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Sewing Machine Repair and Maintenance: Introduction






One of the most durable and useful consumer items that has been made available to the general-buying public in the past two or three generations is the sewing machine. Rudimentary sewing machines date back as far as the early 1800s, and models that were prototypes of today’s modern sewing machines appeared, although were not widely available on a consumer basis, around the mid 1800s.

Unlike many consumer items, sewing machines appear not to have built-in obsolescence factors, nor have they been traditionally designed to self destruct when the last payment is made. Each and every sewing machine manufacturer whose cooperation was solicited in compiling this manual expressed a tremendous pride in the quality of the material and workmanship that goes into the machine that he manufactures. All moving parts are milled with high precision. All mechanisms are engineered and designed to operate efficiently at high speeds. A sewing machine designed and built in 1800 could sew 250 to 300 stitches per minute but today’s consumer machines are capable of producing between 800 and 1,200 stitches per minute, depending upon the model. Today’s machines produce intricate stitching of consistently uniform quality through a wide - range of stitch lengths, designs, etc. Adjustments and regulations are incorporated into these mechanisms, allowing the operator to make adjustments within an extremely fine tolerance, virtually while the machine is running. Also, because any consumer item must have eye-appeal, the sewing machine will have other features which conceal the built-in qualities.

Apart from the creative satisfaction that many women (and a few men) obtain from creating sewn products, the rule-of-thumb is that home-sewn clothing will cost about one-half that of manufactured clothing, excluding the cost (principal cost and interest) of owning a sewing machine. Further, most devotees of home sewing will claim that home-sewn clothing is of superior quality to manufactured clothing; however, in fairness to the manufacturers of clothing, I would say that this is true only to the extent that the price of manufactured clothing is a major factor. Nevertheless, the experienced and careful home seamstress can make clothing that's comparable in value to the best of manufactured clothing, achieve a variety of styling that may not be available in store-bought clothing, do this for approximately one-half the cost of store-bought clothing and fulfill a creative urge while doing it. Also, while we dislike believing that there are any poor people left in the United States, the sewing machine offers a distinct financial advantage to people of limited means, particularly those with large families of growing children. In regard to status, however, most people who sew extensively can well afford to buy ready-made clothing.

Another facet of home-sewing, which may be of diminishing importance with the widespread availability of welfare assistance, is that home-sewing is one of the few remaining cottage industries— industries which can be operated from a home base with a moderate amount of success. The experienced and industrious home seamstress can establish a reliable part-time or full-time income by sewing creations, or specially fitted apparel, for clients with exotic or exclusive tastes. This can be done with a minimal investment in both equipment and materials. Sewing machine prices remain moderate, with new zig-zag machines starting at slightly over $100.00. Excellent used models that would have cost the about $300 dollars when new can often be found now for as little as $50.00. Threads, materials, patterns and sewing machine accessories are usually available locally, so that there is seldom the need for special ordering.

Still another intriguing facet of home-sewing is that if it's done as a hobby, there isn't the need to buy the seemingly unlimited gadgetry associated with many other hobbies. Ample space to work would be luxury, but not a necessity, since home-sewing isn't by nature a space hog. A professional cutting table would also be a luxury, but fold-away cutting tables are readily solving the cutting table problem. The basic hand-tools, such as scissors, seam rippers, etc., are relatively inexpensive and long-lasting. Sewing machine accessories for a variety of sewing applications, such as special purpose feet, are available for even the older machines. They are also inexpensive and virtually indestructible.

If the sewing machine is durable and long lasting, you might well ask, what is the need of a manual on sewing machine maintenance and repair? The need is rooted in the unremitting battle that man must wage against any machine, no matter how durable and reliable, and finds its application in a most general way in caring for machines that have been used, or misused, for considerable lengths of time. A majority of the people who operate machines of any kind tend to believe that the best of all possible maintenance virtues to leave a machine alone as long as it's functioning. Prevalent is the belief that over oiling gums a machine up. Many people simply refuse to make any external adjustments on a sewing machine as long as it makes any semblance of a stitch. At the other extreme are the few persons who continually adjust everything on a machine, whether or not adjustments are needed, and when the machine finally appears to malfunction, it's usually relegated to the attic. Generally, however, these poor maintenance practices don’t stem from negligence, but from misinformation. Diverse as the differing concepts seem, all these people have one thing in common: They all want optimum performance out of a machine, and they go about getting it in their own personal way.

However, optimum performance from a normally operating sewing machine is only possible under four conditions:

• The operator must come to terms with the machine.

• Someone (preferably the operator) should perform routine maintenance on the machine.

• The operator should know where the external adjustments are located, and how and in what circumstances they are used.

• The operator should know how the various threads and materials affect sewing machine operation, and should apply this knowledge routinely.

When these four conditions are fulfilled, a sewing machine will not appear to malfunction unless there is something truly wrong with it.

Finally, even a well used and cared for sewing machine may experience cumulative wear to a point at which internal adjustments or new parts are needed. When this occurs, you may trade the machine in a new one, or on a new used one, or call a repairman or analyze and correct the problem yourself. Which of these choices you decide upon depends upon many factors, not all of which are within the scope of this guide. If you consider the machine worth repairing, the choice to be made is essentially the same one you make when deciding whether to call a plumber to repair a leaking faucet, or repair it yourself. Do you repair your own leaky plumbing? Do you tune up your own car? Do you do the maintenance and minor repairs on your lawnmower? Do you replace broken windows yourself? If you do all of these things, the premise of this guide is that you can make the internal adjustments on your own machine, and in 95% of cases you can make repairs.

We can make the above statement because, apart from electronic controls that have replaced manual controls, there has been no radical departure in sewing machine mechanisms in over 30 years. Even the advent of the zig-zag machines made only slight changes in basic sewing mechanisms. When compared to the mechanisms of many other machines (electric typewriters, for example), the sewing machine mechanisms are straightforward and simple, with most of them being easily accessible and highly visible. In this guide we provide adjustment, repair and technical data on a variety of models of four name-brand machines, preluded in the first three sections by general adjustment and repair information which could be applied in a common sense way to most of the sewing machines that you might encounter. In Section 3 we will discuss maintenance, repair and adjustment from the viewpoint of the repairman, as it would apply to a representative cross-section of machines currently in use. In the sections that follow Section 3, we will outline specific maintenance, repair and adjustment procedures for a limited number of models of machines manufactured by and bearing the various brand names of the following companies:

• Section 4: Pfaff

• Section 5: White

• Section 6: Janome / New Home

• Section 7: Brother

To aid in compiling this information, all of these companies have provided us with technical manuals, and in some cases, parts lists, which are duplicates of those used by professional service men. So that the professionally-oriented data from the manuals might be clarified for layman-readers, substantial portions of it have been rewritten, and then submitted to the technical departments of the various companies to be read for accuracy.

The best way to read the guide is to read the first three sections in detail, then use the later sections on specific models as a sort of reference guide. If you can’t find your particular brand or model in the later sections, it’s a good bet that if you apply the general principles found in the first three sections, together with the information on a model that's somewhat similar to yours, you will arrive at a viable repair procedure. In so doing, you will achieve the satisfaction reserved for the most intrepid breed of all—the great American do-it-yourselfer.
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Monday, 2009-04-27 0:47