Thursday, January 3, 2013

Adventures in Sewing Machine Repair

So as many of my facebook followers know, I bought myself an early birthday present in November of a Professional Free Hander 99E industrial sewing machine/quilting machine/reason to have to rework the entire studio to find 8 feet of work space. Just yesterday, two weeks after said birthday, I finally had the chance to see if I could try it out. Sounds about right for my life.

So this is what I, the self proclaimed technological loser, was to conquer in one afternoon.

 Let me start by saying the machine is an older model. "Older" in this case meaning "that which is no longer made by a company which no longer exists." But thankfully, the woman I bought it from had kept every scrap of paper and doodad ever associated with this machine, up to and including an empty Priority Mail envelope from the company she bought it from, so I although googling "set up your Professional Free Hander video" did no more than make Google laugh audibly at me, I was armed with as many old fashioned resources as I could possibly get, so onward I soldiered.

The instruction booklet was written in 1997 without benefit of Photoshop, graphic design, or apparently an editor. However it was rife with graphics like these:
which I am taking to mean "Even a baby can do this, you idiot! Stop whining!" and "When all else fails, put your head down on your 1980s style desk and play the popular 3rd grade game of "Thumbs Up" until you feel better" respectively. It also contained helpful hints such as "Install in a protected location where no one can step on or trip over the power cord, so that the power cord will not be damaged." Screw you and your possible twisted ankle or broken neck - keep that power cord safe at all costs!

For all its entertainment and amusement value, I will say that the instruction booklet was written in a very friendly, encouraging manner, and for someone like me who looks at such a project and walks away for 8 weeks before tackling it for fear of failure, that was terribly refreshing. So I forgave the excessive use of quotation marks where they were not necessary, but not so much that I could let it go without mention. By following the very explicit and basic step by step instructions, even I, technological nightmare of vast proportions, got it working.

For like 12 seconds.

Then it bound up or something. So I stepped on the gas harder, because my 3 tickets and 5 warnings will tell you that is what I do when I drive. It started up again.

All of a sudden I was being pelted by bits of rubber.

Some almost as large as a ladybug. OMG! What was happening? The book did not warn me that I might put my eye out from flying rubber, but even if it had I'm sure that it, like the power cord warning, would have been written in favor of the rubber.

A quick inspection showed me that the drive belt is totally and completely toast. And yes, I do feel really cool because I was able to figure that out all by myself.

Then came the panic - if the company is out of business, how do I get a new one? Here I need to shout out to the filing system of the woman I bought it from, as in among the empty envelopes and random scraps of paper I found a replacement parts order form, which at least had a model number on it. I googled the belt number, sent up a prayer, and OMG! They still make the belt! They meaning another company entirely, but my joy was palpable as there was no way I was going to have my husband remove this:

from the studio unused after the beeyotch of a time we had getting it in there in the first place and remain married.

Why yes, that is a roll of paper towels and a wrench off to the right. Let the record show the instruction booklet did not mention the need for these items.

Today I received confirmation that the belts are on the way (I ordered two just in case) and I can't wait to see how much fun it will be to tear the workings apart and install a new one! Here is hoping the installation does not necessitate another blog post.


A.G. Lindsay said...

Good luck on the belts! At least you have a spare in case you hurt one of them. To offer you a (teensy tiny) small amount of support, replacing the belt on my vintage Singer(s) is actually very easy. I hope yours is easy as well!

Kelli Fannin Quilts said...

I hadn't read this post yet.. and it is Hi-larious! You never fail to crack me up, thanks for painting such a humorous picture of all of your mistakes and misfortunes. :) I love that you're conquering that machine yourself! It will know better than to mess with you again after you show it who is boss! Good luck with Machine Repair-Episode II. :)

Unknown said...

Just came across one of these machines. Any idea what they are worth ?

Beth at Quilting Hottie Haven said...

I'm kind of dying over here, David, because I'm fairly certain you are the guy who came and saved me from this machine yesterday.

To me, this machine is now worth its significant weight in gold because it is GONE! Other than that, I have no idea. Good luck!

And if it is not you, I still have no idea. :)

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