Wednesday, August 10, 2011

If you hear a crash, followed

by a thump, it is just me, throwing my Singer Spartan out of the window.  The Spartan is a little Singer, made mid last century, and is an underrated little machine.  Except this one.  This one is over-rated.  I bought it a few years ago, at the start of my vintage sewing machine addiction.  I bought it from a sailor, who while not drunk perhaps, was definitely holding an open beer, but as we were on the dock at his berth, who am I to judge?  He was living on his boat, looking to get rid of any little thing he didn't need, and figured a sewing machine was one of those things.  I gave him a $20 and we both went away happy.

When I got it home, I found that a night light had been hardwired into the motor, and them electrical taped around the arm of the machine, to serve as a light for sewing.  The electrical tape had morphed into a new and interesting substance, both more and less than it once was.  It took a long time to get it all off, and there is still some tape residue that i had given up on disgust.(Spartans didn't come with a light.) When i disconnected the night lite from the motor, I realized that the wiring to the motor and the pedal really needed replacing, so I researched and did that.

I turned to the cleaning and de linting, and while taking apart the tension, lost a small essential part called the check spring.  The machine sits for about a year in here, with a note under the presser foot: lost check spring. Finally  I remember to buy a check spring, reassemble the tension, oil again, and rev her up.  Still some incipient thread breaking issues, but it seems like a burr in the slide plate, where the needle goes through, and that is simple enough to fix, once I find the abrasive string made for that purpose.  I notice that the motor seems to be running heavy, and power through a bunch of string blocks.  i figure a life at sea has left this machine with some stiffness and it would work itself through.

Then the lights went out.  Not the light on the machine- remember, the Spartan didn't have a light, and I removed the clever but stupid solution.  The lights in the room.  It was hard to think about the lights though, because my hand felt like it was on fire and my hair was standing on end. This faded after a moment, and I sat quietly in the dark for a moment, gathering myself. The hall light was on, and so it wasn't the whole house, it was just the things plugged into the power strip.

Remember when i said that the motor was running heavy, but I powered through?  That was because the cord was wrapped around the flywheel, merrily removing the insulation from the new cord with every turn.   The burning feeling was the shock I got, and the dark was from the power strip going out.

Calmly, I unplug the machine.  I see that in the excitement, the thread has tangled around the check spring, pulling it out of shape.  Numbly, I take the tension apart, untangle the check spring, and promptly drop the spring.  It rolls away.  I concede defeat, and back slowly out of the room.


Anonymous said...

Cindi Peters makes an after market hand crank and spoked wheel that fits (and works) wonderfully.


Anonymous said...

Too funny! They make a lovely little hand crank!

DragonPoodle said...

it's a good thing you are a nurse!

Michele Bilyeu said...

Oh my word. I am so sorry, but this had me howling and I agree with DragonPoodle..good thing you are a nurse! At least it was only $20. So can you run AC/DC now or still American only. You didn't say where the sailor was from ;) Actually, now that I think of it, best sailor story I've heard!

AlisonH said...

What they said. Goodness, Laura. (I showed you off on Thursday, by the way, wearing the shawl from the merino you dyed and surprised me with.)

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I converted my Spartan to a hand crank last week. It sews beautifully! It worked with the motor, but, I hadn't done more than test it with the motor on it because I didn't have a belt for it at first. I'll use it with the motor sometimes, but, I'm having too much fun hand cranking it right now. Check with Cindy Peters for a spoked hand wheel and a crank. Then you will like these little beauties. I'm kinda afraid of some of these old motors and wiring, especially if someone has messed with the wiring (especially while drinking).

Miss Kitty said...


I hate when stuff like this happens. Especially with an older machine for which you had high hopes, or which you used for many, many years before the trouble.

You've inspired me to post about my Mom's sewing machines. She has four: a 1960s Kenmore that wa a gift from Grandma; an early-1990s Brother that is her main work-horse, since the old Kenmore needs a lot of help; my fancy Brother CS6000i, just a couple years old and that Mom uses for fancy stitches; and a late-1990s Pfaff serger that was a hand-me-down to Mom from Aunt Sophie upon her purchase of a brand-new Pfaff serger that does everything except your taxes.

Hmm...a new post is writing itself.