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Thread: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

  1. #1
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    Default Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    We're looking at making covers for some of our sail boats - and considering an industrial type machine (so I don't mess up my wife's quilting gear!!! Oh, that would be SO BAD!!!) - Anyway, any feedback on a "New Home" Industrial machine - see the pic - asking 225 bucks and is supposed to be working - any feedback on whether this would be a good machine for in my shop doing canvas work. BTW I have ZERO experience with sewing (will be my wife's poor student, for sure!) - so this needs to be a simple as a hammer!!!! THANKS!!!


    sewing machine new home industrial.jpg

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    These folks have some history related to the 'New Home" brand
    https://sewingiscool.com/old-new-home-sewing-machine-models/#tab-con-12

    The thing about a somewhat obscure old machine like that is finding parts and/or getting it serviced could be a bit of an issue. It might be just fine for straight (and zig-zag?) stitching but when you want to expand your horizons a bit are the accessories to do so available? Take a look at the multitude of optional feet a company like Sailrite has ( full disclosure I have an LSZ-1 that I really like) for doing things like zippers or binding or welting. Sewing is fun and a bit addictive, it would be a shame to be stymied by a lack of parts.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
    H.A. Calahan

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Thanks - in fact I'm in touch with the local sewing machine fix-it place and talking about that very thing. Evidently the "service" on these are pretty straight forward - clean and lube (I used to restore antique cars, so not a big deal). As far as parts go, that is the main issue. Until I get to see the machine (and a model number) I won't know. THANKS!!!! I'll update you - and I appreciate the "warning".....I do tend to get involved in stuff and let my imagination run! This might be a good start for a couple hundred bucks.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Looks a bit, but not quite, like my Pfaff 138 with a powerful motor. A good machine but most if not all industrials have hair trigger clutches so practice a bit before starting on the expensive material. Following a tip from Tod Bradshaw on this forum, I bought a "servo motor" that bolted right in and has given me much better control over the machine while still having good power. Most of the servo motors on line come from China and look alike. I paid about $200 Canadian for mine, or around $150 US.

    Jamie
    Last edited by Jamie Orr; 10-29-2020 at 10:08 PM. Reason: incorrect credit - belongs to Todd Bradshaw

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    I am still kicking myself for not buying a sturdy Pfaff at a local estate sale. It was only $100, but I could not fit it in the car at the time and when I came back it was gone.

    My boat tent was all done using this, so anything is possible:


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Sewing boat covers and other canvas work is nearly always done with a straight stitch and for some of the common fabrics (like Sunbrella) you will need a long (4-5 mm long) stitch to minimize needle-puckering. This is important, and that machine will probably do it, but check to be sure. The typical 8-10 stitches per inch that you might see from home machines or on something like a nylon tent will make a mess out of Sunbrella.

    Surprisingly, eBay tends to be an excellent place to look for old industrial sewing machine parts, add-ons and supplies like thread and needles. You can even download manuals for some of the old machines in case you need guidance adjusting them. Unless you are making actual sails, the zig-zag isn't likely to get much use. Those stitches are more prone to damage from snagging and abrasion in use, compared to straight stitches. On sails, we need to space the holes out as much as possible to resist tearing, but that's not generally the case for canvas work and straight stitch lines tend to look better and last longer.

    The speed thing is an issue. Good control for varied projects and general purpose work is much easier to achieve at slower speeds. If you use it much, you will probably eventually want to replace the motor with a servo motor. It makes a huge difference. The one I stuck on my Consew leather machine came from e-Bay at around $150. Also, one of the main reasons that industrial machines get sold off and replaced is that they tend to get a bit "loose" and erratic after a lot of high speed sewing. One which may no longer be consistent at full speed in a factory, may still work just fine at lower speeds as a general purpose project machine.

    For that price, I'd go for it

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    I like that treadle Singer. What model is it?? Got a spare base?

    My wife uses a Singer 66-16. The 66 is a very strong machine. I knew a seamstress that made civil war costumes, and she said the Singer 66 was the only machine that could hit steel boning in corsets and not go out of whack.

    The 66-16 was the first Singer with a reverse. Anyway, our machine was purchased new in 1942 by grandmaw. Grandpaw was profiting merrily from various war time contract and got a new Dodge truck the same year!

    It was an electric machine but, we've also inherited an 1903 Gibb and Wilcox chain-sticher which I rebuilt. It was a treadle machine, of course. My wife used it for several years but decided to go back to the lock-stitch Singer, so I converted the Singer to the Gibbs and Wilcox treadle base. She much prefers a treadle machine to electric and having made sails (just tarp sails) on both types I have come to vastly prefer the treadle machine too. Dunno why they stopped making 'em!

    Eh, we had a huge industrial machine in the family for a bit - type unknown to me - But got rid of it. Dang thing ran to damn fast.

    Before buying any machine I'd try it out on stuff you want to sew with it, if possible.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    I have a Singer 66k treadle machine. Yes the needle and drive will go through anything but it wont feed long heavy canvas or space the stitching suitably with heavy thread for sail or boat covers. It is a domestic machine. Compound feed/walking foot are what is needed for aforementioned.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post

    That looks extremely similar the My wife's Singer,
    it was her mothers...
    It was her Grand mothers,,
    It was bought second hand in the 1920s
    We took it to a specialist place to have it serviced at about it's 90th birthday
    It was built in 1904..

    There should be a code number on it somewhere, which will tell you where it was made and when, there are look up tables on the net somewhere.

    Good to know it will do boat covers.. that little adventure has still to come...
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    I'd modify that to read "compound feed/walking feet can be a nice asset". But having made more than a hundred or so sails - Dacron, Kevlar, Technora, polyester Mylar and Egyptian cotton over 35 years, along with various boat and sail covers, multihull trampolines and all sorts of other strange projects, all with a machine that had no walking foot, it is certainly not required. And you would have a hard time finding somebody more picky than I am with construction details and quality for sail and canvas work.

    If the machine you find has a walking foot....fine. However, the lack of one should not automatically make a machine unsuitable or a bad choice.

    no walking foot here and no stitch irregularity happening:

    seams.jpg

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Thanks for all the advice.....I'll let you know how it works out. I picked up the machine for 200 bucks - and if I went by weight it would be in the $.75 a pound range! HOLY COW is this thing heavy - had to rig a 4 part block and tackle to get it off of the truck (so happy for all the old sailboat hardware I have!!!). Anyway, it made a soft landing in the driveway, and the lady that had it gave me a shoe box full of feet and other stuff that I can't identify (my wife may know - she's a talented quilter....so there is hope!). The motor seems to run fine - and like some have said, seems to be a "one speed" transmission and a pretty tight clutch (going back to my sports car restoration days!!). So we'll see ---- just hoping that this "distraction" doesn't slow down completion of my Nutshell this fall. Anyone have advice or tips (do's and never do's) for measuring and layout of a cover. First covers will be for my woodshop equipment (planers, jointers, sanders, etc, etc) - then on to my gaff rigged catboat.....
    IMG_3210- small.jpg

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Start with cheap material that you don't mind throwing away.
    I've made simple boom tents and various covers, and my current sail cover was sewed up by my wife - All out of leftover poly tarp from the four sails I've made.
    Not a bad way to start, but you may need to increase the needle tension way up to get it to work with this kind of stuff.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    By the by, while we're on the subject of sewing sails and cover and so forth, I've been thinking of making my next sail out of cotton.
    I know I know, I've been reading to much R.D. Culler.

    Anyone know of a source of suitable material?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    It's damned difficult to find good cotton unless you want to import a whole container full of it. Most of the small companies making things like custom Egyptian Cotton wall tents aren't willing to part with any of their limited supply. You also need to do your homework and learn about the subject, since not all "Egyptian" Cotton is the good stuff. Most of the cotton grown in Egypt is not what we think of as the real, long-staple, high thread-count variety - yet due to its place of origin, they can promote it as "Egyptian Cotton". There are also more than one way to list thread-counts. There are cases where the number they quote is actually twice the normal way that thread counts are listed. If somebody tells you that their thread count is more than about 600, they're probably twisting the truth.

    Long staple Egyptian Cotton (long staple meaning having very long fibers which can be spun into thin, strong yarns and woven into high thread count fabrics) is not actually native to Egypt. The original cotton in Egypt was short staple and coarse (itchy mummies). The good plants to weave the good cloth were originally imported into Egypt from the Caribbean (where that strain eventually died out due to disease if I remember correctly). Some of these high quality long staple plants were also imported to the U.S.A. but here the finished fabric is known as "Pima Cotton". It was brought in because it would give the Pima Indians in the Southwest a cash crop to raise. The quality of Pima Cotton is regulated stringently, unlike most Egyptian Cotton.

    I made a few cotton sails over the years and luckily, they were all pretty small. I used really high quality fabric "harvested" from very expensive sets (like $100-$125) of king-sized Egyptian Cotton bed sheets. Once in a rare while, you might find a lone bolt of some kind of plain weave, unbleached Egyptian-ish cotton about bed sheet weight in a local fabric store. It is so tightly woven that it has that slight sheen to the surface and both sides look the same. I've found bolts of that sort of fabric a couple of times over the past 30 years or so, but most of the cotton in fabric stores isn't wind-proof enough to make a decent sail.

    Building sails is kind of tedious. Building cotton sails is even more tedious. I never built (or wanted to build) many of them. If I put them out at a reasonable price, I'd be working for peanuts, and if I actually made a decent wage building them, they would have been horribly expensive. Working for yourself you won't have to worry about construction time.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Todd, I owe you an apology. I credited Dave Gentry with the tip about servo motors, it should have been you (corrected now). I think I mentioned Dave because I have been looking at skin boats lately.

    Jamie

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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    My cousin was a machine operator in a shirt factory for several years. About 14-15 years ago she acquired a commercial machine that had a 3 phase motor. I had her get an inverter and I set it up to run off a 120V outlet. She loved the ability to slow the motor down using the inverter as her reflexes had slowed and she was not doing repetitive production with the machine.

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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    You can slow the thing down some with an extra belt and pulleys rather than a new servo motor.

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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Singer 201k, for the record.
    http://fairmaid.blogspot.com.au/

    "It's dawning on me that I should have worked out the tumbler details more in advance, rather than rely on bluster and over confidence. But that's just silly." Jim Ledger.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    +1 on the servo motor. I just refitted my machine last week with an $80 setup via Amazon. The difference in control compared to the clutch motor is well worth it.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    You can slow the thing down some with an extra belt and pulleys rather than a new servo motor.
    That's the way my sailmaking machine is set up. It has a jack drive which uses a double pulley, and its motor is just a small Dayton portable motor. The jack drive slows it down and also increases the punching power, especially with that big heavy balance wheel. I've been using it for 40years now, originally rebuilding hot air balloons, then switching to sailmaking and boat canvas work, along with everything from making dog collars to hemming blue jeans. It has always had plenty of power. For cover and canvas work, if you are having to sew through more than three or four layers of fabric in places, then there is a good chance that there is something wrong with your design.

    The jack drive: The motor's pulley drives the big side of the jack drive pulley, and the small part of the jack drive pulley drives the balance wheel. The drive pulley is on a metal bracket, bolted to the side of the machine, though it could probably also be mounted to the table top.

    jack.jpg

    My big leather machine needs more power than the Sailmaker, since it's pushing much bigger needles and thicker thread. I was pleasantly surprised though, at how much lighter and more compact the new servo motor was, compared to the old 50 lb. clutch-driven motor, sitting there on the floor. The servo also has a dial-in maximum speed, so that you can set it so that it can't run away on you, no matter how hard you press the pedal. If desired, you can also crank it up to production speeds.

    consew.jpg
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 10-30-2020 at 03:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    I like that there is a max speed setting on the servo motor....I did not know they had that.

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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    I don't know whether or not they all have the speed governor knob, but it is certainly something to look for if you are shopping for a servo. If you do buy one of these big old machines, you owe it to yourself sometime to also buy some leather to play with. Watching it sew beautiful lines of perfect stitches through a couple layers of thick leather is really fun. Where making boat covers is pretty much just form follows function, you can really get creative with leather goods. Making some sort of simple handbag is also a good way to get your spouse to approve of all the money you are spending on heavy duty sewing stuff. I order a lot of my leather from The Leather Guy in Minnesota, who sells good stuff at pretty decent prices and offers both whole hides and smaller pieces. There are also some good leather vendors on eBay.

    edge.jpg

    belt-and-stuff.jpg

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    For leather work I like this machine. It is a Singer 29k62. It is a cobbler's machine, and its foot can be turned through 360 degrees to sew in any direction. With its free arm it can be used in tight spaces. Because it has got a treadle and a hand crank it allows for very controlled sewing. I have also done some canvas work on it. The drawback is that it hasn't got a table that would make work on bulkier projects easier. I have been working on a table that can be clamped on the arm but I haven't finished it yet.

    DSCF4377.jpg

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Sewing boat covers and other canvas work is nearly always done with a straight stitch and for some of the common fabrics (like Sunbrella) you will need a long (4-5 mm long) stitch to minimize needle-puckering. This is important, and that machine will probably do it, but check to be sure. The typical 8-10 stitches per inch that you might see from home machines or on something like a nylon tent will make a mess out of Sunbrella.

    Surprisingly, eBay tends to be an excellent place to look for old industrial sewing machine parts, add-ons and supplies like thread and needles. You can even download manuals for some of the old machines in case you need guidance adjusting them. Unless you are making actual sails, the zig-zag isn't likely to get much use. Those stitches are more prone to damage from snagging and abrasion in use, compared to straight stitches. On sails, we need to space the holes out as much as possible to resist tearing, but that's not generally the case for canvas work and straight stitch lines tend to look better and last longer.

    The speed thing is an issue. Good control for varied projects and general purpose work is much easier to achieve at slower speeds. If you use it much, you will probably eventually want to replace the motor with a servo motor. It makes a huge difference. The one I stuck on my Consew leather machine came from e-Bay at around $150. Also, one of the main reasons that industrial machines get sold off and replaced is that they tend to get a bit "loose" and erratic after a lot of high speed sewing. One which may no longer be consistent at full speed in a factory, may still work just fine at lower speeds as a general purpose project machine.

    For that price, I'd go for it
    Thanks for that, good information for us amateurs.

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    Default Re: Sewing Machine for canvas covers - is this a good deal?

    Quote Originally Posted by timo4352 View Post
    I like that there is a max speed setting on the servo motor....I did not know they had that.
    My $80 servo setup also has a minimum speed setting. I think it's somewhere around 100 rpm, but the controller works better at 150rpm+. I wouldn't mind slower, but figure I'd use the extra pulley method if I wanted creeping molasses slow.

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