Can I fix my Elna?
February 2, 2013 1:09 PM   Subscribe

I have an Elna Supermatic (Beige, Type 722010) that worked great last time I used it (two years ago...) and now runs incredibly sluggishly. Or doesn't run. I tried oiling it with 3 in 1 and waiting, but that didn't help. I'm not entirely sure it is worth fixing, though this is an early, all steel-parts, Swiss-made machine so it is theoretically a keeper.

Weird detail: there was a small puddle of oil around one of the machine's feet that totally disintegrated the rubber foot. I can't really figure out how that would be related but it seemed like almost a tablespoon of clear oil. Puzzling.
posted by amandabee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
I have a wrinkle-finished green portable Elna in the basement that I haven't looked at in more than a decade.

I'd guess that there's a small gearbox in there with a disintegrated seal and no lubricant, and that that's your problem.

Wonder if someone put the wrong kind of oil in there at some point.

In any case, replacing the seal will be your worst problem.

You might be able to find the gearbox by tracing a probable flow-path up from the leg.
posted by jamjam at 1:33 PM on February 2, 2013

I'd say that, most likely, it is worth fixing. I just sold an Elna, newer than yours, for a pretty penny.

I don't know where you're located but I'd look for a repair shop. I remember having to fix my Singer just a couple years ago and it was A Big Thing that was wrong and it only cost something like $150 so it was reasonable if this is a machine you use on the regular.

Hope you get it fixed! Elna's are beautiful machines.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:38 PM on February 2, 2013

If it's the kind of mechanical problem jamjam describes, the handwheel should be noticeably stiff, or have a definite bind on each revolution. If the handwheel rotates smoothly, I'd look elsewhere, most likely in the electrical controls or the motor for trouble. I don't recognize your model number (and neither do most Elna parts sites), but it might be something as simple and easy to change as motor brushes. Or, a knee control rheostat, or a foot control.
posted by paulsc at 6:53 PM on February 2, 2013

If you possibly can, get the problem diagnosed by a pro and get a repair cost estimate, and then decide what to do. I am handy in the extreme but would not try to fix my own machine, and it's just an old black Singer. I know what would be involved, starting from zero knowledge: research and more research, then sloooow disassembly while taking many many photos, probable delays when I hit places where I need special tools I don't have, yet more research about parts sources when I know what needs replacing, a couple of door-and-sawhorse tables fully occupied for who knows how long with all the parts I removed laid out in the order I removed them, etc. etc. Major learning curve and long-term project. (I admit my lack of interest in doing a self fix is influenced by knowing there is a good all-brands repair shop about ten minutes from where I live.) Go pro if that's at all an option.
posted by jfuller at 8:31 AM on February 3, 2013

I once inherited an industrial machine that was lubricated with an oil pan with a pump! When I got it the pan was filled with a glob of proto-amber and the machine was locked up tight. I took off every part I could and threw them all into some solvent or another (either kerosene or paint thinner) and then slathered the same all over every mechanical junction and was eventually able to get things moving, albiet slowly at first.

What I'm getting at here is, depending on what it was lubricated with in the past, if the more liquidy part of the lubricant has dribbled out, it might just be that everything is gummed together with some kind of wax and cleaning all of your linkages with a solvent rather than a lubricant, and then giving it some time for the solvent to evaporate and re-lubricating the whole works might be in order.

I'm not sure what solvent the pros would recommend or what the best lubricant would be, though.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:53 PM on February 3, 2013

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