Sewing with a NECCHI BU Mira – First impressions

My experience with vintage sewing machines made in Europe is non-existent. I have plenty of experience with many Singer, Kenmore, New Home/Janome, Brother, White, and other similar Japanese brand machines and I have found them all to be of good quality.

Well, I acquired a Necchi BU Mira about 6 months ago. I heard so many great things about the Necchi BU machine from others, I wanted one. It is a basic straight stitch and zig-zag machine with an external motor, mine does not have the seemingly complicated “magic wheel” but it looks like the bracket is on the machine.

When I got the machine I was tied up in reconditioning other vintage machines, and except for cleaning and lubricating, I didn’t attempt to service it any further. I did try it out to sew how she sewed… fail. To be honest, I was not happy with the first sewing experience because the fabric did not feed reliably thru the feed mechanism… I figured the feed dogs needed adjustment so I packed it back in its case and put it in the corner for another day.

Well, another day was today! I prepared the machine so I could adjust the feed dogs, and a curious thing happened… the feed dogs appeared to be working fine. I tried to sew with a piece of scrap fabric, and it sewed just fine. Apparently, the oil I applied sat soaking for 6 months and freed up the feed dog mechanism.

My first impression of the machine is consistent with that of any high quality all metal vintage swing machine of this caliber. The machines mechanism is smooth as silk. Except for a clicking sound from the bobbin case, only a very slight “whir” could be heard from the motor, I think that much of the bobbin noise can be eliminated by some simple adjustments, or perhaps the bobbin case is not the proper one for this machine, but works.

In all honesty, I did not think the stitch quality was up to par with the machines reputation and pedegree… not bad, but not as straight as expected. Again, I suspect that adjustments will improve the stitch quality a great deal. All, in all I am very satisfied with my Necchi BU Mira and see a lot of potential in it. I am confident that with a detailed reconditioning, it will be a superb sewing machine.

Here is what I like about the sewing machine:

  • It has a very smooth drive and sewing mechanism. The high quality of its manufacture is evident everywhere you look.
  • It has a dual (high/slow) speed motor.
  • It is very quiet and smooth in operation.
  • The tension control is incredible… it is actually a micro adjustable tension control. 4 or 5 full turns of the tension dial to change the tension from a setting of “3” to “4” on the dial. This kind of tension control is fantastic.
  • It has a cast iron body and its weight makes it very sturdy and durable.
  • All of the sewing controls operate smoothly and finely… no creep or tightness anywhere thru the range of motion of the controls.
  • It uses a regular 15×1 needle and class 15 bobbin.
  • It is a low shank machine, so commonly available low shank accessories should work (I hope).
  • The external motor and belts can be readily acquired and replaced.
  • Needle piercing power was impressive. There was no hesitation or sense of stalling when starting in thicker folded fabric.

Here’s what I don’t like about the sewing machine:

  • Availability of replacement body parts (levers, controls, etc. is almost non-existent. (my machine has a broken needle position lever that I can’t find, even after looking for 6 months… but it will turn up eventually!)
  • Ease of service. Trying to work on the mechanisms in the sewing arm is extremely difficult… at least with common tools. The entire sewing arm is cast iron. There is no “top” to remove. the only access is thru a port on the rear of the pillar that is covered with a metal plate (typical of many machines), or by removing the front control covers. Even then, it is a tight space to work in. Neechi must have had special tools to get to some of the screws in this area.

All in all, it is a fine machine… is it as fine as a Singer 201? well, I wouldn’t go so far as to make that claim… but its a keeper!

Tell me what you think!

Published by pungoliving

First and foremost, I decided to share some of my experiences with vintage all metal sewing machines. It is a natural progression of my life experience exercising my hands and my mind. My background is a simple story... graduating High school, I wanted a trade. I landed an apprenticeship at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in welding. 5 years later after earning certification and working in many different environments, I decided to enroll in College and earn an Engineering. At the same time, I married a wonderful girl and started a new life. Graduating College with a degree in Structural Engineering, I began a 35 year career in the Federal Government. Along the way, we were blessed with 3 beautiful children. Earning a Masters degree in Engineering and registration as a Professional Engineer I worked for the benefit of my family and my Country. Over the years, I have pursued many different hobbies... woodworking, car mechanics, astronomy, and taking apart and putting together all sorts of things. Pretty much anything I could put my mind and my hands into. So now, many years later, I am retired and finally able to wile away my days at home with the love of my life. Her interests have always been in sync with mine, but spending so much free time with her, I realized how broad her talents are! One interest she is particularly fond of is sewing. It didn't take me long to put 2+2 together and realize that I could do something with this. So, acquiring, adjusting, servicing, and restoring sewing machines was a win-win. I have a hobby that is detailed, involves tinkering with precision engineered high quality manufactured machines, while she has an opportunity to sew on various different makes and models of sewing machines. While there are many that have information on line, and what I have to say more than likely has already been said, I wanted to contribute to that conversation and learning gleaned from my experience and research.

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