but steel innards so it's a little lighter. Mr. Singer must have had an interesting mind to invent the thing. They are remarkable devices. As it happens, the 99 series threads from left to right, but the 347 threads from front to back. If I've been using one for awhile and switch, I sometimes fumble with it - and I've been using sewing machines since I was a kid - and that's a loooong time ago - so don't feel bad.

Kevin Dill
08-31-2014, 05:51 PM
Well actually I didn't weigh or check my Bernina specs so the "20 pounds" was merely a random number. The only plastic I can find is on the knobs, and the thing is built like a Swiss tank/watch hybrid. I do have the manual and used it for threading. The image showed the thread entering the needle hole from the side, but that's because the close-up picture was taken from the nose/left end of the machine. The text didn't say anything about threading from the front. I simply misunderstood the image provided. That little goof cost me 3 hours of grief and doubts. Having corrected it, I was pleased to see how cleanly and easily it stitched through a variety of materials such as denim, canvas, cordura, polarfleece, paracord, seatbelt, 1" pack web, and thick waistbands. I hope to use this one machine until they pry my cold dead....um...never mind.

Ralph
08-31-2014, 07:52 PM
The 99 does the same, plows through multiple layers of tough stuff without a whimper. Hard to beat these heavy old machines, but every time I have to pick it up it's like moving an anvil. Keep it lubed (using only lubricants designed for sewing machines) and it likely will last the rest of your life and then some. I've seen foot treadle machines in daily use that were built before 1900. My 99 can be operated as electric, foot treadle or hand crank - the only difference is the hand wheel - and that isn't much.

mint
09-02-2014, 10:50 AM
Thanks for the advise Ralph,

So after countless hours of making tension adjustments without improvement, I decided to take apart the bobbin housing/feed dog/pressure plate assembly one final time before I send it to a shop. I took off a small plate that keeps the bobbin locked in place and directs the thread on the pull-up "I assume" which was right under the feed dogs and noticed it was bent like in a picture I came across a few days ago. I bent it back and its a totally different machine now.

The smallest little things make a world of difference. Kinda blows my mind how precise everything has to be, even down to the millimeter.

Working real nice now. 16246

Ralph
09-02-2014, 01:00 PM
Well, Mint, that was one I have never encountered. You have to wonder how it got bent in the first place. You are right, on a sewing machine every little detail is significant. I really would have liked to sit alongside Singer when he was inventing the thing. I suspect that, like Thomas Edison, he didn't have failures, but found 5,000 ways that didn't work.

You quickly get familiar with the feel and sound of your machine. If it doesn't sound or feel right STOP right there and investigate. Trying to run one more stitch or forcing or yanking will just make things worse. I imagine that is what happened to that small part you fixed but all's well that ends well.