Monday, December 21, 2015

Working on the Singer 306k

That has been waiting for me since I bought it early last spring.  I oiled every thing up and plugged it in to see if it worked (the tag from the thrift store said it did not, but we know how that is).  It DID!  And pretty nicely too, except when I went to adjust stitch length with that pretty steel lever bottom right of the machine's neck, that lever snapped right off.  It was set in teeny tiny stitch mode.  It took a while to find another lever, until earlier this month as a matter of fact.  I've had it sitting on a book shelf on my stair landing all these moons. Most days as I walked by I twisted a knob or two, maybe took it for a few threadless stitches, to keep it all free moving and somewhere closer on my to-do list.
I downloaded a service adjuster's manual for a 306w because that's what I found.  Basically the same machine except I couldn't find any light/lamp on the W model.  These vintage manuals can have illustrations that are hard to see, not to mention at times hard to find at all for some of the more obscure machines.  So, I'm offering some illustrations of my repair of the stitch length regulator.  I'm not a pro, yaddi yaddi yaddi. And unplug your machine before starting to take it apart. 

First I had to take off the little numbered plate in front. Actually I didn't have to. That step is to remove the lever that I had already snapped off.  I hoped I would be able to see if my assembly was repairable by looking in there before I took the machine further apart. I really could not.

Next part was down under.  I thought I had cleaned this machine, but I guess I stopped after oiling when that leaver broke.  It will get thoroughly cleaned before it gets put into use.  The eccentric stud (so named by the manual) that the screwdriver is pointing to needs to come out, after loosening the screw just to the left (ingloriously named "C-3").  I did not use the screwdriver seen.  It won't work.  Mr. Rain at the fabulous Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog can tell you all about the right screwdrivers and a wealth of other stuff.  I picked up some screwdrivers from Walmart that will work because they are open at 6am. I am sure they are not as nice as the ones he directed readers to.  They do fit the screw slots on the machine well, and  that's the important part. By the way, that stud only unscrews so much, then you have to pull it out. Don't drive yourself crazy.

Then, ta-da, your assy is off from the bottom. There is one more screw however.  The book names it "screw E", ominously warns you not to strip it (Yikes!), and then tells you vaguely that it's behind the motor,  no diagram.  So, you have to flip it around unless you already had it backside up.  And to answer your other question, yes you do have to take the motor off.  Don't worry, this is really really easy.

It's just that one big ole screw there, holding it on by the bracket.  This is where and how to get most external motors off machines and how you get a new belt on too.

 Motor off, and there's screw E. More dirt, dirt, dirt! And look, this Singer was made in Great Britain. For giggles, read up on ole Mr. Singer one day.  Not if you're a churchy lady though. He was a cad, especially for his time.  Was not received in nice homes. Drummed out of the country and off his company's board too. ANYWAY, I found screw E no trouble to remove at all.  It also has much length without threads, so as soon as I could use my fingers to unscrew I did. Then you can feel when to pull it out.

Now you can pull out the stitch regulator assembly, from the bottom. It really was wedged in nicely.  I'm just a little nervous about getting it back in just right in the dark.

But, dammit!!!  The first lever is snapped off too low to pull out and replace with the new one.  I'm going to ask the guys at my friendly auto repair shop if they can ream it out, but I'm thinking I'll have to order the rest of the assembly. At least I know who to order from.  I have an  Ebay dealer named r0npm who told me he has lots of vintage parts machines, and since he had the lever I'll bet he has the assembly it came out of.  He was quick to respond to my inquiry for a part he did not have listed, confirmed with photo that it was what I needed, even offered technical advice.  Shipped it fast and it was less than $10, shipping included.
For today I still have no control of stitch length or reverse either.  I did clean quite a bit of the external crud from the machine as I replaced all of the screws I took out.

This is the light that the 306W apparently doesn't have.  It's in the back of the machine and very sturdily made.  For some reason it reminds me of Army equipment, WWII to cold war post Vietnam era.  I can almost smell a RATT rig.  I had to tinker  a little to figure out how to get it open  to try a new bulb in it.

If you twist it, it will pop off.  Goes back on easy.  That rust looks fresh. Did I get it damp back there?  I'll clean that up too.  Another day. Had to clean up and come to my 6th nightshift in a row.  Next night I'll sleep, which is tonight because it's black as heck past 5am and I gotta go attend to things.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I don't really like sewing

except for pieces of it.  I like doing free motion quilting or embroidery.  I like making bits and pieces, especially when they come out well, like a good button hole or some very nice pleats.  When I sewed a lot the first time in the mid 80's till the early 90's it was mostly for my kids.  I liked how quickly their little outfits could come out.  I loved how it made me feel like I was honoring my mother's memory, she sewed for all of us and died when my eldest was an infant. Even though it was kind of a grudging hobby, often frustrating and full of feelings of obligation, I threw myself into it the way I do with most interests.  I checked out every library book, watched any programing I could (Sewing with Nancy was pretty much it) and bought more than a few books and magazines.  I practiced and practiced techniques.  I bought every gizmo I could, sometimes waiting years but buying what I could.

This time I was motivated by stuff I started seeing on the internet. There were some fabulous bloggers out there and in particular I was mind blown by the ones sewing for kids, often self drafting patterns.  Wow!  Next came quilts, especially loving the modern trends.  I also love the fashion bloggers although I've only managed to sew myself a first time run for jeans, shorts length because it was just to be a wearable muslin.  I never got up to making the serious pair, though the fit of those short ones is kind of fabulous if I say so myself.  Well, I will, those jeans fit and look great.  Anyway, I can sew, I have a wealth of knowledge, I have the equipment and a pretty good fabric stash too. I suspect I still don't really enjoy it.  I hate how long it takes and how much mess it generates when I have a project in motion.  And I HATE cutting!

However, I really really love how thinking about sewing, reading about it, and occasionally doing it distracts me from bad stuff in my life and the world.  And I love it when I actually complete a project, especially one I'm proud of.  Mostly if I finish one, I'm proud of it.  I get the additional kick now of using machines I either restored or at least oiled and cajoled back to life.  Old honorable work horses that had previous lives in homes where they were probably needed and relied on more than in mine.

Friday, December 4, 2015

work bag is complete

and I'm very pleased with it. It looks very good and I know it's very sturdy.

Seven zippered pockets and the two patch pockets on the sides.  It's just a fraction larger than the original, but way more durable.

Lots of nooks and crannies, but I've been using the same model of bag for four years. I've kept stuff in all the same places so I don't have to rummage anymore.  That's a face mask poking out of  that back pocket and not a naked tampon in case it made you look twice.

One of the best things about this bag is the bright interior.  The original bag was unlined flakey man made stuff.  You couldn't see what was on the bottom, and when you stuck your hand in to feel, you got little black flakes all over your fingers.  Needless to say, your stuff got coated as well. I have been using zippered cases to hold everything in the main part of the bag for a while. I still will, but now if something does get loose in there it won't be disgusting to pull it out.

I shocked myself with how quickly I finished the project, roughly a week. I know lots of people can put something like this together in a day.  I am a slow sewer and easily diverted and sewing without instructions so I was happy with the time it took.  After completion I headed back to the periwinkles.  I had washed and pressed more yardage for the background, and I finally got to try out the shape cut, a ruler by June Taylor.

This is a ruler that has been out there for a little while, and falls into the "I wish I'd bought one sooner" category.  It looked a little small to get a volume of cutting done fast, and slightly flimsy especially for the price tag- around $24. give or take.  I used a 40% discount coupon at one of those big stores that do that discount thing after watching a youtube video on the ruler.  I prefer buying yardage over precuts most of the time, but cutting is not my favorite thing.

By folding the fabric selvedge to selvedge and then once again, you can fit enough under the ruler to get several strips.  Turn the ruler 90 degrees and then you have very fast units- here's 48 in less than a minute.

The cutting is done through slits inside rather than outside edges, the ruler remains stationary for more work so the cuts are more accurate too. The slits are every half inch, if you wanted something ending in 3/8 or 7/8 you would have to use a different ruler or trim down.  This stack was cut in about 3 minutes and will last me a long time. The ruler seems durable enough now that I've tried it out, and it certainly does make cutting any volume of fabric quicker than the one pass and pick it up method.