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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #1 
As I'm consolidating my tools for sewing I see some gaps in my tools and on my list to someday acquire was a vertical bobbin zigzag, a vintage decorative stitch machine with reverse function cams, high shank (for being able to use industrial feet) and a small foot print treadle cabinet.  Last weekend I came across a Necchi Supernova BU in a Gebowin parlor treadle cabinet - and with a complete accessory kit.  This pretty much covers what was on my list in one machine!

The machine was a dirty mess but turned freely and no rust. The cabinet is solid - the irons are all good - but it will need some refinishing.  The cams and feet are all there but the manual is in Dutch..  It came from a guy who does clean-up work for bank repos and this was a situation where there was an unattended death.  So for $50 I took the chance I could get this up and running - although I know the risks of the many intricate parts being stuck.

Before any work I tested and it sewed and zigzagged and did decorative stitches - but of course it was dirty and gummy with old oil so ran a bit hard.  After as much clean up I could do without disassembling major areas, it ran really smooth - the treadle works great and I thought I was good to go.  Next day the cam shaft started intermittently stopping and then stopped all together.  I tried oil and heat and more cleaning and then decided I needed to do a more thorough cleaning and disassembly to get to the harder to reach components of the camshaft.

See photos.  The first is the top of the machine with the cover off.  I removed the metal plate (very easy - just 4 screws) that the camshaft is attache to.  It came off easy.  The underside and inside of the machine showed more gunk.  I then had better access to the internals for clean up.  I soaked the camshaft plate in alcohol and then cleaned well everything I could get to with a fine brush and clean alcohol.  I then re-oiled using Triflow.

I put the plate back on and presto- now everything works perfectly and much more smoothly.  So far, I'm very happy with this machine - it runs so smooth and the feeds are so precise - nice straight stitch and zigzag.  The feeds drop conveniently, there seems to be good piercing power and control.  I don't have a motor in the machine - the cords were cut.  The downsides are - buttonholes  are not ideal and the utility stitches are not that great.  No nice overcast function other than zigzag and the twin needle capability is front and back not side by side - so no ability to mimic a coverstitch machine. I plan to use this machine for the decorative stitching and free motion work that requires a zigzag.  But the straight stitch is so nice I could use this for general garment sewing work as well.  And it's really fun to have a treadle and experience treadle sewing.

Now my list has just one more item.  Soon I have to decide now what machines duplicate my functions for garment sewing and what ones I will rehome.

SN camstack top.jpg  SN camstack bottom.jpg  SN parlor cabinet.jpg  SN sewing machine.jpg  SN decorative stitches.jpg 





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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #2 
Chaly. Wow did you get lucky! The embroidery units are the only weakness on the Supernovas and yours was working. That's fantastic. The boxed cam sets for those machines are often more expensive than what you paid for everything. Looks like you're missing both the light and hi-low switches on the far right of the deck. Chances are... if the motor had been removed... that perhaps the old Necchi resistor for the hi-low may have gone bad. No one makes a new one. It isn't really 'needed' and the machine can be saved to just go one speed. I can't really tell from the pics. Sometimes the plastic switches break off and everything is fine underneath.. . I 'may' have all those parts, I'll have to check: have a twin to your machine with a seriously 'iffy' embroidery unit gear and I've been going back and forth for a year wondering if I should part it out or save it. The only thing I really need is the needle position lock spring (have another Super with a crazy weak spring). The only reason I've been putting off the fix is that it's going to take hours....

That is, of course, if you ever wanted to go back to electric. =)

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My adventures with VSM's: http://steelsewing.blogspot.com
*QuiltnNan and asshat may be synonymous...
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ke6cvh

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Reply with quote  #3 
what exactly is this high/low resistor?  Wire wound, carbon, etc?  Resistors are resistors and can be had for certain. basically you need the power dissipation and type.  Likely it is a wire wound resistor is my guess and those are common as dirt.  Best regards, Mike
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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #4 
There is a two position switch on the base for the speed of the machine. Apparently it is not a resistor but a transformer. When it goes all you can do is try to track down another one.

Screen Shot 2019-09-11 at 2.11.48 PM.png 


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My adventures with VSM's: http://steelsewing.blogspot.com
*QuiltnNan and asshat may be synonymous...
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim/Steelsewing
Looks like you're missing both the light and hi-low switches on the far right of the deck. Chances are... if the motor had been removed... that perhaps the old Necchi resistor for the hi-low may have gone bad. No one makes a new one. It isn't really 'needed' and the machine can be saved to just go one speed. I can't really tell from the pics. Sometimes the plastic switches break off and everything is fine underneath.. . I 'may' have all those parts, I'll have to check: have a twin to your machine with a seriously 'iffy' embroidery unit gear and I've been going back and forth for a year wondering if I should part it out or save it. The only thing I really need is the needle position lock spring (have another Super with a crazy weak spring). The only reason I've been putting off the fix is that it's going to take hours....

That is, of course, if you ever wanted to go back to electric. =)


Jim, anyone's guess as to why the motor was removed on my SN. I do have the original foot pedal though.  I would hope that you could get the part you need to get one of your Supernovas working - but if you do decide you will part them out please keep me in mind for the motor components.
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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #6 
Oh I hate to say this... but I have working Supernovas. Yes, it's true. Probably too many, and I've been trying to figure out how to downsize now for a week. =)
This may be a welcome opportunity for both of us.

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My adventures with VSM's: http://steelsewing.blogspot.com
*QuiltnNan and asshat may be synonymous...
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ke6cvh

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Reply with quote  #7 
So then it is almost certainly a step down transformer.  Back in the old days people would rewind transformers themselves.  I't not all that difficult.   There is a slew of information and videos on the internet about it.  Best regards, Mike
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim/Steelsewing
Oh I hate to say this... but I have working Supernovas. Yes, it's true. Probably too many, and I've been trying to figure out how to downsize now for a week. =)
This may be a welcome opportunity for both of us.


I'm pondering whether to put a lot of effort and expense into this machine.  It is working perfectly and I love some of the unique functionality that is not offered by my Singer slants but I'm concerned about the longevity with the plastic green worm type "gear".  It looks good presently although from what I have researched, this part can fail and it is very difficult to repair or get a replacement.

Since you have some Supernovas - what are your thoughts on this?   Is this part destined to eventually fail?
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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #9 
It was 1961 when "Which?" magazine (the consumer reports of Great Britain) tested 40 sewing machines and could not come up with a clear winner. It was a tie between the Necchi Supernova and the Singer 201 (still, btw, being made in Scotland until 1963 even though production had ended in the U.S. in 1957). The staff at the magazine also attached the superlative: Sewing machine to last a lifetime.

I think many of us know that the PR department at Singer went wild with the win... and before you knew it the Singer 201 became heralded as the 'best Singer ever made' and, still to this day, it continues to receive accolades here in the States... even though the model of 201 that was tested by Which? was the exterior mounted motor 201k3 and the model of 201 everyone here is most familiar with is the potted motor version.  Be that as it may... the one thing we've forgotten is that the 201 tied with the Supernova.

At last count I have four Necchi supernovas. I can't help it, they follow me home. Of the four there's one Automatica that has a 'sticky' worm gear. I haven't yet taken the time and gone to every possible remedy to make this machine more reliable when it comes to the embroidery unit. It still sews straight and zig-zags just fine. Another of the Supernovas has a little issue with a weak spring on the zig-zag lever - I have 'fixed' it temporarily with the thoughtful addition of an extra spring where there shouldn't be one...lol... but I will fix it right.

Every single Necchi that comes home gets a complete going over when it comes to the wiring insulation because the older ones almost always have issues. And, I suppose that I should also mention that I have heard about Supernovas that were rewired because the transformer allowing the two-speed function went. The other weak spot may be the light and speed toggle switches - not the best place to put them...

But I will take the time and go to the expense to fix them because they just keep going. I look at that tiny little worm gear the same way I do the plastic top gear on a Singer 457. It's a huge pain to replace... but once you've spent the three or four hours your 457 will last another 40 years. The worm gears, as far as I know, are not being reproduced but there are places online where you can find used -but working- embroidery attachment mechanisms.  Without the unit, the machine is still a fine zig-zag machine.

All that aside... and considering what you've written so far, and that you shared it with all of us... it sounds like you're having lots of fun with your Supernova. The rest really isn't important. Enjoy the moment. For me... fixing and saving the machine brings just as much joy (if not more) than using the machine. I seriously doubt that I will hang on to four Supernovas (oops, six if you count the two BFs) for the rest of my life, and to be honest, I really do favor the less complicated BU, Nova, and Mirra machines - and eventually every last one of them will fail. Yeah, I know, but it's true. It's part and parcel of enjoying a vintage machine, the chance we take. Every time we use it we cause more wear, but they were built to handle a lot of use: machine for a lifetime.... and in many cases these machines are working on their second and third lifetimes!

So... if your Supernova does eventually fail, will you find another one...

or become the first person to come up with an easy worm gear replacement? 

I'd bet on the latter...

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My adventures with VSM's: http://steelsewing.blogspot.com
*QuiltnNan and asshat may be synonymous...
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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #10 
Jim, I read your comments with interest. I have been collecting, repairing, refurbishing and restoring sewing machines for about 12 years now, and fell in love with the Singer 201 and Necchi Supernovas a long time ago. As a result, I have several of each now, plus the Singer 1200 (knee lift model) and a 201K with hand crank. On the other side, when it comes to Necchis, I only care about the Supernovas. Earlier and later models have come within range, the Supernovas are the only Necchis in my stable. I have two types - the Supernova Automatica and the Supernova Automatica Mark II. For those not aware of the obvious differences, the Mark II went to a painted hand wheel rim, vice the plated rim of the earlier model, and the spring spool pins on the top of the Supernova were replaced with rear mounted, angled pins on the Mark II. 

The Achilles heel of the Supernovas is the transformer. When it goes, often we are left with no light and full power only. These are nearly impossible to find used, and rarely are they in top form. However, my research shows that they can be rebuilt. It can be farmed out for big bucks, but can be done at home by a competent craftsman or "backyard tinkerer" as I have been called. It does require some knowledge, so I recommend going on line for some education on transformer building and rebuilding. There is a lot of useful stuff to read and watch on Youtube. 

The other problem is the switches, which were placed in harms way and are often broken off. Some have jury rigged a new lever using screw-in mini eye screws or other fixes, but I found after disassembling one of the switches that the plastic part can actually be re-created by turning and filing one on a drill press and bench vice. All they are is a ball with the lever on one end and a pointed cone on the other. Anyone can make replacements by turning one at home by hand. I have made lots and lots of parts this way, so these switch levers can be done. I purchased some nylon bolts to use as blanks, but haven't put them to turning yet. It's a Winter project on the to-do list. 

I have 5 Supernovas at present, two are my wife's - the ones in salmon pink and cream - the other 3 are mine, in the green and cream. One is not working (the transformer is shot) and the rest are working fine. I was lucky enough to snag one of them on Shopgoodwill with the molded portable case with the folding bed extension on the machine. Quite a coup as these are not often seen. 

I really love the Supernovas, but don't use them much. That's only because my collection is so big (thanks to discovering Shopgoodwill!) and choosing a machine for a project often comes down to what is close at hand. As a last note, the light bulb can be purchased at any auto parts store - it's a dome light too. 

- Bruce 1. Case front.jpg  6. Supernova Automatica front view.jpg 

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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #11 
Jim,

Some very interesting historical perspective.  I can really appreciate now after having used both the Supernova and 201 how they both came in tops is such a testing.  I feel very fortunate I now have a beautifully functioning Supernova and since it is in a treadle I don't have to worry about the electrical issues.  You have a great point - just enjoy it now and if the worm gear fails I'll deal with it then.  I have such great respect for you and others who work to get these machines functioning and can understand the joy it brings you.

Bruce,

Very good info on the transformer rebuilding.  It's wonderful to have the skills to be resourceful to do this work along with remaking the switches.  How would you deal with a broken worm gear? And maybe you can treadle your non-working one if you don't rebuild the transformer?

So far, my Necchi Supernova Automatica is superb in it's decorative stitch flexibility and quality - the filled stitches (such as satin and tapered satin) surpass what I can do on my Singer slants.  I love the vertical bobbin and the ability to use thicker threads in the bobbin. I think I can relate to why you love this machine and have a collection of them!




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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #12 
Chaly, I haven't encountered a broken worm gear in any of my Supernova's (knock on wood!), but have had to replace gears in later model Singer machines (413, 620, 750, 6268). The main thing holding me back on doing the transformer is time and a good supply of the proper size wire, plus a hundred other projects! I could treadle the one head, I suppose, but have enough treadles already. Too many, in fact, and I'm behind in getting some of them finished so I can move them out. 

- Bruce
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