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.
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. 🙂
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.
The foot lift and pressure
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.
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
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. 🙂 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. 😮 Yes, it reduced the maximum foot pressure. 😮 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!
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.
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!
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.
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! 😀 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.
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?
Removing the lid on the top, we get a glimpse of where those coctail sticks come out:
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! 🙂 I might take a closer look at the other oiling holes just to make sure the oil gets where it’s needed.