katit

Yet another which machine to buy topic

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First post here, but I read half forum by now it seems :)

Here is my background. I'm into cars, currently restoring older BMW. Goal is to DIY everything so it's not about time/money but about doing it myself. Project is to recover seats in leather. I did read and watch as much as possible on subject. Seats actually pretty simple because they consist of 7 smaller parts. 4 bolsters, 2 pads and headrest.

Anyway.. My dilemma right now is which machine to get. Primarily between used and new. Here is my thoughts, let me know what you think:

1. There is many different kinds of machines which will do. All with their specifics. Do I really want to tinker with machine? Probably no. Do I want solid thing which is not made in China with parts available in future? Probably yes. Do I like to tinker and learn about things? Yes. Is this (tinkering/restoring/adjusting old machine) part of this project? Probably no.

2. Seeing how it's done (sewing) I will definitely need servo motor and will definitely sew on very slow rpms. Manual lubrication is probably what I want.

3. This is just a hobby. Most likely I will keep machine for a year at most. Probably going to sell it once it's all done. Don't want to spend too much but don't want to be "limited" as I'm new to all this and bad/weak machine will make things even worse. If it becomes long-term hobby I can afford good machine, just no point in spending money now. After reading I think $1k is a good pricepoint.

4. Here in STL there is nothing I see local as far as good used. Prices getting close to $1k for ooold stuff and adding motor, tweaking, etc will get me to the price of new Consew P1206RB. Seems like this machine will do more than what I need, got all features but only concern is lubrication at low speeds.

 

Questions:

1. What do you think about all this? What machine should I look for? How is resale for P1206RB?

2. How much should I budget for accessories? It's for auto upholstery, wonder what needle I need, anything else?

 

Thanks a alot!

Edited by katit

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Another con for P1206RB (or not?) is stich of 7mm max. When I researched this it seems like actual stitch smaller with thicker materials, so 7mm can become 5mm. Is that true? Where would I need stiches more than 5-7mm?

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 7mm length is huge. You would never need to go that long on leathercraft projects.

The reason SPI is shorter on thick material is because of the compound feed walking foot design. The needle is pendulous, so the higher up, the shorter the stroke.

 

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As a guide, 5mm stitch length is about 5 stitches per inch (25.4mm). That is the ideal stitch length for upholstery, although a longer 6mm would do on some non-critical seams. Anything longer that 4 per inch is inefficient for seat covers.

As for resale value of the P-1206R, it is too new to have a known value. This machine sells for about a thousand dollars new. Used one year, it might fetch $500 or $600.

The pump in this machine is more efficient than on high speed straight stitch machines.

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17 minutes ago, Wizcrafts said:

As a guide, 5mm stitch length is about 5 stitches per inch (25.4mm). That is the ideal stitch length for upholstery, although a longer 6mm would do on some non-critical seams. Anything longer that 4 per inch is inefficient for seat covers.

As for resale value of the P-1206R, it is too new to have a known value. This machine sells for about a thousand dollars new. Used one year, it might fetch $500 or $600.

The pump in this machine is more efficient than on high speed straight stitch machines.

I was thinking about stitch size for different purposes. For example, wrapping steering wheel machine can be used to make holes before manual-stitch. But thats about 5mm. Maybe when making decorative seams it can be more than 5mm? I don't know, I was just curious where bigger stitches used.

 

Used price of $500-600 sounds great, I would pay it right now :) But it's always like this, there is none around and when I'm ready to sell mine it will be 500-600.. From price standpoint maybe it is better to find good used machine even if it's same price. Most likely it will cost the same in a year. I'm not really good at finding deals though..

What about 206RB-5? Would it hold value better? It is roughtly $300 more but if I'm going to loose less - it might be a better deal..

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Here is a link to CL ad for a barely used 206rb-5 for $700. I know it is not in your area, but I show it as an example that deals can be found. My experience is that good deals are gone quickly. Sometimes they are sold less than an hour and the ads are deleted. If you want to find a good machine at a good price, determine all the Craigslist locations that you are willing to drive to and check several times every day. Search separately for 'sewing machines', 'consew', 'juki' and 'industrial machine'. Not everyone puts 'sewing machine' in the titles. I have found some fantastic deals this way.

https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/tls/d/consew-206rb-5-walking-foot/6641688818.html

 

update: here is a machine in your area, found with a search for 'consew'.

https://stlouis.craigslist.org/bfs/d/rebuilt-consew-255rb-1/6608441800.html

 

Edited by JJN
update

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20 minutes ago, JJN said:

update: here is a machine in your area, found with a search for 'consew'.

https://stlouis.craigslist.org/bfs/d/rebuilt-consew-255rb-1/6608441800.html

 

It's about as much as new 1206 and not sure about this model features, 255rb vs 206rb? Another thing is that machine have clutch and I will have to go about replacing it right away bringing price up even more.. Plus it's couple hours of driving and seems like this is a dealer Nick-O sewing(will charge sales tax :) )

 

This one is close by, seller will post pics later, It is a 211 G 156

Walking foot with reverse and set up to sew leather and other thick heavy materials

But I think I do need reverse on machine and seems like old Singers don't have it?

 

Edited by katit

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Hi Katit,

Another consideration maybe table mounting a portable machine like the Reliable Barracuda or Techsew 611 that are fairly inexpensive walking foot machines that probably would do the job for about $500 US. If you don't like it or the hobby and sell it after a year you would probably get half the purchase price back.

My thoughts,

kgg

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8 minutes ago, katit said:

 

But I think I do need reverse on machine and seems like old Singers don't have it?

 

Depends on the model. My 211G166 has reverse. The Seiko 8DBxxx machines fall into the same category you are looking at and have reverse, as do many of the Pfaffs.

You may be creating a problem for yourself. If you definitely don't want to have to spend time fiddling with a machine then you have no option but to buy new. If you aren't in a hurry then something will likely turn up used eventually, that will suit your needs, but the odds that you will have to do some sort of work on it are probably pretty high. On the other hand, if you intend re-selling once you've finished your losses, if any, will be minimal re-selling a used machine.

Edited by dikman

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Obviously, the only proper thing to do is to get a high-end made-in-Germany sewing machine of roughly the same vintage as the BMW you're restoring ;)

For example, I have a Pfaff 545 H4 N10 that I bought in, of all places, St. Louis when I attended a car club event about two years ago. The H4 means it has very high foot lift, the N10 means it can make 10mm long stitches. It wasn't working when I got it, but it's a big hunk of buttery smoothness now. The only fly in the ointment, so to speak, is that in exchange for the 10mm stitch length you give up reverse. But lack of reverse is not a show stopper for a determined seamster. YouTuber and automotive upholstery guru Cechaflo uses machine that have reverse, but he usually locks his stitches manually. I could be talked into selling the machine. 

The nice thing about high-end vintage sewing machine originals is that they hold their value very well. You can buy a nice vintage Pfaff or Durkopp Adler now and sell it again for about the same in a year or two, if you take good care of it. It really makes no material difference whether the machine is 30 or 32 years old.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Uwe said:

Obviously, the only proper thing to do is to get a high-end made-in-Germany sewing machine of roughly the same vintage as the BMW you're restoring ;)

For example, I have a Pfaff 545 H4 N10 that I bought in, of all places, St. Louis when I attended a car club event about two years ago. The H4 means it has very high foot lift, the N10 means it can make 10mm long stitches. It wasn't working when I got it, but it's a big hunk of buttery smoothness now. The only fly in the ointment, so to speak, is that in exchange for the 10mm stitch length you give up reverse. But lack of reverse is not a show stopper for a determined seamster. YouTuber and automotive upholstery guru Cechaflo uses machine that have reverse, but he usually locks his stitches manually. I could be talked into selling the machine. 

The nice thing about high-end vintage sewing machine originals is that they hold their value very well. You can buy a nice vintage Pfaff or Durkopp Adler now and sell it again for about the same in a year or two, if you take good care of it. It really makes no material difference whether the machine is 30 or 32 years old.

 

 

Hehe. My BMW is not that old by sewing machine standards :) it’s 94. And it’s got reverse 

I watched most of the Cechaflo videos, he uses reverse to lock seams from what I can tell. He got pfaff but I know I need servo and he got clutch. I probably never going to reach high speeds but seeing how scary fast those machines I rather go slow :)

 

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If you're a car guy it's a no brainier that you should get a used machine - find the least expensive walking foot singer 111w155, 211w155, Juki 562/3, etc  you can find and go through it, paint and when you're done you'll be able to get more than your money out of it.  If you enjoy sewing it's a machine you won't outgrow, and it will outlive you.  Delivered to your door I've seen fixers for $250 every few months - same for craigslist, fb marketplace.

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I hear you and part of me wants this... any comment on Singer value I posted above?

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I have the predecessor 111G156 and the double needle / needle feed version of the above 211G156 (the 212G141) and I can tell you there is nothing wrong with buying a Singer machine. BTW - "G" means the machine is made in Germany. I would also consider Pfaff as Mercedes of sewing machines but again - nothing wrong with Singer - especially the parts and accessory situation is excellent. Presser feet sets are usually a lot cheaper than for the Pfaffs.

But no matter what machine brand you buy - it always depends on how it has been treated before "it went out of business". So you can have luck with Pfaff or even got screwed - same with Singer or Adler. Best bet is go and test it.

I have restored all my sewing machines (more or less). Most vintage walking foot / triple feed machines are quite well documented and you find tons of information - especially here in the forum. It is all doable even for a novice...

The 111 / 211G156 (with reverse) also has the "longer forward stitch feature" but as Uwe said a longer forward stitch length reduces the reverse stitch length. I have not tested how long the the max. forward stitch length is but its a quite easy task - it is just 1 screw you have to loosen to alter the forward stitch length.

Edited by Constabulary

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Lots of good input. Can you clarify on "reverse" feature?

Longer forward stitch means reduced reverse, what does it mean? I can't sew through the same hole going backwards? Or I can't sew backwards at all?

My rationale is this: If stitch visible and need to be presentable I probably won't do reverse anyway. For stitching on a back it doesn't matter how I lock, correct?

Can you give me basic input on Pfaff machines to look for? I know it's 545, but there is 1245? And others I assume? What numbers I should look for? Are they all made in Germany?

On Singers, as long as it's 111 or 211 it will work for me, correct?

I did more studying on motors and now I think differently. I'm sure I can manage clutch. I just feel like I'm going to hate motor spinning all the time, thats probably bigger issue - noise.

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@katit

None of my multitudinous Singer sewing machines have reverse. I just spin the work 180 degrees to sew through the previous stitch holes and they line up perfectly. If turning the work it not practical, I just tie off the threads on the back and burn the stubs.

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15 minutes ago, Wizcrafts said:

@katit

None of my multitudinous Singer sewing machines have reverse. I just spin the work 180 degrees to sew through the previous stitch holes and they line up perfectly. If turning the work it not practical, I just tie off the threads on the back and burn the stubs.

I afraid for car upholstery turning 180 degree will not be practical. There is bigger awkward pieces and sewing padding to them, etc. Locking need to be done a lot. I can see when doing belts/holsters it can be done by hand but with lot's of seams it will get old soon

Edited by katit

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There's been LOTS of car upholstery sewed on machines with no reverse.  If you can't spin the work, lift the foot, move the work by hand back one stitch, turn the machine over to make the stitch (make sure to lower the foot first), repeat for as many back stitches as you want to make.  More than one way to skin a cat.

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1 minute ago, Big Sioux Saddlery said:

There's been LOTS of car upholstery sewed on machines with no reverse.  If you can't spin the work, lift the foot, move the work by hand back one stitch, turn the machine over to make the stitch (make sure to lower the foot first), repeat for as many back stitches as you want to make.  More than one way to skin a cat.

I'm sure it's possible, just not sure I need to settle with lack of reverse when choosing machine.

To put it in perspective - my granpa was sewing leather coats (with fur) for living. I know it was Singer machine circa 1930. I know it was manual drive. I know it's not walking foot. And he was very good and did great job with this machine. I think it had modded spring to sew leather. But reading more about all that I think he did a lot with very little.

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1 hour ago, katit said:

On Singers, as long as it's 111 or 211 it will work for me, correct?

Not correct, sorry. There are many subclasses in the Singer 111W and 211W category that cover just about all combinations and permutations of bottom, upper, and needle feed. Only some models have a unison (bottom+upper+needle) feed walking foot design that is preferred by most upholstery folks. The Singer 111W155 is one of these unison walking foot designs.

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1 hour ago, Uwe said:

Not correct, sorry. There are many subclasses in the Singer 111W and 211W category that cover just about all combinations and permutations of bottom, upper, and needle feed. Only some models have a unison (bottom+upper+needle) feed walking foot design that is preferred by most upholstery folks. The Singer 111W155 is one of these unison walking foot designs.

So, the only way to try and find one used would be monitoring all sewing machines and looking at clues, then checking specs by model. I mean in general you can tell by look that it's NOT walking foot for sure.

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You can create an Ebay or local CL search with notifications and wait for one of the usual suspects to pop up: Singer 111W155 or 211W155, Consew 225 or 226 or 206RB, Juki 562 or 563, Adler 67 or 167 or 267, Pfaff 145 or 545 or 1245,  just to name a few popular ones. All in the list except Singer 111 and Consew 225 have reverse. All in the list can sew upholstery.

You can also look at a close-up of the presser feet and throat plate to roughly determine what type of machine it is. Things to look for: three vertical bars (two presser feet bars, one needle bar) and a feed dog are a good sign.  

Edited by Uwe

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What would be a good price for good confition 206RB-2 with sewquiet 3000 dc motor?

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I'd peg it between $800 and $1,200 but much depends on the details - and your definition of "good."  Just like with cars, some are worth every penny, others turn out to be regrettable money pits. 

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