Last year on a whim I left a bid on an Elna Sewing Machine on the internet, I figured that because it was in an auction it would be PAT tested and therefore actually working.
You should never assume anything? I won the auction and went to collect it. It didn't need a PAT test as it didn't have a plug on, they had cut it off. So home it came with me and sat in its case for months while I tried to figured out which was the neutral wire, one wire was brown and one was blue, searched the internet and found very confusing information. Then had a brainwave, my neighbour was an electrician so he fitted a plug in no time. It had its manual with it, good job cos the threading was different way round to what I am used to. Got it sewing, then discovered that the needle positioning dial was stuck solid, wouldn't budge an inch but it was ok for normal sewing, sewed smoothly and I was really pleased with my bargain. Until I decided to fix a horse rug with it! The internet said that it was a heavy weight, swiss quality machine so I figured it would be OK. It sewed the really thick stuff with a bit of a struggle but I took it slowly, then I was sewing a easy bit and the whole machine jammed solid, wouldn't budge an inch.
So back to the internet for inspiration, found a brill forum https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/elnaheirloomsewingmachines. They were really helpful, told me what to look for and they were spot on, it had sheared the pinion gear which is a nylon gear which rotates against a metal gear at the bottom of the hook mechanism. They gave me details on where I could get another gear and details on how to fix it. But when I contacted the company, they can't get the parts for old Elnas since Janome took over Elna, he said the they only way was to find another machine and pinch the parts off it. I did find a couple of companies in Amercia that sold the part but they didn't ship to England. Found some on Amazon but they were generic ones and not original parts.
So a rethink was necessary, did I really want to mend a machine that could break so easily, to be fair to it, the gear was covered in old grease which had probably got too thick and jammed but it wasn't the heavy duty machine I thought. I really wanted a tough machine, my Toyota machine has cams for lovely embroidery stitching and I can use that when my beloved Featherweight can't cope with thick material but I really didn't want to break the Toyota.
So another Singer was in order. Searched Ebay, found that Singer 201 were the best but they are quite expensive. Found a 327K which isn't the most popular machine but its got metal gears so I left a £30 bid and won, it was only 9 miles away so went and picked it up. It was advertised as working but when I tried it, the motor would run but the needle wouldn't move, I lifted the foot up and it started to move so figured that it just needed a good clean and oil to free it up so paid for it with my fingers crossed.
Its a big brute compared with the Featherweight. Gave it a good clean and oiled everything that moved, the gears were covered in thick black grease so cleaned all that off and put Singer Lubrication on the cogs. Put in a new needle and switched it on. It was sewing but only in a fashion, kept skipping stitches on the straight stitch, wouldn't zig zag at all. So changed the tensions, stitch size, the foot pressure, the bottom tension, tried all sorts of combinations, searched the net for solutions, reread the manual over and over again to see what I had missed. Then in desperation, changed the needle again and hey presto, it worked! Used the same size needle. Both needles were brand new, both were the correct 2020 and inserted correctly. It now sews beautifully, its not as noisy as I was expecting after reading reviews on the net saying it was like a tractor. Its not the prettiest machines but it can sew tough fabrics. I had just replaced the zip in my day glow yellow jacket that I walk the dog in, as we walk in the dark the cars need to see me as there aren't any footpaths, the zip had broke so it was either buy a new jacket or a new zip, went for the zip option but my toyota struggled to go through the layers of tough material, the Singer whizzed through it so I am thrilled with my new heavy weight.
Its funny how much more you learn about your machines when they break. If you are wondering what I am going to do with the Elna, she is going to be broken up and sold on Ebay, how cruel is that!