Tag Archives: Singer 201K Mk2

Another lovely Singer 201K for sale

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I’ve just put this gorgeous 201K23 on the Singers for Sale page.  I know some people think the black Mk2’s look a bit intimidating compared to the more homely brown/beige ones, but personally I still prefer them.  Maybe that’s a bloke thing, I don’t know.

Whatever, this one’s in really  lovely condition and it sews a treat – and quietly too, because it’s now got a particularly smooth-running motor.  It’s also got the late-type machine plug as well as the male socket with the “split” pins, and that is without doubt the best combination to have.  As always with our electrics, the foot controller’s been checked over, the Singerlight’s been stripped and rewired, and the mains cables are new.

The suitcase-type case it’s in is a far nicer one than most, and it comes with an extension table as well as a full set of attachments.

Here’s another snap of it …

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Singer 201K Mk2 for sale

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I listed a nice 201 on the Singers for sale page yesterday, and here’s a few more snaps of it.  This one’s a 1957 201K23, and it’s in a plastic base and case which really doesn’t do it justice …

picture of plastic case for sewing machine

Picture of Singer 201K23 with plastic case and base

Picture of Singer 201K23 sewing machine

Picture of Singer 201K Mk2 sewing machine

The reason for the plastic base and case is that this machine came to us in a cabinet which was fit only for scrapping, we simply don’t have a spare wooden base and case we can put it in, and even if we did, we’d have to put the price up more than we’d want to cover that.  So it’s in a useable base, and the lid’s OK for keeping the dust off even though the catches on it aren’t up to much.  It will however fit straight into the wooden base and case of a 15 or a 66 if you have one you can swap, or alternatively it’ll fit into a treadle base or cabinet.  Come to think of it, we’d be delighted to sell it already installed in one!

As to the machine itself, this one’s a good ‘un, and and as far as I can see all that’s stopping me rating the cosmetic condition as exceptional is a couple of very small dinks in the finish of the bed and a little bit of staining at the very bottom of the column, behind the bobbin spool pin and winding tensioner.  Mechanically it’s in very fine shape indeed, and it sews a lovely straight stitch both forwards and backwards.

The motor’s a really good one as is the foot pedal, it’s got a working Singerlight of the correct type, and the mains leads are new.  We’d like them to be the proper shiny brown oval-section cable but that’s only available from a repro wiring place in the States at a truly outrageous price, so the mains leads on this are round and semi-matt black like we use on black machines.  The motor plug’s brown though!

If you’re in the market for a 201, you won’t need me to tell you how good these things are, and you’ll also know that underneath that aluminium body, a Mk2 is exactly the same mechanically as its classic-shaped cast-iron predecessor.

Singer 201K for sale

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Picture of 1949 Singer 201K sewing machine

Rear view of Singer 201K sewing machine made in 1949

This is a rather nice 1949 Singer 201K hand-crank and it’s the latest machine to go on the “Singers for sale” page.  It’s also missing its bottom spool pin in these pictures ‘cos I forgot to replace it before I took them, but there you go …

Anyhow, having got that embarrassment out of the way, let me say that it’s customary for those flogging a 201, particularly on Ebay, to tout it as a “semi-industrial” machine.  It’s also the done thing to point out how many thicknesses of denim, leather, rhinoceros hide, chain mail or whatever a 201 will “sail through”, but it’s a lovely evening here and I don’t want to spoil it by going off on one about that just now.  Suffice it to say that not so very long ago, it seemed to be only 201s that were hyped up like that.  Now 99’s and 185’s are, regularly, so it’s surely only a matter of time before both the Barbie and the Hello Kitty sewing machines are rated “semi-industrial” too.

The reality of the 201 is that it’s a beautifully-engineered machine which is so well made it’s amazing that Singer could ever sell the things at a profit.  It’s also generally held to be the best domestic sewing machine Singer ever made, it’s true that with the right needle and the right thread it’ll sew pretty much anything you can get under the presser foot, and it was certainly designed to take a lot of use.  But not eight hours a day five days a week use.  For that you still need an industrial machine, and they tend to be bigger, heavier, uglier and a great deal more expensive.

Put simply, if the 201 was a carpet, it’d be rated Heavy Domestic.

So, given that it’s “only” a straight-stitch machine like the 15 or the 66, you can be forgiven for wondering what the big deal is.  Well, to anyone with a precision engineering background who works on sewing machines (e.g. me), the big deal is the all-metal, all-gear drive and a rotary hook.  To most people who use one, the big deal is that they run beautifully, they sew a lovely stitch, they have same-stitch-length reverse, and you can drop the feed dogs on them.

I’ll do a separate post sometime about why the rotary hook of a 201 is an improvement on the reciprocating hook of a 66.  However, die-hard fans of the 15 will already be muttering that what matters more is whether your bobbin’s horizontal or vertical, so for now I’ll just say that I do understand their argument about the 90 degree bend in the thread path, but speaking as an engineer, rotary motion beats reciprocating motion any day.  So there.

The all-metal all-gear drive thing’s a no-brainer though.  “All-metal” is good because metal gears don’t shred like horrible plastic ones can and do.  And as to the all-gear drive, the handwheel of a 15, a 66 or a 99 moves your needle, your feed and your bobbin via an ingenious system of levers, cranks and cams.  On a 201 it’s all done by shafts and gears, which is probably more efficient and is certainly far more elegant from the design point of view.

So it’s all good as far as I’m concerned, whether your 201 be the original Mk1 cast iron one or the later more modern-looking aluminium-bodied Mk2.  Elsie likes ’em too, which explains the presence of the Mk1 in the 7-drawer treadle base in the front room and the Mk2 in the No46 treadle cabinet in The Sewing Room, which in fact she’s using as I type this.  Doing something with a Swiss zigzagger, since you asked.  Which might shortly be for sale …

The Singer 201K

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Black and brown Singer 201KMk2 sewing machines

I was going to waffle on about the Singer 201K and the difference between the Mk1 and the Mk2, and have a bit of a rant about the way these things are described on Ebay as semi-industrial sewing machines and so on while I was at it, but it’s become obvious that would have been one hell of a long post.  So I’ll do it in stages.

Before I do though, it occurred to me that I had a good opportunity to take a snap of the two different coloured 201Mk2 heads that were available in the UK side by side, so here it is.

The black one is Elsie’s, carefully removed for the purposes of the picture from the treadle cabinet in which it lives in The Sewing Room.  That one’s exactly as brought home from a house in the far east of Essex which had what must be the most awkward access off the road I’ve ever seen in a built-up area, and believe me I’ve seen some.  So you’re driving along a two-lane dual carriageway which has a 50mph limit, in heavy traffic which is averaging nearer 60.  You’re looking for number 312, and the first number you can actually read is 800-odd.  All the houses are identikit 1930’s semis, and they all have very narrow shared “drives” which are about 4 car lengths from kerbside to front door.  The posties must love it.

Naturally you miss number 312, so you drive another mile or so the the lights with the “No U-turn” sign, and do a U-turn back to the roundabout two miles back the way you came and try again.

Twice.

Then having positively identified the target, there’s the small matter of trying to convey to the driver of the Belgian artic which is right on your tail that you need to stop on the double yellow lines and reverse onto a narrow bit of tarmac.  Yes, it worked in the end, but boy did that truck driver ever get cross.  What a loud horn his wagon had.  But so what.  Have you seen the way they drive in Brussels?  Or at least they did when Elsie and I went through it on a motorbike in 1984 …

Anyhow, getting back on track, the lovely black one is Elsie’s.

That scruffy brown thing is what came home with me last night and spent the night in the bike shed ‘cos it stinks, albeit not as much as the treadle cabinet which it was in does, which is why that’s been banished to the yard for scrapping once I’ve salvaged the useful bits off it.

The machine itself is all there though and will be fine once I’ve eventually fettled it and Elsie’s worked her magic on all the grot.  That’s going to be a slow job, but it’ll have been worth turning up in downtown Catford for last night, too early for the rioting but not too early to be bemused by the sight of about 20 of the Met’s finest who were gathered outside that lovely art deco cinema suddenly start running in all directions for no apparent reason.

’tis a strange world in which we live …