Pfaff 130 Rebuild

Last year, I had the good fortune of finding a Pfaff 130 on the curb. These machines are famous for their power and durability. By this, I mean that they are just as comfortable sewing through five layers of canvas as they are all five of your fingers. This is what it looks like — sorry for the crap-tography.

The machine hadn’t been loved or used in many years. Tonight, I took it apart completely, cleaned and lubricated everything, repaired the wiring, scuffed all contacts and the motor armature clean, and clamped, glued, and screwed the bottom of the case back together. Incredibly enough it almost worked when I finished putting it back together. The remaining problem was adjusting the tension of the upper and lower mechanisms.

What I’d never fully appreciated before was that the stitches you get from a maladjusted machine are plainly diagnostic. Just look at the image below, from the Pfaff 130 service manual (taken from the Yahoo Group linked at the bottom of this post, BTW).

If the top thread is piercing through the fabric, but not pulling the bottom thread in, the bobbin tension is too high.
If the bottom thread is piercing through the fabric, but not pulling the top thread in, the top tension is too high.
If both penetrate the fabric equally, the tension is correct. Awesome!
(also remember that these things can be conceptualized the other way — if one is never high enough tension, the other probably needs to have its tension reduced)

Once I got that done, which took almost two whole hours of adjusting and re-adjusting (but will be a cinch now that I have done it a few times), I loaded it up with a needle and thread and tried to sew some neoprene. After quite a number of frustrating attempts to sew this thin neoprene, I realized that the hold in the needle was too small for the Consew Heavy Duty nylon thread I was using. The symptom that tipped me off was the thread sort of unwinding itself at the eye of the needle. After loading the machine with a “leather” needle, which is heavier gauge and has a larger hole, I was able to sew this little N900 pouch with almost no effort or trouble.

Spending an evening refurbishing this machine reminded me, again, that I am a builder, fixer, maker, artist. Nothing soothes like keeping these idle hands busy.

It’s probably obvious that I love this machine. I’m not the only one, there’s a Yahoo Group that has manuals and some discussion, and of course, there’s always the mass of people chatting all over the web.

This entry was posted in Oversight. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Pfaff 130 Rebuild

  1. Big Mike says:

    Beautiful Dan, To make a machine function so well so many years after its construction. I am impressed.
    How nice it would be if we all could find practical uses for things past their expected lifespan.

  2. samh says:

    This is a blog post I can sink my eyes into and enjoy, Dan. Thanks.

  3. michebobiche of cakebobake says:

    wanna make the 5 i have work now. ;)

  4. michebobiche of cakebobake says:

    also, i never thought i’d hear you talk up anything but your bernina… things change i guess.

  5. Sue says:

    Nice work! A beauty! Just keep your digits out from under that presser foot.

  6. danreetz says:

    Hey biche, I’ve been talking up the Pfaff since the moment I found it :) . It was just a long time before I could get around to makin’ it go properly.

    It can sew through more layers than the Bernina for sure. I’ll keep ‘em both, the Bernina for precision work, and the Pfaff for the brute stuff. Best of both worlds.

    My ultimate plan is to replace the Pfaff lighting with a couple of color-correct Cree Q5 LEDs, and to replace the motor with a high-torque BLDC. That would effectively modernize the thing, and remove the need for finding old parts. I suspect that’s a summer project, though.

  7. adam says:

    Hi I dropped our pfaff 130 and broke the hand wheel and the piece after it can you tell me where i can find parts like this?It”s my best machine Thank you and please call 1760 364-3699 or 364-3758 any info Adam strickland

  8. Adinghi says:

    Thanks for the really helpful information. With this page and a couple of hours, I’ve managed to get a just purchased 130 up and running well…except for the motor, which needs a little work, so the thing is powered by a hand drill and vacuum cleaner drive belt temporarily. Your LED retrofit sounds like a brill…ugh, better not say that, very good idea BTW. But what would you use as a controller for the brushless motor?

  9. danreetz says:

    I found out that the controllers I’d been planning to use (from electric scooters and/or treadmills) are unsuitable for the job. As of now, the Pfaff is in a storage shed in Fargo, ND, and I am in LA, so it’s going to be a while before I make any progress on that.

    Good thing I have my Bernina with me. Also, very glad that you found this post helpful. Motors for these Pfaffs aren’t really anything special — any Sew’n’Vac type repair shop should have something you can substitute for the original.

  10. Adinghi says:

    Since it was possible to repair the stock motor, I’m just running that with a generic AC foot control. Would be nice to reverse the fan in the motor, though, as the darn brushed universal motor blows the ozone towards the operator. Eeww.

    I wonder why scooter motors aren’t acceptable? We have some surplus brushed scooter motors and controllers around, and I’d be really tempted to try if it weren’t so easy to just use the stock motor and a $25 pedal…

    Thanks again for the info.

  11. Jin says:


    I am purchasing my first project Pfaff 130 and I hope I can make it to work. The machine has been store in it’s owner’s garage for years.

    I love your Pfaff.

  12. Jean says:

    I just purchased one of these machines. When I plugged it in the cord started breaking on me. Did you have to rewire the cord? Did you have to drill out the rivets to get to the wire connection?

  13. danreetz says:

    Hey Jean,

    I had to reconnect the wires internally, but the actual wiring, in my case, was not decayed. I’d suggest replacing it, as it’s old and unsafe. You may have to drill or grind the original rivets, but you can replace them with screws.

  14. Laura says:

    I have one of these machines that my aunt used in the 1950’s in a factory. It sits in a wooden Singer contraption that has a huge, black metal foot pedestal. There are even cigarette burns on the top of the wood part where the factory workers placed their cigarettes while working. The machine swings down so that the top is flat if needed. Unfortunately, my aunt (who is now 101) kept this in her garage and mice chewed through the cord that plugs into the wall. So, I don’t know if the machine still works. I am looking to get rid of this since I am not an antique collector. My aunt raves about how great this machine was to work with. Any ideas on what I can do to sell this?

  15. Johnny D says:

    Dan, I just bought one on ebay tonight. It will likely need the same care as you did. Plan to use it to make items for my boat: cushion covers, Bimini, dodger, new suite of sails, sail covers, bags, etc. Other possibilities: re-upholster houshold items in leather: easy chairs, couch, also car seats. Thanks for the .pdf of the manual. May send it to zuesmachines for the work.


  16. danreetz says:

    Cool stuff Johnny. You’re going to love the machine… it’s somewhere in between a normal machine and an industrial, and I’ve found mine to be pretty capable. Though I must admit I couldn’t figure out how to thread it without the manual. Glad it is helping, and hope your boat turns out well.

  17. keith says:

    i can make cleated timing belts for the pfaff 130. the belts are custom made by hand using fresh nylon cording. they can be installed without special tools. i can email anybody complete details upon request:
    please keep my nota as a future resource.
    thank you,

  18. Nora says:

    I have my husband’s grandmother’s machine. It has been used occasionally, not near as much as I’d like. I’m having tension troubles as I have returned to sewing. It is driving me nuts! upper tension too loose… pulled to underside of fabric and vice versa . Cannot seem to find the happy medium adjustment. Is there a neutral starting point? I am so frustrated.

  19. Nora says:

    I do have the original guide book, or at least most of it.

  20. danreetz says:

    The tension guide in the manual is the best I’ve seen – have you seen their settings?

    The other thing that surprised me about this machine is that it seems to work best on layered fabric only. Two layers of thin cotton is not the ideal setup. Two layers of denim seems to work perfectly.

  21. sharon says:

    I have an old Pfaff 130. One of the gears underneath is worn through, it turns 360 degrees or I would jaut turn it the other way, but the machine will not operate with out it. Can any one please tell my how I could get this part or have one made. I will supply photos and more information upon requests
    thanks you very much,

  22. Judy Toy says:

    I am so happy to found you on the internet. I have a pfaff 130 that I am trying to get working. The hand wheel will not turn. Can you please tell me what the problem might be. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for you time.

  23. Lesli says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I
    have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss fesd and I hope
    you write again very soon!

    Also visit my webskte buy instagram likes for cheap

  24. Rebecca ayres says:

    Where are you located. I need mine fixed. I sewed on it for 29 years. It was my grandmothers

  25. Christine says:

    I live in France and ly lither while visiting us in California bought us a Pfaff 130. We brought it back to France, changed the motor (110 to 220). And it worked perfectly well. On E-bay I bought from Tirol the same machine for my daughter. It should arrive in a few days. My concern: would you have an instruction manual that you could mail me?
    When I use my machine it’s by “feeling” but I would need more stable informations in order to forward my “knowledge”.
    I thank you in advance.
    By the way, it can be English or German.
    Marie-Christine Ott
    67600 Baldenheim France

  26. Christie says:

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this
    excellent blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking
    and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.

    I look forward to new updates and will talk about this
    site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  27. Candace Brumley says:

    I have recently become owner of a pfaff 130 that would’ve otherwise bn thrown out. Mine has the black and gold cabinet matching the machine itself and it also has some very nice Asian-style details painted on it as well. The built in seat is intact and has a drawer below that contains many extras including a rectangular tin that reads “accessories”. I am a novice where sewing is concerned but understand and respect such a gem as this. I’d appreciate any and all information that could help in selling this wonderful machine. I am in sw lower MI and would prefer to sell locally, unless the price is right .
    Thank you, Candace

    honestly understand and spect
    s well as a drawer be numerous extras including a tin that reads “accessories “. Although I am in no way

  28. If some one needs expert view regarding blogging and site-building then i suggest him/her
    to visit this website, Keep up the nice work.

  29. Hi there, always i used to check blog posts here early in the break of day, because i love to find out more and more.

  30. Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post
    is just excellent and i can assume you are an expert on this
    subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to
    keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

  31. I’ve been exploring for a bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts
    in this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this website.
    Reading this info So i’m glad to show that I’ve an incredibly good
    uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed.

    I so much without a doubt will make sure to do not put out of your
    mind this website and give it a look on a relentless basis.

  32. I don’t even know the way I ended up right here, however I assumed this post
    was once great. I do not realize who you are however
    certainly you’re going to a famous blogger in case you are
    not already. Cheers!

  33. reading says:

    It’s hard to find well-informed people for this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking
    about! Thanks

  34. Whats up very cool website!! Guy .. Excellent ..
    Amazing .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m happy to find numerous useful info here in the put up, we’d like develop more techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

  35. Movie star and singer Patrick Bruel has been among France’s biggest
    stars in the ’90s, first making his / her name being a
    teen idol and leading a return to traditional French chanson inside the new millennium.
    Bruel was given birth Patrick Benguigui inside Tlemcen, Algeria, on May 14, 1959.

    His father abandoned a family when Patrick was simply a year old, in addition to 1962, after
    Algeria earned its independence, his new mother moved to France,
    negotiating inside Paris suburb regarding Argenteuil.
    A great soccer player within the youth, Patrick first settled on the idea
    of being singer after seeing Michel Sardou perform in 1975.

    As fortune might have it, acting would deliver him his first success; first-time home Alexandre Arcady ran an ad seeking an adolescent
    man using a French-Algerian (or “pied-noir” in German slang) accent for his motion picture Le
    Coup hun Sirocco. Benguigui (as he was still called) responded and won the part.
    The next year, he spent a in New York City, where he met Gérard Presgurvic,
    later to get his most important composer.


  36. My brother suggested I may like this web site. He was totally right.
    This put up truly made my day. You can not believe
    simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  37. How many insurers licenses were revoked as a result of
    the minimum solvency requirement specified by the Ministry of Finance.

    Previously, government of Palembang has chosen Sumatran elephant as
    the mascot via an open contest, but there was a suggestion
    from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and National Sports
    Committee of Indonesia to make use of Rajawali instead.

    Wholly, to create a piece of fabric, there are 3 main steps such
    as typing, sewing, and dyeing.

  38. This app’s UI is incredibly sleek and the information is incredibly effortless to read and
    interpret. You could also be fascinated with the notion of availing third generation (3g)
    services in your revolutionary mobile telephone handsets!

    Look at my homepage: farm hero saga roadblock

  39. Martial Arts says:

    Can I simply say what a comfort to discover someone that actually knows what they are discussing on the web.
    You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More people ought to check this out and understand this side of the story.
    I was surprised you are not more popular since you definitely possess the gift.

  40. Leo Wiczniewski says:

    I don’t know what those other two yayhoos who commented are on about, but I just acquired an old Pfaff 130 myself. In fact, I might buy another tonight, as it is close and relatively cheap.

    In “. . .took it apart completely. . .”, did you really disassemble the entire thing? I’ve got some binding during the zig-zag mode (but strangely, only when running forward, not in reverse) that has me a little baffled. Not sure I want to completely disassemble it, but I might have to.

    One cool thing about these old machines is how well they respond to just heat if they are stiff or stuck. Well, that and WD-40. . .

  41. Can I simply say what a reduction to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to deliver a problem to light and make it important. More individuals need to read this and perceive this facet of the story. I cant believe youre not more widespread because you undoubtedly have the gift.

  42. Isaias Flynt says:

    When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any manner you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

  43. Judy Mainord says:

    Wow. What a great website. I have my mother’s Pfaff 130. She purchased it new, but it is not in very good condition now because of some unfortunate circumstances. My husband is patiently trying to restore it to working condition. Would the owners manual provide names for all the parts. We may be searching in obscure places for mysterious parts. 😊

  44. Thelma says:

    I just got mine today. 09/05/2015 It was my Mother in law and her Mother in law’s, we not really know how old it is. still have the original instruction book and a lot of parts going with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>