Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Liz Taylor of Featherweights

Who was a gorgeous movie star in the 1950's with shiny black hair and violet blue eyes, like the shiny black finish and blue badge on this gorgeous machine?

This is a drop dead gorgeous machine with a perfect, beautiful stitch.  I plowed her through a swatch of 16 layers and the stitch was absolutely flawless.  But she sews much more slowly than my 1956 Featherweight. The first side by side test I did, she was 25% slower.  Then I tinkered, adjusted and re-oiled BOTH machines, ran the test again, and she was 40% slower!  But I'm not sure if the one speeded up or the other slowed down.  ????

My 1956 model (I'll call her "Debbie," who is Liz's rival) isn't quite a dazzling but simply has more power.  The thing is, I can't figure out why.

I am just an amateur hobbiest tinkering around and figuring it out as I go, so in the pursuit of figuring out the discrepancy, I filmed the motors running, trying to visualize what could be the difference (I have already inspected, tweaked and adjusted everything I know including the belts.)

This is the 1951 motor running without the belt:

Here is the same motor (1951) running with the belt:

This is the 1956 motor running with the belt:

Not sure if this will clarify the problem in any way, but I'm still working on it.  Its a disappointment to have such a cosmetically beautiful machine only to find that it is underperforming.  If I didn't have the other machine to compare it to, I'd never even realize it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Beauties and The Beasts - Singer 221 and 503

Okay, this is where I left it last time, trying to choose a keeper.  The more beautiful machine -the Centennial 221 - which sews more slowly?  Or the nice, but not quite as snazzy 1956 model that sews much faster?  It would be so much easier if the beautiful machine was the superior one, but it just never works out that way for me.

Its not just the Featherweights that have presented me this dilemma.  I had the same situation with two 503 Rocketeers:

Left is the Beauty, Right is the Beast (with a duller finish and many more nicks and dings)

In both these situations the shabbier model sewed so much better that it left me with a true dilemma (a slight difference wouldn't have mattered and I'd have kept the pretty machine.)

So in both cases, I made the same decision:  I sold the beautiful machine.  They both performed adequately, and without the other machines to compare them to, I might not have even realized that they weren't running as well as they could (the new owners got nice machines for fair prices.)

With the Featherweights, I figured that I would be happier sewing on the model that was less cosmetically perfect anyway, because I wouldn't be worried about marring the finish.  Its for Sew rather than just Show.  The Rocketeers don't really have the same collector value, so cosmetic condition is only something that matters to the owner.  Since this is a machine I really do depend on, I need the best possible performance.

I now have the "second-best" looking machines, but I am content to know that they are tops in performance. And after all, that's what a sewing machine is really for.