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!