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Tips & Techniques > Replace your mechanical pedal with an electonic one!

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Posted by: BrianSews

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Member since: 2/16/08
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Posted on: 10/4/09 5:17 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 18 people   
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So I had a flash of inspiration last week. I love vintage sewing machines, what I don't love is the way the foot pedals work. They're mechanical and usually use carbon or wire wrapped resistors that don't provide consistent power through the travel of the pedal. Excess power that doesn't go to the motor is turned into heat making the pedal hot when you sew slowly. The old ones are always out of adjustment and wear out depending on how much they were used.

I found a used electronic foot pedal at the thrift shop for a few bucks. All I did was cut my mechanical pedal off and splice the electronic one on. This is very easy stuff to do with a wire cutter and some electrical tape. The worse thing you'll likely get if you do it wrong is a sewing machine that runs at full speed without your pressing the pedal. Please take proper safety measures if you do this, unplug the machine first from the wall outlet. The electronic pedal uses a circuit that gives even power through the travel of the pedal and does not generate heat. My old vintage sewing machine is much more precise now with this cheap and easy upgrade.

Please note:
You must use an electronic pedal that was designed to be used with a mechanical sewing machine, the gauge of the wire will be thick like the one you're cutting off your machine. A pedal for a computerized sewing machine won't work, it will have much smaller gauge wire. This is very easy, but any electrical work is obviously at your own risk.

Here's a YouTube video where I talk on this subject:

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Bert62 said... (12/31/10 1:32 PM) Reply
Thanks for the excellent info.
catsmeow said... (11/10/09 10:51 PM) Reply
I have a vintage BF Nova that needed a new foot pedal. I purchased the usual carbon one and the shop guy put it on. However, the machine seems to start out fast, then gets faster and faster. This seems to be a common problem with carbon foot controls -- something I find out after I already bought one. I stopped at another sewing machine shop and asked if an electronic foot control could be placed on a vintage machine, and the guy said yes. An electronic control will give the operator greater control at slower speeds. Also, the existing wires on one's machine can be inserted into the new controller.
Miss Fairchild said... (10/10/09 2:54 PM) Reply
Did you find that the machine sewed slower with the electronic pedal? I had a Singer 758 and the original pedal broke. When I bought a new electronic one, it seemed that the speed was a lot slower.
HatBuddy said... (10/6/09 12:43 PM) Reply
Hi Brian, Is all that fabulous fabric behind you your fabric stash??? Wow. It looks like it is hanging on hangers. I have been trying to decide the best way to store my fabric. I have it folded in plastic bins right now. But then I need to try to iron out the fold lines before using it. I thought about hanging it but I was afraid it would STRETCH from the weight. And I havent found hangers wide enough. Please share how you store your stash! Thanks Hatbuddy
Gloria W said... (10/5/09 11:57 AM) Reply
Thanks for the demonstration. I don't have a vintage machine, but it's fun to know more about how things work. (Maybe I need to go looking for one so I can try it!)
HeyJane said... (10/5/09 11:42 AM) Reply
I learned this the difficult way when one of mine started to smoke! Yikes. I didn't realize it would also improve the sewing itself, until you pointed that out. Great video!
sewknitful said... (10/5/09 11:32 AM) Reply
Fascinating video, Brian! Thank you!
petro said... (10/5/09 11:21 AM) Reply
Great tip.
Diehl said... (10/5/09 10:35 AM) Reply
Thanks, Brian! Now I understand why my Singer 221 is so sluggish!
Mufffet said... (10/5/09 9:48 AM) Reply
This comes just a day after a topic on the boards asking the difference between "electronic" and "computerized." This is a cool way of making the OLD type mechanical and "electronic" machine! As you say - at ones own risk! THANKS!
Rhoda K said... (10/5/09 9:17 AM) Reply
Good idea - thanks!
jilly cooper said... (10/5/09 1:05 AM) Reply
Great idea...
ryansmumAria said... (10/4/09 7:43 PM) Reply
WOW! Thanks! love it.
nancy2001 said... (10/4/09 7:07 PM) Reply
What an ingenious tip! Now I'll have to get a new foot pedal for my vintage Singer.
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