Forums: Skydiving: Gear and Rigging:
walking foot sewing machines

 


JayhawkJumper  (D 26858)

Oct 3, 2007, 5:39 PM
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I know some industrial machines out there have walking foots like the Consew 206. I have heard the walking foot is to aid in even fabric feeding when sewing at very high speeds. Anyone have experience sewing with a walking foot machine? How do they perform with canopy fabric, jumpsuits, webbing, etc..? I used one quite a while back but I don't remember much about it. I am in the market for my first machine.


stratostar  (Student)

Oct 3, 2007, 6:02 PM
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They work fine and I like them, but I we got rid of the one we had a couple years ago, so it's been back to the 31-15 for all my work needs.


chutingstar  (D 19956)

Oct 3, 2007, 8:50 PM
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My Singer 211, which is a single-needle walking foot, works great for container repairs, bootie repairs, riser repairs and the like. I wouldn't be able to do some of the more "heavy-duty" repairs without it. This was the third machine I bought, right behind a lighter-duty straight/zig-zag machine that I use for canopy patching and a bartacker for linesets.

I also have a Brother double-needle walking foot with a binder that is a workhorse.

The drawbacks to walking foots (at least how mine are currently setup) is the foot is usually a little bigger and it's not as easy to get into some of the tighter places.

Mike


lilchief  (D 78149)

Jan 21, 2013, 6:06 AM
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What is the difference between compund and walking foot? And more importantly; is one of them better then the other, allways or just in some cases?


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 21, 2013, 6:46 AM
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Re: [lilchief] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

Compound feeds use the needle with a walking foot to move the work thru the machine.

If you're planning on doing heavier container work, I'd get a compound walking foot.

There is no one machine that does everything amazingly, but there are many out there that do pretty good jobs at most work.

What are you looking to get out of the machine?


(This post was edited by theonlyski on Jan 21, 2013, 6:54 AM)


gowlerk  (C 3196)

Jan 21, 2013, 5:15 PM
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Re: [lilchief] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

Technically, compound feed is simply more than one feed method. There are several types of feed combinations used, especially in manufacturing. And their names will often confuse the issue.

Practically for rigging work there are only three common types. Bottom feed, which is the simplest. It uses feed dogs and a presser foot only. You know this type. Second is needle feed, where the needle bar moves in time with the feed dogs to pull the material along. Almost always used as an addition to bottom feed. Ebay sellers will call this "combination" feed, which it is, hoping you will confuse this with alternating presser feed. Which is the proper name for "walking foot" You can tell an alternating presser foot machine by it's inner and outer foot. The inner foot stays down and moves in time with the feed dog and the needle bar to move the material while the outer foot raises up till the end of the cycle then lowers to hold it in place while the needle bar returns for the next stitch.

Is that clear as mud?

Ken


J-Rock  (D 27385)

Jan 21, 2013, 10:07 PM
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Re: [JayhawkJumper] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

I own a Juki LU-562 which is a walking foot machine and like Stratostar, I too own a Singer 31-15. I rarely use the Juki and find that the Singer does just about everything I need from canopy repair all the way up to heavier fabrics and webbing. Ive used 138 thread in it before and it worked just as good as E thread. If you are looking for your "first" machine I would recomend a simple bottom feed like the 31-15 and then a good zig zag machine. I used my 31-15 literally 80% of the time, great little machine. I found the Juki for next to free from a friend thinking it would be great for canopy repairs only to find it was way overkill.


lilchief  (D 78149)

Jan 22, 2013, 1:24 AM
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nee...sort of. I think i got it. Walking foot is the s***t! :D

The Pfaff 118 we have in our club is a bottom feeder and I would like to have something that pulls the material better, e.g. walking foot. The needle feed sounds a bit weak when it comes to pulling 2 layers of cordura + binding tape, or is it? The momentum might be to large for the needle mechanism?

How does the three methods of transportation work with ZP or f-111 fabric?

I'm thinking of getting a straight + zig zag machine for E-thread to begin with. I guess that will cover most of the work and is a nice start. Any suggestions on models?

Thanks for you help, guys! :)


JerryBaumchen  (D 1543)

Jan 22, 2013, 11:08 AM
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Hi Jayhawk,

Quote:
walking foots like the Consew 206

These machines can be converted to a bottom feed machine. Contact Henderson Sewing for more info on this.

When I first started doing parachute gear sewing I bought a Singer 401A machine. Singer called this a 'heavy-duty' household machine. By using a Jeans needle ( as in blue jeans ) it will sew 'E' thread very nicely. I built my first TSO'd container using only this machine. Crazy

Later I bought a Singer 31-15 which I consider the workhorse of the industry. I have had sewing mechine mechanics not believe what I would go thru with the 31-15.

For lighter stuff, i.e., canopy fabric, pilot chutes, reserve free bags, etc, I would recommend a Singer 401A/500A/501A. These are simple house-hold bottom feed machines. I have attached a picture of my 501A; the others look almost identical. These machines will do a straight stitch and a zig-zag without using any cams. Cams were available for all kinds of patterns at one time; they are almost impossible to find now.

As you move into heavier stuff, a 31-15 is a great machine. They are getting old and I sold both of mine a few years ago. I now use a Pfaff 463 which I consider the finest bottom feed single-needle machine I have ever sewed with. The only drawback is that it has rather small bobbins so you have to change bobbins out way too often. I also have a Consew 206 walking foot machine and I like it. But since I fell in love with the Pfaff, I only use the Consew for the heavier stuff that the Pfaff would struggle with; so the Consew gets used only seldom.

As one gets more & more experience with various machines, you will find those that you just simply fall in love with. However, the next guy may also think it is a terrible machine. Such is life.

I hope that this helps a little,

JerryBaumchen

PS) A little story. At the first PIA Sympsium in 1991, Rags Raghanti ( sp ?? ), did a seminar on sewing/patching ZP fabric. He is a fantastic stitcher. I was sitting next to Ralph Hatley during the seminar and Ralph commented, "That is his machine." Meaning that he had set it up exactly how he wanted to use it for what he was doing.
Attachments: 501A.jpg (47.7 KB)


gowlerk  (C 3196)

Jan 22, 2013, 2:34 PM
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If you have access to and experience with a Pfaff 118 machine and you find you need better, more even feed, then an alternating presser feed machine is the way to go. That is if it is for feeding multiple layers of heavier material and getting nicely spaced consistent stitches. You should be able to sew patches into canopies with just bottom feed. If you can't then you need more practice. (like me). Like Jerry says, a domestic type machine can do this. I use a Singer 201, but the 500 or 401 like his is good as well. The military trained riggers to patch with a 31-15 for decades. When choosing this type of machine consider how wide the feed dogs and foot are. Much of this stuff can be done on several types of machine, but you need to learn how to use and set them up for different jobs. A large loft will have many machines, some of the same type but set up differently. The challenge for us is learning to do many jobs with one or two machines. I don't know about you, but I only have so much room for sewing machines, and still have a place to pack. One of mine is on wheels to help make room.

Ken


ChrisClark  (D 8433)

Jan 22, 2013, 3:55 PM
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Re: [JayhawkJumper] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a Singer 211 which is a walking foot machine. I find that it is only really useful for heavier container work or multiple layers of webbing etc. The machine I use most is my 20u, its a drop feed machine, will sew canopy patches just fine and deals with almost any other work. After changing over the feed dog and foot it really works well for any zig-zag work. A good choice as a first machine. I have a twin needle Mitsubishi for all my binding but I bought that in the greatest deal in the history sewing machine purchases! I had a 31-15 once, regret selling it now, top machine.


stratostar  (Student)

Jan 22, 2013, 5:51 PM
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I just scored a 31-15 table, motor, clutch for 100 bucks off Craigs list. Very happy buy.


SStewart  (D 10405)

Jan 22, 2013, 8:33 PM
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Re: [JayhawkJumper] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

Last summer I bought a Sailrite (manufactured by tacsew) and I just love it. It is designed for nautical applications like sewing sails, vinyl seat cushions, webbing, boat covers etc. but it also works excellent for parachute rigging applications.
It has a walking foot that works in both straight stich and zig-zag and it works in both forward AND reverse. The foot is a bit large so it is a little tough for tight corners but the needle can be positioned in left, right, or center so that really helps. Built like a tank and capable of sewing anything up to 3/4 of an inch. Sold new for a lot less than other walking foot machines and it is hard to find any that have the walking foot in both straight and zig-zag and both directions. The videos on their website are quite impressive.

http://sailrite.com

They say you can sew thinner material by backing off the mega-spring, change the needle, change the thread etc. but I would not use this for patching canopies. The dogs on the upper and lower foot are so agressive I would be concerned with damaging the fabric. But for everything else it is an awesome machine.


SStewart  (D 10405)

Jan 22, 2013, 8:39 PM
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Re: [SStewart] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

PS the model you want is the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 (the blue one) the red one goes forward and back but no zig-zag so they are cheaper.


lilchief  (D 78149)

Jan 22, 2013, 10:25 PM
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Re: [JerryBaumchen] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

When I sewed a parachute for my bachelor thesis, I came across a long arm double needle heavy duty machine. It could sew straight through 3 layers of Dacron storm sail fabric, 2 layers of binding tape and 0,5cm cheap boat line. It was awsm!

But is it beneficial to have a long arm machine for canopy repair? I'm amazed by you using household machines for patching. How do you distribute all the fabric without it clogging up under the arm? It is possible to repair jumpsuits on the Pfaff we have in my club, but I have to stuff fabric in all direction when sewing in some places. it it's just a patch on the nose or similar, I can understand that you can use them. But in the tail on a 280 student canopy or tandem canopy, won't it be very hard?
Long arms are of course super duper expensive, but I'm curious :)

Our Pfaff 118 can't handle E-thread and suffers when repairing binding tape on leg pads and can't handle E-thread. We have now gone down to a lighter/thinner thread and then it works flawlessly. But is there any way we may adapt it to handle E-thread? It is a good machine and we had it overhauled recently. But still, it couldn't take E-thread.

All the different options and customizing I've learned about sewing machines is fascinating! I had no idea when I started searching for setup that it was this complex. :)


piisfish

Jan 23, 2013, 1:20 AM
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Re: [lilchief] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
it it's just a patch on the nose or similar, I can understand that you can use them. But in the tail on a 280 student canopy or tandem canopy, won't it be very hard?
Long arms are of course super duper expensive, but I'm curious :)
stitching is there to be unstitched Angelic You sometimes need to open a bit more of teh canopy to patch in some places, and then re-close everything. Just like a surgeon when he needs to do an operation. He doesn't always use the "natural" openings. Sometimes he needs to make a bit more space to be able to work.

I hope you are not using smaller than E thread on parachutes....

Oh and if you have access to a long-arm, you are blessed Smile


Quagmirian  (A 110392)

Jan 23, 2013, 2:14 AM
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In reply to:
I hope you are not using smaller than E thread on parachutes...
What's wrong with that?


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 23, 2013, 8:25 AM
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In reply to:
Last summer I bought a Sailrite (manufactured by tacsew) and I just love it. It is designed for nautical applications like sewing sails, vinyl seat cushions, webbing, boat covers etc. but it also works excellent for parachute rigging applications.

I've had nothing but fucking issues with my LSZ-1.

One of these days I'm going to have to sit down with it and not get up till she's working perfectly.


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 23, 2013, 8:28 AM
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In reply to:
stitching is there to be unstitched Angelic

I've patched canopies up to 580 sqft and never lifted a seam to get to it, even right up next to the tail.Tongue

If I was doing it again, I probably would lift the tail seam though. Laugh


mark  (D 6108)

Jan 23, 2013, 8:35 AM
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In reply to:
I've patched canopies up to 580 sqft and never lifted a seam to get to it, even right up next to the tail.

If I was doing it again, I probably would lift the tail seam though.

If you're going to open up a seam, I'd recommend the closest load-bearing (bottom) seam instead of the tail seam. A typical load-bearing seam is stacked and sewn and therefore easier to reassemble than a tail seam rolled around reinforcement tape.

Mark


SStewart  (D 10405)

Jan 23, 2013, 8:49 AM
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Re: [theonlyski] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

What kind of issues? Mine has worked flawlessly right out of the box. I am actually a bit clumsy with sewing machines so I really like the LSZ-1 because it is so simple and easy to use.


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 23, 2013, 9:51 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
I've patched canopies up to 580 sqft and never lifted a seam to get to it, even right up next to the tail.

If I was doing it again, I probably would lift the tail seam though.

If you're going to open up a seam, I'd recommend the closest load-bearing (bottom) seam instead of the tail seam. A typical load-bearing seam is stacked and sewn and therefore easier to reassemble than a tail seam rolled around reinforcement tape.

Mark

Good idea. I've never had an issue with rolled seams before, but makes sense.


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 23, 2013, 9:52 AM
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In reply to:
What kind of issues? Mine has worked flawlessly right out of the box. I am actually a bit clumsy with sewing machines so I really like the LSZ-1 because it is so simple and easy to use.

I'm going to have to sit down on it and figure out exactly what it's doing again. I finally just said fuck it a while ago and have ignored it.

I also don't have one of the new ones, mine was a VERY early model.


JerryBaumchen  (D 1543)

Jan 23, 2013, 10:52 AM
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Hi chief,

Quote:
I'm amazed by you using household machines for patching. How do you distribute all the fabric without it clogging up under the arm?

I long ago concluded that a parachute is an inert device. However, I have the capacity to think.

Just tell yourself that you are in charge and go from there.

Sure it looks messy but it is really very easy once you decide who is in charge.

Tongue

JerryBaumchen


lilchief  (D 78149)

Jan 23, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Re: [JerryBaumchen] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

..yes! I'm looking forward to manhandle a Sigma 340! Cool


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 23, 2013, 11:13 AM
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In reply to:
..yes! I'm looking forward to manhandle a Sigma 340! Cool

A good way to do it is to plan out your stitching and sort of rotate the work so that it can be unrotated as you stitch. It helps keep all of the rest of the fabric from causing a pain in the ass as you try to move it around the table.

Also, use some packing weights to hold the material that's on the table but not getting sewn. Much easier to sew if you're not having the material being pulled away from the machine and off the table.


(This post was edited by theonlyski on Jan 23, 2013, 11:17 AM)


gowlerk  (C 3196)

Jan 23, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Re: [lilchief] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

It should be able to handle E thread. Even light duty domestic machines can. What size needle are you using? If it won't sew E thread it's set up wrong. Try getting the tension right and at least a size 18 needle. (although 16s will work in very light applications)

Ken


lilchief  (D 78149)

Jan 23, 2013, 12:41 PM
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Thanks for the tip!

However, we had a service mechanic overhauling the machine and he stated that the E-thread was to heavy for it. We are therefore using a 5/6 or 3-cord thread. But since we don't have E-thread we're not using it and planning on selling it in favor for a machine that handles E-thread.

If I'm not mistaken, E-thread is mil.spec, right? and the civilian counterpart is commercial #69 thread?


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 23, 2013, 12:58 PM
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In reply to:
If I'm not mistaken, E-thread is mil.spec, right? and the civilian counterpart is commercial #69 thread?

Yes


JerryBaumchen  (D 1543)

Jan 23, 2013, 5:21 PM
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Hi Robert,

Quote:
A good way to do it is to plan out your stitching and sort of rotate the work so that it can be unrotated as you stitch. It helps keep all of the rest of the fabric from causing a pain in the ass as you try to move it around the table.

Good advice, I would add to go very slow; it is when you just 'have to' get it finished is when you sew through a couple of wrong layers.

BTDT Mad

Just stay ahead of the fabric.

JerryBaumchen


gowlerk  (C 3196)

Jan 23, 2013, 5:50 PM
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Re: [lilchief] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

Like all light garment sewing machines, E or 69, or TEX 70 nylon bonded thread is at the outside of the range for the system. But within the range. Most people with this type of machine use a 20u. Which any competent mechanic will tell you is not designed for E thread either. However, if set up properly it will be fine. If it will take a size 18 needle, it will sew E thread. Mechs don't like this because in their normal work, that size of thread is usually called upholstery thread and is mostly used in heavier walking foot machines. But even Jerry pulls E thread in his domestic Singer 401. I have sold dozens of small domestic sewing machines. I have yet to see one that won't sew E thread. That Pfaff is a good machine, but sell it if you must. How much?

Ken

Edited to say that I see you are a long way from me. (Canada- Norway) I don't think I'll be buying your Pfaff! Since you were asking for model options for a combo straight stitch and ZZ machine. Many people start with one of the Singer or other brand 20U machines. I like mine, but it's a compromise. It's a lot like a Pfaff 118!


(This post was edited by gowlerk on Jan 23, 2013, 6:09 PM)


JerryBaumchen  (D 1543)

Jan 23, 2013, 10:05 PM
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Hi chief,

Quote:
How do you distribute all the fabric without it clogging up under the arm?

I believe that Terry has solved your problem:

http://www.dropzone.com/...;;page=unread#unread

JerryBaumchen


lilchief  (D 78149)

Jan 24, 2013, 9:39 AM
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hehe...the shipping may be more then the machine =P

How can I set it up for E-thread other then changing the needle? Are there any parts I can change og re-arange?

I really like it and it is in good condition..would be a shame to sell it... =/


lilchief  (D 78149)

Jan 24, 2013, 9:45 AM
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Re: [JerryBaumchen] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

hehe...those machines are just porn! I had my way with one at a boat cover manufacturer this spring. it was...awesome.. :D But even used they're like $12k, but I'm dreaming ;)

I've had a couple of times where I had to plan how to distribute the suits in order to make it a smooth job. But I'm still amazed that several of you are holding up with "regular" machines. I've got tons to learn! :D


councilman24  (D 8631)

Jan 24, 2013, 11:16 AM
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Re: [lilchief] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

I had one mechanic tell me the distance of the hook to the needle needed to be changed but that one I'm not sure about. I did wear out at least two hooks on heavy duty home machines like Neechi and viking. Also remember the thread has to go around the bobbin. I believe there was an adjustment there to give it more room.

The biggest thing though is at least an 18 needle. 19 or 20 if it will take it. And work with the tensions. The tensions, especially the bobbin, have been screwed up on every used machine I've bought.


Surprised to see so many 31-15's in use. Maybe I won't sell mine that I got for $75.


Deyan  (D 322)

Jan 24, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Re: [JerryBaumchen] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Hi Robert,

Quote:
A good way to do it is to plan out your stitching and sort of rotate the work so that it can be unrotated as you stitch. It helps keep all of the rest of the fabric from causing a pain in the ass as you try to move it around the table.

Good advice, I would add to go very slow; it is when you just 'have to' get it finished is when you sew through a couple of wrong layers.

BTDT Mad

Just stay ahead of the fabric.

JerryBaumchen

All of the above + I use clamps to keep what I don't need away from the presser foot. But the most useful trick I saw is having a big table around the sewing machine. The one I saw was something like 3-4 sq. meters.


masterrigger1  (D 14167)

Jan 28, 2013, 4:52 AM
Post #37 of 39 (1109 views)
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Re: [gowlerk] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Practically for rigging work there are only three common types.

Ken,
There are actually four standard types that we use.

1. Drop feed (which you guys are calling bottom feed)

2.Needle feed (which you have already described)
Needle and feed dog work together, Presser foot stays in place

3.Compound Feed
This is again like you described with an inner foot and outer presser foot. The inner foot travels with the feed dog, but the needle bar stays in place.

An example would be a Singer 7-33 or Consew 733 Harness machine.

4. Triple Feed Compound - This is a Compound Feed plus Needle Feed.
An example is a Consew 206 RB.

Cheers,
MEL


jonathan.newman  (D 30644)

Jan 28, 2013, 6:01 AM
Post #38 of 39 (1091 views)
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Re: [theonlyski] walking foot sewing machines [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey 'ski, I just got a Sailrite LSZ-1, and after the first day of sewing great, it started skipping stiches and shredding thread.

I followed the troubleshooting steps (change needle, increase pressure foot tension, etc) until I got to adjusting the hook position. My second day of sewing, and I had to get in the guts and adjust the hook position. But it works great now. It's not a hard adjustment to make. One screw, I think.

One thing I don't like about it is that the stitch length adjuster has no real markings for forward/backward/zero. You just have to figure it out.


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 28, 2013, 6:03 AM
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In reply to:
Hey 'ski, I just got a Sailrite LSZ-1, and after the first day of sewing great, it started skipping stiches and shredding thread.

I followed the troubleshooting steps (change needle, increase pressure foot tension, etc) until I got to adjusting the hook position. My second day of sewing, and I had to get in the guts and adjust the hook position. But it works great now. It's not a hard adjustment to make. One screw, I think.

One thing I don't like about it is that the stitch length adjuster has no real markings for forward/backward/zero. You just have to figure it out.

Mine started doing that as well, I've narrowed it down to probably timing and possibly needle bar depth, I think one of the metal pieces broke and just haven't gotten around to trying to order it.



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