I wasn’t looking for a new sewing machine

Some projects are the result of brainstorming and hours of planning.  And others just present themselves, happy opportunities just waiting to be seized upon.

That’s what happened the other morning on the way to church.  We’d made it about a block from our house when he says, “Sewing machine on the curb.”  And then he looks at me.  “Should I stop?”  But of course he wasn’t waiting on an answer; he was already making the turn to go back and pick up the sewing machine on the curb.

He knows me so well.

When I got out of the car, I could see that the top of the case was labeled “Bad worn gear.” I was sad for about half a second as I thought about this happy discovery being snatched away from me by the knowledge that the machine was a dud.  But then I thought, it’s free so why not take it and see exactly what this bad worn gear is.

And so I lugged that machine back in the car.  And lugged is the appropriate term because this was a HEAVY machine.  Like, two hands to lift it heavy.

I wasn't looking for a new sewing machine

Later that day, we opened up the case to find a vintage Singer sewing machine.  A Fashion Mate 257, which I promptly looked up on the Google to find was produced in the early 70s.  I plugged it in and pressed down the foot pedal.  The moment of truth.  And this machine purred…. In fact, the motor sounded so nice that I couldn’t help but wonder if the “bad worn gear” was a mistake.

I wasn't looking for a new sewing machine

But I couldn’t test the theory any further until I actually threaded it up, which was delayed a few days because I had to order bobbins that fit.  The curbside machine came with no attachments, no bobbins.

And it was when the bobbins came in that I realized that there was indeed a “bad worn gear.”  I filled a bobbin, put it in the machine, and cranked the handle to pull the thread up.  Didn’t work. The bobbin mechanism wouldn’t turn.

At this point I sought the assistance of my husband, who is nothing short of a mechanical genius.  Seriously, he can fix anything.  He dug around under and inside the machine and found the culprit.  The “bad worn gear.”

I wasn't looking for a new sewing machine

Bad worn gear is an understatement.  More like, only half a gear.

Between my husband, the Google, and I we figured out what the gear does and where to get a replacement.  It’s the vertical arm shaft gear.  It transfers power from the main shaft to the bobbin. Without this gear, the bobbin can’t turn.  We ordered the replacement part right away.

So far, we’ve got a little over $20 invested in this “free” machine.  On the one hand, I’m laughing at the ridiculousness of investing any money or time at all into rehabbing a machine that I don’t need. At all. I have two sewing machines already, and actually no place on the sewing table to place another.

But on the other hand, I am thoroughly excited at the thought of getting this machine back up and runing.  It’s about taking something that was broken and discarded, and making it useful again.  This machine was built to make things. Someone purchased this machine with the intent of making things, and they did.  They made lots of things with it.  And then somewhere along the way the gear broke and it got packed away. Forgotten, probably.  And then dug out and hauled to the curb because of that one broken gear. As dorky as it sounds, I want to bring the life – and the potential to make things – back to this machine.

It’s also kind of a fun problem-solving activity for my husband and me.  A little mystery waiting to be solved.  I can’t wait to see if the replacement gear gets this baby working again!




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  1. Pingback: The curbside Singer Fashion Mate 257 lives!

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