Posts Tagged Sewing
The pedal on one of Mary’s Kenmore Model 158 sewing machines lost most of its speed control abilities, which past experience has shown indicates its carbon / graphite disks have deteriorated. Fortunately, I still have a supply of disks from the Crash Test Dummy machine and have gotten pretty good at dismantling the pedal housing.
While I had the pedal apart, I filed the brass contact plates smooth again:
Most of the deterioration happens within half a dozen disks snuggled up against those contacts, a few more on the other end of the stack against the graphite button applying the pressure, and an occasional grimy disk in the middle of the stack.
I filled both stacks flush to the top of the ceramic housing, then removed one disk from each to let the brass contacts slightly compress the stacks:
A quick test showed the control range started a bit too fast, so I removed one more disk from the stacks, buttoned it up, and it’s all good again: a slow start with a good range.
The first white LED fixture built to illuminate one of Mary’s Kenmore 158 sewing machines has been in regular use for the last four years:
We never found a good time to rip-and-replace the “prototype” with brighter SMD LEDs and one of the LEDs finally gave up.
They’re 10 mm white LEDs with five chips wired in parallel, which is obvious when you look into the remaining LED running at 1 mA:
The center chip is just dimmer than the others, which means their QC doesn’t tightly control the forward voltage spec.
The wire bonds on the anode terminal of the failed LED look a bit sketchy:
Fortunately, I hadn’t removed the 120 VAC wiring for the original bulb and I have two OEM bulbs from other machines, so I just removed my LED gimcrackery, installed a good old incandescent bulb, and she’s back to sewing with a pleasantly warm machine.
The fixture holding the LEDs broke apart as I extracted it, but it’ll never be used again:
The LEDs are rated at 3.5 V and 200 mA (!), but were reasonably bright in series from a 6 V unregulated supply. Perhaps a power glitch killed the poor thing? We’ll never know.
LEDs are reputed to have lifetimes in the multiple tens of thousands of hours, but I’ve seen plenty of failed automotive LEDs and fancy new LED streetlights out there, not to mention many dead and dying traffic signals. Seeing as how they’re in (presumably) well-engineered fixtures with good power supplies and are at most only a few years old, there shouldn’t be any failures yet.
Mary mentioned the pivot pin supplied with a quilting ruler tended to hang up on the layers of fabric and batting in the quilt squares she’s been making. A quick look showed the pin bore a remarkable resemblance to an ordinary thumb tack:
I reset the pin shaft perpendicular to the head, grabbed a small brass tube in the lathe tailstock, inserted pin in tube, grabbed the head in the chuck, ignored a slight radial offset, and attacked the pin with fine files and sandpaper:
The lathe chuck seemed the easiest way to firmly hold the head; I rotated the chuck by hand while filing.
Most of the remaining scratches go mostly parallel to the pin, but it really didn’t work much better than before. We decided polishing the pin wouldn’t improve the situation enough to make it worthwhile.
That’s the difference between sharp and keen, which cropped up with the cheap ceramic knife from a while ago. The point may penetrate the fabric, but the shaft can’t get through the tight weave.
She’s now using a scary thin and pointy embroidery pin, having successfully rebuffed my offer to mount it in a suitable base.
It turns out the thread guide on Mary’s new Juki TL-2010Q sewing machine has what’s euphemistcally known as “negative clearance” with the ruler foot she uses for quilting patterns. With the foot raised to move the cloth, inadvertently pressing the foot pedal or turning the handwheel can crunch the thread guide against the foot.
As you might expect, the intricately bent wire thread guide doesn’t survive the encounter. Not having a spare ready to hand and not knowing quite what it should look like, I reshaped it as best I could:
It worked moderately well:
The automatic needle threader wasn’t reliable, but she could cope until the replacements arrived.
Comparing the new one (left) with the wrecked one (right) shows I didn’t re-bend the loop tightly enough, putting the end on the right at the wrong angle:
It’s the kind of shape you can duplicate by the thousands with a production machine, but can’t make at home without entirely too much tedious effort.
The new one works fine, seen here in front of a walking foot, with the auto-threader looming in the upper foreground:
Aaaand now we have spares!
One of the leather strap anchors on Mary’s giant haul-everything-to-a-concert(*) handbag pulled its rivet through the canvas fabric:
We knotted the strap around the zippered opening and completed the mission.
Of course, it wouldn’t have pulled through if they’d splurged on washers, but noooo too expensive:
Some rummaging produced a pan-head M3 screw of suitable length:
A slightly battered acorn nut was a special treat for the inside, with another washer to keep me happy:
That was easy!
After a week of use, Mary decided the single additional graphite disk in each stack produced a too-high initial speed when the sewing machine started up; this being a matter of how it feels injects some of trial-and-error into the repair.
Shaving a graphite disk down from 0.8 to 0.4 mm seemed entirely too messy, so I snipped squares from 0.40 mm = 16 mil brass shim stock, nibbled the edges into a polygon, and filed the resulting vertexes to produce a (rough) circle:
Each stack looks like this:
- 1.5 mm graphite disk (double-thick)
- 0.30 mm brass (original part)
- 0.79 mm graphite disk
- 0.40 brass (new part)
- The rest of the stack
Protip: dump those shards onto a strip of wide masking tape, fold gently until it’s all corners, and drop in the trash. Otherwise, you’ll pull those things out of your shoes and fingers for months…
You can get cheaper nibbling tools nowadays; I’ve had mine for decades.
After watching Mary fiddle with the shrunken presser foot screw, I tapered the tip as a guide into the hole:
A hint-and-tip (which I cannot, alas, find again) suggested making bushings to simplify trimming screws in the lathe. A rim on the bushing aligns it with the front of the jaws, the screw threads into the central hole with a jam nut locking it in place, then you can turn / shape / file the end of the screw just beyond bushing with great support and a total lack of drama.
For the moment, I just aligned the screw in the tailstock drill chuck, crunched the three-jaw spindle chuck on the screw head, backed off the tailstock, took unsupported sissy cuts, and it was all good:
Gotta make those bushings!