Monday, 25 February 2013

Room for improvement?

Now that the Singer 15K80 is clean, lubricated and forming acceptable stitches my thoughts return to some of the things which make this machine feel a little odd to me.

The first is probably going to be the easiest to sort out.  Look at this:

Singer 15K80 spool pins, stitch length control, bobbin winder and balance wheel
Notice how slender and wonky the upper spool pin is?  I think that this is because it's not a spool pin at all!

A nail maybe?

The "spool pin" is loose and was easily lifted out of the top of the machine.  This is an impostor!  It's actually a pretty rough piece of steel standing in the place of a spool pin.  Oh well.  I guess it shouldn't be too difficult to pick up a genuine part like the nice stout straight one below the bobbin winder.  I think I will have to check out that well known on line auction site.

There's something else.  It's not so easily spotted and maybe something the machine and I will have to persevere with for the moment at least.  I will try and show you.

If you look closely at this overhead shot of the balance wheel and hand crank you may notice that the decals on the machine bed and pulley guard do not match those on the top of the hand crank.  In use it soon becomes apparent that the fit of crank in the spokes of the balance wheel isn't great either.  If anything it's rather loose.  I have the feeling that the crank is from an older machine a 27 maybe?

Well we all know that vintage machines get modified don't we?  So... I wonder did this machine start life as a hand crank and get separated from the original somehow?  Was this the result of conversion to an electric motor?  Perhaps this unit started life in a treadle?  Does anyone know if the answer to this mystery lies in serial number records?

When I first brought this machine home I had a vague idea that I might somehow use it for free-motion quilting.    There's a lot of chat on line about how great Singer 15s are at that kind of work.  I know that the 15K80 lacks dropping feed dogs but I have read that this isn't too much of a handicap if the stitch length is set to 0 stitches per inch.  However I would still need to loose the hand crank on this particular example or try growing a third arm!  I wonder if it would fit in the treadle cabinet that my 201K came in.


  1. Hello Gavin,

    I think your machine might well have started out as a treadle on account of both the mismatched hand crank and also the missing spool pin. My treadle 15K has a removeable spool pin; you have to take it out when lowering the machine under the table to put it away. It also has a nasty habit of working itself loose and dropping out while I am sewing. The spool pin on my 15K hand machine however is fixed in solid. You should try Helen Howes first before buying on the auction site - she won't send you the wrong thing.

    To stop the finger of the hand crank rattling in the spokes of the wheel, wrap a piece of shammy leather or thick woollen material around the end to pad it.


    1. Hello Muv

      Thank you for visiting and congratulations on being the very first person to comment on the blog. The encouragement is most welcome.

      I somehow felt that my machine might have once sat in a treadle base. I guessed not electric because of the spoked balance wheel. Fantastic to read about your different spool pins. I would never have guessed that one would have had to remove the pin on treadle models in order to stop the machine fouling it's cabinet. Your theory and experience is an attractive explanation as to how the pin went missing on my machine.

      I need fate to throw a free treadle base, which happens to have a forgotten spool pin hiding at the back of one the drawers along with a hopping foot, into my path but I will probably just take your advice and contact Helen Howes.