Kenmore Model 158.16012What I've been able to find out so far:
My late Mother-in-law's Kenmore, Sears model number 158.16012, which indicates it
was made by Japan's Maruzen (Changed to "Jaguar" in 1978) Sewing Machine company.
Head removed for cleaning and oiling, first time in about 50 years!
End on view...
With access panel open.
Backside. A bit dirty, and one broken spool pin.
Closer look at pillar, "Made In Japan".
Handwheel end view.
Top snaps on/off.
The cleverest solution I've seen to the old straight stitch vs. zig-zag needle plate problem.
Little "sub-plate" lifts out...
Turn it end-for-end and replace. You've just switched needle plate types!
Bobbin cover back in place.
Yep, this is the old school White/Kenmore 117-series power connector.
Plugs in on bottom.
Cleaned and oiled machine back in base.
Obligatory out of focus night shot!
Putting the machine through its paces.
Cam cover opened.
Cam cover closed, sewing cam stitch.
Folded into table. A lot cleaner!
Table model number, appears to be 117.3051?
Table closed up.
Which allows portables, such as the Singer 185 to be used on top!
The Kenmore 117.591 was the original inhabitant of the cabinet as seen here (Apparent Public Domain Photo).
The matching chair that goes with the cabinet...
Can hold LOTS of thread!
My late Mother-In-Law promised me her cherished sewing machine before she passed through the Veil. Before her passing, we were able to get onto the Internet and she was able to identify the machine that was originally in the cabinet. That was the White-built model 117.591, which was the immediate predecessor of the 117.959 as detailed elsewhere on this site. This would have dated the cabinet from the late 30s through the early 40s (most references to the 117.591 machine claim it was from 1942 - some claim that '42 was the only year that model was sold.). The model number of the cabinet itself seems unclear, 117.3051 appears to be correct - the "5" may be an "S" or an "8". Anyone knowing more about this, please Contact me.
Now for this machine. It was made in 1970 or 1971, its 158 prefix means it was built by Japan's Maruzen cum Jaguar sewing machine company. It would seem that part of the contract with Sears was that they'd continue with both the oddball White/Kenmore square base as well as the - by then - somewhat antiquated power connector, presumably wired in the same pinout. This would allow newer machines to be used in older cabinets - as was done here - as well as being able to use the same foot/knee controllers.
Aside from a broken spool pin, a small amount of dirt on the backside, and a frozen feed dog drop control, the machine was in perfect condition upon inheritance. I used most of the original (!!) bottle of oil getting it oiled up and said feed dog drop control freed up. A new spool pin, along with a pair of spool felts, are on order. The even older cabinet looks brand new - we're pretty sure it belonged to GrandMother-in-law originally.
As this is currently my only zig-zag machine besides the White 690, some comparisons are inevitable. Being slightly older technology than the White, the cam driven specialty stitches are not quite as convenient to use, but there are a LOT more of them than what's built into the White. The White has a built-in button holer, which is also an add on for the Kenmore. The Kenmore has the above illustrated "self-storing" zig-zag to straight stitch needle plate feature which is the BEST solution I've seen for this PITA problem. My White had lost its straight stitch plate by the time I got it, and as it is a VERY oddball machine, I have yet to find another even though its mentioned in the manual and I've looked "high and low" for one. This Kenmore also uses easy to find Class 15 bobbins, whereas my White uses a fairly rare bobbin that isn't found just everywhere. The top of this Kenmore is held on by clips, it just pops off whereas the White needs 3 easy to get to screws removed to access its innards. The Kenmore has a snap-on bobbin plate, whereas the White uses the more common/traditional slide type which I have a slight preference for. Both are "mostly metal" machines.
This machine sews very nicely. It might be slightly less convenient than my White, but it can sew more types of fancy stitches - for when such things are needed/wanted. It has an oddball control on it - kind of a second stitch length control, that I haven't quite figured out yet. The White has always been a bit finicky to sew with, it remains to be seen what this Kenmore's "personality" is like - I *do* know all the White's "moods" after over a decade of owning it.
Went to wind a bobbin on this machine for the first time, and the bobbin winder didn't work. Investigation revealed that the bobbin winder tire was completely worn out. That's a new one by me - I've seen plenty of cracked and dissolving rotten winder tires, but never one that was actually worn out! It appears that "Mama-San" ran with the winder engaged for most or even all the time she had the machine. I was able to wind the necessary bobbin, on another class 15 machine, the Toyota TZ-17 as a stopgap. Fortunately, this machine (Kenmore 158.16012) takes a standard 15287A winder tire and I had one on hand...
Cast in "JA" number in addition to the usual cast in "JC", see Japanese JA/JC Numbers for more information.
Making "Muscle-Bustle Pillows ™"
Original, worn tire still in place.
Side-by-side comparison with a new 15287A tire.
Textured race where the tire runs - this will tend to wear the tire over a period of years.
New tire in place
Look close, you can see "15287A" embossed on the tire's sidewall.
Definitely seems to work far better, but it hasn't been tested with a bobbin as yet.
Sneak picture of my wife using the machine!
Jackshaft, midway between motor and handwheel, froze up from lack of lubrication.
Note nut in foreground - its a jam nut for the machine screw that threads into a
bracket to hold the "dingus" that holds the jackshaft and pulleys. It takes a 7mm wrench.
This was NOT intended to be lubricated by the end user, and was fairly hard to get to!
However, once oiled, the machine runs MUCH better than it ever has since we've owned it.
Related: The (internal) vertical camshaft drive is hard to get to to oil, unless you
remove the "Kenmore" badge on the back of the machine - then it can be oiled through the
Kenmore badge back in place