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seb58

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Reply with quote  #1 
I know a Singer 15K is not the type of machine that's rare or on which information is scarce but...

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Singer 15K in a cabinet with a drawer extension for a pittance ($20). I bought it mainly for the cabinet but I wasn't going to toss the machine!
It is a Singer 15K dating from the first half of 1905. It is in good condition, very little wear to the decals... 

IMG_20190707_131629_resized_20190707_054223863.jpg 

I found some off things: first the bobbin winder: it has a round cam-style system like the VS machines, which I understand is the norm for the early class 15 but here is it placed low on the arm.


Secondly, the feed-dogs are a lot bigger than my other class 15 machines (a 15K88 from 1936 and a 15B from 1956) and the throat plate is slightly raised and the presser foot is bigger and with a non-singerish attachement method (that may very well have been a replacement)

Throat plate comparison.jpg 
IMG_20190707_172058_resized_20190707_054224882.jpg 

Third, underneath, where there is an iron arm on my later class 15 (I think it serves to move the feed dogs), there is a spring on the 1905 one.

Underneath comparison.jpg 

Last, the bobbin case is a standard 1o'clock one.

IMG_20190707_172021_resized_20190707_054225680.jpg 

I perused the comparative charts on ISMACS, the various pictures on Needlebar but I couldn't find anything that corresponded to my machine.

Was this machine a special edition for a semi-industrial use: larger feed dogs, plain faceplate? Is the bobbin case system original or do you think it used to have a long-beak sort of bobbin?

What do you think???


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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #2 
Purely conjecture on my part, but being a British made Singer 15 I know the Kilbowie plant seems to have kept using older designs or parts longer than Elizabethport did, or from what I have seen. If the hand wheel is painted black, and not just oxidized iron from wear, that would be consistent with some of the machines I have seen coming out of the UK, such as my Singer 128K that has some features of the old Singer 28 still being used such as the bobbin carrier. 

The one o'clock bobbin case was used on the Singer 15-30, but since your machine has a decal set not usually seen in the US, and the different features, it's possible this is a short-lived version of the 15 prior to the 30 suffix machines. Either way, yours is a really nice 15 and a somewhat rare one it seems. I've always been a sucker for a good 15 and am drooling over yours! 

The early style feed dogs - and "non standard" size would be consistent with some of the early machines, I suspect. I have early Singer 27s that won't take later feed dogs or needle plates for example. Some of the early feet were machine cut and not stamped and look decidedly different from what we are used to seeing on post 1900 machines. 

The oldest 15 I have (not counting my 1885 Improved Family head) is 1907 and definitely a 15-30, US made. 

It may take a bit of sleuthing to pin down the exact designation for your machine but it would be worth the effort. 

-Bruce
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PatriciaPf

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Reply with quote  #3 
Is it a rotary or oscillating machine?
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Miriam

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Reply with quote  #4 
What does the tension/nose end look like?
Interesting spool pin location.

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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hi, Seb. Nice looking machine.

It looks to me as if you might have a 15k3 or 15k4. I'm basing that on a quick look at 15K3_4_24_to_27_70_to_73_80_to_85.pdf that I got from http://parts.singerco.com/IPpartCharts/


I'm thinking the presser foot 80059 which on page 47 of that pdf says it is for the 15k3 and 15k4. The throat plate is probably 80088 and indicates that it is for same machines. I didn't look for the bobbin case though. The plate 992 on page 10 of the pdf has the images for above parts.

Janey

ETA if I'm right - it is an oscillating shuttle.

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seb58

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks for all the info Bruce I confirm that the handwheel is indeed painted black and the front plate is blackened metal (a bit like the hands on antique mantle clocks)


Quote:
Originally Posted by PatriciaPf
Is it a rotary or oscillating machine?


It is an oscillating shuttle machine (I went to check lol)


Miriam here you go: it is pretty standard imho

IMG_20190707_131346_resized_20190707_054224403.jpg 

Janey what a great document you found! It is really fascinating! 
The presser foot and the throatplate are unmarked: no Simanco number no anything (is that weird?) I have just checked the bobbin case: it is a modern (or at least vintage) replacement: it is marked J-H 1 Japan


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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #7 
If you keep showing us pictures of this Singer 15K, I swear I will die of envy. You scored well on this one, sir. 

Keep looking for an original bobbin case. I don't know for sure, but I think Singer stopped making the old style 15s and went to the 11 o'clock cases in the 1930s? The Japanese copied the 15-30, modified it a bit and designated it the HA-1, I believe. Parts will generally interchange with a lot of the old Singer 15s. 

I would have to check to see if or how my feet are marked on the older Singers I have. I don't think there would be any problem swapping feet between Singer 15s and Singer 27s. 

Looking through the Singer Catalog Of Machines from 1908, I see the 15s were still mostly of the old style. My 15-30 from 1907 has Gingerbread (aka Tiffany) decals and a plain nickel plated face and back plate. However, the catalog lists only two "home use" machines, the 15-22 and 15-30. The illustrations shows black hand wheels and faceplates, all machines having knee lifts except the home use 15-22 and 15-30. Based on that, I would be inclined to assume what you have is a 15-22, at least in 1908 parlance, but it would be nice to see a catalog from the 1890s. I think I may have something tucked away in my files, so will have to see. I've been collecting tidbits since about 2007. I think I may have some parts manuals for this period. 

The illustration shows a machine similar to yours, but does not show the earlier type bobbin winder that you have.  The knee lift versions don't show a winder at all; I assume they are using the industrial bed mounted type. SIL10-1792-049a.jpg 

- Bruce SIL10-1792-048a.jpg
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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #8 
Don't know why, but my last post insists on showing the second manual page first. My attempts to change it failed. 

-Bruce
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seb58

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Reply with quote  #9 
Thank you again for the research Bruce! 

You mention an original bobbin case... What should it look like? In the document Janey pointed to, the bobbin case listed looks like those modern 1o'clock bobbin cases...

One other point, the 15-22 is mentioned as "dropped feed" and yet this machine doesn't have the option of dropping the feed dogs...

A small update: I have seen a listing or two for singer 15s with the low bobbin winder and the same decals on Le Bon Coin (French Craigslist sort of)

https://www.leboncoin.fr/collection/1631071376.htm/
https://www.leboncoin.fr/collection/1120520246.htm/

I'm sending a message to the seller asking for the serial number in case his machine is of the same batch (maybe a sort of in-between models batch as you suggested earlier, Bruce)...


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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #10 
Seb, when they mention "Drop Feed" in these old catalogs, it means the movement of the feed dogs when it makes a stitch, not the actual lowering of the feed dogs so that they do not move the fabric for darning, embroidery or free motion quilting. Confusing, I know.

Bruce, I know that Singer got better about their Class & Variety machines no matter where they were manufactured. However, I have found a bunch of differences in their numbering - particularly with the 15s. The Smithsonian images you gave were for the Elizabeth catalog (ETA Canadian Version). The catalog for the the Kilbowie plant is at https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/index.htm What I believe is Seb's machine would be shown at (ETA correction for page) https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/imagepages/image27.htm

I first noticed the differences with the 15-30 and the 15K30 as the 15K30 has wheel feed and round feed dogs.

I'm thinking that some of the treadle 15s for home use could also be 15K26.

Janey

ETA clarification of Canada catalog for machines made in Elizabethport and Correction of Link for 15k machines

ETA Links for some of the Smithsonian catalogs
1893 --
https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/SIL/0038/index.htm

1908 -- Canada version made in Elizabethport
https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/1792/imagepages/image1.htm

1908 - Elizabethport
https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/1793/index.htm

1907 -- Kilbowie
https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/index.htm

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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #11 
Seb, for authenticity one would want an original bobbin case, but I'm fairly certain that the bobbin case you have will work.

While Singer was pretty good about putting numbers on parts, I think there are some that were not marked. I have had some attachments that didn't have numbers on them and am fairly sure they were Singer parts. I have tried to identify machines by the part numbers, but since these are so old, that usually doesn't work very well. I have a 15k machine from 1902 that I believe is a 15K26 or 15k27 but maybe I should be checking the 15k3 or 15k4 LOL Actually according to the Parts List that I linked to, the face plate is for a 15K22, which is the machine that has the long beak, which my machine does NOT have.

Singer was also pretty good about numbering things. Some times they would assign a new number for the same part. I found it kind of a fun fact that they assigned the number for needles as 2020. However, I found a 2020 for a Clamp Stop Motion Clamp Washer in the 66-1_3 Parts list.

I wonder if the machines you have requested serial numbers from have a manual or other paper work with them. I didn't look real close at the ads. I hope you get an answer from them and has a similar serial number.

Janey


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JonesHand52

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Reply with quote  #12 
Janey & John - Many thanks for the links to the old Singer catalogs. All I had was one of the 1908 American ones and the 1893 industrial review. It's nice to see these as I had never even seen them referenced before except as possibly an entry with no files to be seen by the public. 

This proves once again that Victorian Sweatshop is the forum to belong to! The other ones - the ones I left - never even mentioned these references or didn't know about them either. Thanks millions for filling in the blanks! 

-Bruce

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Treadle&Gears

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JonesHand52
SIL10-1792-049a.jpg 

- Bruce SIL10-1792-048a.jpg


Fascinating that one could order by model and description, or with that Telegraph Cipher in column 1.
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seb58

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Reply with quote  #14 
Janey thank you for clarifying the "drop feed" thing... it makes things clearer indeed!

Those papers from the Smithsonian are a wealth of information! 

The lady from the second ad answered that she would go and check the serial number, I'm waiting 😉 I doubt though that there is a manual or paperwork because people are always keen to mention it in the ad in the hope of increasing value and / or interest in their machine (there are very few VSM collectors in France)

I failed to mention that the cabinet the machine came in is way more recent (1950s or 60s) and there was no paper nor any accessories except for a spare bobbin winder tyre. The fact that this 1905 machine was fitted into a new cabinet that people took the pain to have it fit shows that the machine was valued and really efficient. I'm not sure it would be best for fine sewing on flimsy material but for heavy duty work, it would be just the thing!
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Peter

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Reply with quote  #15 
Can one download the Smithsonian catalogues without having to laboriously save each page separately?

Thanks
Peter
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Miriam

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Reply with quote  #16 
aha, the triangular nose tension! Does it have the heavier hand wheel, too??? Those sew through anything.
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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by seb58
... I'm not sure it would be best for fine sewing on flimsy material but for heavy duty work, it would be just the thing!


I made some doll clothes for my granddaughter several years ago. My main machine at the time was a Pfaff 1471. I was having trouble making the small seams necessary for the doll clothes. I pulled out a 15-90 and didn't have a problem. It might need some adjustments for chiffon or such fabric, but would be fine for flimsy material. Light weight knits might be a little different. I think it still could be done with the right needle, pressure and maybe starch or otherwise stabilized.

Janey

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pgf

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter
Can one download the Smithsonian catalogues without having to laboriously save each page separately?

Thanks
Peter


Not directly. But if you tell me which you want, I have a script that will create a PDF easily.

Paul

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seb58

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OurWorkbench


I made some doll clothes for my granddaughter several years ago. My main machine at the time was a Pfaff 1471. I was having trouble making the small seams necessary for the doll clothes. I pulled out a 15-90 and didn't have a problem. It might need some adjustments for chiffon or such fabric, but would be fine for flimsy material. Light weight knits might be a little different. I think it still could be done with the right needle, pressure and maybe starch or otherwise stabilized.

Janey


Thanks for the tips Janey! Yet, provided that I have a Starlet / Genie and as of next week, a 221k Featherweight (birthday present from my sister and a bargain to boot but I'll make a post when I have it) I think I will keep the smaller machines for the finer work and keep the 15s for heavier stuff (maybe a self-justification for having so many sewing machines lol)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miriam
aha, the triangular nose tension! Does it have the heavier hand wheel, too??? Those sew through anything.


It has the heavier 12 spokes hand wheel [wink] 
I don't know if it's the heavy hand wheel or not but it seems that it goes faster than the other 15s (a good exercise for the legs, treadling at full speed)


ETA:
While rummaging through the box of oddments, I found a 15277 bobbin case, the one mentioned on the list of parts for 15k3-4-24[...] Janey linked to [biggrin] so now the machine has an authentic bobbin case!!
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Peter

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pgf


Not directly. But if you tell me which you want, I have a script that will create a PDF easily.

Paul


It is the 1907 Kilbowie one Paul  https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/index.htm.

Thanks very much

Peter
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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by seb58


... I found a 15277 bobbin case, the one mentioned on the list of parts for 15k3-4-24[...] ...so now the machine has an authentic bobbin case!!


YEAH. Isn't that fun to find things like that.

Janey

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pgf

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter


It is the 1907 Kilbowie one Paul  https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/index.htm.

Thanks very much

Peter


Try this:. http://www.foxharp.boston.ma.us/tmp/z/smithsonian-2753.pdf

Paul

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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #23 
Thank you, that takes care of most of the 15Ks  then there is the rest of the catalog
https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/index2.htm
https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/index3.htm
https://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/2753/index4.htm

Janey



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pgf

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Reply with quote  #24 


Ooops.  Sorry.  I'll look and see what happened.  I've removed the bad PDF in the meantime.

paul

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pgf

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Reply with quote  #25 
Here's a new URL for the 1907 Kilbowie catalog, hopefully complete this time.  (My script relies on the images on the website being consecutively, but there were a couple of hiccups in the Smithsonian files.)

http://www.foxharp.boston.ma.us/tmp/z/Singer_Kilbowie_Catalog_1907.pdf

That's a big file:  over 45Mb.

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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #26 

THANK YOU!!!![smile][thumb]  Kind of interesting the hand written notes about family machines at the end.

Janey


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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #27 
Hi, Seb. I was thinking about your machine. Your 15k88 has reverse, but the 1905 doesn't. Since the stitch length isn't marked and you don't have a manual, you might wonder how to change the stitch length. I'm not sure if the 15K manual I have is from https://www.singer.com/support or not. I sometimes get confused to which direction to move the knob/screw to lengthen the stitch. I think the 15K stitch is lengthened by moving it up, whereas the American 15s it is opposite.

Janey

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seb58

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Reply with quote  #28 
Thanks Janey. That is one more useful tip from you!
What confuses me even more is the screw / unscrew stitch length regulator, thank heaven I have the manual for this one 😉
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Peter

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Reply with quote  #29 
Finding out which way to screw a screw or move a lever to change stitch length is simple. Move the screw or lever to one end of its travel and turn the machine over whilst watching the feed dogs.  If they travel the whole length of their slots in the plate you have maximum stitch length, if they only move a short distance you have minimum.  If you want to be sure just move the screw or lever to the other end of its travel and repeat.

Peter
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seb58

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Reply with quote  #30 
A quick update: I finally heard back from the lady who listed a machine similar to this one and according to the serial number both are from the same batch...
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