GavinO

New leather sewing machine- I am down to two

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Hello all,

Brand new member here!

So, I have quit my job and deciding to change my hobby into something more. I am looking to create bags and accessories, in some cases using old sofa/upholstery leather and fabrics. I have been hacking things together on my old Bernina 1130, she is a strong domestic, but it is time to go industrial. 

After much (much!) research, I am down to two models- an old German made Durkopp Adler 69-373 cylinder arm, or a local brand that I think comes under the Chinese 'clone' umbrella. The brand is called 'Wimsew' and are here in south/west London. It is £400 more for the Adler, and it is pretty battered, but I have found a lot of positive reviews online about it (here and elsewhere). I can barely find any info or reviews on any of the Wimsew models, which makes me nervous. They say it is just as good, and it is new, but with such a big investment (between £1200 to £1600) I want it to be really right. 

I talked to another dealer on the phone who was very quick to recommend an Adler 669 or Pfaff 335, but they are more like £2000-£3000, which feels a bit steep and I *think* the  373 does everything I need it to really. I don't know what these two would do more to justify the price. 

So far the thickest leather i have sewn has been four layers coming to 6.59 mm, but if I wanted to add piping I guess that might go up to 8.5mm or so. 
 
So, I just wondered if anyone had any advice, or any experience of these particular models or brands? I think I am going to make the decision this week, I have a load of leather cut out and ready to be made into bags that I am stalling on until i am totally happy that I will have near indestructible seams!
 
Any advice, help or guidance much appreciated.
 
Gavin. 
 
 

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If you are planning on using upholstery leather, I would suggest an upholstery machine. The weight of what you are wanting to stitch needs to be matched to the ideal range of the machine. Get leather too thick and your machine wont be able to handle it: get am machine designed for stitching saddles and try to stitch upholstery leather it will eat your leather and make bad stitches. My advice, buy the best machine you can afford to purchase, outfit and maintain. Older machines can get pricey with replacement parts and labor quickly. If you are not very mechanically adept or have loads of time to repair an old machine, buy a new clone from a place that can answer your questions get you parts or even fix problems. If you are somewhat mechanically adept get a slightly older model flagship with an assload of youtube how to fix... videos.  If you are a mechanical wizard buy the cheapest machine and become a part time sewing machine mechanic, you could even turn that hobby into its own business (I'm looking at you Uwe).

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Hi Gav!

Wimsew is indeed under the "Chinese clone" umbrella. I have one of their W246, which is a clone of the now defunct Juki 246. It's not terrible quality and I can't comment too much because I got mine second-hand (ridden hard, put away wet and petted with a sledgehammer) but it won't last forever. I find tension fiddly to set compared with other machines I've had though I'm not sure if that's a result of the machine design (there's a lot of stuff stuffed into the cylinder bed on one of these), the quality of this particular unit's manufacture or some quirk of its setup. It's a triple/compound feed machine that uses 111-type feet, 135x16/17 needles and M-type bobbins. I've used TKT13 (V207) thread in it but mainly use TKT20/V138. I have stitched 8mm of bridle leather with it but that's right at the top end of what it'll cope with and I mostly don't put anything thicker than 6mm through it. Typical upholstery-weight cylinder-bed compound-feed machine really.

As to clone vs. premium it's a tricky one. If you buy second hand a premium often won't depreciate much, which is handy. You also tend to have far fewer problems than a clone, all other things being roughly equal. I've had an Adler 67 (flat-bed version of the 69) and it was an absolute dream. When I couldn't get my current Wimsew to chooch good I called a technician who breathed some life into it. He is a man of few words, and most of them he said to me were "buy an Adler, Singer or Pfaff."

I've found that short of orange rust or obvious signs of abuse/neglect cosmetic condition means little for industrial machines. They are designed to work flat-out 8 hours a day, 5 days a week by dedicated operators -- probably more stitches in a day than I do in half a year. I don't know where in London you are but maybe visit some dealers in used machines. Tysew in Southall isn't bad, depending on who you speak with. I have heard good of Maury Sewing in Bethnel Green but not got out there yet. I'm sure there's others. Tysew will sell you a used premium (Singer, Adler, Seiko, Juki) cylinder-arm compound-feed machine for £1k. If you're willing to compromise to some less sexy features the price drops.

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Hi Gavin,

I agree with Tomsmith that if you are using upholstery leather you may want to rethink the type of machine. You would hate to have you work destroyed. I would take some scrape leather of the largest thickness you think you are going to use and go visit a dealer. This way you can compare the ease at which they do or don't go through your material, listen to the sound of the machine (does it sound like a bucket of bolts rattling around) and does it have excessive vibration.

Since this is now going to be your day job and your equipment is going to be crucial I would recommend that you purchase a new, close to new condition or a professionally rebuilt brand name machine. When I did my evaluation of my needs vs my wants for the foreseeable future another factor was what accessories are readily available for the tasks involving binding, cording, attaching zippers,etc. For my needs I decided to go with a new flat bed Juki 1541s with a servo motor.

Keith

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Hi all,

Thanks for the quick feedback, this forum is great. 

Tomsmith85717- Nope, definitely not a mechanic and don't plan to be. I want to be more knowledgeable but really my focus is product. From what I can find on the Alder 69-373 it seems to be able to handle upholstery fine (I have sewn some samples of sofa leather and doubled a belt over and it handled it totally fine) on industrial-sewing-machines.co.uk it says; 

 

Quote

 

This machine is ideal for heavy weight work with fabrics such as leather, canvas, carpets & synthetics plus more.

This machine is also saught after for making handbags etc.

This machine is recommend for car/motorcycle interior repairs, upholstery, sails, tents, marquees, bouncy castles, etc. 

 

In terms of parts and servicing and getting parts the mechanic at Wimsew seemed confident that it would be unlikely I would need them (as they service it all before re-selling) and that the parts for this were easy to get (might be the case for getting a Euro brand in England?) However, same stands for the Chinese clone in question. Which brings me to....

Matt S- The W246 is the very one I am comparing against! Given what you are saying here I am leaning again more into the Adler. Wimsew is local to me, I am based in Tooting, I can walk to them in twenty minutes. I talked to Tysew on the phone and they were quick to get me onto their Tysew clones, although i did find a couple of decent reviews for their machines online it seems they are the same things as the 'Wimsew' versions, though they claimed superiority, naturally. Again, just a bit quick to recommend one model, and they must be working to better margins on their own-make clones so are encouraged to sell them up as much as possible. The guys at JT Batchelor in Islington recommended Maury, I haven't been yet but maybe I will give them a call (even just for a price comparison) The £1590 price for the adler includes servo motor, year warantee, delivery and installation and talk-through set-up which seems very reasonable given i can see versions of it going for £1850 on ebay. 

Kgg- In terms of weight/appropriate machine dynamic, I guess it is the same answer as the quote above. There are not really any accessories for binding/cording etc. which is the same for the particular Wimsew I have been looking at. The foot is slim and to the edge so would work like a standard zipper foot anyway I think, and I am not sure I need cording or binding per se. I guess all I am looking for is a leather workhorse that can pull my bags and accessories together (though it looks like belts are now a possibility) confidently. However, I don't know much about cording or binding and what they might be used for, so perhaps I am closing myself off to techniques without realising it. I guess the flipside to that point is that a straight stitch workhorse is all i need for now, until I get up and running and ready for more advanced techniques, I could re-invest later. I am loosely assuming that machines with these features would generally cost more, so there is budget to consider too. The Adler in the shop, though old, is serviced and has some new parts on it (the threading plate on the front has been replaced etc.) Maybe I should find out how old it actually is (if they know)

Thanks guys,

Gavin.  

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11 hours ago, GavinO said:

In terms of parts and servicing and getting parts the mechanic at Wimsew seemed confident that it would be unlikely I would need them (as they service it all before re-selling) and that the parts for this were easy to get (might be the case for getting a Euro brand in England?) However, same stands for the Chinese clone in question. Which brings me to....

Matt S- The W246 is the very one I am comparing against! Given what you are saying here I am leaning again more into the Adler. Wimsew is local to me, I am based in Tooting, I can walk to them in twenty minutes. I talked to Tysew on the phone and they were quick to get me onto their Tysew clones, although i did find a couple of decent reviews for their machines online it seems they are the same things as the 'Wimsew' versions, though they claimed superiority, naturally. Again, just a bit quick to recommend one model, and they must be working to better margins on their own-make clones so are encouraged to sell them up as much as possible. The guys at JT Batchelor in Islington recommended Maury, I haven't been yet but maybe I will give them a call (even just for a price comparison) The £1590 price for the adler includes servo motor, year warantee, delivery and installation and talk-through set-up which seems very reasonable given i can see versions of it going for £1850 on ebay. 

I'd be more critical of the W246 if I paid anywhere near the retail price for it. I can't imagine many parts going wonky unless you drop the thing. Like many machines these days, clone or premium, it uses very common feet (in this case, '111' style) which are available in many styles for flat stitching, zip feet, edge guide feet, piping... There is a distinct lack of availability of different design needle plates though -- a more common model of machine would have more available. There is one that's slightly knurled for binding, and the tapped holes for binding attachments are on the bed cover plate. FWIW the 246 has two major advantages over the Adler 69-373: it takes a larger M size bobbin and it has a 4-motion as opposed to 2-motion feed-dog. The pointy end of the cylinder bed is only 2mm larger, which is an impressive act of shoehorngineering. That said if there were an Adler 69 available for a similar price as my W246 when I bought it I'd have taken the Adler. I think there's a used genuine Juki 246 for sale on eBay at the moment for about a £grand. If you're looking for another opinion on the W246 I think has or had one.

There's only so many Chinese factories making industrial sewing machines of this type. Many dealers import and set them up. It's the same for a lot of machine tools. Difference is how each dealer sets them up, what deals/bundles they offer, after-sales support and such. The chap who runs Wimsew has his own sewing machine museum, I'm going to guess he knows what he's talking about.

Does that £1500 for the Adler include VAT? If not that would bring the total to £1800, unless you are VAT registered.

I figure "which sewing machine" is a bit like "which drill/car/gun/computer/rucksack"  -- we often overthink it and I'm very guilty of it. So long as you find one that can do what you want, above a minimal manufacturing quality, it'll work. So long as they're sold by proper sewing machine dealers any Chinese clone will last for many years of use by a serious hobbyist or small professional, as most of us on this forum are.

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Hi Matt S,

Yes the price i am quoting includes VAT. Though now I am registered as a sole trader I am not sure how that will work- just e-mailed my accountant so thanks for the prompt! 

Re: W246- what is the advantage of a 4-motion over a 2-motion feed dog? Just more stability? I understand the bobbin sizes. 

I called Maury yesterday and spoke to a guy called Mark (who seems to be referred to as 'the governor'!) Seems really affable and knows his stuff, and I don't think they have any of their own clones so he seems pretty impartial. I am going to go meet him tomorrow afternoon and try out a few machines and hopefully then it is final decision time! (Unless he opens another can of worms I wasn't aware of- very possible as that seems to happen every other day the more I research) 

Side note- have you been to the sewing machine museum? I went once a couple of years ago, but I feel i would appreciate it more now so I may well re-visit.

Gavin. 

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Hello,

Just a wee update, after a bit more back and forth and more research I have settled on the Durkopp Adles 69-373. Mark at muary sewing machines had a model in better nick and for about £300 less than what I found in Wimbledon. He has re-furbed it, I tried it out in his shop on Tuesday and having it delivered tomorrow. I am excited, I will let you know how I get on with it :) 

I just tried to attach a pic of it but it is too big sadly! 

Gavin. 

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7 hours ago, GavinO said:

Hello,

Just a wee update, after a bit more back and forth and more research I have settled on the Durkopp Adles 69-373. Mark at muary sewing machines had a model in better nick and for about £300 less than what I found in Wimbledon. He has re-furbed it, I tried it out in his shop on Tuesday and having it delivered tomorrow. I am excited, I will let you know how I get on with it :) 

I just tried to attach a pic of it but it is too big sadly! 

Gavin. 

Hi Gavin, you can download a free program called Irfanview to resize your pictures.  It’s very easy to use and if you resize to something like 640 x 480 they will be plenty small enough for posting.

Gary

Edit:  800 x 600 shows a little more detail and keeps files sizes quite small.  Can upload probably over 100 photos sized at 800 x 600.  It also reduces upload and download times when you resize large files.  That is a benefit to people with slow internet connections.

Tom

Edited by Northmount
Added file size info

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