If she looks a lot like ole Ethyl it's because she's a younger version, both Kenmore 158's. No, no, no, no, NO I am not going to start collecting 158's, or Kenmore's or vintage machines. But I gotta tell you, it is fun bringing them back to life! I put this one on "lay a way" at the shop where I donated the computer Kenmore I killed. The guy, a quirky little older man with a desire to chit chat all day long, had a fair assortment of machines in the shop and waiting in the next room. When I picked this one he told me he'd want to clean and service it first.
Weeks and weeks later he called and told me it had a reverse that he could not repair. He did offer me another machine, a later but still vintage Kenmore. I hated the newer plastic one, with still nothing but zig zag and straight. I tried out several others in the shop before I asked to just have Betty, reverse or no. He looked a little surprised, and gave her to me for the $45 I'd already paid. It wasn't a great bargain for a dysfunctional old machine. It was the one I wanted.
The man told me he'd had her "all ready" and was looking at the beautiful stitches she made when he discovered she would not reverse. At first I wanted to think maybe he is a little senile, but after more reflection I think he was just a liar. I've started a new job but haven't quite left the old job, so I'm working day and night. The first day I didn't even have time to plug her in, but I did see it was still pretty dirty on the outside.
It didn't take long to discover that it was pretty dirty inside too. Really dirty. I wiped and could tell that it had been lubricated everywhere well, just on top of all that old gunk. I started man handling the reverse a little bit, and it wasn't long before it started to give, and then moved all the way into moving smoothly. I still hadn't turned on the machine, gullible me, still believing that the seller had indeed checked it out and all that was wrong was the reverse. Good thing I kept on going with the cleaning frenzy first, because when I got to the belt area, I found it completely off track. I strongly suspected then that the machine had not been checked for anything. I got to the bobbin case and had to laugh- it was screwed about 4 or 5 times around too tight. There would have been no kind of stitch whatsoever that could have been produced with that case in. So I slipped the belt back on (it does have just 1/4 inch or so too much play, I'll have to measure and order a new one- for both Kenmore's) and put that bobbin tension where it felt right pulling thread through and plugged it in.
Those old Kenmore's do a pretty, pretty stitch. I like how they kind of slant. This machine allows the needle to be positioned in center or right or left. It looks like it would take the same size cams that my earlier model takes. I am sad to say I don't have any, though I see them on eBay sometimes. I'll need a cam to do a blind hem stitch, which is really the only stitch I crave beyond the basic zigzag and straight.
|What's a cam, you youngster's ask? It's a little plastic disc that sat in this hidey hole and would do decorative and specialty stitches. Like maybe 2 per disc. It would not play music, take your picture or connect you to anything.|
Betty can take a double needle, Ethyl can't. Ethyl came in the cabinet and I've never taken her out, but this Betty! WOW, she's one heavy machine. I couldn't tell the light was on when I plugged it in and thought there wasn't one, it's that unhelpful. I was thinking no power switch was kind of bad. Took me until the second day to find both of those items.
If I hadn't been cleaning her, it might have taken a month!! Why are they both back there?
The working day and night thing is going to slow down the sewing, but maybe I'll do a belt replacing video when I get those. After I measure. After some sleep. In October I'm only going to work 5 days/one night weekly.