Wheeler and Wilson #3

Wheeler and Wilson #3 – 1872

This machine was brought to Alberta from Kawartha, Ontario in 1875, according to the family history, and is 148 years old at the time of this writing.

The W&W #3 is notable as it debuted in 1860 and was one of the first sewing machines to utilize a rotary hook and a four motion feed, which Wheeler and Wilson patented in 1851 and 1854. This hook and feed system is used to this day on many machines although the workings on modern machines are all hidden away.

This machine is a lockstitch machine, with a glass presser foot, made so that the sewist could see the stitches forming, and unlike a modern machine, it sews left to right instead of front to back. This was favoured by shirt makers and an industrial version was offered as well as the domestic model shown here. It also used a curved needle and replacements are available, but they are rare and very costly so this machine would not be one you would want to use daily.

It is interesting to compare this machine, which might be mistaken for a scroll saw, with our Singer 12k which is an 1874 model, (the model debuted in 1864)… and would be instantly recognized as being a sewing machine. It is also the machine that made Singer the dominant global manufacturer they came to be, and was widely copied.

Singer bought up Wheeler and Wilson in 1905 and their Bridgeport facility became the location where Singer produced many of their industrial machines.

Singer 421G – Slant Needle – Freearm

Singer 421G – 1963

Singer was a global company and did some odd things, like offering the 421G free arm model in Europe and restricting it’s sale in North America. Like the later 431G (1964-65) this machine was very similar to the domestic 401A but added that wonderful detachable bed.

As such, examples of these German made Singers in North America are rare and were only brought back to this side of the pond by individuals, often those who served in the military in Germany, where Singer made the 110V model available for purchase.

The original production numbers of these machines is also very low as it was the top of the line model offered, and was an extremely expensive purchase, costing the equivalent of $4000.00 if we adjust for inflation.

Many people have said that the German made Singers are even better than their domestic counterparts, the tolerances and build quality of all the 4xx series machines is really exceptional and most of them we come across still look and run like new, even though some might be over 60 years old now.

Slippin’ and Slidin’

Super Lube Synthetic Oil

For many years we have been using sewing machine oil (light mineral oil) as well as Tri Flow synthetic oil for it’s excellent penetrating qualities and lubrication, with the only issue being the banana smell of Tri-Flow.

In order to reduce the VOC’s, I opted to switch to Superlube synthetic oil much like we switched to using Superlube grease instead of Tri-Flow grease. The new oil is approved for food service use, is clear, a little thicker than Tri-Flow, and like the grease is safe on just about all plastics.

If you are going to be sewing long and hard and want the best protection for your machine’s moving parts; a synthetic oil is superior to petroleum based oils, lasts longer, and in tests, we have found that the Superlube performs even better than Tri-Flow.

Superlube oil and grease is widely available at many hardware stores, Walmart, and auto supply stores so you don’t have to order it online or hunt too hard to find it.

Covid 19 Update – March 22, 2020

During this very difficult time we are suspending classes, and any one to one close contact in the shop in order to protect ourselves and our customers and extended family members from any possible infection.

We will continue to offer online sales of parts and accessories as well as online support if you happen to have any simple machine issues.

Machine repairs will be done on a drop off / pick up basis, maintaining adequate social distance measures and proper sterilization procedures of the machines and cases.

As we are looking at a fairly long stretch of self isolation, we know how important it is to be able to enjoy hobbies and activities, and we will support our commercial customers, especially if their work is essential to people’s health.

Singer 66 Lotus – 1923

Singer 66 “Lotus” – 1923

When Singer introduced the model 66 in 1902 it would stand as the finest machine Singer offered until 1931, when the Singer 201 was introduced. they were produced into the 1950’s and went virtually unchanged save for adding a conventional presser bar, and a reverse / back tack.

The mechanism is so smooth one might think it was a rotary like the 201, and the stitch quality is flawless. These machines were made in the millions and the decal set on this Scottish made machine are unique to the model 66 that was made in Kilbowie.

To this day you would be hard pressed to find a machine that sews any better.

Our Kenmore 158.1931

This 1977 Kenmore was the second vintage machine I purchased and it’s wonderful finish and appearance belies the fact that this machine has seen thousands of hours of use and has probably sewn a million stitches.

In the mid seventies Singer had slipped and was still making good machines, but in order to cut costs they had outsourced production and were using a lot more plastic internally which we now see failing in many of their models. Kenmore machines really were the best value for the money as they could run against machines like Bernina and Pfaff, which sold for twice as much and in many cases, were actually less capable or versatile.

Original catalogue listing.

If one adjusts for inflation, this machine cost the equivalent of $2000.00 (in 2019) and it is one of the few vintage Kenmores that currently rates a fairly decent price on the secondary market as they are quite hard to come by. I figure that many people who bought one originally are still using their machines as there is simply no reason to upgrade when a machine is this good.

There is something to be said for all metal construction and extremely high quality standards, and I suspect a machine this this will sew for 100 years.

It has never failed in any task and I often use it as the standard by which other machines are judged.

Husqvarna Viking 1090 – Underbar !

We picked this Husqvarna 1090 up on one of our daily adventures this past week for a ridiculous sum of money, ridiculous as it was so little and the shop selling it really had no idea. To them it was just an “old” heavy sewing machine and they had a few later model plastic machines selling for twice as much.

I have been running it through it’s paces and have to say I am very impressed with the user friendly design as if you have used a sewing machine, this machine is not going to confuse you. The display tells you everything you need to know from what foot to use, and what needle is required.

It has not seen much use and was recently serviced by another local shop, it runs beautifully and makes an incredibly nice stitch, which is what one should expect from any Swedish made Husqvarna.