I've written a list for each machine that points out it's positive and negative points. Here's a closer look at each one. You can click on the photo to get a bigger image.
|Bernette Model #715|
Oscillating hook, Bernette (made for Bernina), has it's sew table, and a good variety of stitches.
|The logo washed off of the front, so I didn't dare wash off the logo on the back. It's the only way to tell what it is.|
|It sewed off really nice.|
|Kenmore Model #158-16031|
This is a beauty! The one draw-back on this one is that it's a flat-bed. It has some nice stitches built-in, oscillating hook, and clean.
|It sewed off well, but I ran off the edge a bit.|
|Kenmore Model #158-17800|
This one, I probably wouldn't have bought, just because it's a drop-in bobbin, but my DH brought it home. It doesn't have any cams, and the buttonhole system is missing parts for it to work.
|It sewed off pretty good, but I haven't cut off the top row of stitches, which were before I had the tensions balanced.|
|Montgomery Ward Model #UHT J1930|
Lots of stitches on this one! And it has a few accessories, oscillating hook, and a nifty spring-loaded sew table.
|Sewed off well, too.|
|Riccar Model #333|
No bells or whistles, oscillating hook, carry case. I won't ask too much for this one, but I think it would be just fine with the right person.
|It only has straight and zig-zag stitches, but what a solid machine!|
|Lots of stitches on this one, and it sewed off surprisingly well for a rotary hook.|
So, what do I look for in a thrift store machine?
#1 does it have an oscillating hook system. Yes, I'm prejudiced, but am softening a bit.
#2 does it have all of its parts? hook, bobbin case, presser foot, foot control, needle plate, sew table, etc.
#3 does it run and function like it should? We bought one that was missing its back-stitch mechanism, and was too old to get a replacement.
#4 Has it been knocked or dropped, and is the race intact? If the race, or ledge that the hook sits on, is broken off, it might sew but will make a terrible banging sound. If it's been knocked or dropped, it may have some bent shafts or broken internal parts.
We can tweak things like a burr on the hook or the timing (unless its been scrambled beyond repair). We can clean up the old gummy oil, most of the time. Some machines would take major surgery to clean up the old oil, and it wouldn't be cost effective. I'm having a bit of trouble with noisy Kenmores. I know they have a rattle, but these are extra loud. I haven't figured out how to quiet them, yet.