Zorba, Male Belly Dancer

Henna Design Toyota TZ-17 Henna Design
AKA "305 De Luxe"

The Toyota TZ-17 Zig-Zag Sewing machine, AKA the "305 De Luxe", was imported to the USA in the late 1950s, and possibly the early 1960s. It was then badged by whomever was importing it, or sometimes there was no badge at all and it was sold just as a generic "305 De Luxe" machine.

You can purchase a fine, nicely printed manual for the TZ-17 from Link opens in new window www.sewing-machine-manuals.com, which is far better than the freebies floating around the web.

I became interested in it as my late mother had one badged as "American Beauty", see that page for more information about Birginal-Bigsby (the importer) and their "American Beauty" brand name.

I eventually acquired one badged by the White sewing machine company:

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Original auction picture, looking a bit dirty. No presser foot, bobbin case was a rusty mess, and
the straight stitch needle plate was missing. Note lack of frontside "White" Badge, contrast to below:

White 305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
Here is a blue one badged as White. The blue color seems to be the most common for the TZ-17.
Picture kindly provided by "Suzanne", who came forward with it - THANK YOU SUZANNE!!!

Pink 305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
Another White badged 305 De Luxe in a pretty Rose/Pink color. Photo courtesy of eBay seller "toysbylove".
This color seems to be quite rare. I've seen another in this color badged with the ever-popular "Dressmaker"
badge, but could not get picture permission from an apparently scared owner. *shrug*

Green 305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
And, of course, another green one just like mine, but with a frontside badge!

305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
Here's one missing the "305 De Luxe" badge on the pillar!
Photo courtesy of eBay seller "amyk0702"

From a contributer: Between 1955 and 1961 Toyota supplied White Sewing Machine Company with various models of Zig Zag machines. Toyota, Brother, and a company called Koyo seemed to have shared some contracts for machines. It was sort of like buying a Dodge that had been built by Mitsubishi. There is a picture out there of a Brother machine stamped Toyota across the bottom. Toyota was also producing a car called the Crown for the Japanese market at the same time it was making Remington, Crown, and Sovereign sewing machines.

I have seen plenty of TZ-17 machines with no frontside badge - as noted above, they were sold generically. Birginal-Bigsby was badging these "American Beauty" with a painted badge during this timeframe, and didn't use the provided badging area and screws. Now as to why my particular "White" doesn't have a frontside badge, I'm not sure, but the backside proves it as a "White":

My Particular Machine

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
"White" badge on motor plus the 3 pin electrical connector peculiar to that brand for decades.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Connector un-plugged. The machine was still dirty looking, cleanup hadn't happened yet!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
After cleanup and base restoration.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine

Which "White 305" are we talking about?

I'm not sure when it happened, but "White" introduced a completely different "305" machine sometime after they had sold the Toyota-built TZ-17:

White 305 Sewing Machine
Completely different machine, I'd guess mid to late 1970s. Photo courtesy "Thin Man Sewing".

I've read on the 'net that this machine was made by Maruzen/Jaguar, the same company that made "Kenmore" sewing machines for Sears for many years. It does share a passing resemblance to a Kenmore I worked on once upon a time. In any event, the two machines are NOT to be confused!

Base restoration

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Underside as received. Bottom of the base was bashed in in a couple of places, and was generally disgusting.
The base was originally covered with a Tolex type material, but that had been removed and the base painted.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
The cover, still with its original covering material, looked bad, but was structurally sound...

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Inside paper had come loose, making it look like the inside of a sunken ship.

And here was where I had to make a hard decision. I could have restored the base and lid similarly to how I did so for my Singer 99K, I even have the Tolex covering on hand, probably enough to do the job. But, after some thought, I junked the cover, repaired and repainted the base after removing its latch hardware. The original Tolex type material was still present underneath the latches.

Junking the cover was not an easy thing for me to do, but I can display the machine without it getting in the way, which is how most of my other machines already are. Plus I didn't have to go through the "pain and agony" of replacing the latch hardware and having to deal with the holes from the old hardware that would weaken the wood. Instead, I just filled in the holes and called it good. This saved me a metric ton of work to salvage something that I really didn't want anyway.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Ruined bottom removed...

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
... and replaced!

Here's one of those cases of meaningless, but weird synchronicity: You'll note that the new bottom material is the exact same color as the base. Completely accidental - I normally use ⅛" plywood or Masonite for base bottoms. However, I didn't have any on hand, but I did have some ¼" plywood. A bit thick, but workable. This plywood was left over from the crate my Aughkstra rode in when I brought it to Florida from California. The plywood was that color because it was left over from a garage build from years back in California - and it just happened to be the same shade of blue.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Not that it mattered, because I wanted to paint the base green to compliment the machine!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
One of the very last of my California business cards!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
All done! Mercury Electric foot pedal is correct for this machine, but probably non-original as the color doesn't match.

A quick look around this machine

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
This bottom-side view shows the screw that needs to be loosened to adjust the feed dog height (red arrow).
The blue arrows show two oil wicks, there are lots of places in need of oil!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Nobody can tell me what this groove is for...

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Removed the motor to get everything cleaned.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Top removed. Note second light bulb!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
This bulb is a problem, see text.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Contrasted to standard E-12 based #643 (bottom), this 5 watt,
110V, (apparent) E-11 based bulb (top) isn't available anymore.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Eventual replacement.

The above bulb was intended to illuminate the Zig-Zag indicator dial. It was burned out. It was not a standard "candelabra" based bulb, AKA an E-12 base size. At first, I thought it was an E-10 base, the same size as the famous "Chicago Miniature Lamps" that were used in electronic equipment. It was a 115 volt, 5 watt bulb. There are virtually no "miniature" lamps that are designed for line voltage, and the only ones I was able to find were about 2 watts.

So, I needed to "do something". I found a 5 watt (actual), E-10 based LED bulb. It would be about the equivalent light output to a 50 watt incandescent, but I figured I could darken it if needed and I wouldn't be dealing with any more actual heat than the original. The bulb arrived - it didn't fit, the base was too small.

So its either an E-11 base, which is very oddball, or its even "something else". Either way, I wasn't going to be able to replace it directly. Nobody makes an E-11 based bulb anything close to the voltage/wattage I need (LED or incandescent), so I bought a G-4 based LED and attempted to solder it into the base of the original bulb after I cracked the glass out of it. Fail - I got it soldered in, but then the insulator between the tip and the thread broke.

I don't like changing things from original, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do...

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Original socket, cracked it getting the guts broken out of it.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Didn't matter, JB-weld to hold in the new pin socket can also hold the old shell together!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Back in place inside the machine.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
The night shot, showing the newly re-backlit Zig-Zag dial. Plenty bright, but not too
bright after all, even though this is the equivalent of about 50 watts of incandescent light!

So, on to the next problem! Test sewing, the stitches would only lock about 1 in 5, and it would promptly break needles if run in reverse. A bit of investigation revealed a timing problem, about 10 degrees advanced I guessed...

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Blue arrow shows timing marks on top of needle bar, red arrow shows the dingus that holds it in place.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Red arrow shows the dingus from the front end. No adjustment here!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Red arrow points to the back end of the shuttle shaft near its eccentric.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Closeup: Red arrow points to pin, with a set screw just below/left of it.
Apparently, the machine was timed at the factory, set with the screw,
then pinned in place permanently. Thanx guys!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Looking where the shuttle carrier attaches to the shaft, at first glance I thought it was pinned in place too.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Test sewing after repair. See text.

The pinned in place "back end" on the shuttle shaft, plus the non-adjustable holding point on the needlebar, meant I was in QUITE the quandary as to what to do! After determining the shuttle carrier wasn't pinned to the shaft, I knew that was where corrections would have to be made. I held the shaft with a pair of vice-grips ("Lever-wrench" brand) on the back end, using the offset for leverage, and utilized a BFSD (Big Friggin' Screw Driver) in the shuttle carrier itself to pry on it to cause it to rotate back into position. In other words, the scientific application of brute force!

Since there are actually two little holes in the shuttle carrier - one as seen in the picture plus one 180° on the other side, its obvious that the carrier could be pinned. Whether or not it was supposed to be or not, I don't know - I half expected to see a matching hole in the shaft align itself as I made the adjustment, but none was forthcoming.

As it was VERY difficult to force the carrier back into the correct position, I can only suppose that it was deemed un-necessary to pin it as well. I can only speculate that something jammed the shuttle at very high speed, perhaps multiple times, in order to knock it out of timing - it had to have involved quite a bit of force!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
A sharpie witness mark made so I can keep an eye on things. If it slips again,
I may very well attempt to pin it, or have a welder "BVZZZZZZT!!!" it.


As is the case usually when one ends up applying brute force, the actuality eventually comes to light - it wasn't necessary to apply brute force at all to correct the timing problem. The Internet can be a wonderful thing, I received a message from "Rich" who told me:

Very nice article on your restoration of the 305 machine. I wanted to let you know the the needle bar clamp set screw is accessed via a hole in the throat of the harp. Many 15 clone machines' access to set the needle height were located in this location. You obviously have to rotate machine until the needle bar screw comes into position to access.

Well crap. Now I feel like an idiot, but at least I've learned, so I'm passing this along. Nobody on the sewing machine forums knew this tidbit either! A couple of pictures illustrate the truth of this:

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Grabbed my mini-mirror out of my makeup case...

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
...to be able to take this picture. There it is! Its even tight. So the why/how of this machine getting so
far out of time is a complete mystery. The only certainty is that the above was so much wasted motion!

The rest of the story:

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Uncommon, but not "impossible" E17 based needle/main light bulb as compared to a standard E12 based #643.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Compared here to new E17 based LED bulb.
This E17 LED bulb will also work in the
Singer "spotlight" fixture as on my

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Light output from original incandescent bulb...

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Compared to new LED bulb. That's the good news. The bad news is this
LED bulb failed after a short time, so the incandescent bulb is back in.
Screw it! It can stay there until it dies, then I'll try another LED bulb.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Bulb swings with the access door, fairly typical for Japanese machines
of this era. Opening this is not recommended while machine is threaded!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Machine came with a Zig-Zag needle plate (left), but the straight stitch plate was missing,
as is all too often the case. However, there just happened to be an identical straight
stitch plate on an old Riccar I was parting out! The presser foot came from that same machine.
This is a needle left homing machine.


Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Another view of the backside, compartment door for stitch cams towards the upper right.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
At last, the correct set of cams for this machine! They are the orange color I remember so well from childhood.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
The first set of cams I found on-line. See text.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Note "nib" on retention spring protruding above the cam shaft.
It knocks the tops off the cams (inset).

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Nib removed, see text.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Cam installed.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Door closed.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Cam at work.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine

These cams are apparently made of unicorn tears, virtually impossible to find. However, someone was giving away a slightly different set on a sewing machine forum, so I snapped them up. These cams are in several colors, and each depicts 3 different patterns for the 3 different needle positions (Left, Middle, Right) as found on Toyota machines newer than this TZ-17 (see a couple of examples at the bottom of this page), which has Left position only.

Then I finally found a set of the original orange cams, which only show a Left handed pattern as would make sense. The multi colored set of course only do the Left pattern depicted on them when installed in this machine.

Lastly, you'll note a couple of cams with missing tops in the above two cam pictures. This appears to be caused by the retention spring standing proud of the shaft top - I promptly knocked the top off of one of the cams when I installed it and a couple of others came to me already topless, so I shortened the spring slightly. I don't know if it was that way originally, or became that way over years of use. Superglue fixed the cams as good as new.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Comparing the two cam sets. Correct, left needle only orange cams in the middle two rows,
the 3 position multi color cams above and below. Some of the multi colored ones duplicate each other!

There is seemingly no correspondance between the numbers of the two cam sets other than #2 of the orange cams corresponds with both an orange #2 as well as a yellow #3 of the 3 position cams. May very well be that the 3 position cam set is actually a hodge-podge of 2 or more sets in itself. Some of the "same" examples are actually only "very close", looking at the bottom cam surface shows slight differences. The 3 position cams have now been passed on to a fellow collector who has a newer Toyota machine (below) with the 3 position needle feature.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
I was able to determine that these two were identical by looking at the actual cam surface on the bottom.
Goddess only knows what number the 3 position cam actually is due to its missing top (as I received it).

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Bottom view of one of the cams. Note two drive pin holes in addition to the center axle hole.
The cam surface is not visible from above - if you're trying to locate a cam set for your
machine and you can see the cam shape from above, "that ain't it!"

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Results from the #1 cam. I wasn't sure how it differed from normal zig-zag!

Controls and bobbin winder

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Bobbin winder was inoperative due to no oil and lots of crud. Complete
disassembly was required, but now "works like a champ!".
Machine uses standard #15287A bobbin winder tire.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Winding bobbin - hard to see the thread in this picture, but its there!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Slightly oddball controls are typical of Japanese machines of this era.

Blue arrow: Leave in leftmost position for normal use. Move all the way to the right when using cams.
Counter intuitive, the right most postion is labled "Automatic Zig-Zag", but not used for normal Zig-Zag!

Green arrow: Limiter control for the Zig-Zag Master Dial (AKA Stitch Width Control). Adjust master dial
to desired setting, then loosen and slide either limiter till it stops, re-tighten it. Using one or
the other or both of these limiters can create a repeatable pair of stops on the Zig-Zag Master Dial,
or even lock it in one position. Sort of an odd control that was popular for a time, experiment with it!

Red arrow: Stitch length limiter, marked 0-6. The chrome lever to the immediate right is the actual
stitch length control, and works in the usual manner, but is not calibrated. Down for forward, up
for reverse. To use the limiter, which gives you calibrated markings, position the length lever to
its (vertical) center position, dial in the desired stitch length (with the limiter), then move
the stitch length lever down (or up for reverse) until it stops, then start sewing.

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
The under-bed badge that proclaims it "TZ-17"

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Sewing a patch on my "Shootin' Skirt"!

Toyota TZ-17 Sewing Machine
Making a saddle blanket for "Claudette the Camel"

The machine uses standard "Class 15" needles and bobbins, and a #15287A bobbin winder tire as noted above. The donor Riccar machine not only donated its straight stitch needle plate, but also provided a presser foot, and a bobbin case as this machine's bobbin case was a mass of rust.

Its been fun working on this machine, I'm looking forward to sewing with it. I have two other Zig-Zag capable machines, but they are both in tables. Now I have a Zig-Zag machine to take to "Stitch and Bitch" sessions when I need that capability.

Other TZ-17 Badges

American Beauty Sewing Machine
An "American Beauty" exactly as my late Mother's.
Note no badge present in the provided area.

American Beauty Sewing Machine
Instead, "American Beauty" is painted on in the Birginal-Bigsby font.

Premier Sewing Machine

Premier Sewing Machine

Premier Sewing Machine

Ambassador Sewing Machine
And one badged "Ambassador". Photo courtesy of eBay seller "garden943"

Green 305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
Another "Premier" in Green.

305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
"Cosmopolitan". Photo courtesy eBay seller "volksbugusa".

305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
Morse badged example. Note slightly different badging on the pillar, no "305".
This is the only example I've seen with this style pillar badge.
Photo courtesy eBay seller "janalangus".

305 De Luxe Sewing Machine
Very proud sounding "Abraham & Straus" badging. Photo courtesy of eBay seller "80af".

American Beauty Sewing Machine
"Kathy" came forward with this very interesting machine. The hull is obviously descended
from the TZ-17 design, but has slightly different controls, including what appears
to be a Left-Middle-Right needle homing control!

Toyota Sewing Machine
And yet another one, apparently slightly newer than the previous, but appearing to be the same hull.
I personally prefer a lever for reverse, instead of having to hold in a button, but the "L-M-R"
needle homing control is a welcome enhancement over the TZ-17. Picture courtesy Jim SteelSewing.




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