Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Meet the Singer 201K


Singer closed cabinet 51

"This cabinet is beautifully finished and, when closed, presents no suggestion of a sewing machine."

So said Singer when they were still trying to sell them.  It is actually quite a good design and, although mine isn't in as new condition, it is well put together and the quality of the quarter cut veneer is as good as any mid 20th century factory made furniture I've seen.  This one had been standing in a puddle in an out building when I collected it.  It was cold and damp and had started to go mouldy and although the polish has flaked in places the carcass and veneer are basically sound.  I let the cabinet gently dry out in an unheated room over the first few days of ownership.  I haven't tried to wax it  because I haven't decided whether I am going to strip and refinish part or all of the outside yet.

Singer 51 cabinet open

Here is the cabinet with both doors open revealing the treadle and flywheel.  The polish on the inside is still sound and I wouldn't dream of messing with it.  The box mounted on the inside of the left door is great.  It's amazing how many attachments, bobbins, scissors, seam rippers and so on one can cram in there.  The brown paint on the treadle irons is near perfect as is the rubber mat.


Nestling tantalisingly in the cabinet is the 201K.  The top of the cabinet folds out to form a work surface which rests on the left hand cabinet door.  This picture shows some of the battle scars the the cabinet has collected over the years very well.


There is  strong-looking coil spring in the back of the cabinet which helps to counterbalance the weight of the machine when lifting it into the operating position.  Venus  approves of the large level working space to the left of the needle.

This 201K has the Plain-Jane "paper clip" decals and Johnny-Come-Lately striped face plate.  It's all restrained elegance from post-war Kilbowie and I love it!





The serial number on this machine is from a batch allocated in 1950.  Funny to think my 28K was already 50 years old when this 201K was brand spanking.  I must admit that I do like the way the chrome really sparkles on this one.  Amazingly it's none the worse for having been stored in a leaky shed.  

I include this picture of the machine lying in the well of the cabinet to show the striped access plate which matches the face plate and the round bracket fixed behind it.  This must have been where the Singerlight attached to the machine.  How handy would one of those be now?

All I've really done here since getting the machine is clean, oil, recalibrate the tension indicator plate and fit a new bobbin tire.  Rolls Royce sewing for less than the price of a yard of Liberty lawn tell that to a Viking Rep!  Having been used to the 28K the 201K is a revelation.  It really has to be heard to be believed.  Sew quiet!  The belt has started to slip a tiny bit since the machine became acclimatised to the sitting room but I've yet to pluck up the courage to shorten it.  I am paranoid about making it too short and straining the bearings.

So far I've sewed a hobo bag for my mate Steph on the 201K and a patchwork cushion cover for T-M-B but I am looking forward to doing lots more with it.  I really want to try and make a shirt for myself one day soon.


11 comments:

  1. Fab machine Gavin, but I would say that wouldn't I? Mine has the rather snazzy Celtic design faceplate and rear inspection plate.

    My cabinet is exactly the same, and a bit beaten up too, but that's my husband's department. He'll get round to it eventually.

    The great bonus with my machine was the full box of attachments hidden in the lower compartment.

    Got the pattern for the shirt yet?

    Love,
    Muv

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Celtic scrollwork always looks nice.

      Half your luck with the attachments! Mine came with a single bobbin and a musty smell. The attachments I have were freebies hidden in the box of a buttonholer I once bought. They were a bit too modern for the 28K which has all its own bits and bobs anyway so they belong with the 201K now.

      No shirt pattern yet but I am reading David Coffin's book. Shirts will have to wait until the log cabins are finished.

      Hugs
      G
      x

      Delete
  2. ...and my tension discs are different...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good spot eagle eyes. I had to go back to your blog and take second look.

      Delete
    2. Hello Gavin,

      I have put a link to this post on my blog today so people can come and see your wonderful machine. I hope you have plenty of visitors, so have plenty of tea and cake ready...

      Love,
      Muv

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  3. I just found your blog, and I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Michelle
      Welcome to "Oil and Thread", I'm glad you like it. I hope you'll be a regular visitor.

      Hugs
      G
      x

      Delete
  4. Hi, Snap, I too have a 1950's and a 1940's 201 very very fine machines. A bit power hungry due to over engineering cog's and rods etc, but as soon as you get used to it there fine. Two small things the oil hole next to the Singer seal if you look down it and see another hole all is well if not, place a long match down and see what comes out if it is full of goo the flush with paraffin until you see the other hole as this oils the right sided cog. Second point don't remove the cogs to clean it upset's the timing. Took me quite a few hour to sort mine out. My fault. Some how I think yours will be clean as a whistle. Been sewing most of the day on mine as we are doing up an old motor-home. So it all needs redoing. All the best Duncan. P.s Good blog. Now have 2 blogs to see after work great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Duncan
      Thanks for the advice and joining the blog.

      I stuck a pipe cleaner down the oil hole and it came out clean so I hope I am ok there. No plans to strip this machine down to the gears but thanks for the warning about the timing. The worst thing I ever did to a sewing machine was take the heart cam off my 28k. Getting the bobbin winder to work again after that made me sick to the pit of my stomach - lesson learned!

      Good luck with the motor home, I hope we get a Summer this year for you to enjoy it.

      G ;0)

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  5. P.S. go to My Sewing Machine Addiction 201 total strip down very intreasting. Duncan.

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  6. Dear Gavin, Should be up the lakes by now but that got canceled, for some reason. So Iam having hours of fun sewing on the 201. The other good blog site is The Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog. Duncan.

    ReplyDelete