leatherator

Is a 111w151 OK for stitching dress belts?

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Looking at a Singer 111w151.  It's an old army parachute-repair type machine.  It's needle feed.  Takes 20 and 22 needles.  Size 22 is good for 138 thread.  Has a 1/2 HP clutch motor.  Manual says 7/16 clearance under presser foot.  Is this OK for veg tanned leather glue sandwich with combined thickness of 8-10 oz?

Assuming the 111W is OK for dress-belt type work, what changes could be made to increase the capability of this basic machine?  Add a thread lubricator?  Change to pulley?  In the many other posts I've read, the usual problems are under-powered machines that have the wrong feed and general problems with durability.  With a 111W casting and mechanics, it's hard to imagine what it would take to deflect the needle bar or crack the casting or make the belt slip.  Given enough horse power and a quality mechanism, it seems* like even a basic 111 machine could do much more than you would expect from a medium-heavy-fabric type machine.  Anyone have experience modifying sewing machines like this?  Increasing the presser foot height?  Adding another foot to the feed mechanism?

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When you say "adding another foot" I assume you mean turning it into a walking foot? If so, nope, can't be done. The other machines (152, 3, 4, 5) in the 111 class are walking foot, but this one is a needle feed straight stitch. If you fit a smaller pulley to the motor this will slow it down a bit and might make it a bit easier to sew with. If you're suggesting fitting a bigger, stronger motor it's probably not a good idea, as this machine was designed to sew parachute material and if you try to punch through the same thickness of leather (or thicker) then it's probably not going to be a happy machine! It will probably sew dress belts, as long as they aren't too thick, but at the end of the day it's a straight stitch, not a walking foot, so will have limitations.

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Thanks for your reply.  The machine is on the way.  I hand stitched some belts in the last few weeks, which has a way of encouraging you to buy a faster way to stitch!  Hand sewing is probably fine (maybe even better) for a lot of things but 40" of straight stitching, twice, is no fun at all.

I am still wondering about the fundamental limits of various machines.  For example, we think of more clearance under the presser foot as a good thing but I think large motion of the needle bar is a problem for high-speed sewing.  Another issue is how thick of material can be pierced.  The strength of the main casting, width of bearings on the main shaft, and needle-bar rigidity are all possible limits on a machine's piercing power.  Are there dramatic differences in the diameter of needle bars between various machines?  Doesn't look like it to me, from photos on the interwebs; CB4500 looks similar to the 111.  Are there other things that effect piercing (and lifting the needle back out) that I'm missing?

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I just took a closer look at one of my Singer 111W151 machines. This machine was in storage and had been sewn to a 4 mm thick (10 oz) piece of veg tan leather before I got it. Bottom+needle feed are a step up from the usual straight stitch garment type machines that only use bottom feed. The hook and the underside of the machine look identical to my 111W155 machines with no apparent difference in strength of the parts in the mechanism. Slowing things down and increasing torque with smaller motor pulleys, larger hand wheel, a servo motor and/or speed reducer pulley should offer the same benefits as with other machines.

The top presser foot does not move at all while stitching, it just glides on top of the material. The needle and the feed dog move the material. The feed dog on my machine has teeth, which may leave marks on the underside. The presser foot just needs to be polished well to slide easily and not leave marks. 

Whether or not it will do exactly what you have in mind, I don't know. I've not sewn with my 111W151 - it's needs a good CLA before I put her to work. But I have a feeling the Singer 111W151 is not a bad candidate for sewing dress belts.

IMG_6843.jpgIMG_6844.jpgIMG_6845.jpgIMG_6847.jpg

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Nice.  Thanks for the photos.  Man, what are the chances?  

 

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There you go, looks like it should do what you want! Good old Uwe, there doesn't appear to be many machines he hasn't got stashed away :lol:. That foot looks a bit rusty, Uwe, hope it's not indicative of the rest of the machine?

Leatherator, I forgot to mention a servo motor, if you're going to be sewing leather it's probably the best mod you can do to the machine. My 111WSV77 (which I think is a W153) has about 3/8" clearance under the foot but I can squeeze a bit more under it, although the presser bar/vibrating foot bar need tweaking a bit. It will push a #22 needle through basically whatever I can get under the feet BUT it then needs stronger downward pressure on the presser foot to stop the leather lifting on the upstroke. This, however, is without thread as I use it to pre-punch my holes for handstitching. If I add thread the additional loading can become an issue with stitch formation - in other words I'm exceeding what it was designed for. The mechanics of the 111 class are pretty solid but the real limitations are foot clearance and needle stroke. While they can be tweaked a bit no-one is going to turn a 151 (or 152, 3, 4) into a 155, let alone a Cowboy 3200!

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This machine uses a different needle system than its walking foot cousins. You need to buy system 135x7 (regular point) or 135x8 (leather point) needles. They are similar to system 134 in length and are noticeably shorter than walking foot needles used in the 111w153 and 155. Thus, they have a shorter stroke, limiting the thickness that can be sewn.

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I have a 151 and have stitched lots of belts and other things on it. Mine has a roller foot, I bought it that way. I like that foot. Mine will sew 10 oz but not more. I have a cb4500 for larger size. I have had the 151 for almost 20 years and have had no real problems. The only time I have had trouble is when I try to stitch more than it can handle. Overall has been a good machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2016-12-13 at 3:55 PM, Wizcrafts said:

This machine uses a different needle system than its walking foot cousins. You need to buy system 135x7 (regular point) or 135x8 (leather point) needles. They are similar to system 134 in length and are noticeably shorter than walking foot needles used in the 111w153 and 155. Thus, they have a shorter stroke, limiting the thickness that can be sewn.

OK, I see what you're saying.  For what I'm trying to do, thickness shouldn't be a problem.  If the limit is 10 oz veg tanned, the stock presser foot height should be fine.

Is the difference between walking-foot and needle feed more noticeable with different stitch lengths?  I'm just thinking that the needle is deep in the slot when stitches are fairly long, near the.  It's hard to imagine what advantage a walking-foot machine would have in that situation. A lot of walking feet have the needle going through a hole, which may be slightly better than a narrow slot.  But I suspect that the difference is small.  Maybe short stitches are worse, being closer to the mouth of the slot and farther from the hinge point of the foot.

I read also that the triple feed is needed for large pieces.  It got me thinking... I had always assumed that it was the operator's job to get the work into the machine and guide it through without pushing, pulling, or twisting.  That's easy enough with fabric and small leather pieces.  But I don't think even a walking foot could save you if you're working on a large piece and not handling it correctly.  For example, yesterday I was using a Bernina 217 to bind the edge of foam-backed carpet to put in the mud room, it was 5x3 or so.  It is was really difficult to handle because of stiffness, length, and limited space around the table.  It was like a lever that rotated the in the plane of the table.  I don't think any reasonable machine would be able to resist those kind of forces. 

Last point, if you're stitching stiff veg tanned leather, how much do you need to be concerned about getting the top and bottom to feed together?  Seems like it should track perfectly once you get a few stitches into it.  How much pucker can you get with a needle feed set for, say 10 stitches/in?  That piece of 0.100" isn't going to stretch or shrink very much, is it?  And if it's chrome, it should be easier to puncture and left the needle.  Seems like needle feed would be OK for that.  ... Makes me wonder if the triple feed is really needed or if it's just the feed that's on high-end machines that are set up for leather; guilt by association, if you will.  Anyway, I'm not criticizing anyone so don't take it personally.  This is just the opinion of someone who doesn't have a pile of money for a high-end machine.

 

EDIT:  (2nd sentence, 2nd paragraph)

I'm just thinking that the needle is deep in the slot when stitches are fairly long, near the hinge point on the foot, where the downward effect of the foot should be the best.

 

 

 

 

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