Monday, 21 July 2014

Singer 320K2

Can't believe I haven't posted about this. My first sewing machine was a 319k. I loved that thing (you can see it in previous posts). However, they're really common and after buying a couple more for their bits (e.g. double needle) I saw a picture of a 320k. This was the free arm version of the 319! Only about 5,000 of these were ever made, and I think most of them must have come to Australia. Four were auctioned last week on that auction site. I looked for over a year before finding one and bought a second a couple of weeks ago, during the 320k extravaganza of the Winter of 2014. The first one was more than perfectly adequate, but the second was listed as not working, cheap and had both the darning and straight stitch plates that mine didn't have.
Seems the only way you'll ever obtain anything as rare as these plates is to buy the machine too, so I bought a second one.
I used the first quite a bit, then when readying it for sale I made it like new again (as you do). The lady who bought it last Saturday was extremely happy with her purchase. I told her she could get her money back if she ever sold it. She narrowed her brow as if I'd just sworn at her. "I'll never sell it" she said. I absolutely love selling to people like her, who value them like I do.
I gave her one pack each of sizes 12 and 14 needles, darning foot, embroidery hoop, twin needle, the latter 3 are extremely rare.
The replacement came with a litany of problems. It had been set up for a 15x1 needle, which meant the hook timing would be out (which it was) and until re-set it wouldn't stitch properly, one of the motor brushes was broken in two, it had been re-wired wrongly so it would never have worked and someone had disassembled and reassembled the motor, but left out the part that stops the motor from flopping about and killing itself (that's what it sounded like - very loud banging as it worked). As if that weren't enough he took ages to send it and when he did, the packaging consisted of having a broken down cardboard box wrapped around the outside and nothing at all to prevent the insides from moving, so the fashion disc box was broken in transit. Miraculously nothing else was broken. After a few days of working at it, it sews quite well (although not perfect yet). Both machines were made in 1959.
Something that puts a lot of people off these Singers is that they use the 206x13 needle. Only Schmetz makes them and today they only make sizes 12 and 14. My friend's OSMG (old sewing machine guy) said that he modifies them to take a 15x1 needle. When my jaw dropped he said he doesn't change the hook timing but removes a small amount of metal from the bobbin case - the part the needle hits. Good idea, and this is the only way you could get away with using a 15x1 needle without ruining the stitch quality.
I'm now thinking of getting him to do this on a spare bobbin case and trying it out. There are no needles available for this machine if you want to sew heavy fabrics like denim (although I still have about 5 size 16s, they're not replaceable), but the machine is more than capable of handling it, so such a modification would be worth testing. Obviously I'll let you know the result.

22 comments:

  1. Just a bit of information..You can purchase an "open" bobbin case for those machines and then can use standard needles.. These are available on E-bay for a reasonable price.

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    1. Thanks Richard. I'll have a look for them.

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    2. Cyndy Kitt here Mike, I have discovered that the # 173058 case I get from my supplier has a large enough space for 15×1 needles
      https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.933546800002268.1073741851.134631913227098&type=3

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  2. Hi Mike, I just got a 319W and found it had a 15x1 mounted in it! It sews very well and the feed and hook timing seems right. I don't think the open bobbin case will interchange for most closed cases because of alignment issues with the case.

    I can report that it is very easy to widen/deepen the half moon cut out and even add some additional clearance at the top of the case using a simple dremel tool and smaller grinding stone bit. I can't tell if my vintage bobbin case was adjusted, but know that the modern replacements don't have clearance for the 15x1.

    I have also tried the industrial dbx1 and found it worked equally well as the 15x1. I have read that both the dbx1 and 15x1 both vary in overall length to a small degree.

    Have fun with your machine .. I have mine running on a foot powered treadle

    Happy Daysw

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    1. Hi Lee,
      The real test for a 319 with a 15x1 is to sew several layers of denim on it. That's the circumstance that it might perform eye surgery (luckily I blinked).
      About the dbx1: I bought some and they're only very, very slightly shorter than the 15x1 so basically useless.
      It's impossible to put a 320 into a treadle cabinet: The free arm means there would be nothing to rest on at the front.
      I'm actually a little disappointed with the 320 so far: When I needed to do a buttonhole I switched to my 201 and realised what a superior machine it is. The stitches are better and it puts up no fuss at all when you give it a challenge. Perhaps I just need to adjust it.

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  3. I think the timing changes you see discussed online wouldn't really work. Lee's dremel makes sense. Mine came with 15x1 needles and no marks on the bobbin case - possibly some cases had more clearance?

    The DBx1 needles available readily in Australia are definitely short point.

    Online photos of bobbin case damage show needle strike outside the 1/2 moon. This just isn't possible with a correctly mounted bobbin, though I will say some of my bobbins came with needle scratches on the outside. This would happen with short point needles as well - the eye drops below the edge of the bobbin.

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    1. Yes the timing changes are a crap thing to do to your 319/320. They really mess up the stitches. Like I said the dbx1 needles are only very very slightly shorter.
      http://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/319/ says never to use 15x1 and http://sewing-machines.blogspot.com.au/2008/10/more-on-needles.html has a picture of what happens.

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    2. Hi Mike,

      Yes, I finally got my hands on a 205x13 yesterday - 16/100 so let me know if you need some, they have tons. The BLx1 is about 1/2 way between in length, which fits what the ISMACS guys say http://www.ismacs.net/needle_and_shank/needle-cross-reference-charts.html

      As to that photo you link to, have a look at the operation of your 320 (or 319) and you will see why I say that photo does NOT show what happens with a longer needle. It shows what happens if you push the bobbin case only as far as initial resistance, and not over that to the lock position. The needle strike with a too long needle is in the 1/2 moon section, top left side as viewed in that picture, not where the damage is in that photo.

      Your OSMG said it can be done, and it's done by widening the 1/2 moon in the bobbin case

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    3. Hi again. 206x13. Yes I'm interested in size 16 needles.
      I haven't experimented that much with needles because it would necessarily involve smashing my bobbin case. The widening idea is a good one, but someone I know (who has a 319 and experimented quite a bit) said heavy fabric will drag and bend the needle enough for it to hit the case. Anyway, please email me about the needles.

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    4. Hi Mike,
      I put up a page discussing the 319W, 206x13 and bobbin case mods.

      You might find it interesting

      https://sites.google.com/site/oldironmachines/home/singer-319w

      Happy Monday

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    5. I read your blog entry. Ed's picture certainly has the damage in the spot my OSMG removed. Hopefully that was enough of a mod to remove the danger, but I'm sure I'll find out soon enough, considering the amount of use she gets (quite a bit).

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  4. Hi Mike,

    Could I please trouble you to let me know the Singer/Simanco numbers on your darning and straight stitch plates? I have some here that I can't match to anything by Googling. The darning plate has the number 161237 (from what I have read the 320k plate is supposedly 161238) and the straight stitch is 161241 (320k supposedly 161242). They look identical, but looks can be deceiving ... many thanks!

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  5. My 320K darning plate is 161237, SS plate 161241. It's pretty obvious if it's for a 320 just by looking at it. It looks like a 319 but square.

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    1. Thank you so much for your prompt reply!

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  6. I was given one of these a few years ago and the bobbin case looked chewed away. Later I found my needles breaking one after the other and discovered the needle issue of this machine online, but then it just stopped breaking them. Mysterioso. I suspect the previous owners just dug out part of the bobbin case back in the day. I am very interested in free motion embroidery now and wonder if it's possible to do that on this machine. It's already next to impossible to sew small curves without sewing one or two stitches, lifting the foot, turning the fabric slightly, and repeat.

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    1. It was made to do free motion embroidery but only if the hook timing's right (it often wanders on these machines).
      I've tried it a couple of times and it worked really well.

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  7. Do you know if there is a way to drop the feed dog for free embroidery?? I have one and cant figure it out! Tiff

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    1. I'll assume you don't have the manual then. Feed dog doesn't drop and you need the darning plate for embroidery or darning. If you don't have it you're in trouble: I've never seen one other than mine.

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    2. I have everything actually, i bought it from the original owner, but the manual doesn't say anything about drop feed... but then after searching on the net I read an article that says to remove the feed manually if you want to do free machine work.. so i did!

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. on page 28.. it just talks about forward and reverse... :)

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