Question about Sewing Machines
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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
We just acquired a Kenmore machine from ~1968 that had poor speed control. The wiring and contacts mentioned here were ok.
This pedal control works by a rather old method know as a carbon pile rheostat. It contains a ceramic block, with two cylindrical holes, inside of which are stacked dozens of graphite disks. Pushing the pedal compresses the stack, lower resistance, and increasing the electrical current through the motor.
Replacement controls are available from $13 (www.sewingmachinesplus.com) to $60 (www.sewvacdoctor), including Kenmore - $30. Rewiring may be necessary to fit the old plug to the new control.
Another option is time-intensive, but gets the job done in an hour or so and saves the cost of replacement. I removed the wires from the aparatus (2 screws) and the ceramic block from the pedal case (1 screw). The carbon discs are held in the block by the brass fitting that also is the connector for the wires. I removed the screw holding this fitting to the ceramic block, and spilled the discs onto my desk. Note that there are also graphite front and back of pile pieces; make sure they go back in the right position as you reassemble the pile. (Your working surface is going to collect carbon powder - so use something cleanable.) Some of the discs were shiny; some had one or both sides covered with a black carbon powder.
Separate the discs into clean and dirty ones. Clean the dirty ones on both sides using a erase, holding the discs still with finger-tip pressure on the edge and moving around the disc to clean it all - maybe 1/2 minute to a minute per disc.
I mounted the ceramic block in a taped dispenser stand to hold the hole vertical, and inserted the front-end piece. Then I dropped in the discs one-by-one. Finally I screwed down the brass fitting and reassembled the control.
The difference was amazing!
Posted on Nov 01, 2009
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