Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sewing Machines - Elna SP31 v's Singer 327K

Hello

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!

Cheers
Sharon

13 comments:

  1. I just came across your review. I have the Singer machine bought new. It has never failed me even with minimal maintenance. I've done better now that I have become interested in maintaining vintage machines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment Alyce, vintage sewing machines are much easier to look after, especially Singers, all you need is oil and a couple of singer screwdrivers. Asking Google helps if you get stuck, there is always someone out there who will help. Regards Sharon

      Delete
  2. Hello,
    I just purchased this machine as well. I was attracted to the color and the fact that as a vintage machine, it is strong like an ox. Do you know if one can fit different feet on this machine? Thank you! I hope you have been enjoying your machine.
    Paul

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Paul, it's a low shank machine so if you look for low shank Singer feet, they will fit. If you want to do free motion embroidery on it, you will need a special plate which lifts up the needle plate effectively lowering the feed dogs along with a darning foot. I will do a blog on lifting plates as I have one for it. I tend to use my 201s now as they drop the feed dogs. Thanks for visiting my blog. Sharon x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sharon, Thank you so much for your reply! I look forward to seeing your next blog regarding this machine. I see you also have a 221 that you enjoy. I have to try and have some self control as I have been looking for one for months. Again, thank you for your reply! I will start looking for some feet for the 327.
    Paul

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ah, the featherweight, wonderful machine! Go for it, hee hee! X

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very funny! That would be my fourth singer and I have enough trouble sewing on one at a time, let alone four :). We shall see. Does your featherweight utilize the low shank feet as well?

    ReplyDelete
  7. The last count of my machines, 5 Singers, a Toyota and 2 minature Essex! All the Singers are low shank so can swap the feet between them which is useful. To be fair, only really use the 201s and 221.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now I see why you say to go for it :). Are your other singer machines older or newer. I have also been looking at the model 66 for a while. I wound up with an 1889 Singer treadle with coffin top instead :). Have a good evening Sharon!
    Paul

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello again Sharon. I stand corrected. My self control ran out and my collection increased. I had put in an offer this morning on eBay for a 221 and just clicked over to see it was accepted. Very excited for the new addition. Thank you for the encouragement :). Sorry to keep pestering you. Have a great evening!
    Regards,
    Paul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paul, well done you will love it. Here is a great website for all things Featherweight http://april1930s.com/ takeca

      Delete
    2. Paul, have done a blog on the raising plates and low shank feet, hope this helps. If your new 221 comes with feet, they will fit the 327. Any questions feel free to ask.

      Sharon

      Delete
  10. Thank you so much for the useful information Sharon. It is much appreciated! There is a box of attachments with the 221 so that is great that they can also be used on the 327. I will check out the blog on the feet this afternoon. Have a great day!
    Paul

    ReplyDelete