Friday, 6 December 2013

Singer 201s are very common, not so popular

It's a bit sad really. The greatest domestic stitcher ever made is the Singer 201. It has specially hardened gears and does a perfect stitch. It sews through practically anything with no fuss whatsoever. In its day, it was, fittingly, the most expensive you could buy and Singer still sold millions and millions of them!
 From the moment I used one, my eyes widened and I was deeply impressed with the ease with which it did its job.
Lately there seems to be a flood of them on eBay and Gumtree, and of the last two I got, the first (last Saturday) was free in a cabinet. It was, admittedly, seized and took about two hours solid work to clean and lubricate it, than another ten hours to get it moving properly! The foot controller was also faulty and didn't work at all. It took only an hour to fix and adjust this because I didn't disassemble the carbon pile (the wiring was the problem). I now make a point of always removing any capacitors in foot or knee controllers, and always checking and cleaning the motors. Cleaning them improves contact between the brushes and the armature, and results in a stronger motor.
The second machine was $50, and I didn't actually want this one, but in the picture with the machine was a very nice looking Swiss Zigzagger! It seems I was the first person to call: First of dozens according to the lady. She said she'd done research and they seem to sell for about $50. I told her about the Swiss ZZ and that it was probably the reason for its popularity. Got the machine, attachment and a buttonholer into the car and went home. She had admitted that she had never cleaned, oiled or serviced it and when it got stuck she just pulled out whatever was obviously in the way and kept going again! Needless to say it had an unusual amount of lint and dirt. Additionally, the motor's wiring, like most knee machines, was really stuffed. I carefully replaced the dangerous bits and repaired any damaged insulation. The Swizz ZZ was is very good condition, and all pattern cams were present in their original package. The buttonholer was seized up (I'd never seen one so stuck), and it took days of jiggling to loosen it up. Still not happy with it, so more work required there.
Before I post pictures, I have to suggest why 201s aren't more popular. It is a domestic machine that only does straight stitch. That's it, simply, these days people either want a domestic to do everything or an industrial straight stitcher. The 201 is not to be ignored, however. Add a good zigzagger and buttonholer (which the lady had) and you have a machine that can not only do a perfect stitch but everything else you'd expect. It won't, however, do free motion embroidery/darning very well. Apparently the horizontal bobbin makes it difficult for the machine to maintain good tension doing this.
OK, so it can do almost everything. What are you waiting for? Go get one! They're cheap, easy to fix and use the most common Singer bits: Class 66 bobbins, 15x1 needles, all common attachments, common bulbs and drive belts etc.
The free one, aluminium machine from 1954
Now the $50 one:
Bobbin area

Lovely lovely lintfest
Bare wires and melted plastic
After a clean, she looks lovely
Incidentally, I generally sell these machines for what I paid plus whatever it costs in fuel and car wear and tear. This makes for a very quick sale, very happy people and a lovely machine that will immediately see more service.

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