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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #1 
I know this has been discussed pretty much "everywhere" for decades - and the answer is "Nobody really knows..."

I've been doing some research - and vastly expanding my listing of JA/JC numbers as a consequence - and I have a theory, esp. about the under reported JC numbers.

Its my belief at this time, that the "C" means "Casting" or "Caster" - in all the samples I've seen, said number has always been cast in, whereas the JA numbers are always stamped or inked (or even badged). Perhaps "A" means "Assembly" or "Assembler"...

Comments? If anybody can come up with examples of non-cast JC, or cast JA, I'm all ears - and I know this group is the one to ask! Let's see if we-as-a-team can shoot this one down - perhaps its already been considered sometime...

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victrola

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Reply with quote  #2 
Let me clarify what you do, and don't, mean.

I assume you are not talking about Singer serial numbers.

Singer had a factory at "St. John's, Quebec". If you are looking for this city on a current map, look for Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, but the factory no longer stands. Singer sewing machines with serial numbers starting with JA, JB, JC, JD, and JE came from the St. John's factory (refs: ISMACS, Sewalot, Singersewinginfo). These were issued sequentially - JA is older than JB, etc. According to the last site, in the first years of the factory's history (1904-1924), the serial numbers were issued by the Elizabethport factory in New Jersey, USA, and start with H, D, or G. The JA numbers start in 1924, consistent with the other sites.

Perhaps you are talking instead about serial numbers of Japanese clones?
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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by victrola

Perhaps you are talking instead about serial numbers of Japanese clones?


Or, perhaps he speaks of Japanese made sewing machine et al, since the vast majority of machines made in Japan were not 'clones'. Nelco, Morse, Dressmaker, Kenmore, White, Remington... and the list goes on and on of high quality, very durable, and often very inventive products that often out sewed and out performed competing products made in other parts of the world.

Maybe he meant those?

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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #4 
I stopped looking at JC #s when I stopped looking at the JA-JC list on the Vintage Japanese Yahoo group. There was no oversight on that group and anybody could, and did, add #s however they wanted to the list and consequently, it's full of errors. I've always used Bill Holmans list as a guide and even it has many unknown manufacturers.
There's a group on Facebook that has links to some long articles someone wrote about Japanese machines and the manufacturers. They're a good read, unless you already know a thing or two and then you can spot the errors and misconceptions in those too. There is so much info out there that it can be hard to figure out what is true and what isn't unless you've been researching a long time. I'm constantly amazed at what I find just about the one brand I love, I still learn something new all the time.
I think your theory is as good as anyone elses, maybe better.

Cari

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ThayerRags

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Reply with quote  #5 
I’ve been hearing the “JA” and “JC” discussion for well over a decade now, but I never have had much interest in it.  I didn’t even record that information in my spreadsheet much.  I have always figured that eventually, some Japanese sewing machine collector would let us all know what the scoop is on them.  Are there no Japanese SM collectors?  Wouldn’t a Japanese collector have a better chance of digging up the information?  Maybe not.

Anyway, I don’t mind helping with the research when I can.  I found three notes in my spreadsheet to add:
DRESSMAKER 600 (no ser info found) SS ZZ CAM, JC12 CAST INTO BASE, JA61 PAINTED UNDER FRONT
UNIVERSAL ZIGZAG SHUTTLE, Ser#JA47 4070, SS ZZ, JC34 CAST IN BASE
UNIVERSAL ZIGZAG SHUTTLE, Ser#JA47 69463, SS ZZ, JC34 CAST IN BASE

The bottom 2 zigzag shuttle machines have a long shuttle like a Singer 27.  The bottom one is a solid heavy little machine, but its bed size is only 6.5”x12”.  They both have serial numbers that start with “JA”, but I don’t have any notes about painted “JA” numbers.

CD in Oklahoma

Machine406_01.jpg 
Machine398_01.jpg 
Machine396_01.jpg 


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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanx CD, I've added those to my list. I had JA-47, but not "Universal" associated with it, the others are new.

I started with the unmaintained Japanese sewing machine group's list, added another one to it, and have been verifying and adding. I've been able to verify quite a bit of it, but certainly not all of it.

It started with a Riccar that I had that had both JA and JC numbers undocumented, and I've been going through eBay looking for Japanese SMs with pix of JA and/or JC numbers, and adding those. The list is starting to become quite large. Seeing how the numbers were applied lead me to my speculation as to possible use.

I've seen (underbed) badged "JA-xx" with room for a serial number to be stamped on, that wasn't - so that's consistent with your Universals.

Cari's right, there was zero oversight of the list on the Japanese SM list. As for errors, I'd love to know about them. There is a tremendous amount that is just not known about Japanese machines, who made them, what the markings mean, etc. I had an early 70's Monkey Ward machine that I was able to determine was made by Happy (long story right there). It has no JA/JC numbers - apparently they had been dropped from use by then - and no indication of MFG on it at all, except one: A mysterious "sigil" that nobody has ever been able to identify. Was it Happy? Was it the casting company - Happy or otherwise? Was it something MW wanted put on? Was it a personal sigil of the guy who made or designed the machine? Nobody knows...

I'm going on the possibly erroneous ASS-U-ME-tion that these codes have to do with who built/cast/assembled the various machines - which is the same assumption that everybody else seems to be going on also. Much like the Germans did in WW II, they had codes for all their MFG operations, a book has been published with all these codes - its QUITE thick. No such info exists for these Japanese SM codes other than these lists that others started, and I'm trying to add to.

Further adding to the confusion is the APPARENT fact that some/many of the various badges were applied asynchronously by various manufacturers - "Dressmaker" seems to be one such as that badge is spread about all over the place, seems LOTS of companies made/cast/assembled "Dressmakers" seemingly with no connection to each other.

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Reply with quote  #7 
Somebody, somewhere has the information.  There’s always a reason for manufactures to do what they do.  Somebody told somebody to put those numbers on sewing machines. The information has obviously not been published on the internet.  If it was, one of the world-wide keyboard cowboys that have been chasing the information for years would have found it by now.

That’s why I think we need to have “boots on the ground”, as in someone in Japan that can get around to museums, libraries, stored print archives.  Maybe that someone could even make personal contact with a friend, family member, or stranger that knew someone that worked in the sewing machine manufacturing industry in Japan and could glean a little information from them about these mysterious numbers and the way Japanese manufactures did things.

If we can’t find someone already in Japan, we may just have to send someone.  It may take months or years of searching, so who’s up for an extended road trip?

I can’t go.  I only know one phrase in Japanese.  Konichiwa (Hello).  That won’t get me much information about JA & JC sewing machine numbers....

CD in Oklahoma


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Reply with quote  #8 
  Zorba, I found another machine (on the shelf in the sewing room) that you can add to your list.  It’s a 3/4-size (6.5”x12”) Happy-made machine.

MONTGOMERY WARD Signature UHT-J266B Ser#86X 7547, SS ZZ, J-C12 & HAPPY CAST INTO BASE, J-A10 PAINTED ON BASE

This is a replacement for the very first machine that my wife had (she sold the original one in a yardsale).  She ordered her original machine out of the catalog back in January 1975.  She used $44 out of our wedding money to buy it, and received it via a freight carrier.  Then a couple of days later she received a second one via USPS mail.  She called monkey wards and told them that she needed to send one of them back.  They said ok.  The next month, she had a credit for $44 on her MW credit card bill.  It took several months and billing cycles to get it straightened out that she had a machine, they needed to keep the 2nd one, and they needed to bill her for one machine.

CD in Oklahoma
Machine460_01.jpg 


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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #9 
Great. That confirms JC-12, and adds "Signature" as a badge for JC-10 which is already listed as Happy for the OEM.

Boots on the ground in Japan would be great - that's exactly how the German war MFG book got written. The only Japanese I know is "Chotimate Kavasi", "Just a moment, please".

But old records get destroyed eventually if someone doesn't have reason to perpetuate them.

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba
But old records get destroyed eventually if someone doesn't have reason to perpetuate them.


(Smile)  Sure, that's what they all say....

Tell that to the Social Media Giants.....

CD in Oklahoma

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Reply with quote  #11 
Somebody knows....isn't that what water boards are for?

CD in Oklahoma

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #12 
Dead men tell no tales...

I've found one of Cari's mistakes, there's no way JA-39 - which I just was just able to confirm as Toyota - had anything to do with Kenmore. Before the Toyota connection, the OEM was unknown thus could have been Soryu - it is not.

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #13 
Done for now, in a couple of months I'll probably do it again.

If there is a SINGLE example of a Sewing Machine on eBay that is *NOT* "Rare", I have yet to see it.

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smokeythecat

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Reply with quote  #14 
My japanese machine doesn’t have a ja or jc number
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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokeythecat
My japanese machine doesn’t have a ja or jc number


You can borrow one of mine.
Like this Montgomery Wards UHT J276C stamped Happy JC12...
No prob. Really. Someone gave it to me. Sews nice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba

If there is a SINGLE example of a Sewing Machine on eBay that is *NOT* "Rare", I have yet to see it.


The only 'Rare' machine I have is a Kenmore. Yeah. That's right. That's what I said, a Kenmore.
It's a 1955 Kenmore model 116.531 and according to the few extant records we have... it doesn't exist.
I've heard rumors of there being 2 more out there besides the one I have. No idea who made it. =)


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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #16 
CD we've had a few discussions here about the little long shuttle Zigzaggers. I have a list of the badge names for them - Dressmaker, Morse, White, National, Fairline, Universal, and Electro Hygene. Somebody tell me if I've missed any. I found one a couple years ago and had to get it. It looks like all the others but it takes cams. Pretty cool, huh?
S5032911.jpg  S5032910.jpg 

Cari


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smokeythecat

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Reply with quote  #17 
Ooh that is cool
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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #18 
Cool indeed. I haven't seen one of those with cams before!

Speaking of non-existent Kenmores, I ran across a "Sears Commander" Sewing Machine, #151.271. Anybody have any ideas of the who/how/when? This apparently doesn't exist either!

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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #19 
The Commander is an odd duck.

WhiteCommand.jpg 

It initially appears to have been made by White between 1955 and 1956 as above,

57Commander.jpg 

and then in 1957 under the id numbers of 148.270 & 148.271 it is accredited to Soryu.

3prong.jpg 

And even then... the 1957 model (which looks exactly like the Morse 15 clone) sports the same old White 3-prong motor connection as if maybe they were told it 'had to' be done this way...


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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cari-in-Oly
CD we've had a few discussions here about the little long shuttle Zigzaggers. I have a list of the badge names for them - Dressmaker, Morse, White, National, Fairline, Universal, and Electro Hygene. Somebody tell me if I've missed any. ...
Cari


Dianne's Nelco doesn't have cams, either. See post #4
http://www.victoriansweatshop.com/post/colorado-gettogether-9499001
If memory serves, I don't think it had any JA or JC numbers. One of the White manuals I have lists New Home 1400, too. Doing a quick search, I couldn't find a New Home like it.

Janey


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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim/Steelsewing
The Commander is an odd duck.

 

It initially appears to have been made by White between 1955 and 1956 as above,

 

and then in 1957 under the id numbers of 148.270 & 148.271 it is accredited to Soryu.

 

And even then... the 1957 model (which looks exactly like the Morse 15 clone) sports the same old White 3-prong motor connection as if maybe they were told it 'had to' be done this way...


Here's the one I ran across. Looks to be the same, although the pillar badge and top of arm (painted) badging is missing:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sears-Roebuck-Commander-Vintage-Portable-Sewing-Machine-1950s-Model-151-271/332429812445

BUT - what's up with the 151.271 nomenclature?

There's a second one up on eBay right now too...

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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba

BUT - what's up with the 151.271 nomenclature?


1958

Yeah, I know, explain myself. White, who had been the sole supplier of sewing machines to S&R was in deep dodo. Their biggest contract had demanded a zigzag and White had to go out of country to get one. I can't even imagine what it must have been like at the board meeting "if" S&R wasn't exactly happy with their 1955/6 Commander Singer clone. I mean how insulting is that anyways? Asking White to make a Singer clone? But the the embroidery floss was already on the card and Sears officially ended it's contract with White in 1958.

I'm going to go out a limb here and suggest the following: -much like the Kenmore models which were supplied to White from Gritzner but sold under White's manufacturer designation of 117- 1958 brought all sorts of changes.

I'll bet that the new (or current) supplier of the Commander 15-clone machine had already contracted with White - but that they too were given their own manufacturer's code when Sears ended the White contract.  That's what happened with the Gritzner machines... so why not another supplier? This makes sense to me... but I don't have it writing anywhere. The model 27 (Commander) shows production from 1957 through to 1962. I just get the feeling that the shake up year of '58 was the reason for the 151 designation. This is speculation on my part... but I would be very interested to know which factory the Morse 15 clones were built. The '100' or '200' or '300' DeLuxe badges are identical on the 27's. Perhaps(?) accrediting Soryu with making all of the model 27's is premature?

That's the best answer I have, and darn little to support it. =(

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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #23 
The Commander machines were the low cost models Sears sold. I wonder if they weren't meant to be "bait and switch" machines.

Cari

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #24 
Dunno!

Sears often had a "B-line" product. I bought a "Sears Companion" 11 HP lawn tractor in 1989 for $999. The "Sears Craftsman" 11 HP lawn tractor was $50 more at $1049, and the only difference I could detect between the two besides color was that the "Companion" had a much nicer blade control than the "Craftsman"! *shrug*

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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #25 
Got another for ya.

An Aldens 805B JA-6, JC-2

Maybe that will murky the waters even more? =)

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #26 
Excellent, I had a listing for Aldens for JA-13 (Koyo), but not for JA-6 (Happy?) nor JC-2 (Unknown).

BTW, the list as it stands right now is at:

http://doubleveil.net/zssmp/resources.htm#jajc

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ThayerRags

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Reply with quote  #27 
Zorba, I may have found something that you can add to your J-C## list.  I don’t see J-C16 on your list at your site link.  This is also a model not on your list, but your list stops at 158.505.  This machine is heavy as all get-out, so it’s one of the older ones.  The “metal-stamped on frame” means that they used an impact stamp to mark the number instead of ink or paint (see photo).

SEARS KENMORE 158.521, Ser#023245, SS ZZ CAM, J-A4 METAL-STAMPED ON FRAME, J-C16 CAST IN BASE

CD in Oklahoma

Machine129_01.jpg 
Machine129_08.jpg 
Machine129_11.jpg 


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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #28 
Zorba, HA-1 is simply a Japanese round bobbin straight stitch machine. Not manufacturer specific. Many, many clones came new with a generic HA-1 manual.

Cari

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #29 
That's good to know, Cari. I've seen HA-x "other" numbers, any ideas?
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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #30 
CD, I added your Kenmore to the list - do you have any ideas about possible year or if it had a "common use" model number or name?

JC-16 added with "Maruzen?" as the OEM as we can't say for sure without further proof, and JA-4 can now be called "confirmed."

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Reply with quote  #31 
The Kenmore Model 52...

IF the serial numbers from the late 50's and early 60's have a pattern to them at all.... and they seem to for a little while before it all goes haywire in 1967... then the 158.521 would have been the portable version of the 158.520. The two of them would have been the first offering of the model 52.

The model 50 ran from 1960 to 1965,
and it has no resemblance to the 52.
The model 51
doesn't look a thing like the 52 at all...
while the model 57
looks nearly identical.

The model 53 ran from 1966 to 1967 but
this doesn't mean that the 52 was even made in the 60's. LOL
(and don't even ask me about the 51. Beginning to feel like a Monty Python sketch?)

IMG_3633.jpg  IMG_3635.jpg  IMG_3636.jpg 
Here's the Aldens 805B pics.
Note that the JA-6 is barely visible in the top corner of the deck bottom on or through that tiny piece of tape. (pic2)
There is no 'Happy' stamp.

Maybe later... after I get the tension selection buttons unstuck, it will at least be content!


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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #32 
You're giving me a headache! [biggrin]

For anybody who wants the more-or-less complete blow-by-blow for my adventures with the TZ-17:

http://doubleveil.net/zssmp/tz17.htm

Still waiting on pix permissions on a couple of pictures of other people's machines...

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Cari-in-Oly

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Reply with quote  #33 
" Toyota was also producing a car called the Crown for the Japanese market at the same time it was making Remington, Crown, and Sovereign sewing machines."

Interesting. Sovereign machines were built by Brother, it was one of the "house" brands Brother sold at their stores. Kingston is another.

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Reply with quote  #34 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba
You're giving me a headache! [biggrin]


The Kenmore model 27 just got more confusing.
I found one online last night with a 148.273 serial number and....

(drum roll please)

148.273JA21.jpg 
a JA21 stamp.

*head asplodes*



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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba
CD, I added your Kenmore to the list - do you have any ideas about possible year or if it had a "common use" model number or name?


No, I don't have any more on it.

CD in Oklahoma

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Reply with quote  #36 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim/Steelsewing


The Kenmore model 27 just got more confusing.
I found one online last night with a 148.273 serial number and....

... a JA21 stamp.


That would seem to say that JA21, like JA22, was Soryu. My entry for JA21 just says "Japan", which is pretty useless...

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Reply with quote  #37 
I found a classified ad last night for a sewing machine...

Yeah, that's not news.

The machine is a Kenmore model 52 in lavender, with the cabinet and all the stuff...
--being sold by the original owner--

And yes, of course, I did.
Hope to hear back soon as to when Lavinia purchased her machine.
Not exactly a paper trail...yet, but we're working on it. =)

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Reply with quote  #38 
This gets more interesting the deeper I dig...

Found a Kenmore, with "JA-4" on the bottom of the bed. No surprise there.

What was surprising was that 1) It is an aluminum machine - I haven't seen JA/JC numbers on aluminum machines before, and 2) It also had "JC-4" on it!

JC-4 is a known Brother indicator - but this would at least be consistent with my current working theory that "JC" means whomever made the Castings.

Here is the other surprising tidbit: Not only was the "JC" number cast into the bed - as you'd expect - BUT so was the "JA" number, a first! Looks like things may have been changing by the aluminum era!

I'm trying to find out the model number of this machine...


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Reply with quote  #39 
Long story, short version:

The eBay seller of the Kenmore in question was QUITE rude, wouldn't even tell me the model number of his machine, nor let me use his picture as an example. How he expects to sell the machine without the model number is beyond me, but I suspect he'll be holding onto it for quite a while...

With that said, the solution to this dilemma was right in front of me. By sheer coincidence, I unlimbered my 158.16012 Kenmore today to make some "Muscle-Bustle Pillows (tm)", and decided to take a quick look under the bed. You guessed it, the exact same cast in JA number (JA-4), along with a cast in JC-4, which suggests that perhaps Brother made the castings for Maruzen.

*shrug* Who knows?

Anyway, this may be very common on Maruzen built Kenmores, here's the picture of mine:
kenmore-28.jpg 

And another of it at work making a Bustle Pillow:

kenmore-29.jpg


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Reply with quote  #40 
By any chance do you have the manual for your Kenmore and if so, care to share???

I have never checked or recorded any of my Kenmore (3 148s, 4-158s and a 385)JA or JC numbers.

I do have a machine that has B.I.C. and JC-16 cast into the base. It also has JA-5, but don't remember where that is. It is a model 1620. I think the motor is a Brother , but because of the color, it is on the Singer 319.

Janey

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Reply with quote  #41 
I believe the manual is here...
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Reply with quote  #42 
I couldn't find any Kenmore manuals http://www.victoriansweatshop.com/?forum=626056  unless it is hiding by using an alias, or is someplace else.

Thank you.

Janey

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Reply with quote  #43 
I'm lookin' for it - will have to ask my wife as she "cleaned out" the Kenmore's cabinet before her half of our move.
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Reply with quote  #44 
Hey Zorba,

I picked this up last night, it looks somewhat like CD's Dressmaker 600 - as far as the plates are concerned - which makes sense based on the manufacturer but what I found interesting is the JA and JC numbers.  They seem to be in keeping with your theory in post 38. 
Cameo.jpg
Cameo3.jpg


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Reply with quote  #45 
Thanx Annie - I'll update my list. JA-13 is indicated as Koyo being the OEM, JC-27 is new (to my list). I've never heard of a "Cameo" badging before either - but I'm not the Goddess's gift to Sewing Machine lore! Its good confirmation that this wasn't something unique to Sears/Maruzen/Brother either!
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Reply with quote  #46 
*giggle* Annie - every few years that comes back up. 😉

I had referenced your list to find the information you already had - sorry, I should have mentioned it - it came up first when I Googled. 
I've never seen the Cameo badge either - but I'm sure there were thousands of names. 
I thought you might be interested to see that it was cast in there - I was surprised when I saw it too.

I need to dig into that machine this week to see what it has for surprises under the hood.  It turns freely, but I hear a spring "bonging" inside and the presser bar is crooked so I will go over it top to bottom.

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Reply with quote  #47 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane
...I hear a spring "bonging" inside...

Is it a sewing machine, or a grandfather's clock? [biggrin]

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Reply with quote  #48 
I did wonder for a bit.  It bonged and I thought "huh?", then I turned the handwheel again and I heard another one.  It will be interesting I'm sure knowing the family I got it from. 😉
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Reply with quote  #49 
When you're updating...
IMG_3690.jpg 
- don't forget the manufacturer's id number for Gritzner-Kayser: 516

They built the Lady Kenmore model 89 from 1958 to... ?
There's a question as to when they stopped making it.
1958 and 1959 for sure, but there's no clear end date
--rumored to go as long as 1962. I need real facts, lol.


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Reply with quote  #50 
Done, and thank you!
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