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J P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Sewing Machines: Rotary Hook vs Oscillating Hook on 11/13/2012 14:43:14 MST Print View

(Cross-posting this from hammockforums in case it's familiar to some of you)

Anyway, the local "expert" on sewing machines has recommended that I switch to a rotary hook (drop-in bobbin) machine to better suit my needs.

He says that he works with parachute material a bit in his free time and has specifically chosen to use rotary machines for that and the projects would be almost identical to what I work on (30-70 nylon and noseeum...though I also spend a small amount of time sewing webbing and heavier stuff around 200D like dyneema and oxford nylon).

Anyway, I do believe him to an extent because he actually has some stuff to back up his claims that rotary hook makes a better quality stitch without puckering.

...any input or experience the community has on this?
Is he just trying to make a buck or is it really worth it?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Sewing Machines: Rotary Hook vs Oscillating Hook on 11/13/2012 16:44:35 MST Print View

I would think the thread tension would be the most crucial thing. I have both types of machines here. I don't notice one doing a better job than the other on silnylon and such. Not much puckering if any.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sewing Machines: Rotary Hook vs Oscillating Hook on 11/13/2012 18:54:13 MST Print View

I have an ELNA rotary hook and an OLD black Singer rotary hook. I sew anything from heavy pack webbing to silnylon to netting.

It is interesting that the ELNA cannot handle the heavy materials but the Singer can (easily). The ELNA can handle the very light fabrics, but so can the Singer, easily. 'Modern' is not always better.

Cheers

J P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Which Singer model? on 11/13/2012 23:13:51 MST Print View

Good to know...what model is the singer?

I've been looking all over craigslist for 400, 500, and 237 but the only ones I find are pretty costly and unserviced.

I'll probably go looking around tomorrow at work for what models the drop-in singers are...but it'd be great to get a head start with your help.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Which Singer model? on 11/14/2012 02:47:35 MST Print View

Hi Jordon

I did say 'old', didn't I? It is an ancient cast-iron job.
The serial number says it was made in 1957, and the tiny label on the front says 201P.
(I had initially ID'd it as a Series 15, but that was wrong.)

Regardless of its age, it can sew anything from hessian sacks to silk nighties. And in those days, the owners did! Today - it still runs perfectly.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 11/14/2012 13:35:20 MST.

J P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
you really did mean old! on 11/14/2012 08:25:25 MST Print View

I'm familiar with those models (at least in the extent that I see them all over). I hadn't realized that they were rotary (drop-in bobbin) so that kind of opens things up a bit for me.

David Scheidt
(dscheidt) - F
Re: Sewing Machines: Rotary Hook vs Oscillating Hook on 11/14/2012 11:40:45 MST Print View

You're talking about two entirely different things. The hook is the bit that grabs the needle thread, and arranges to stick a loop of bobbin thread into a loop of needle thread. You can have a rotary hook, where the hook rotates. That is, it goes around and around in one direction. Or you can have an oscillating hook where the hook oscillates -- it goes one way, stops, and goes back the other. Either can be arranged vertically, so the bobbin is loaded from the front or side. Either can also be arranged horizontally, so the bobbin is loaded from the top.

There are advantages of all arrangements. One of the big advantages of a rotary hook is that it can be driven faster, and with less vibration. The hook runs at a constant speed, while an oscillating one stops and starts twice for every stitch. The advantage of an oscillating hook is that it's usually a simpler mechanism. A horizontal hook lets you have a drop in bobbin, which are usually easier to thread, and on newer domestic machines is often under a transparent plastic cover so you can see how much thread is left on the bobbin. However, you can't replace the bobbin with work under the needle, and the thread path takes a 90 degree turn that a vertical hook doesn't, so some deal with strange threads not as well as vertical hook.

A machine with either type of hook and either arrangement of hook can be good at a particular opearation, or not good. There are other factors at work, too.

Are you having a particular problem? What is it? What sort of machine? What sort of material? What thread? What needle?

J P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Very informative, thank you on 11/14/2012 16:16:38 MST Print View

I was under the impression that rotary hooks were always with a drop in bobbin and oscillating hooks were always a side-loaded bobbin. Thanks for explaining that to me and setting me straight :)

Machine I was previous using was a Euro Pro (no name model) with oscillating hook (vertical) and a few stitches...I used straight, zig-zag and bar tack...eventually the machine crapped out so I took it in and the repairs weren't worth it so I was given a few options for trade-ins if I wanted.

I ended up going with a Necchi 3101 for a little under $100 that someone brought in for servicing and ended up trading in...turned out to be a dud for me and I had all kinds of issues over the past 18 days with numerous visits (bobbin tension not even set properly--extremely loose, stitch length way too short, jamming, needle breaking...etc). Eventually they got everything taken care of by today (in their defense they just moved locations and were swamped...service was still pretty bad though) only to ask for an additional $35 to replace the feed dogs that were too worn to use with silnylon, which I had specifically told them that I work with 90% of the time and they recommended the machine based on that.

...Now the nightmare is over. I got my money back and I'm back looking for something new to make my tent (30D silnylon), backpacks (200D Dyneema...prototype with 200D oxford nylon), a quilt (30D nylon) and tree straps (2" polypropylene webbing). I've been using basic 70/80 needles with Gutermann thread (from DIY Gear Supply) but I also recently bought some Metrosene thread (though I haven't had a chance to use it).


I'm still not sure what I'm going to do at this point...the repair shop offered me a Babylock BL20A for $200 but that's more than I want to spend and I'm not quite happy/confident with their customer service at this point.

I'll likely end up borrowing my mom's machine until I find something on Craigslist or in the paper.

Edited by jordo_99 on 11/14/2012 16:19:52 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Very informative, thank you on 11/14/2012 21:37:59 MST Print View

> tree straps (2" polypropylene webbing).
Everything else is OK with most machines, but the tree straps might need a heavier machine or hand sewing with heavy thread.
Gutermann and Metrosene ... consumer grade stuff, OK for clothing as it comes in many colours. But clunky for silnylon though.

Cheers

J P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Thanks on 11/15/2012 08:31:38 MST Print View

More good information :)

What thread would you recommend for silnylon? Rasant?

Also, any idea how strong of a motor (amps) I should look for? I was thinking of going for at least 1 amp...though tree straps and heavy webbing are one of the things I really don't work on much so it's not a huge deal to do it by hand.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thanks on 11/15/2012 13:30:26 MST Print View

Hi Jordon

I love Rasant 120 for silnylon and similar fabrics. The polyester core makes it very strong for its thickness.
For the main seams in my tents, where there are 6 layers of silnylon and where all the load goes, I use Rasant 75.

Motor power - never checked. The momentum of the system usually punches the needle through webbing, once you get it going. Start with the needle raised. But for really heavy webbing I often help the machine along by hand anyhow. That way I don't break needles.

Cheers

David Scheidt
(dscheidt) - F
Re: Thanks on 11/15/2012 13:56:09 MST Print View

If you're buying a domestic sewing machine, motor power rating is something to simply ignore. It has pretty close to zero to do with how well the machine does anything, and most of the machines that brag about it are using a peak number, that's especially meaningless. Take samples of what you're going to sew, along with needles and thread, and sew some seams.

Roger's got a bug for Amann threads. They're hard to get in the US, expensive, and no more suitable for purpose than any number of other threads that are easier to get for less. Many people here have no problems at all with Gutterman threads, don't listen to Roger when he says 'too clunky'; both Mara and Tera are available in a complete range of sizes, he's just not looking for them.

J P
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Thanks on 11/15/2012 14:23:30 MST Print View

@Roger
I've looked for Rasant in the past and it seems to be pretty expensive and hard(er) to come by in the USA but I do appreciate the recommendation.

@David
I currently use both the Mara and Tera threads on my tarps and have had no issues. I just like to keep an open mind and try things out. It's great to get 2nd opinions on this stuff as well and I'll likely get some Rasant at some point to compare for myself.

@both
Thanks for the input on motor power and threads. I wasn't too concerned about motor power...I was just noticing that some eBay ads were boasting the power of the motors as though it was going to be more capable and it seems kind of strange so I wanted to ask about it.