Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Sewing Machine! Redux

We're learning things here at Leif Labs...learning things the hard way, the expensive way. ...Introducing my second industrial sewing machine: The Tacsew T111-155, walking foot needle feed, fo' shore. The Sailrite Professional that I purchased in September did not meet my sewing needs (I'll explain below) so I bought the 111. Now I have more sewing machines than bikes (four--I also have a Kenmore domestic machine). Ha.

It's a race!
The Tacsew is a copy of the Singer 111w-155, and from what I can tell, the Singer was a heavy-duty contender for some time. [Note: as I learn more about the Singer 111w155, I've come to realize these machines are quite different, despite the shared numbers. The Singer has a vertical-axis hook, belt drive, and no oil pump. Go figure.] This machine is also similar to the following machines (in how they feed fabric): Sailrite 111, Seiko STH-8BLD-3, Juki DNU-1541, Consew 206RB-5, Yamata FY5618, Rex RX6-7D, Artisan 618-1SC, Singer 411U967A, Durkopp Adler 867-190040, Durkopp Adler 267-373, Pfaff 1245 6/01 CLPMN8...and more, and more. I can't believe how many industrial machines are out there. Damn.
(Note, the European brands often use a different needle system than the Ameri-Asia case you were wondering. Ha.)

I'm pretty sure Tacsew is part of the industrial sewing branch of the Tacony Corp., whose central offices are located right here in Missouri (Saint Louis 'burbs). I bought the machine online from Hazlet Sew Vac Inc., aka Industrial Sewing Machine Man (ha) in Jersey, who had it drop-shipped from the Lou. After I ordered the head, Richard from ISMM called me to make sure I knew I was just ordering a head, which was a sweet thing to do. Aw.
Oh, and they have complete Juki DNU-1541's for 1400 bucks, shipped, which is the cheapest I've seen 'em. (Note, this does not have the safety mechanism. That's another $50.)
If I had to do it again, I'd probably go with the Juki or the Seiko and just use my Ultrafeed for zigzag work. I got the Tacsew 'cause it has the same bed size as the Pro...and I'm not sure how I'm going to set up the Pro just yet. And the 111 is pretty cheap. Yeah!

From the Tacony Web site:
"Tacony is a primary importer and distributor for most of the famous brand industrial sewing equipment, including Tacsew, Juki, Brother, Singer, Consew, Pfaff, Kenquilt, Sussman, Thompson, Pacific, Naomoto, Johnson and Yamata."

Fyi, I'm pretty sure walking foot needle feed is also called unison feed and compound feed...but I could be wrong...

So oily.Sweet, this has two tension knobs. I had to pretty much max out the top tension on the Pro to get proper tension when sewing webbing, even with a stronger spring. Oil pump! Hot.
Big bobbin. And you can see the oil wick there, too.

So this is my main problem with the Pro: look at the feet: they're almost squared off in the front, and there aren't any teeth on 'em. Needless to say, this machine won't ride over thick seams, and when it does, the top tension goes out (usually only while sewing near an edge, though). Boohiss. Similar machines to the Professional: Artisan ZH-305, Reliable MSK146B, Tacsew T146RB, Consew 146B. I'm not exactly sure who makes the Pro for Sailrite. I don't think it's Tacsew, as their factory is in China, while the Pro is made in Taiwan. Hmm...
I think this kind of machine was developed for sewing wet suits. And it'll also make a good sail machine, I think, because it zigzags like a just doesn't climb as well as it should for bagmaking, even though it's a walking-foot machine.
Now look at the 111's feet. They're ramped and they have teeth. The Utrafeed's feet look a lot like this, but they have even bigger teeth. Oil bath!What's underneath? The built-in knee lift is pretty sweet on this...not that I've used a lot of knee lifts. I used a pedal lift on the Pro, which was pretty nice except for the occasional old-person-hits-the-gas-instead of-the-brake-and-runs-into-a-Taco-Bell mistake. Vroom.
And that's the SCR servo motor made for Sailrite there with a cogged belt--super nice slow-speed control and power. Yeah. It's pretty quiet, too. I've heard that some servo motors are kinda noisy at slow speeds, but not this. Though, for the price, it should grant me wishes or play music. For my Pro, I'm thinking about getting a Reliable SewQuiet 4000...I've read some good things about it...but we'll see. My sewing machine has an eye. Nice. Too bad it's not red...then I could call it Hal. This machine can take a size 23 needle (right), which is huge. I use a size 20 (left) for sewing T90 thread. The best 88 cents you can spend if you sew. Ha.


shelley said...

Could you explain why the Sailrite machine did not meet your needs? I would love to know! Thanks!

cory said...

The Sailrite Pro isn't a climber. It has a hard time sewing over thick seams or folds...and will often bend its needle when sewing over seams or webbing in reverse...which is hella scary on a big machine. This isn't for a want of power (it has plenty) but rather a lack of feeding ability. I think it's due to the shape of the feet (see pic above) and their toothlessness (the fabric looks like it's sliding out from under the feet). The funny thing is I basically sew the same things over and over, and my Sailrite Ultrafeed does a better job than the Pro. By nature, though, zigzag machines don't make good straight-stitch machines--or that's what I've read--and that's what I was mainly using it for.
I've been using my Tacsew 111 for a few weeks now and I'm loving it. There are some terrains where it doesn't feed so well (like when sewing next to ledges), but I think every machine has its weakness.

Ken said...

After having spent time on the Tacsew are you sill wishing you bought the Juki? Or is the 111 doing the job? I have an old Consew210 that I'm trying to reconfigure to make my first bag.

cory said...

Oh, the 111 is definitely doing the job. I've sewn on the Ultrafeed a little bit after I bought the 111, and what they say is true: Once you go industrial you don't go back.
Unfortunately, I've never got the chance to sew on a Juki...but I can't imagine it'd sew any better.
Though, ask me again in five years.
Good luck on your first bag, Ken!

John said...

Nice bags Useful info. Re the best 88 cents nippers. My wife sews & I've seen her use something similar but not so well made. I might go as high as a buck 88 just to please her. Probably could find on net, but don't know proper name of the tool. Would appreciate info. Thanks

cory said...

John, I've seen them called different things: thread clips, -nips, -trimmers... I got mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics. Though, you should be able to get them at any big-box store with a sewing section.
Here they are online:

And if you want to go really swank:

Phil said...

If industrial isn't an option, what machine do you think is a good buy for starting out?

Thanks for all the info.

cory said...

Any older all-metal machine that runs well should be a good start.
It's surprising what some old machines with a long stitch length will sew through. My mom has an old featherweight Singer that was her mother's, which looks teeny tiny next to my industrial machines...and that'll sew through a few layers of Cordura.
Shoot for simple and heavy with a long stitch length. That's all I can tell ya. I'm not very familiar with newer home machines.
This blog could also be of some use to you, too:

Unknown said...

Hi Cory,
I just have a question in regards to the Tacsew machine you got. I am looking to buy one and was interested to hear what you think of it so far? Are you still using it? Have you had any problems with it? Thank you!

cory said...

Hi Matt,
The Tacsew has treated me fine so far. It's the machine I use the most and I've had no major problems with it. Also check out the Consew 206RB (and clones). It's a little bit more money but it has a higher lift and there's a bit more info out there about maintenance.
Email me if you have any other questions: coryleif at gmail.