irish47

Little help on sewing machines please

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Been looking for a sewing machine and like all of us trying to save a buck, I make holsters and work with herman oak 8-9 oz so 18-20 oz thick is about as thick as I will ever go, I have hand stitched for years but like all of us old guys and gale the hands are not so good.  I have been looking at the boss but the cowboy outlaw has kind of got my attention !  Has anyone bought one and if so what do you think about it ?   I have no Idea about motorized sewing machines and they look somewhat complicated plus the price is kind of high..  As far as a used machine well that is very confusing !   So any help would be much appreciated thanks in advance

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I was in a similar situation and went for the Cowboy 3200 and it was one of the best investments i have made. Based on having that machine, I was able to turn my hobby into a business and have paid for the machine many times over. The efficiency and timesaving a high quality machine is tough to beat and the 3200 is well priced and will do almost everything the larger machines will do. The 3200 is only $400 more than the Outlaw. If you wanted to work in an environment that had no electricity like maybe craft shows, ren fests or Syria, it would be a great choice, but there are some quirks including having to lift the needle to turn the work, and using one hand to guide the work and the other to stitch. I often need both hands.

Bob

 

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I stitched on a Tippmann Boss for a few years, the Cowboy Outlaw is basically the same footprint of the machine. The hand operated machine is good for someone who works while traveling or who is doing small pieces here and there honestly. I felt like my productivity went way down when I was using it because it took quite awhile to get the item stitched. Granted, I do mainly belts and such items. Another issue I had with it was the throat size. If I was doing a portfolio or something like that I had the constant issue of having to roll  or bend the item to get it to fit in the throat of the machine. I have since sold it and am now running a Cobra Class 4. As BDAZ mentioned above, it has paid for itself several times over. Don't be intimidated by a motorized machine. They are so much simpler than you would think

Before you buy either machine, sit down and make a list of the pros and cons that you can think of. The boss or the outlaw may work perfectly for you, but dont be afraid to save a little more and get a machine that you really need rather than save a few pennies and have to sell/buy again in a few years.

-Hannah 

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Just to further Hanna's comments, cost should NOT be the deciding factor. Decide what machine you NEED and then figure out how to pay for it. 

Bob

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Thank you both for input, very helpful....

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2 hours ago, BDAZ said:

Just to further Hanna's comments, cost should NOT be the deciding factor. Decide what machine you NEED and then figure out how to pay for it. 

Bob

If I'd followed this piece of wisdom when I started I would be further ahead, slightly less poor, certainly have more space in the shed, but have had a lot less fun and frustration along the way.

 

On 6/26/2018 at 6:37 PM, irish47 said:

I make holsters and work with herman oak 8-9 oz so 18-20 oz thick is about as thick as I will ever go, I have hand stitched for years but like all of us old guys and gale the hands are not so good.  I have been looking at the boss but the cowboy outlaw has kind of got my attention !  Has anyone bought one and if so what do you think about it ?   I have no Idea about motorized sewing machines and they look somewhat complicated plus the price is kind of high.

For the price of a Tippmann Boss or Cowboy Outlaw you can buy a Cowboy 2500. It's a copy of the venerable Singer 45K, which was a real simple but reliable workhorse of industry for decades. If you can run a petrol lawnmower you can run a Singer 45, and unlike a mower the only time your toes are in danger is if you drop it on them. @CowboyBob will sell you a 2500 with easy-to-control servo motor, speed reducer, solid work table, work lamp and reverse gear for $1300+shipping. If you can live without reverse you can save $300. (Other dealers are available...)

I used to have an old lever-action sole stitcher and it would take wild horses with friggin laserbeams on their heads to get me to go back. The advantages are huge:

  • As Hannah says above, clearance in the throat is surprisingly important. The Boss has 6", the 2500 10". That may not sound a lot but it will give you a lot more options with regard to order of operations and even the sorts of things you can make.
  • A motor lets you use both hands. Sounds obvious but it really helps you follow a marked line, as well as support the work much more evenly. This helps especially when stitching close to an edge, where a tilted workpiece might make the stitches blow out an edge. This will always happen at 11PM when you're using your last piece of leather on a commission you've underquoted for and you're already losing money on.
  • A motor reduces the tedium of long runs. Belts, slings, rifle cases, whatever they may be, with a machine powered by an Armstrong Motor it gets bloody boring. Boredom makes me try to rush the job, and mistakes happen when I'm cutting corners. For some reason this always happened to me when hand-cranking a machine but not when hand-sewing. The combination of a servo motor and speed reducer (I prefer to think of it as a torque booster ;-) ) gives you a huge range. Tickle the pedal to place each stitch exactly where you want round a really intricate part. Mash it for the straight parts so you're not wasting time. 
  • Quietness. I've got about 6 or 7 machines (don't ask) that work on the rotary principle, which date from 1920-odd to this century. Every single one runs quieter than the CRASH-clickBANG CRASH click-BANG of my old SD28. Part of the problem was that you have to put the lever through the full range of motion every time or it jammed, so I was hitting the cast iron lever against both cast iron lever stops for each stitch. To be absolutely fair I've never used a Boss or Outlaw so I don't know if they suffer from this problem but I do know that I couldn't use my SD28 in the house when people were sleeping.

Just so I'm being totally fair to the Boss/Cowboy type machines I guess they would be handy if you really don't have enough space for a motorised machine, or if the access to your leathercave was so difficult that you couldn't physically get it there. (Getting a 40x18" sewing machine table and 50+lb machine up a tight staircase is not everyone's idea of fun.) They would also be handy if you have no electric power in your workspace or if you are actually going to move it around a lot. Other than that I really don't see the appeal of them.

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5 minutes ago, Matt S said:

If I'd followed this piece of wisdom when I started I would be further ahead, slightly less poor, certainly have more space in the shed, but have had a lot less fun and frustration along the way.

 

For the price of a Tippmann Boss or Cowboy Outlaw you can buy a Cowboy 2500. It's a copy of the venerable Singer 45K, which was a real simple but reliable workhorse of industry for decades. If you can run a petrol lawnmower you can run a Singer 45, and unlike a mower the only time your toes are in danger is if you drop it on them. @CowboyBob will sell you a 2500 with easy-to-control servo motor, speed reducer, solid work table, work lamp and reverse gear for $1300+shipping. If you can live without reverse you can save $300. (Other dealers are available...)

I used to have an old lever-action sole stitcher and it would take wild horses with friggin laserbeams on their heads to get me to go back. The advantages are huge:

  • As Hannah says above, clearance in the throat is surprisingly important. The Boss has 6", the 2500 10". That may not sound a lot but it will give you a lot more options with regard to order of operations and even the sorts of things you can make.
  • A motor lets you use both hands. Sounds obvious but it really helps you follow a marked line, as well as support the work much more evenly. This helps especially when stitching close to an edge, where a tilted workpiece might make the stitches blow out an edge. This will always happen at 11PM when you're using your last piece of leather on a commission you've underquoted for and you're already losing money on.
  • A motor reduces the tedium of long runs. Belts, slings, rifle cases, whatever they may be, with a machine powered by an Armstrong Motor it gets bloody boring. Boredom makes me try to rush the job, and mistakes happen when I'm cutting corners. For some reason this always happened to me when hand-cranking a machine but not when hand-sewing. The combination of a servo motor and speed reducer (I prefer to think of it as a torque booster ;-) ) gives you a huge range. Tickle the pedal to place each stitch exactly where you want round a really intricate part. Mash it for the straight parts so you're not wasting time. 
  • Quietness. I've got about 6 or 7 machines (don't ask) that work on the rotary principle, which date from 1920-odd to this century. Every single one runs quieter than the CRASH-clickBANG CRASH click-BANG of my old SD28. Part of the problem was that you have to put the lever through the full range of motion every time or it jammed, so I was hitting the cast iron lever against both cast iron lever stops for each stitch. To be absolutely fair I've never used a Boss or Outlaw so I don't know if they suffer from this problem but I do know that I couldn't use my SD28 in the house when people were sleeping.

Just so I'm being totally fair to the Boss/Cowboy type machines I guess they would be handy if you really don't have enough space for a motorised machine, or if the access to your leathercave was so difficult that you couldn't physically get it there. (Getting a 40x18" sewing machine table and 50+lb machine up a tight staircase is not everyone's idea of fun.) They would also be handy if you have no electric power in your workspace or if you are actually going to move it around a lot. Other than that I really don't see the appeal of them.

This is a FANTASTIC summation of machines. I went through the whole Ill buy this machine to save some $$ and 3 machines and a million headaches later, I finally got the Cobra. I honestly couldn't justify spending the money at first or why people were always trying to talk me into buying one, but now that I"ve used it, I don't see how I operated without it for so long. It is very quiet unlike the Boss who imitates the same  CRASH-clickBANG CRASH click-BANG as Matt mentioned. 

Don't let us talk you into something you don't want, but be informed before you make a big purchase of any kind and look at your big picture. 

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From Cowboy Bob's Wesite:

The Cowboy CB2500 has feed dogs to move the material, against a fixed, or roller presser foot. This may leave visible tooth marks in the bottom layer of leather. These marks can usually be rubbed out with a smoothing tool, or hammered out by laying the back layer on a smooth hard surface, covering the top with a 10-12 oz piece of hard veg-tan leather, and tapping along the stitch line with a mallet or hammer. If this sounds like too much work, you may want to consider buying one of our triple feed machines, with a smooth feed dog and walking feet.

IMHO, give it a miss!

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53 minutes ago, BDAZ said:

From Cowboy Bob's Wesite:

The Cowboy CB2500 has feed dogs to move the material, against a fixed, or roller presser foot. This may leave visible tooth marks in the bottom layer of leather. These marks can usually be rubbed out with a smoothing tool, or hammered out by laying the back layer on a smooth hard surface, covering the top with a 10-12 oz piece of hard veg-tan leather, and tapping along the stitch line with a mallet or hammer. If this sounds like too much work, you may want to consider buying one of our triple feed machines, with a smooth feed dog and walking feet.

IMHO, give it a miss!

All machines can leave marks on the top and/or bottom of a workpiece. It depends mainly on the leather and the foot pressure. Drop-feed-only machines, such as the CB2500, are especially prone to leaving marks underneath the work. However as the photos on Bob's website show, these are normally not bad at all and can be largely eliminated with a few seconds' rubbing or hammering. Many machine operators will hammer or rub their stitches anyway in order to lay them flatter. I have noticed similar dog-marks on vintage leather, both civilian and military, mainly because I went looking for them. A lot of stuff, holsters especially, have a "back" side that often isn't on display, where these sorts of marks don't matter so much. In my opinion it's a small cost for the benefits of a simple, tough, reliable machine.

Machines that advance the work by moving the needle (often in combination with the feed-dog and/or a "walking" foot) typically leave fewer marks on the work once adjusted but can still leave marks on the front and/or back of the work. They are more complicated and expensive than the CB2500. The CB3200, for instance, is $400 more expensive than the 2500 and is a clone of the Adler 205. It has similar capacity to the 2500.

Please note I have no connection to Cowboy Sewing Machines or Bob Kovar. Very similar machines are available from other reputable dealers. However I find his site very useful for reference material. I hope he and the forum mods don't mind me linking to his site!

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IMHO a walking foot machine is essential for leatherwork, unless you are doing garments or upholstery. There's a reason that 99% of leather workers use walking foot machines. My former CEO when I was based in London used to say that only the poor or uniformed can afford to buy twice. I learned that lesson long ago. I bought my 3200 when I really couldn't imagine I would need the capacity, but I also new I could recoup my investment if I decided to sell it, since walking foot machines are so much in demand. 

If you are a hobbyist, then stick with hand stitching, time spend is immaterial and it's cheap. If you intend to make items commercially, go with a 3200 or 4500 or similar machines from Cobra. Reliable, affordable and proven technology.

Bob

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G'Day irish47 ,

This is my machine.  Look familiar ?

Its a ' Colt' by Qstitch Queensland Australia . I don't think they do them anymore. I've had this machine for 8-9 years, and with regular servicing,  its been so reliable( touchwood) , and its paid for itself now.  

I've never had a job that required that thickness( perhaps half that) , but I was just curious if it could do what the ad said it could ..........sure as eggs, it can :) 

With all the advice from other leather workers, I do hope we're able to help.

I  fully understand  about your hands. The 'age ' of my hands shows up after prolonged hand stitching. God bless sewing machines eh? 

But they certainly are a worthwhile investment , especially if you intend to do a lot of sewing for commercial purposes. 

HS :) 

Sewing Machine 'Brutus' .jpg

Thickness Test Pic 2.jpg

Thickness test Pic 3.jpg

Edited by Handstitched

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I tried the Tippman boss many years ago when first starting out. This was the old style that supposedly works better than the newer models. It was a boat anchor. It required constant adjustment and fiddling and still never gave me a decent stitch. Every time I used it I would spend 30 minutes adjusting for 2 minutes sewing. I finally went back to hand sewing and saved up for a Cobra 4 (juki 441 clone). I have two now. They extremely simple to operate with a very small learning carve which is more about learning to hold you project level than it is about using the machine. The support available for these machines is awesome. Save up once, buy a good motorized machine and then your set. I'll put money on it if you buy a hand stitcher you will be hunting for another machine in 6 months. You can find juki 441 clones for sale regularly in classifieds.  I just found one that a friend bought for $1250 and there is another for sale in Colorado right now for $1800

https://rockies.craigslist.org/art/d/leather-sewing-machine/6628948535.html

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G'Day  ,

I was considering buying a Tippman ( and a few others)  before settling on  my 441 clone, but after, reading that, I'm so glad I didn't. And you're right, these machines are so simple to use, easy to maintain, and I have never had to fiddle with the adjustments, I have got  it adjusted just right  . Needles are easy to get,  however,  accessories are harder to obtain  in Australia . But so far theres nothing I need for it at this point. I got all the feet & feed dogs etc when I bought it. They are a great investment. 

HS

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