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I need a sewing machine and I would prefer to buy a vintage industrial (or near-industrial) model over the Sailrite LSZ, which is the obvious option for a new machine. I'll be doing mostly marine canvas, upholstery and sail repair, not as much with leather but you guys seem to be the experts on this class of machine... and I will no doubt be doing some leather work as well.  I need it to have a zig zag stitch. It does not need to be portable. Quiet operation, good control and simplicity/longevity are the things I value most.  I would plan to replace any clutch motor with a servo motor like the Consew CSW100.

I think the Consew 99 or 199 or the Pfaff 138 could fit the bill. I'm sure there are a number of other models that I should consider as well. What other vintage models and brands should I be on the lookout for?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!



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Hi Jack, I have used the sailrite LZ for a few years now and think it is an excellent machine, a tad clunky and the workspace under the arm can be a real draw back.

I have also used the Pfaff 138 and 238 for quite a long time all for marine canvas, sail repairs etc. The 238 is simply an updated model of the 138, both come in different stitch widths 4.5 mm zigzag model A or 6mm  model B. They are both super slick, smooth and quiet machines and a joy to use. Both are definitely industrial machines.

The stitch width is easily adjustable and selecting ‘0’ gives you a straight stitch. Both machines have forward & reverse and also the ability to shift the needle to left, centre or right when in straight stitch setting.

The 238 model has the addition of an oil bath with wicks that feed essential points in the top end. Underneath are two bevel gears that require grease or I quite like a recent suggestion on here of using motorcycle chain lube which is sticky and won’t get thrown out of the gears so much.

there are also various oil felts throughout the machine to maintain consistent lubrication.

i believe some 138 machines came with two spring tensioners for using twin needles, but I’ve never used this option.

They are very solidly built and can easily handle V92 thread, but the bobbins are pretty small so using a V69 will help with less frequent changes.

I was so impressed with the one I used at a sail based charity I help out at that I bought my own 238 recently.


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