Wednesday, November 27, 2013

the motor transplant--a love story

Now usually--as faithful readers of my blog will know--I write about dilemmas. Artistic questions--how do I design the quilt for the particular space, what is the color grey?  Or maybe I am going to a craft show. How do I arrange the display? You know the questions. Maybe by now you even know the answers.

This time though it is slightly different. Sure I am working on a big quilt for a customer which I want to get finished.

Yes, I am even getting ready for a show--CraftBoston this December 6-8 at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston.  For more info: There is even Moonlight Magic in Shelburne Falls this Friday. Parades. Candles. Music. I will be open until at least nine.

No this time I am writing a love story about my sewing machine. Now it is a Singer 281-3. A very standard industrial sewing machine. Apparently they made the same design from the 40's through the 80's. A few variations. Just enough so that those who really know sewing machines can date them.  Not me though. If I am told that my machine was made in the 60s I will believe them. After all I have had it since 1983. Bought it in West Springfield shortly after I decided to become a serious quilt maker. When the Kenmore I had purchased in high school for $20 finally gave up the ghost (or maybe it didn't since it was a metal machine but that is another story.)

And this machine has served me well. When I first got it, I was living by myself in a little house in the woods. Yes, I loaded it into my car and somehow or other managed to get it up the steps and into the house by myself. Oh I was so eager to try it out. But it sure was heavy even though it does come apart. You can remove the head easily though even that is heavy. I know. A couple of times I have had to take it down to West Springfield to get it fixed. There is an oil pan that comes off also.

It survived moving to my DH's house. Upstairs. Downstairs. It loved being in my darling studio in Shelburne Falls where I could sit and watch the Deerfield River flow by and the colors of the season move up and down Mount Massamont. 

And yes, it survived floating. Still has a few water spots on the throat plate where the water lapped at its edge. But one new starter switch and a flushed system later and the machine was good to go. Thanks Dick and Diane.

And yes, the machine survived ME. Sure I changed the oil every once in a while. Cleaned out the motor when I remembered. Even got a few new belts--the ones from the auto shop work just fine. Thank you.

Now of course there were a few things I didn't particularly like about it. I had it set at the slow speed of about 2000 stitches per minute. Fast enough usually but I sometimes wondered if I should switch pulleys and go at 3000. Never did though. And it was noisy. Turn it on and there is the sound of the motor. Always. I think it bothered my neighbors. The walls in my current studio are thin. Sorry.

But still I was not prepared to hear that ominous whirr in the motor Monday. The high pitch squeal that had never been there. The refusal of the engine to stop spinning long after I had shut off the power. Like the clutch in the clutch engine was gone. This could not be good. Argh!!! Had I tortured it to death by not cleaning the lint often enough? Was it the lasting effects of Irene? Who knew?

But there was no time for an analysis. Could I get it working again quickly?  I did not want to move the entire machine down to West Springfield to get it fixed. Ugh!!! I had far too much work to do. And it is HEAVY!!! Could I get a new motor and install it myself?  Time for some quick internet research. How lucky we are to have such a resource. Yes motors were available. Yes, they can be installed.  A quick decision. Contact my friends in West Springfield. Now they now sell a different engine. But yes, it could be delivered the next day. And yes, the holes are the same. Time to see if I can get my DH to help. What a sweetheart.

I removed the oil. We took off the head. And the oil pan.  My DH removed the bolts.

Removed the cords. Of course it was unplugged.

 Put on the new engine.  It is so tiny. Almost light weight by comparison.

The instructions were impossible. Translated Chinese is not my forte. A few diagrams that I really could not figure out. A few replacement parts that were beyond me. Adjusted the treadle. Realized that the included belt did not work but the old belt was just fine. How lucky I am that my DH is so good with such things. There he is adjusting the new motor.

And then to learn to use the new motor. This one is variable speed. I can dial fast or slow. That is the little blue dial you see there. This could actually be fun. Yes, I confess I made some potholders at my normal speed. Just to get the hang of it. And then I had to take it out for a full throttle test run. 3500. Unbelievably fast.  And unlike my old machine it does not run until I press the foot treadle. It is so quiet. How long will it take me to get used to this. But it works. Sweet. How great it feels to have a working machine again. How lost I felt without it.

For those in the area, I  hope you will drop by some time soon to see the new engine. Maybe even during Moonlight Magic. If I am not busy maybe I will run it for you. Full speed ahead. Just so you can see. And if you are not and have an industrial, do realize that the new--or well not 30 year old motors--are adjustable. But probably you knew that already. After all, I make quilts and only learn as much about sewing machines as I have to.

So what problems have you solved recently? What sewing machine do you use? And why do machines always challenge you when you were most busy?

1 comment:

  1. "And why do machines always challenge you when you were most busy?" My father, who works with computers, calls this the "critical need sensor," as in the more critical your need, the more likely the machine will stop working!