Question about Kenmore Sewing Machines

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I have a semi-computerized machine from 1981, model 17921. The tension has been wonky for several years, and now I am having difficulty getting the needle out of zig-zag position and back to straight doesn't want to move back to center. My tension shows a thread sitting on the bottom almost completely loose and the top thread tangling, occasionally getting tangled and mangled in the bobbin. I was told once that the tension wheels are wearing, and that corrosion was building up inside, which I had cleaned up. However, the tension wheels have not been replaced. It has been oiled and checked out, but the shops here never seem to fix it.

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  • julieburnsid Aug 03, 2009

    I took it to a repair shop, the same one who told me a few years ago the tension wheels were wearing, and he condenscendingly told me there was nothing wrong with the wheels. My needles are new, I have rethreaded several times, ensuring that the thread was between the wheels. I cannot get him to understand that the design selector is not working and that the needle position is wrong (it is normally set slightly to left of center when in straight stitch). Unfortunately, he is the only repairman who has any competence in the area, and I drive 45 minutes to get to him. On this machine, you push a large selection knob and then dial to the stitch design you want. The width seletor is just above the knob. Normally, the needle should move appropriately to position. However, it sometimes sticks in the far right position (which is where it does not seem to stick in the far left position). This position is bad for two reasons, one of which is that it misses the hole in the zig zag foot and the hole in the plate, snapping the needle and putting a needle dent in the top of the plate. Is there still a Sears repair shop in the country? I would be willing to go through sewing withdrawl for a month if I could get it repaired somewhere in the country.


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Your tension wheels are worn out. Replace them and you will solve your tensioning issues. Good luck.

Posted on Aug 04, 2009

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Yes you are right, the tension wheels are wearing, alright.

I believe your machine is out of alignment in some way and needs a trip to the repair shop.

Sewing machines need tune-ups just like our cars so it will probably benefit from a thorough cleaning and professional adjustment.

Posted on Aug 01, 2009

  • virtualhost
    virtualhost Aug 01, 2009

    Is it an old needle? Also try putting in a new one. Sometimes they just get bent. Try re-threading.


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When I move my needle to 4.0. Or 4.5, the needle now moves to far over to the right.

The needlebar position is off. You may want to take it for service.

Do you like this machine? You've used it for several years, know how to use it, etc. What does a general service cost? Perhaps $100-150. So where would you find a replacement machine for that amount? It is generally recommended that machines be serviced once a year, so you have saved enough over the years to afford a service call.

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