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.
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.