A few months ago an email popped into my inbox from Janome(who make and sell our lovely Elna Machines). It wasn’t an invoice so I was very interested! It was an invitation to visit their Head Office and learn how to take the machines and overlockers apart and put them back together again. Having taken my own machine apart A LITTLE BIT in the past to free a poor wee trapped thread or two I jumped at the chance of doing it properly.
I set off from Glasgow at 6am to get to Stockport at 9.30. It was a gorgeous drive, the sun was out and I listened to about 25 Desert Island Discs(brilliant podcasts for long drives!).
Arrived at Janome amazed that Google Maps had actually got me there first time without suggesting I take a left into a field or something. The class is small with only 4 of us on there. 2 girls and 2 guys. Everyone is from a company in England. I wonder if they do that on purpose so you’re not sitting next to your biggest competitor?
Peter from Janome is taking the class. We started by taking apart a front loading machine a bit like the Elna 240 we sell.
I actually couldn’t believe how complex it all was! I was expecting to find this easier than I did. I thought because I am a logical thinker and use sewing machines every day that I would be sitting there having loads of light bulb moments. In reality it was very confusing. I even found the terms for all the bits confusing. As much as I am quite handy around the house DIY wise I have never dealt with anything mechanical. I don’t even take plugs apart. I already have curly hair, god knows what an electric shock would do to it but I’m not interested in finding out!
As we were chatting away I was getting to know the other people on the course. We had David who was already clued up on sewing machine mechanics, Steven who had just started a business with his wife and Joy who worked for a company down south and like me had no experience of repairing or servicing machines.
I was interested to find out what brands David would avoid quality wise. He knows all the brands, right up to the industrial ones so he must know what ones come back in for repair a lot. The first brand he said to avoid was Singer. Not surprised here as I am always urging people to avoid Singer, doesn’t matter what kind of deal you think you are getting they are terrible! The second brand he mentioned which came as a shock to me was Brother. Exactly the same quality as singer apparently!! So there you go AVOID SINGER AND BROTHER!
When you open up the Elna and Janome machines they are heavy with mostly metal bodies(there you do I’ve forgotton the technical terms already). You can see all the metal in the picture above. All the parts and the plastic covers are screwed into this solid metal body to keep everything in place. In the cheap machines most of the body is plastic, and plastic breaks and then bits fall off. I know now using my first class engineering degree that bits falling off and breaking off inside a machine is a bit of an issue. The only way to avoid it is to avoid the cheap crap brands. You all know the story of me dropping one of my Elna 340s out the back of my old 4×4 about 2 and a half foot up? Well it still works. I don’t even know what one it was. THAT is quality right there!
I drank a lot of tea over the two days. No surprises there.
We took apart a top loading machine as well, like our trusty 340s. Just as insanely complicated as the front loaders!
The following day we were onto computerised machines. It’s common to think that the mechanical ones are easier to fix because they have no complex computerised bits inside but this was actually so much simpler!
My Dad started off his working life as a TV engineer. I can actually remember going to houses of family friends for him to fix them. He would get me to hold things like screwdrivers and soldering irons(!!!!). I must have been about 7. Who gives a 7 year old a soldering iron?! That’s my Dad for you. Anyway he said to me when I was on this course that I had engineer genes from him. But my greatest memories of my Dad fixing things was him turning them off, turning them upside down, giving them a good shake then putting them on again. He refers to this as an ‘Australian Reboot’ which had me in knots. He actually fixed our PC one year by doing this. It went from not turning on to working fine for another few years. There must be something in it!
This was a Janome Embroidery machine. Once I put it back together we had to test it and fiddle about with some setting to make sure they worked. Well that was a terrible idea because now I am DYING for an all singing all dancing embroidery machine. What an absolute dream!
I did manage to put this together again with lot of help. Even just remembering what screw went where was a nightmare!
Then we moved onto overlockers, I LOVE OVERLOCKERS! I don’t think they are a nightmare to thread at all. Once you have been shown it’s really not a big deal and they can help you make the most amazing professional garments out of stretch or non stretch fabric. So this machine is the equivalent of the Elna 664. I’m just about to buy 4 and start running classes. Join the mailing list here to be kept up to date!
These bad boys aren’t as complicated as you would think. Don’t ask me to take it apart and put it back together again right enough!
I thought this course was great. It was nice to visit the Head Office and meet some people I have only ever spoken to on the phone. Peter knows these machines absolutely inside out. He helped us take them into a million bits and then knew how to put them back together again by memory. A true expert!
I think I will be leaving the repairing to the experts but I do feel that I could diagnose a problem now, and probably fixing timing issues. I might even have a go at replacing a wee part or two but only on my own machines.
Here is my engineering degree I was talking about! Haha! I’ll get that right on my CV!