National Expert B.T.Storing your friction drive sewing machine.
Badged for Free-Westinghouse
AKA Expert B.L.
Zorba has scanned and made freely available a PDF of the manual (19MB), from 1939.
As it spans two pages in the manual, you may want to download this separate Machine Diagram to print out on A sized paper (3MB).
Machine "as found". Good shape overall, Taiwanese foot controller.
Lite bulb even good. Machines built sans lite used a different casting -
no recess for the lite fixture to hide in...
... Such as Randy's Montgomery Ward badged example. Contrast color to above.
Note the latch on cover, and vinyl covered base on this Montgomery Ward's example (as
well as Randy's MW, above). Appears to be the standard National wood base, but retro-
fitted - obviously by Montgomery Ward's request. Picture courtesy eBay seller "duane_sec".
This one has a light fixture sans its shield; with one bright, and one painted, inspection cover.
This Eldredge badged example shows the more typical bright plated
inspection covers. Photo courtesy Randy by way of The Needlebar.
Contributed by "Dean", this "NATIONAL E" is of interest primarily because of its name. Similar
to certain names used on the Reversew "Rex": "WHATEVER X", its name is in all capitals followed
by a seemingly meaningless letter, "E" in this case, "X" in the case of the afore mentioned Reversew
badges. I have not seen this particular name ("NATIONAL E") appear on the Reversew either, but have
seen a couple of Experts B.T. badged thus.
Contributed by "Kelsey", this "NATIONAL E" was apparently sold as an...
Exp. B.L. instead of B.T. - according to this November 1930 manual that was with it. Obviously the
same machine, perhaps the model designation changed due to age or marketing location. Another mystery!
Back to my "Free-Westinghouse" example:
Motors marked "8F" appeared on a number of National
built machines, including the Reversew "Rex".
Some moron thought electrical tape would fix it.
Tape removed, drive wheel refinished. Works fine!
This is the first old machine I've acquired that actually had a good bobbin winder tire!
Standard National electrical block configured for cabinet installation...
It looks like the same moron wire-nutted the replacement controller,
losing the original Chicago connectors.
Acquired a 1939 manual - and added a spool pin felt.
Cabinet needs refinishing and veneer replacement on its top.
Sews fine. It already had a 15 X 1 needle installed - correctly dropped about
3/16". However, said needle was in backwards!! Rusty and old, I replaced it.
Some people recommend storing any friction drive sewing machine that has a
spring loaded motor with a small wedge of wood behind the motor to give a small
gap between the drive wheel and the hand wheel so a flat spot won't develop.
Reversew "Rex" shown, but the principle applies to any
friction drive machine as long as it has a spring loaded motor.
Others recommend a bit of sponge or other soft spacer...
What I've been able to find out so far:
For whatever reason, my wife drug this one home - after complaining about my ever growing collection! She is, much to my surprise, very enthusiastic about it - she says it is "her size", and "cute" - so she is cautiously going to try sewing with it, "embracing the horror" of a sewing machine!
Her very first machine sewn project!
Foot controller protectors - so the controller won't scratch the
machine when in storage. Singer 99K shown. I'm so proud of her!
Apparently NO-ONE knows what the "B.T." stands for. The "Expert" name is abbreviated on the (1939) manual cover, title, and machine diagram pages. Only deeper investigation finds "Expert" spelled out in its entirety - in the spare parts pictorial in the back of the manual! There, it is called the "Expert B". This is vaguely reminiscent of the naming convention found with the Reversew, where "A" means a full sized, treadled machine, "B" means a full sized, electric machine, and "Rex" is a 3/4 sized, electric machine. Since I read something somewhere about this machine actually being named the "Expert B, Model T", perhaps the added "T" stands in as meaning 3/4 sized, electric machine since that is what this model is!
Its a direct ancestor of the Reversew Rex being a National built, "Long Shuttle" (or "Vibrating Shuttle") machine. It however, does not have reverse capability, and differs significantly in its mechanics. Because its color is very similar to that of the 1954 version of the Streamliner rotary, also built by National, I thought I had its build date pegged! However, Randy - the guru of all things National Sewing Machine Company - informs me that all machines built for Free-Westinghouse were of this lighter color. Otherwise, they were mostly crinkle brown or shiny black. There went that theory...
There wasn't anything really wrong with the machine head - it was pretty dry, much like the old Kenmore, and some idiot thought that adding electrical tape to the drive wheel would do "something". Once I removed the tape, oiled the machine and motor, used a bit of sandpaper on the drive wheel to clean it up, the machine turns over just fine! In fact, the drive wheel shows very little wear in spite of showing a few age cracks. I'll retain the Taiwanese control pedal, but will re-instate the connectorization, although I'm tempted to use the back side connector in the under motor wiring block by punching out the other side to reveal the secondary pedal connector. See "Case Vs. Table Wiring" on the Streamliner page for details.
For more information about the "Chicago" connectors as used here, see this portion of the Reversew Rex page (scroll down to see/read the info on these connectors).
It uses the same bobbins and shuttle as other National "Long Shuttle" machines, including the "Rex". See Reversew Rex Bobbin & Shuttle for more information. I'm not sure what lite bulb was originally specced; but similar to other National built machines, a #643 bulb fits and works fine. My example arrived with an unfamiliar short but fat 15 watt bulb, but I temporarily swapped in a #643 to confirm it would work. It does.
As for age, I don't know. It would appear that it is at least "somewhat" older than my Reversew Rex (1952/3) as the back-shell of the Chicago connector that is still present (with the "Expert B.T.") shows that it wasn't a molded version as used on later machines. That however, could be a red herring for a variety of reasons. Randy tells me that these were made "from the treadle age" until about 1950. However, the non-glare paint was introduced around 1940, so I can't see it being older than that. In other words, my best guess is that my particular example was built in the 1940s.
Like the Reversew Rex, they were badged with a "kazillion" names. I've seen a couple badged "SeamstresS" which seem to be a Canada-only badge - and I have even seen a Turquoise "SeamstresS". As above however, most machines of this model are found in shiny black and crinkle brown colors. Pop over to the Reversew page for some of the many badges that machine was sold with. Many/most of the same names were used for the Expert B.T. as well.
Fun picture from Randy showing how NOT to thread your machine! Rare enameled model from a contributor.
There is an entire second page devoted to the installation of a modern LED sewing lite, and the refinish of the cabinet.
Here a rather bad YouTube video (but I repeat myself):
Expert B.T. Demo.