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New guy looking at a 29k3 and 29k172 with treadel bases

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Background:  I have read posts on here and around the web for a couple of years, so I have done research but have no real world experience with leather rated machines. I currently hand sew a small number of heavy cloth or leather projects a year, usually patching items for the wife or kids when my Singer 201's can't handle it. I am currently stationed in Germany and the sewing machines out here seem to be more plentiful and better priced than in the US. As an example, I picked up 3 machines in one day for less then $60, two 201's and a German machine, then sold the German machine for $200 once I got it running a week later. 


The 29k3 has an asking price of $150 and is a 15-minute drive away.  The bad news is he/she (unisex name, have not met yet) got it when their spouse left after a divorce and have never seen it work. At the least is missing a bobbin, so there is no way to test it before buying it.  With this person trying to get rid of it, and with it not in working condition, I think I could talk them down to $50 because it may need expensive repairs.

The 29K172 is for 280 Euro ($327), but is 2 hours out, in working condition and "comes with accessories". The pictures are beautiful! I know this is the much better machine but if I get it before selling a few of my current tube radio projects, my wife will be more upset than I am willing to deal with at this time. LOL. 

If I get either of these machines, my work will probably not increase in the next couple years beyond making a few tool pouches and axe head covers, but I plan on doing more when I get back to the US in a couple of years and retire from the military.



What do machines in these conditions typically go for in the US (selling point for my wife)? 

What should I look for when inspecting them? At what point should I run away?

Any pointers that you are willing to give a guy who has never seen an industrial machine in person?


Thanks in advance,


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If you have the chance upload some pictures here. It easier to evaluate machines when we can see them. ;) It depends on the condition, the accessories and how the machines are set up (f.i. no stand, just a treadle stand or a motor stand)

I do not know the market in the US (or the federal state you go back to) but I think it´s not worth bringing a 29K3 back home. The 29K172 is a different story - it is a large bobbin long arm patcher and it for sure is worth a lot more and afaik the spare parts of the 29K72  (series 29K71 - 29K73) will fit for the 29K172 machine. Meaning the spare parts situation is a lot better then for the almost 100 years old 29K3 with small bobbin and "not so good" parts situation. But if the 29K3 is in pristine condition with nice decals and uncle sam pays for moving it over the pond I´m sure you will find a buyer for it.

Functional machines are for sure easier to sell than machines a potential buyer has to restore so it depends on the condition and if the machine is properly working or not. Check if all parts are present (compare with pictures you find on the web) and in best case test sew it - download manuals and test the machines.



Just noticed int eh topic the machines come with treadle base :whistle:



Edited by Constabulary

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The Singer 29s are great special purpose machines designed for patching shoes and boots in inaccessible areas.  They are not so hot as general purpose leather sewing machines for a number of reasons.  But as long as you understand that and have use for such a machine, the main consideration between these two for me would be availability of parts.  The 29k3 is probably over 100 years old, and spare parts are long gone.  The 29k172 is at least 50 years newer, and if I'm not mistaken were still in production in the 1970s, with parts availability.   

For me, it's a no-brainer.  go for the 29k172.   As much as I love antiques, if they can't be made workable and kept that way, they're just decoration.  

- Bill

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Until two months ago a Singer 29k172 was my primary patcher. I also have a small bobbin, short arm 29k71 to finer work. I found that the bigger bobbin machine was better able to handle #92 and #138 thread. It is still just a patcher, best used for sewing on embroidered patches, repairs to boot and shoe uppers and purses (mostly the side tabs when the begin to pull loose). I got $800 for mine in trade, with a two hour drive, just like the o.p. is facing.

The entire 29 series was built for shoe and boot repairs on the uppers. It is of no use on the soles. The maximum thickness that the 29k172 can handle is just about 5/16 inch. I guess that's about 7mm. The feed is via teeth on the foot, which can be turned in any direction. The machine was designed to use System 29x3 and x4 needles which are obsolete and have been replaced with System 135x16 (leather) and 135x17 (cloth).

Bobbins and shuttles are readily available. In EU, you can buy Ticket 20 or smaller thread to use in the machine. Here is a thread/needle size chart showing the best combinations.

If you buy this machine, learn to adjust it for various thicknesses of leather, from a few ounces up to 16 ounces. The barrel adjuster nut inside the take-up frame on top helps with the take-up in thicker materials. Screw it inward to force the take-up to pull up more thread, or back it off in thin leather. You balance that adjuster with the spring on the very top, which should only be as tight as necessary to keep the thread taut until the needle penetrates the leather.

Once you are comfortable with the patcher, advertise that you can repair shoes, boots (uppers only) and purses, or sew on patches (especially over pockets!). The machine will pay for itself in a month of sewing.

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Bill, Wizcrafts, and Constabulary,


Thanks for your input.  The 29k3 seller backed out before I could look at it, he will try to get more out of it when he goes back to the US shortly.  However with is not in running order, I still offered to take a look at it if he changes his mind.  That leaves me with upsetting my wife with the 29k172.  Since I am going to the Homberg flee market tomorrow maybe I will find another toy. If I find any good sewing machines I will post them here. I did find an odd (to me) machine near Homberg but that will be in another post.

Edited by d72hemi

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