I'll be out of town from Friday 8/23 to Tuesday 9/3
I will be out of town starting this Friday and will be back in town the next Tuesday after it. Part of it will be vacation, the other will be helping out family. I'll be able to handle remote issues if anyone has things I can talk them through, or sourcing parts/materials as I normally do.
Next week, I will be back in town for an evening between travelling, so, if there are any emergencies, please call and I will let you know if I can make any availability.
Apologies for any inconveniences this causes, but I've always tried to keep family first, and this is one of those cases. Have a great week!
People always look at me a little strange when I say that I work on sewing machines as well as IT and network systems.
It's one of those things that you don't think would ever mix well, but in some ways, it makes sense. If you're a little weird in the head and have a lot of patience, they can kind of make sense. Or, it does in my head, anyway. I've never met another sewing machine mechanic that also does mid-range IT support. If there are any out there, I'd love to hear your opinions
To me it all boils down to pattern recognition and knowing how it should, ideally, operate. If something is wrong in a network or with a machine, there will either be something telling that it's not running efficiently. In a machine, that might mean a skipped stitch. On a computer or on a network, that might mean that either is running a little slower than normal, or it'll pop an error code.
On a machine, power should flow in, make the motor turn, which turns the main drive shaft of the sewing machine, and then get transferred internally until it causes the needle and hook to make a stitch. On a network setup, you have your line come in from the outside world, and then hit the modem, and then hit a router, and then get transferred internally across ports or wireless until it eventually hits your computer/phone/etc. Depending on the network equipment, it could be easier or harder than looking at a sewing machine depending on the sewing machine.
Old shuttle bobbin treadle machines only had a few, comparatively, moving parts, while some home networks have their modem, router and wifi all combined in one unit where all you have to do is make sure it's plugged in and everything works fine. Then you have computerized home or computerized industrial machines versus commercial IT infrastructure. When computers get in the mix, the network systems I deal with will always and forever be easier to work with.
Thank you for listening to my ramblings. Have a great week!
It's always hard to lose a customer in ways you don't expect.
Last week I found out that one of my first repeat customers passed away. I found this out while going to pick up some fabric for my wife's upcoming projects for Sewing Acts of Kindness this year. This year, we're dedicating that event in her name, Anita Williams.
It may be farther down the year, but you can check out the link above in order to register or look into the details. She would likely be amused that we're doing this. That woman was amazing at her craft, and I only got to see the parts when something went wrong with a machine. She did embroidery of all kinds as well as upholstery work, and even made pillows for people.
This post won't be much of a long one. I still have some semblance of shock from finding out the news. It is a good reminder to cherish your friends and family, and let them know what they mean to you.
Caution: If you have animals, I will automatically love them.
One thing I've noticed a lot lately is that people with animals always seem to be worried that their animals will annoy me or bother me while I'm working. Please, please, please, please let them come over and pester me. I love my little assistants and their wonderful little bits of love. Last week I worked on a few machines and had a relatively large French Bulldog as an assistant. He made the cutest noises and he kept coming over and laying on my feet or headbutting my hand while I was working under the machine. They bring me joy and are some of the most rewarding parts of service calls.
I have two dogs and a cat, and they are almost always acting as assistants while I am working. Either by being foot warmers, elbow nudgers, or, in the case of my cat, a table assistant sleeping on the edge of the table while I'm tinkering away. Sometimes it leads to me having to clean little bits of oil out of their fur, but it's well worth it.
So, please, if you have pets, please let them come and bother me because I will love them forever. I will likely ask about their stories as much as I will ask about the stories of your machine. It's the little things in life, and a lot of those include small creatures that cohabitate with us.
Busy times and odd schedules.
I would honestly describe this as a musings post. Don't mind me, this is just something my brain came up with this weekend, and I wanted to know if anyone else has seen this sort of pattern in the sewing industry.
Throughout the year, business picks up and drops off randomly. The times that I notice it gets busy are usually for the first two months of the year, the latter parts of tax season, June/August when schools are about to go back in session, and around Thanksgiving. The week between Christmas and New Year's Day can be hit or miss. The past several years have had an uptick, but this past one had only a few. It's all odd, but part of being a good mechanic is noticing trends and how they change.
I can see why tax season tends to pick up, businesses and people tend to get their tax refund and want to get a few large orders of machines worked on. The first two months of the year also make sense. For schools, the semester is about to start, for businesses, their budgets just rolled over. June/August also makes sense for schools to get their costume shops or textile classrooms serviced. The Thanksgiving/winter holidays tends to confuse me a bit. The only thing I can tell is that most shops are closed during those times and they want to get everything looked at when they're shut down for the holidays.
Those are the consistent upswings of business, which I can rationalize out. However, there are some times during the year that just crop up when everyone and their brother needs a mechanic. Don't get me wrong, the business is awesome. It just seems that the collective hive mind of stitchers announces to everyone that there is a need for service.
Deviation from the norm to visit with family!
This past weekend I took a long vacation from sewing machine work and went to help out my family on the ranch. Cousins are all spread around the great state of Texas, and that's left my grandparents and my uncle to work the ranch on their own for the most part. So, we scheduled me a trip to fly out and not just spend time with family, but also help out as much as I could in a few days.
In all honesty, aside from visiting family and getting to work with my hands outside, the best part was being able to get away from city life for a few days and get out in a heavily wooded area with actual meadows. Being winter, there's a lot of overgrowth until they can get back out in spring to run the tractor around and churn up the long grass and seedling trees. Not to mention cut up the old oaks that fell down over the winter; just driving around we saw about 3-4 during the quick run through to top off deer feeders and check trail cams.
This is more of a nostalgic and whimsical post than anything. This week it's back to sewing machines and working on my shop for the winter organization spree. Hope everyone is well and stays safe!
Where are my mounties?
Okay, so, one thing that I know I'll never work on for money is lumberjacking. I spent a nice chunk of my week with friends cutting down trees and making wood smaller. It hurts so... I'd almost say "good," but I think my joints would revolt and try to kill me as their oppressor. Taking it easy on my hands for a few days and catching up on home machines that don't require a lot of manual dexterity to work on.
Lumberjacking is probably one of the best workouts out there, but you will hurt from it. It works just about every single muscle in your system, and you will definitely know that you didn't skip leg day. Swinging an axe is the better workout, but you'll get some decent work just from moving logs. I read once that the two best "on the job" exercise routines are shoveling and chopping wood, because they work everything in your system, and you'll not only gain muscle and lose fat, but it will be useful muscle.
I mean, I lift 80 lbs machines all the time and have to be a contortionist to get into some machines, so I don't quite ever see the point in the gym, but I know that a lot of people swear by it as a stress reliever, or something that helps them work towards a goal. Gyms, good ones without anyone making fun of one another and helping people learn, are good places.
ANYWAY, sewing machines! I think the hardest to find piece that I've had to look for lately is a shuttle bobbin slide cover for a Damascus that was built sometime around the invention of sliced bread and Betty White being born. The most common slide cover seems to be for old Singers, but they're almost a full inch wider than those for this Damascus. Manufactured by the National Sewing Machine Company, Montgomery Ward sold them branded as Damascus, and they were the some of the upper middle range for sewing machines at the time. For a vibrating shuttle bobbin sewing machine, they weren't amazing, but they were pretty darn good.
Also, we have a winner for the "Weirdest Sewing Machine I've Ever Worked On" award. A few weeks ago I worked on a Singer 457G. Pictured below. These things do not have a normal take up lever. Instead, they have what looks like a set of longhorn steer horns attached on a swivel. The thing looks like some futuristic space ray gun mixed with a sewing machine, and it, surprisingly, works quite well! The machine is a multi-step zig-zag machine that has three different stops for the needle. Not sure the proper terminology for it, but it can sew zig-zags with two stitches going either direction. Pretty nifty for some projects!
It's a little monster of a machine, but it worked great after I worked on it!
The end of the year and start of another.
The end of 2018 and start of 2019 has seen us busier than ever, and it's awesome! Apologies for lack of updates the past few months, but we've been working too much to stop and write about the roses. It's winter, so that is definitely helping us out; fewer sweltering shops and a lot more easy breathing out and about. Easy breathing when there's no various forms of respiratory illness anyway....
We've installed light fixtures, done IT work just about everywhere, and serviced multiple theaters, schools, and shops. Our goal for this year is going to be cleaning up and restructuring/reorganizing/rebuilding parts of the shop to be both clean and efficient instead of just being a massive multi-workspace storage and junk area that we work on machines. Should be able to allow us to work on more than one machine at a time, and a cleaner space to handle smaller parts.
If we still have your machines for an overhaul, they are getting worked on, but may have been overlooked due to off-site work. Our greatest apologies for that! As long as we're in-state, we're looking to catch up on those once our workspace is better suited to taking apart and overhauling machines.
Here's to a cleaner, healthier, and better organized year!
Here's a picture of the paint booth (that's not ours), where we replaced all the light fixtures from fluorescent bulbs to LED panels. We're also going to be working on our own shop to have something similar. Hooray for going greener!
Busy and exciting pair of weeks.
Hello again, everyone. It's going to be an exciting week in Raleigh! Florence should be making landfall later this week and we've been prepping our shops for the onslaught of water and wind. We live midway down a hill in our neighborhood, so, we'll probably have moving water and a lot of wind. Our shops are pretty well made and very weather resistant.
Due to storm prep and storm cleanup, I am going to be closing up shop until about this time next week, likely. The storms earlier this year knocked down some branches and did some minor damage, which has been repaired, but with the massive panicking people around the area, I feel it's best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I was going to be prepping some work with SPARKcon and my wife's show in fashionSPARK, but SPARKcon has been postponed and hasn't given an alternate date yet. There has also been some kerfuffle that I have stayed away from and don't know much about, but I will leave it at that. Suffice to say, there's been a lot of prep work for something that is no longer happening.
This ends the current update. Not much news, and nothing overly exciting going on in our lives. I am not excited about storm prep, but sometimes it needs to be done. Everyone out there, stay safe!
Your sewing machine guy:
I am a Jack-of-Most-Trades that was roped into working on sewing machines, and managed to find a knack for it. I love hilarity, fixing things that are broken, video games, dogs, cats, most other creatures, and sleep. Especially sleep. On here you'll usually find tidbits about recent visits or ADORABLE CREATURES THAT LOVE ON ME WHILE I WORK. There may be ancient machines, there may be unique machines.