Join Date: May 2007
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I meant to get this reply in prior to your purchase. But....I'll pass this along to others who may want to do a little sewing.
The Sailrite machines seem to keep their owners reasonably happy. I was originally attracted to them because they can be bought new at a reasonable price, and the folks at Sailrite can get you through the initial setup, etc..
I really started looking into industrial straight stitch machines a couple years ago, and early on considered the top of the line table mounted Sailrite machines. But, as you "look behind the curtain", you discover that their top of the line machines are pretty much lower end industrial machines (rebranded).
Of course, you quickly realize that to buy the sort of machine that a canvas shop would use, new, would be unreasonable for the occasional sewing job. Which led me to start looking at used machines. TOTALLY bewildering. Without a great deal of research, finding the right model with the right features, in good condition is a real trick. Very easy to make a dumb or inappropriate purchase.
Sailrite succeeds because they discovered that there's a market out there that needs a heavy duty machine, but has no knowledge. They hold your hand, and that's appealing.
The industrial machine makers like Juki, Consew, Adler, etc., don't want to know you. Their buyers are canvas shops and probably mostly, big shops in Asia.
After much research I finally ended up with a Consew model 206rb. I bought it new, but had many projects to do. The moral of this story is that for about the price of the Sailrite machine new, a Consew 206rb can be found used. This is a model that been around a lot of years and is highly reliable. This is the VW Beetle of industrial machines...parts and service will not be a problem. Walk into any canvas shop and you'll have to be careful not to stumble on one. Easy to find used. There are many industrial machines that could serve you, but why make this confusing. This is me "holding your hand".
Like the Sailrite machine, the 206rb has a walking foot, but they also have "needle feed" with means that with every stitch, the needle, when it lifts, slants a little to move forward to grab the fabric and pull it back along with the walking foot. Very cool.
Sailrite machine motor is 1/10th horsepower. The Consew is 3/4 horse. You will not encounter the boat sewing project this machine won't handle easily.
A Consew sits on a table with the motor mounted underneath. If you need portability, this ain't the machine. But, if you want to sew in comfort, without a lot of hassle, you need a good table. The small table the Consew (or other machines in its class) comes on is the minimum. You want to add at least a small infeed and small outfeed table. Might as well enjoy yourself. Plastic folding tables (3x6 or 3x8 feet) from Staples are great for this and also can be used for laying out material for cutting.
Getting handy with a Consew or any industrial machine just takes a little time. Learn to thread it. Adjust the tension. It's a very basic machine. Pretty much just forward, reverse, and stitch length. You really don't need anyone to hold your hand, as the info's online. It's no more complicated than the Sailrite machine.
One additional word. An industrial machine like a Consew may have a little surprise in store for you. The motor is not on a rheostat. As soon as you turn on the machine, the motor is running at full speed and power. When you press the pedal down, you're engaging the clutch. Quickly. It's like revving a Corvette and just dropping the clutch. It really takes a little practice to learn how to feather or tickle the clutch to control it. Then it becomes easy to put in stitches one or two at time, or at a slow, steady, thump, thump, thump. The bonus is that because the motor is running at full power, when you start sewing, it doesn't matter if you're starting on 2 layers of Sunbrella or 12...you're going to punch in a row of stitches. If you're apprehensive about the clutch, Consew also has a 1/2 horse motor available with a digital speed control that really tames the beast. The 1/2 horse with speed control isn't as easily available used, but a used machine can be easily upgraded to the speed controlled motor for not a lot of money.