Sunday, September 8, 2013

Refurbished Sewing Machines

I've been collecting and repairing machines for a few months, and have 6 ready to sell.  I'm thinking about having a sewing machine garage sale.  Here's what I've got...

I've written a list for each machine that points out it's positive and negative points.  Here's a closer look at each one.  You can click on the photo to get a bigger image.

Bernette Model #715
Oscillating hook, Bernette (made for Bernina), has it's sew table, and a good variety of stitches.

The logo washed off of the front, so I didn't dare wash off the logo on the back.  It's the only way to tell what it is.

It sewed off really nice.

Kenmore Model #158-16031
This is a beauty!  The one draw-back on this one is that it's a flat-bed.  It has some nice stitches built-in, oscillating hook, and clean.

It sewed off well, but I ran off the edge a bit.

Kenmore Model #158-17800
This one, I probably wouldn't have bought, just because it's a drop-in bobbin, but my DH brought it home.  It doesn't have any cams, and the buttonhole system is missing parts for it to work.

It sewed off pretty good, but I haven't cut off the top row of stitches, which were before I had the tensions balanced.

Montgomery Ward Model #UHT J1930
Lots of stitches on this one!  And it has a few accessories, oscillating hook, and a nifty spring-loaded sew table.

Sewed off well, too.
Riccar Model #333
No bells or whistles, oscillating hook, carry case.  I won't ask too much for this one, but I think it would be just fine with the right person.

It only has straight and zig-zag stitches, but what a solid machine!
 White model #701
This is another one I wouldn't have bought, but DH did.  And I'm glad he did!  It has some fun engineering!  The knob on the lower, left side releases a sew table in the front if you turn it one way, and another sew table in the back if you turn it the other way.  In the top, it has its dials and knobs for selecting stitches and even has a buttonhole system that you can set the size.

Lots of stitches on this one, and it sewed off surprisingly well for a rotary hook.

So, what do I look for in a thrift store machine?  
#1  does it have an oscillating hook system.  Yes, I'm prejudiced, but am softening a bit.
#2  does it have all of its parts?  hook, bobbin case, presser foot, foot control, needle plate, sew table, etc.
#3  does it run and function like it should?  We bought one that was missing its back-stitch mechanism, and was too old to get a replacement.
#4  Has it been knocked or dropped, and is the race intact?  If the race, or ledge that the hook sits on, is broken off, it might sew but will make a terrible banging sound.  If it's been knocked or dropped, it may have some bent shafts or broken internal parts.

We can tweak things like a burr on the hook or the timing (unless its been scrambled beyond repair).  We can clean up the old gummy oil, most of the time.  Some machines would take major surgery to clean up the old oil, and it wouldn't be cost effective.  I'm having a bit of trouble with noisy Kenmores.  I know they have a rattle, but these are extra loud.  I haven't figured out how to quiet them, yet.


  1. Do you still have the Kenmore Model #158-17800? I'm looking for one.

  2. I love your list of what you're looking for in a vintage machine. It must be so exciting when you find one that fits all of those qualifications! However, sometimes I feel like it's just so much more worth to spend a little more and buy a new one that I know works and will continue to work for a long time. Thanks for the article!
    Rosie |

  3. Would it be impolite to ask how much you ended up selling the MW UHT J1930 for?
    I have one in the exact same condition as the one you pictured here, and aside from an expired eBay listing with no pictures or description, I found it impossible to locate another one of the same model anywhere online!
    Given your expertise and obvious knowledge of these machines, I was hoping you could give me an educated price range to aim for as I'm seeking a buyer for my own.
    If you'd prefer not to share it publicly here, my email is ; I also understand if you wish not to disclose it at all, but I thought it would be worth a shot!
    Either way, I appreciate you taking your time to read this; I hope you enjoy many more days of repairing & maintaining the many sewing machines of the world! :)

  4. I sold the Montgomery Ward machine for $100 to a friend who I see occasionally at the store. She came into the store a couple days ago, and said she has her granddaughter sewing on it, and it's sewing very nicely. I haven't had much luck selling my refurbished sewing machines--maybe 2 or 3 per year. People try to compare these vintage machines to Walmart Singers, and there just isn't any comparison. Good Luck selling your machine!

  5. Hi, I just saw your blog and I believe we are just about sisters..Although I am jealous of your car experience, I did R/C cars and trucks, but I have always wanted to mess with a real car, but I to lack the power. I have been working on machines for about 5 years now, and I love it also, I cannot time the damn things, but I love to make them work again. Thank you for your blog, and I know I am a bit late with the comment. :)

  6. Hello, Sister Sewing Machine Mechanic! I still have trouble with some of the timing settings. But the Boss is there to help me with the hard stuff. It's the best way to learn. Have fun with it!