The Pfaff model K - Surprisingly modern for its age

A project log for Vintage sewing machines

Fixing up vintage sewing machines for hobby use.

joseph-eoffJoseph Eoff 12/23/2022 at 17:490 Comments

I was given a Pfaff model K a few months ago.  I've fixed it up a bit and passed it on to a new home.

You can read the full story here.

All done 1

This particular Pfaff  model K was manufactured in 1897, making it 125 years old.

Despite its age, it is in fact easier to get materials it for than my Adler class 8 that is only 96 years old.

The Pfaff model K is a copy of the immensely popular and long lived Singer 28.

They are so similar that shuttles and bobbins made for the Singer 28 can be used in the Pfaff K.  Surprisingly, you can buy brand new shuttles and bobbins made for the Singer 28.  I bought a set of 10 bobbins with a shuttle (from Amazon) that was sold for the Singer 28 and used them with this Pfaff K

The needles used with the Pfaff K and the Singer 28 are the same needles as on any modern domestic sewing machine - you can walk into any store and buy a pack of needles without concern.

The presser feet are the same low shank models used on modern machines.  Again, pretty much anything that will fit a modern machine can be used on the Pfaff K.

Since someone had removed the Pfaff from the treadle table it belonged in, I had to build a new base for it and convert it to electric drive.

With its new base, an electric motor, and a thorough cleaning, polishing, and oiling, the old Pfaff runs very well:

If you get hold of a vibrating shuttle sewing machine, keep in mind that even if you buy a shuttle specifically for that model you will still have to fit the shuttle to the machine.  The shuttle swings in an arc.  It touches an arc in the base of the machine along the entire sweep.  The arc in the base of the machine will not be exactly the same on every machine.  You have to grind the side of the shuttle that touches the arc to fit it properly.  I ground mine on a couple of sharpening stones (normally used for knives) then polished the ground side with some jeweler's rouge on a scrap of leather.

If you listen to this video and compare it with the first one, you'll notice that it was a lot quieter when my wife was using it.  That's because I had fitted the shuttle.    In this second video, I had not yet done anything with the shuttle - the thread had a hard time passing between the shuttle and the shuttle carrier, resulting in a lot of clanking as the shuttle jumped around.

Grinding the shuttle is not something I thought up on my own.  I have a copy of an old sewing machine technician training book (Wilhelm Renters Der Nähmaschinen Fachmann) that mentions it - though it doesn't go into details.

All the information I've gathered here and on my blog applies to the Pfaff model K (3/4 size machine,) and its "big sister" the Pfaff model L (full size machine.)  The Pfaff K was later renamed to Pfaff 11 and the L was renamed to the Pfaff 12.  It also all applies to the Singer 27 and the 127 (both 3/4 sized machines) as well as the 28 and the 128 (full sized machines.)  Much of it may apply to other vibrating shuttle machines as well.