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Old 19-02-2016, 20:38   #16
Zeb
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Re: Sewing Machines

We use a Sailrite machine. They are costly, but hard to beat the support and availability of parts/accessories that Sailrite offers. They can easily walk you through tuning or any support you might need. Great company IMHO.

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Old 19-02-2016, 21:48   #17
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Re: Sewing Machines

Ability to sew through tough stuff like salt encrusted sail material, or heavy leather is really just a function of motor power and the gear ratio of the motor and the machine internal drive (usually the upper shaft or handwheel).
That being said, most older (cheap buys in the used market) machines are pretty much equal.
If you can find a Viking Husqvarna machine in the 6000-6400 series, they have a high/low gear feature which will sew through almost anything.
Be aware that although they were very well built, they suffer from being sold as "Never needing oiling" YEAH RIGHT !!
Therefore, a lot of them have been retired due to seizing up.

Here's an example of that machine:

Viking Sewing Machine for Parts or Repair | eBay

That one even has needle up/down selection, good for making neat corners.

If you find one in a garage sale or thrift store, make sure the knobs all move easily.
They can be brought back to service, but not necessarily just with a minor lube.
Sometimes it takes a judiciously applied heat gun or even a propane torch!

Most run of the mill 70's or 80's machines when properly serviced and adjusted will sew through 2 or 3 layers of leather and up to 8 layers of denim without a problem. If you can fit the work under the presser foot and the machine is properly adjusted, it probably will do the job.
My favorite home machines are Bernina, but there are lots of other decent machines for boat use.
Most of the all metal Kenmores of the '70's, Singer's (301's up to to 500 model series) but watch out over #500 as some are good, but lots of them went to plastic gears and cheapo.
It's a crap shoot over model 500 with Singer.
Basically all metal machines made in Japan of that era are decent, just make sure belt tension is tight enough to make the motor turn slowly but not completely stall if the handwheel is held tight and you stomp the pedal.
It ought to sew leather no problem with a good needle.
Singer Featherweights are beautiful machines and very popular for piecing when making quilts, but are way too slow and gutless for boat work.
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Old 16-04-2016, 23:39   #18
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Re: Sewing Machines

My friend is clearing the family boat after his dad passed away and he has a Singer 20u "Professional" aboard he wants to see go. Its a manual one, no motor, you pedal the big metal board with your foot to make it go.

Are there fitting electric 240v or 12 v motors available for this? If yes, would it be "plug n play to install one?

Machine looks like 50 years old. Are they any good for sail yacht sunbrella and sail jobs?
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Old 17-04-2016, 00:30   #19
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Re: Sewing Machines

Sinse SailRite is not available in our part of the globe, I bought Janome JB 1108 and a separate walking foot for it. It supposed to be able to sew "extra-heavy" fabrics. We'll see if it does. I don't actualy count on it for sails repair, but I will need some cushions work soon, and I hope it will be OK for that.
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Old 17-04-2016, 05:33   #20
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Re: Sewing Machines

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Originally Posted by ErikFinn View Post
My friend is clearing the family boat after his dad passed away and he has a Singer 20u "Professional" aboard he wants to see go. Its a manual one, no motor, you pedal the big metal board with your foot to make it go.

Machine looks like 50 years old. Are they any good for sail yacht sunbrella and sail jobs?
Sailrite's Matt Grant says (in "Sail Sewing Machine" - Sailrite Forum )

"The other option would be to look for a steal on an older machine like the Sailrite Sailmaker, the Reeds Sailmaker, the Phaff 138, the Phaff 130 (rebuilt with larger motor), or Singer 20U. I have seen some of these sell for $200. Your issue will be that you need a zigzag machine that also does a nice straight stitch. This type of machine is harder to come by than a straight stitch only machine. Knowing what I know about the market and the machines, I still buy the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 myself."
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Old 17-04-2016, 06:32   #21
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Re: Sewing Machines

I've owned many of the all metal home machines. My collection is finally down to just four, but they they still tend to follow me home, get oiled and adjusted, and go on Craigslist to make someone happy.

I'm very partial to the Japanese machines from the 50's to the early 70's. They tend to have powerful motors, all metal construction, and many of them have really cool styling.

My absolute favorite machines from that era are the Kenmores. The styling tends to be boring, but I think they have some features that slightly edge out the other machines from that era. One example would be the high lift presser foot that let's you deal more easily with bulky projects. If....IF....you go with a domestic machine, you would be very well served by any of the 158 series machines from Kenmore that are labeled, made in Japan. You might see a Kenmore advertised as a model 16 for example, but if you have the seller check the metal plate on the base of the machine it will say model 158.165200.

You'll pay anywhere from $20 to $120 for a Kenmore. You should not hesitate to pay in the upper range if you know for certain that it is properly oiled and adjusted. Most that are for sale, need to be thoroughly oiled and adjusted, which is something you can learn to do. Even if you buy one that's been serviced, you'll need to learn to oil and care for it. Not difficult, but it has to be done.

The Kenmore will be great for clothes, etc., and I just got done sewing a Sunbrella sail cover for my boat. You'll be able to use heavy, outdoor thread like bonded polyester V69 (you can get it at Sailrite), but you probably won't be able go heavier than that. If you want to use it to repair your sails, and your sail is constructed with heavier thread (very likely), a home machine may not be ideal for you.

I'm a fan of the Sailrite machines. The zig zag model could serve you well. It'll use the heavier threads and has a walking foot. You can find similar machines for half as much (Barracude, Reliable), but Sailrite has BY FAR the best support and by a reasonable margin, the best machines of that type (portable and canvas/sail capable). It will sew clothes, but doesn't have the variety of stitches a Kenmore offers (stretch, blind, decorative). The Sailrite will handle heavy materials and sails, but will ultimately be limited by it's small throat size (like a domestic machine)...if you have to sew in the middle of a large sail, you can reach a point where you're unable to roll up the sail tight enough to fit through the machine.

The best solution is a table mounted, full size industrial machine, and a full featured home machine. But you're going to need to get a bigger boat. The Sailrite, IMHO, is the best compromise for someone who wants a heavy duty machine on their sailboat.
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Old 17-04-2016, 08:09   #22
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Re: Sewing Machines

My wife has a Pfaff 130, which we used the Pfaff on the boa. It was OK for canvas work and re-stiching sails, but limited out at about 4-6 layers of dacron or 6-8 layers of sumbrella--it would break needles in the heavy stuff if you tried to use the motor in reverse. Never a problem sewing windows into dodgers. It has a bigger than standard motor, but I have often though about putting a more modern motor on it that would give better speed control at low and starting speeds--the machine is certainly stout enough to take it.

I have not used a walking foot machine, but I'm pretty sure it would do a better job on the heavy stuff--some of my seams were not very straight. My question is whether the walking foot machine would work for sewing clothes, which the Pfaff does quite well (according to my wife).

We switched to Tenara thread about 10 years ago for canvas work and genoa sun covers, and it is easier to sew with than dacron--no thread breakage.
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Old 17-04-2016, 08:33   #23
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Re: Sewing Machines

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I...have never understood the almost religious fervor for the Pfaff 130...Can someone please enlighten me?
The Phaff 130 is a mechanical work of art and so well made.
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Old 21-04-2016, 16:58   #24
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Re: Sewing Machines

Murlen, We have a Sailrite that is an amazing machine. It is super tough for working on sails and canvas but I'm sure you can use it for sewing clothes and family items. They are expensive, but if you want to be able to repair sails and other boat-related items, they can't be beat.
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Old 21-04-2016, 17:31   #25
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Re: Sewing Machines

Singer Heavy Duty ones are fine for all clothes and for light sails. Buy the strongest unit around.

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Old 25-04-2016, 13:54   #26
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Re: Sewing Machines

I have a kenmore from the 70s/80s I got off craigslist for 40 bucks. Works well so far!
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Old 25-04-2016, 18:37   #27
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Re: Sewing Machines

I have a phaf 230..chews through sunbrella without noticing.

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Old 25-04-2016, 21:06   #28
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Re: Sewing Machines

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I have a phaf 230..chews through sunbrella without noticing.
As do I. Looking forward to get a servo motor for it. Any links anyone for 230v one?

About Husquarna Viking and Automatic, the older models (green metal casing) is much better than the never ones.
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Old 28-04-2016, 16:49   #29
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Re: Sewing Machines

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As do I. Looking forward to get a servo motor for it. Any links anyone for 230v one?



About Husquarna Viking and Automatic, the older models (green metal casing) is much better than the never ones.

Replaced my Bimini with a temp canvas cover with grommets tied to the frame. Was intending to do a rebuild of the bimini.

The no-see-ums are particularly ravenous. So instead I broke out the LSZ and did a patch job on the old bimini and installed my full enclosure.

I will replace the enclosure panes with screen cloth and do the sewing with a 3 yr old Viking 118. The little Viking will sew through several layers of canvas and is a breeze to use.

I have caused timing issues twice by trying to sew through heavy fabric. Now, I manually turn the wheel and pierce the fabric if I have doubts.

Live and learn.

I am nowhere near an expert and the Viking is all I have ever used besides a palm and awl.
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Old 10-08-2016, 09:55   #30
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Built strong....Like Russian Tank!

Yeah,

It is crude. The finish is rough. It might throw oil in yer eye....

But it is strong, and hopefully continues to run flawlessly. And $285 for a walking foot, Zig Zag machine? I figured it was worth a try.

The universal below has plenty of horsepower, but I needed zig zag for trampoline work.

So far, so good. 6 layers of Sunbrella flows like one, the stitches are tight and subsurface. Portable Walking Foot Sewing Machine






I will report back if I have any issues.....

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