Bruce vs. the “Bucket” Serger – A Reuse Story

Bruce vs. the “Bucket” Serger – A Reuse Story

We recently received this wonderful message from one of our most devoted fans.  Bruce is a regular shopper and super creative!

  

Dear Austin Creative Reuse,

I love this place!
Here is a success story I had with a serger I purchased there recently. I actually purchased two sergers there the same day.  The first was in the “BUCKET” area where you can get a bucketful of goodies for $5 for the whole bucket or $0.25 per item.  It was a Hobbylock 787 with the following note presumably, from the person who donated it:
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Multiple repairmen could not get this to work properly. Was heavily used and some parts are worn.  Sell as a parts machine.
Has…
Working Motor, Good Needlebar, Spare new Needlebar, Good Tension/Width Knobs, Extra plates, All Feet
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I already had a Hobbylock 797 so I felt that this “bucket” purchase was worth it just for parts and accessories. When I picked up the Hobbylock, Hali said that there was also another non-operational serger they were about to put out.  I was interested so Hali brought out the Bernette 334D featured in the pictures below.  The ACR sheet attached to this one said that “the motor is shot” unhappy emoticon. Having done considerable work on small electrical appliances since I was a teenager, I realized that “motor is shot” often means that some cord, connector, fuse, or the like is open and the motor does not turn because it is getting no power and that with some work the 334D might be just fine so I bought that one as well.Bernette 334D Serger

 

When I got home, I looked up the Bernette 334D and found that although it is a venerable machine (read this as very old), people still love it and swear by its quality and reliability. I read all of the blogs on the 334D and in one I found a comment that said if your motor does not run, check the D2MSL microswitch in the foot pedal.   The foot pedal is not a screwed together type but a bivalve (two plastic shells) type and, as I was to find out, is not as easy as shucking an oyster to get open.  Having taken apart lots of laptops and monitors, however, I was undaunted.  I got out my un-serrated butter knife and a flat screwdriver, and after some contortions and multiple failed attempts, I opened that oyster and spied the “pearl.”  There it was, the infamous D2MSL microswitch.  I unscrewed the printed circuit board and in seconds with my continuity tester (actually a Fluke 12 multimeter set to beep to indicate continuity) I had determined that the “normally closed” contacts on the microswitch were “permanently open” just as the blog had hinted.

 

However, into every life some rain must fall.  I looked up the D2MSL swtich on Omron’s (the manufacturer) website only to discover that it was obsolete and no longer available.  I tried looking for a cross reference to see what the recommended replacement would be but was not successful in that quest.  Again, undaunted, I read the specifications for the D2MSL switch.  Three amps and 125 to 250 volts seemed vanilla enough.  On the Omron site I found a 5A 125 volt/3A 250 volt switch with a nice high rated on/off lifetime of 200,000 cycles.  I went to Amazon and ordered four of them for about six dollars, Omron brand exact model SS-5GL with the specs I had found online.

 

In a couple of days, I had my microswitches.  I unsoldered the dead switch from the printed circuit board out of the foot pedal and again had to face some unpleasant music.  The solder lugs on the original microswitch ran lengthwise the switch body and the solder lugs on the switches I bought ran crosswise the switch body.  The printed circuit board had the lengthwise slots for the lugs and the microswitches I bought had crosswise lugs.  I could not mount the switch the same way he original had been mounted without some adjustment.   I bent the end two lugs on one of the new switches flat to the switch body and soldered a piece of wire to each normally closed lug as close as I could. Note: soldering is a technical skill and there are lots of YouTube videos and lots of online Instructables and such you can go study if you do not know how to solder.  A project like this is not where you should make your first attempts for reasons of safety as well as for reasons of not wanting to get frustrated.  Even if you know how to solder, I would recommend lots of liquid rosin flux and solder appropriate for electronic use. Microswitch specifications include soldering temperature and time limits in order to avoid damaging the switch.  If you exceed them you may fail at your repair.

 

Soldering the switch to the printed circuit board with its wrong-way lugs was a challenge for me even though I have decades of soldering experience.  Mounted to the board, the switch was about a half a millimeter higher than it should have been.  That means that the switch turned on later in the travel of the foot pedal than it should have and the serger would power on at about half speed instead of at low speed.  I used some needle nosed pliers to bend the potentiometer arm that actuated the switch just enough so power would energize the motor at the far low end of the potentiometer instead of in the middle of the travel.  Now the potentiometer is at the low end of motor speed when the microswitch applies the power to the motor.  That is, if I operate the foot pedal really slowly, the motor does not quite have enough juice to begin turning when the switch applies the power to the motor.  Note that this is a stressful state for a motor and any serger operator should not dally at this point prior to moving on to where the motor actually turns.  If I were adjusting this foot pedal for a random operator I would make sure that the point the switch engages the motor would be at some nonzero speed of the motor.  Since I intend to be the operator, I will just be sure not to sit at on-but-not-moving.

 

So, for basically coffee money and some effort, I now have a coveted workhorse differential serger. ACR, I love the place.  Oh yeah, I said that at the very start.  I am still right.  Go check out the amazing things YOU can find in “Bucket!”  Say hi to Carol, the guru machine tester and to Hali, a machine tester guru in training.  They are super nice and quite helpful.  They love it when their customers find some really useful tool at an unbelievably good price and come back happy.
How do I know ?  A am one.  Serge, serge, serge…

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