Cleaning · Lada

Tuning and TLC for Lada T132

My Lada T132 is badged Sewmaster and it is one of my favourite sewing machines. It’s got straight stitch, zig-zag and fancy stitches with Singer Fashion Discs – the flat variety.

Singer flat Fashion Discs

I’ve had it for some seven years now, and it has always been doing its job steadily and without fuss, as you would expect from an early 1960s machine. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve learned a lot about sewing machine mechanics since then, so it was time to review my Lada’s setup and give it a tune-up.

I always thought that the foot lift was rather wanting – you could barely squeeze thicker seams under the foot even though the machine didn’t seem to have any trouble sewing through that. Also the foot pressure seemed rather high.

Ok, let’s review! The manual has a page with specs where it states that the foot lift should be 7mm. And what have I got? 4mm! That’s about a half of what it should be! Ouch.

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I have already noticed before that not all “standard” low shank feet are equally standard – some are shorter than others. In particular basic straight stitch and zig-zag feet are on average 2mm shorter than the rest. But I did find a few feet in my drawer that were full height – those are the ones I need to use with Lada!

Actually, I didn’t even have to test those feet – they are listed in the manual. :-s

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Now all I have to do is find them…

So, with the right feet located, I need to find the shortest one among them and reset the presser bar to the correct height. It is held in position with just one screw here.

This takes care of the foot lift which is now 7mm like in the manual. ๐Ÿ™‚ It also helps with the foot pressure which is now a lot more reasonable. However, this machine is a fine worker, and for fine materials the foot pressure is still a bit high – I keep turning it down until the adjuster pops out.

Actually, the lowest achievable pressure here is far from zero – you have to compress the spring quite a bit to get the screw back in. So I choose a drastic measure and clip the spring.

Yes, I just made the spring shorter. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Yes, it reduced the maximum foot pressure. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ So I won’t be able to sew 10mm thick felt on this – but I can’t get it under the foot anyway, so what’s the point?!

The foot pressure now has a good range for sewing light, medium and fairly heavy materials – up into heavy wools. It is now particularly suitable for sewing fine and delicate fabrics which is the strong point of this machine anyway. It’s only specified for up to 5mm thickness – see that technical data page!โ€‹

The fancy stitch displacement

My T132 came with its own set of fancy stitch cams which are identical to Singer flat fashion discs but made of a different polymer.โ€‹

Singer Fashion Disc (black) and the same Lada disc (cream)

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Yet, some Singer discs made the needle hit the needle plate in its left-most position. The Singer disc that I was testing, turned out to be ever so slightly larger than the Lada disk, but only by a fraction!

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Upon further investigation, it turned out that some of the original Lada discs made the needle go too far left as well! Ah, but actually the whole fancy stitching was displaced to the left, with plenty of unused space on the right.

First I had to isolate the problem, so checked needle positioning on straight stitch as well as full width zig-zag. Perfectly centred. It’s just the fancy stitches that were displaced.

Lada T132 comes in three variants: straight stitch only, straight stitch and zig-zag, and straight stitch, zig-zag and fancy stitches. The mechanism is different in these models! So beware. The variant with fancy stitches uses a built-in zig-zag cam to do zig-zag, so you switch between zig-zag and removable cams.

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Lada uses two individual cam “readers” for the lower and upper cams, so something must be wrong with the upper one.

Oh! Look at that pin! It’s leaning to the left which translates to the left displacement of the fancy stitch ribbon!

I don’t know how it came to be this way; perhaps the machine had been dropped and it got bent? Well, I couldn’t bend it back and didn’t want to upply too much force so as not to snap it off or warp the whole part. So I filed the pin on the left side so it would have a perfectly vertical edge.

Problem solved! ๐Ÿ˜€ Both Lada and Singer discs work perfectly now, as intended.

Where does the oil go?

I’ve been doing my duty and oiling my Lada regularly, yet it seems to run rather stiffly. Have I been oiling it right?

Lada has lovely oil holes in all strategic places so there is no need to remove any lids other than opening the front bit to get to the take-up lever mechanism.โ€‹

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But it has three puzzling holes on the back – they run horizontally. What am I oiling there exactly and how far should my oil can go in?

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Removing the lid on the top, we get a glimpse of where those coctail sticks come out:

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Oh! So those holes actually have channels that end exactly where the oil should drop. It appears that I have been inserting the can nozzle too far.

Now I oiled it with the top lid off so I could see what I was doing. Success! The machine immediately ran so much lighter! ๐Ÿ™‚ I might take a closer look at the other oiling holes just to make sure the oil gets where it’s needed.

Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

30 thoughts on “Tuning and TLC for Lada T132

  1. I wish I had your skill with fixing these wonderful machines up! But the more I read your blog and talk to you, the more knowledge I gain. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re so awesome, Elena!

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  2. We’ll done being brave enough to saw bits off your presser bar spring. A bit came off the end of the spring on my 328; perhaps I could use the spare bit off yours!

    The spec on your Lada shows a maximum of 1400spm, which is seriously quick. Is it really that fast?

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    1. I had to think really hard before clipping that spring as you cannot re-attach it! But I’ve got some spare springs in my box-o’-bits, plus I knew I could buy a replacement if I really had to, so I did it. And it worked! ๐Ÿ™‚ I only clipped off one turn of the coil, so just a little, but it made all the difference.

      As for speed, yes, this is quite a remarkable little machine, especially when properly oiled in all the right places. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes, it does go that fast – useful for satin stitch embroidery. Well, I didn’t count the stitches per minute but it is faster than all the other machines in my collection.

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  3. Elena,
    The leaning fancy stitch pin issue isn’t confined to your machine. I’ve just discovered exactly the same issue on a T132-3 Cresta machine I’ve just bought. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to carve bits off the pin……
    Has other issues – such as almost seized around the hook area and the timing belt is on its way out (replacement on order from BearingsRus). Have you had the hook off yours?
    Dan H

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    1. May be that pin was supposed to lean like that but for some reason it wasn’t working properly on my machine? Not sure. I think you need to test fancy stitches quite thoroughly to be certain.

      I had no other issues with my machine, and also not with another zig-zag only model on which I replaced the belt. Seized is probably just dirt or possibly thread wound around it – I’ve seen that before. A good round of cleaning should sort it out.

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  4. Elena, thanks. I was wrong about the bent pin looking and testing more thoroughly. Fancy stitches are symmetrical. Still mighty stiff behind the hook – there’s thread I can see but can’t get to. I think I’ll have to try and work out how it comes apart…..
    Dan H

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    1. May be you can slide a thin blade to cut the thread? With movement and poking with a pin the thread would come off. Works for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Elena,
    I managed to partly dismantle things and got the thread out. Got the “bobbin case base” out, but so far have not gone as far as removing the hook. I know these machines have various hook types. Mine has a bobbin case that looks the same as a Singer 319/320/20u one – with Class L bobbins. I’m going to write up a service guide for my experience restoring my machine. There’s plenty of dismantling needed to get it properly freed up. Not a five minute restoration this one…..
    Dan H

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    1. Oh, so your machine seems to be newer than mine. I’ve got the other type of bobbin case, and I think it goes with a different hook but I’m not sure. The bobbins I use are the standard industrial rotary bobbins, I’m not sure of class letter. Prym makes two types of rotary bobbins for domestic machines, one is slightly larger than the other. The larger type is the same as the industrial ones.

      Yes, getting the thread from behind the hook is no easy matter!

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  6. Original time belt for LADA 132-3 is here: http://www.sicistroje-obchod.cz/23-remeny-na-sici-stroje/137-remen-lada-50-zubu-49086/
    price: 4$
    Eastern Europe was also a good machine Lucznik (Poland), Veritas (East germany), Minreva (Czechoslovakia)
    Chajka (Russia), Nicoleta (Romania) not good
    I have Lada 132/3.
    Czech republic (Czechoslovakia) was before 1989 an industrial power.
    After 1989, most of the crucial industry was destroyed. Lada Sobeslav also does not really exist. The factory was demolished as the rest.

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    1. Pavel, thank you for your comment. I looked at that website, but they don’t appear to post outside Czechia or Slovakia. Also the site is completely in Czech language. Still, I’ve added the link to the article on belts for Lada T132 here: https://vintagesewingmachinesblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/replacing-timing-belt-on-a-t132/, so thank you! This is the belt for the older model of T132 and won’t fit the newer model.

      Lada was closed much earlier than 1989 – already back in 1972: http://needlebar.org/nbwiki/index.php/Lada.

      Veritas is of course a well known German make by Clemens Mรผller of Dresden from way before WWII – I’ve got one from 1910. ๐Ÿ™‚ So no surprises there. The company was only strengthened by a merger with Naumann and Singer Wittenberge.

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  7. I have recently bought a Lada T132 badged as Cresta that came with 18 cams and most accessories. It was pretty much seized but with some de-linting and plenty of oil it now runs smoothly but is anything but high speed. The motor seems strong enough (I took the belt off). do you have any suggestions to speed the machine up?

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    1. It should definitely be high speed, noticeably faster than average. I would suggest checking to see if there’s still some blockage somewhere that got overlooked, especially things like thread wrapped around the shaft of the hook – very hard to see. Also check that the motor belt is not too tight – that would overload the motor and make the machine run slow. Check the motor brushes – if they are too short and practically worn out, the motor would still run but not at full speed. The manual explains how to check the brushes.
      Good luck!

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      1. Many thanks, I have checked the tension of the motor belt, it was initially too loose due to the 2 screws holding on the motor not being fully tightened. I did not fully disassemble the hook mechanism so that will be a job for this morning. It is certainly not as quick as my Husqvarna 21 ( a very similar free arm machine with a rotary hook) but considering it was initially seized I should be able to get it running quicker.
        Mike

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      2. Mike, it may also be that it simply needs running so that the oil would penetrate into all the joints properly and clear out the gunk inside. It may well speed up all by itself after some hours of sewing. The speed should be as good as your Husqvarna’s.

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  8. Can you help please. I just bought a Cresta 132 but can’t get is sewing. After three stitches the bobbin jumps and the top thread is caught on the bobbin. It has an old style bobbin case that can only be inserted by leaning it on the door and flipping the door up. The thread on the bobbin case is quite loose but the screw no longer tightens the tension. Can I buy this old style bobbin still. I have a feeling the new bobbin will make it sew.

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    1. Hello Penny,
      It sounds like your bobbin case is not inserted properly – it is quite fiddly. I don’t think you can buy a replacement easily, but they do come up on eBay every now and again.
      I think the bobbin case is slipping out of position as you are inserting it because the thread is so loose. The manual recommends to place the bobbin case onto the open door with the finger upwards rested in the notch, and to hold the bobbin case in place by the thread, then to close the door while still holding it. But if the thread is too loose, the bobbin case may slip and not be placed correctly.
      You can try a different method of inserting the bobbin case. It is easiest if you tilt the machine backwards a bit. Place the bobbin case directly into the hook making sure that the finger is pointing upwards so that when you close the door, the finger would sit in the notch. I find it helpful to use tweezers to hold the bobbin case in place. It is not that difficult, once you get the hang of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. May I ask you for advice? I have bought a T132 but unfortunately, the accesory box is missing. Are the feet that should have been in the box irreplacable (in that case I would try to return the machine) or can I substitute them with some generic chinese feet from eBay? Was there something else important in the accesory box that I would miss? Thank you very much in advance.

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    1. Hello Jana,
      The feet are not standard fitting, it is Pfaff fitting from the same period or earlier, not the later type. It is similar to the standard low shank (which is Singer fitting) but on T132 the foot to needle distance is a little smaller, so that some feet would just about work whereas on others the needle would hit the foot. Old Pfaff feet are often quite expensive to buy, though. You need pre-1960s low shank. Some Husqvarna models from the same time also have this fitting. So the feet are not irreplaceable but they are costly and not easy to find.

      If you have T132-3 or -4, you are also missing fancy stitch cams. You could buy Singer “fashion disks” instead, but a set of those usually costs more than a whole T132 or Singer machine. So again, not irreplaceable but costly.

      Hope this helps!

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      1. Thank you! The machine unfortunately could not be returned, so hopefully I’ll be able to get the feet from some other Ladas of the time.

        Today, I’ve borrowed a friend’s 1980s East German Veritas 8014 (the most common sewing machine here in Czech Republic up to this day, it seems) and I’m quite confused. The needle to presser bar distance is surprisingly exactly the same as on the T132, but the width of the flat part of the bar bottom is very slightly different: 5.8 mm on Veritas 8014, 6.0 mm on Lada T132. So the Lada foot fits on the Veritas but not vice versa! Height appears to match exactly. All that would suggest the Veritas is not a standard low-shank per western domestic machine standards? Surprising.

        Fortunately, the result is that I might be able to obtain a widespread Veritas foot, file off the 0.2 mm of metal, and use Veritas snap-on feet on that with no further modification. Veritas feet and feed dogs are a bit wider, though.

        By the way, it seems that the 132-2 and -3 version are the ones with the fancy stitch mechanism, as the manual suggests on the page with picture 49, despite what the page with picture 48 suggests. There are lots of typos in the manual, so not surprising. Mine is a -4, no fancy stitch.

        I’m hoping I’ll be able to get the machine into working order… it’s still turning very stiffly, WD-40 doesn’t seem to be dissolving the gluey chewing-gum like mess the old organic oil has turned into over decades (I will try kerosene, then buy the 3-in-1 that you suggest). Looks like I’ve bitten off more than I can swallow, as this is my first very own sewing machine. It probably needs to be taken apart for a good cleaning, but I’m not confident I’ll be able to set it up again ๐Ÿ™‚

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      2. I never take apart sewing machines. It is too easy to break or bend things. WD-40 won’t help, it is not surprising. Kerosine should work, if you survive the smell. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Which is why I use 3-in-1.

        I am also not surprised that Veritas feet are slightly different than Singer (standard). After all, Textima was a merger of Clemens Mรผller and Naumann factories, and Clemens Mรผller had his own slightly different foot standard (I have a 1912 Veritas).

        When you measure foot height, beware that it often depends on the type of foot. I wrote a post about it.

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      3. Hi, I just though I’d share what helped me get rid of the thick layers of the orange varnish-like remains of old oil – I’ve tried 3-in-1 oil, kerosene, gasoline, detergents – none of them dissolved the orange stuff even a tiny bit. Then I bought some denatured alcohol and even thick layers dissolved within 10 seconds! (actually, I had to apply the alcohol first ๐Ÿ™‚ ) It was so satisfying to see the gunk go…

        So it seems that different countries and times had their oils leave different types of remains.

        Unfortunately my T132 still doesn’t turn freely (even with motor belt removed, zigzag 0 and stitch length 0). I’ve risked applying alcohol on all moving parts I could get to, turn it manually a minute or two (I wouldn’t risk running it with the motor with the bearings “dry” and alcohol vapours in the motor), then oil, then alcohol and oil again, but it didn’t help. I can’t tell where the friction is, and I don’t think the timing belt is so tight that it could be the culprit. But I guess it might actually be alright now, since a new motor belt gives twice the resistance as the rest of the machine, but I still feel bad about it.

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      4. See Pavel’s comment in this thread. Denaturated alcohol does remove gunk but it also removes decals. Use with caution!
        For cleaning out joints, use kerosine. Turning a few times is not enough, you need to run the machine for at least 15 minutes to get some effect. But make sure it’s just gunk and not metal shavings, as Pavel points out.

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  10. Jana: Broken wire splinters in the lower bearing. They are attacking a lubricator there. Need to disassemble and clean. You can try to drip kerosene into the lubricators and rotate. You can find out which part is seized by removing the toothed and motor belt. Or the belt is too tight from the engine.

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  11. Elena, firstly thank you for all the wonderful information you provide us all in your blogs on these old vintage machines.

    I just got me one of these little cuties badged “Halvena” and spent all yesterday giving her a good clean inside and out.

    It is straight and zig zag only with knee lever in a caramel/beige kind of colour. Unfortunately no fancy stitch cam gadget installed would have been nice but I have not seen many of these machines for sale in Australia ever. I use my Singer 319K and cams for fancy stitches.

    Been giving her a good clean and looks like I might need to do some rewiring on the power cord (both wall and motor end) and the belt has perished. So much black gunk coming off that belt I first thought it was the brushes in the motor but they look like they have just been replaced. Looks like my only choice is to replace it with one of those stretch rubber ones as I haven’t seen anything similar to the original in that small size.

    It came with the complete set of feet and attachments in the original box, even has the original twin needles in a vintage Schmetz plastic box which looks a bit like a vintage match box, original “10 year” guarantee card with factory control inspection card, fabric stitch sample with manually manipulated zig zag fancy stitches, extension table and I love that little suitcase which I just need to put a leather belt on as that is missing, think a look in the charity shops will get me a mans leather belt that I can modify and use. Oh and that case needs a good clean as its really dirty.

    I have found a few things slightly different on mine in that the tensioner is different, the gear belt is cloth and metal (similar to ones Singer uses) and it has the new Bobbin and bobbin case, the feed dog controller has 3 settings and is a round knob. With these changes I am assuming mine is a more recent evolution.

    Can’t wait to plug her in and see if she works or trips my circuit breaker…lol.. then its back to square one.

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      1. Well I received and put a stretchy little belt on her (loose not tight) and plugged her in. She goes like a bat out of hell, so much power for a machine of any size. Wiring was in good order so I just put some heat shrink at both ends of cord where the original rubber covers were missing. Makes a nice stitch. I am very pleased with my unusual little machine, a perfect addition to a 3/4 machine collection or any collection for that matter.

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