Meet Our New (Mechanical) Family

This is a follow-up to an earlier post about purchasing sewing machines from the now-closed Wolff-Fording Factory in Richmond, Virginia. You can read more about the back story of these machines in our Journal post: Buying Industrial Sewing Machines.

We ended up buying 10 machines from Wolff-Fording – an old Richmond company that used to make dance wear and costumes. We also picked up a couple of straight knives, some staplers, 6o feet of feed rail, 10 tables, 10 chairs, a few trash cans, and a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff. Here are the machines we purchased:

  1. Union Special 57700B coverstitch
  2. Juki DDL-555-5 Single needle lockstitch
  3. Juki LZ-586 ZigZag
  4. Singer bar tacker 269W141
  5. Union Special bar tacker P260-9/126
  6. Lintz & Eckhardt chainstitch embroidery machine
  7. Union Special 11900 Feed-up-the-arm twin needle coverstitch
  8. Union Special 54200E multi-needle chainstitch (holds up to 9 needles on the needle bar)
  9. Union Special Mark IV, 3-thread overlock
  10. Union Special 4-thread mock safety stitch, AKA Turtleback

Some of these machines are immediately useful to us, while others we may just fix up and sell. The two bar tackers are identical in function, shape and parts, even though one is a Singer and the other is Union Special. Scott found some new cutting knives for the bar tackers on eBay and ordered them, but when the package arrived, the shipper accidentally sent us someone else’s parts instead of the knives we ordered, so now we’ll have to wait a bit longer before the machine is cutting properly after making a bar tack.

The most interesting machine in that bunch is the Lintz & Eckhardt chainstitch embroidery machine. Watching the gears operate is just fascinating, not to mention what the end product could look like if I actually learn how to make the machine work properly. Our friend, Jerry Lee, at Hoosier Built, is a master at chainstitch embroidery and an expert at operating and maintaining these machines. He posted a great YouTube video on how to thread this machine.

Chainstitch embroidery services offered by Jerry Lee at hoosierbuilt.com
A sample of expert chainstitch embroidery services offered by Jerry Lee at hoosierbuilt.com

The machine I’m most curious about is the feed up the arm twin needle coverstitch machine. So far, I’ve found one video that demonstrates how a properly tuned Union Special 11900 machine should work. We’re still tuning up all the other machines we purchased and haven’t gotten around to this one yet.

Union Special 11900 Feed up the arm coverstitch machine
Union Special 11900 Feed up the arm coverstitch machine

We’ll write more later on how each of the machines works. I’ll leave you with a few shots from the studio.

4 thoughts on “Meet Our New (Mechanical) Family

  1. Hi Laura,

    I recently acquired a Lintz & Eckhardt chainstitch embroidery machine and am setting out to learn how to operate and maintain this lovely machine. If you have any resources or tips you’d be willing to share I would greatly appreciate it. I’d like to get in touch with Melinda as well if possible. Thanks for your help – I really admire your business and wish you all the best.

    Many Thanks,
    Hannah

  2. Hi Laura
    Your pants look great! Congratulations on getting your brand launched. Just thought I’d let you know I’ve got a couple manuals on operating this machine, as well as a video (sound quality needs tweaking) on how to maintain, repair and fix it for all those of us “in the boondocks”! There is a Consew 104 model you can download from the Consew website which is somewhat similar. It’s my understanding that these old machines with the springs were made before World War One — at least the Cornely machines. The later models had a different method of adjusting pressure on the fabric, and no longer used the springs. With denim, it’s pretty easy to use. Does your model allow you to stitch ribbon or braid also? You’ll probably want to get some #3 and #4 nipples and needles, if you don’t have these already. A separate type of nipple is necessary for the ribbon. The #4 needles use 12 weight embroidery thread — Madeira sells this thread. I don’t think it’s high abrasion resistant, though! So — who’s the lucky person who got to try out the abrasion resistance of your jeans?

  3. Hi Melinda,

    Thanks so much for the tips! The chainstitch machine is my little pet project. After some assistance from our friend, Jerry, I was able to actually get the machine to make a few stitches in some fabric, but I think I threaded it backwards, because apparently it was making the chenille stitch and not the chain. We’ve been learning so much about machine maintenance, because as I’m sure you know, finding local people who do industrial sewing machine repair is like looking for a needle in a haystack without the aid of a magnet. I think the next step for that machine is to remove the surface rust from the tension wires underneath the table, check on the position of the handle relative to the nose (as you had mentioned) and purchase a new belt for the machine, as the old leather one is stiff as a board.

    Take care,
    Laura

  4. Hi
    I don’t ride motorcycles but have some industrial sewing machines, including a Cornely chainstitch embroidery similar to yours. Also, I’m in Roanoke. You can count on becoming your own mechanic with these machines — since they’re so PARTICULAR! I’ve got some material (manuals and video) on how to operate, time and fix these boogers. Even with all that (and some long-distance telephone help), it still took me time to figure it out (WEEKS!) Still working on the coordination part. I bought just the head and had it installed into a beautiful one-piece wood slab, so I had to get that cut out and then find the PROPER tension spring to use underneath. A small tip — tie the springs together with a string to prevent them from flying into your face or the top of the curtains, or becoming lost in your factory. Also, make sure the nose is facing you when the handle is pulled forward. This is just one aspect of the timing.

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