Old Sears Kenmore sewing machine woes: no zig-zag- help!

I have a Model 1410 “Zig • Zag Sewing Machine”. It does straight, zig-zag, stretch, smock, satin, scallop, applique, blind hem, buttonhole stitching, etc.

Except for that it’s not doing anything else but straight stitches.

All metal. Belts look beautiful. Runs great. I opened it up and all parts look great, nothing looks rusty. No dust or cobwebs or anything. I just oiled it within an inch of its life and let it rip for a while. Dials are adjusting the settings i.e. nothing looks detached or broken. I can adjust the needle left>right>left with the stitch width dial w/ no problem.

But no matter what I do: straight stitch.

I have read and re-read the instructions- I have it set exactly the way the manual tells me for zig-zag.

Any ideas?

I don’t know about your specific model. I have gone through a number of Kenmore, Singer, and Brother machines. There is some similarity. Generally, the top comes off to reveal the inner workings. You discovered this if you oiled it thoroughly. Follow the control know mechanism that provides the zig-zag engagement. You will find an arm or wheel that needs to move the needle shaft back and forth. That wheel has bumps on it that move shaft back and forth to give the ZZ stich. All I can say is to take a look at it with a good light and keep moving the drive forward by hand rather than motor and try to observe what is wrong. Wear is least likely to be a problem. Something has come loose or become disengaged.

If it’s old, it’s possible the gear may be worn down. It’s been a long time since I’ve sewn on an old machine like that, but I think you set the zig zag by moving the stitch width, it also may take a few stitches for it to “kick in”. If the machine is new to you, it may be a good idea to take it in for normal maintenance, as there may be something wrong you can’t identify.

When’s the last time the machine was serviced? It only takes one bound-up pivot or bearing to make the whole works go kerfluffle.

Expect to pay between $50 and $100 for a service, depending on your area. If you need any parts, they’ll be extra.

I think this was the problem with my mom’s Kenmore that she had me take in for service. Not sure, because I’m not near home right now, but it may be the same model. Anyhow, the verdict was a broken cam…no chance of a repair, at all, the repair guy said. No parts available. I hope that isn’t the problem for you, but the repair guy said older Kenmores just aren’t repairable. And this guy is good…he repaired my Singer crappy serger that he held out no hope for, and it’s still working. I don’t use it a lot, but whatever he did, it’s holding up.

I did find the arm that moves back and forth to adjust stitch width, which I would presume is the same arm/movement needed for zig-zag?

As far as the “wheel” (the cam, I think it’s called?) is concerned, there is a pivoting arm which the “special stitch variegator” switch (which has two positions: one does half of the available stitches, the other does the other half), pivots into place to catch one of the nubs on the cam, allowing half of the special stitches to be sewn. If the variegator switch is put into the other position, it appears to release the pivoting arm, but I notice that it’s not really pivoting away from the cam when I do this. Now that I look at it, I think there’s a spring missing.

But I don’t think this solves it. The cam isn’t moving when I’m sewing—should it be? I have a feeling it should be…

Off to remove a few screws and get a closer look…

OK- I think I see what’s going on: the “hook” which grabs the notches on the cam wheels to produce the different stitches (not the variegator arm—what I’m talking about is the little hook down inside the body that the stitch selector wheel clicks onto any of the 5 different cam stitch wheels)—this hook is not making contact with the cam wheels in any of the stitch positions. (and yes, the cam does rotate as it sews- I was incorrect about it not moving) It’s like it’s 1/8" away from where it needs to be to make contact.

Any ideas on why this could be? I really want to figure this out on my own and fix it if I can!

Update: when I adjust the screw that pivots the little hook and closes distance between the hook and cam notches, then hand cranking produces a jam. So that’s not it. I think it’s time to take it in. Nothing seems broken, and I’m sure they could put in a spring where it looks like one is missing. What I don’t want to happen is to have to pay $50 for someone to tell me that straight stitches are all it will ever do…we shall see…

Depending on the age of the machine,(nowdays the timing seldom goes off), it could be that the thread is not catching when it is set for zig zag stitching.

With the thread jamming it sounds like a timeing problem ar it could be a worn out part,depending how old and how many hours of sewing the machine has. The machine should be oiled after every 10 hours of sewing, that means if you seldom use it, it could be a while, but if you sew 3 hours one day, 4 hours another time, and 3 hours another, then it would need oiling.
Then if it was’t oiled that itself would cause it to go off time. I have fixed several sewing machine for friends that had that same problem. I had a Phaff for may years that I used daily until after about 25 years it needed a part, but was too old to get the part needed.

I was surprised to see how close you have come to the solution. It’s vexing isn’t it to be so close and not find the problem? I encourage you to keep coming back and studying it as you seem to be close to a solution.

I had similar problems. Non use and dust were the problem. Opening up the unit from bottom THEN the side was easy. 4 screw on bottom, romve cover, loosen screw that is on bottom securing the side panel and only one LONG screw on side panel. Side panel kind of unsnaps open.

REVERSE: BOTTOM ENTRY The reverse arm connection on the left was the problem. The wheel (left of hook) was not working, gummed up and stuck. I used wd 40 and lots of patience. Hit reverse button, a little spritz, nudge nudge, repeat and removed and reinserted snap ring and finally reverse worked. A lot of nudging.

ZIG ZAG and all pattern stitches; SIDE ENTRY Went up to the cam and looked around. It looks like a bunch of unthick black pancakes press together on their sides, and all the edges are crooked. Adjusted the plastic screw that looks like a dime would fit in the slot to turn ( right below the stitch selection knob ) and the cam adjusted itself. BTW - all the sites say not to use WD40, my dad is a machinist and said it was PERFECTLY fine.

Frustrated that a repair shop told me the cam was bad really irked me. They wanted a 100.00 to jiggle some things around. A little research and thanks to Message boards like this… I am back to sewing. I runns like NEW!

Now when I say “I”, I mean my FATHER…Thanks dad!

The sites are right. WD-40 is a lousy long-term lubricant for sewing machines. It is good for breaking things free and dissolving congealed oil or grease, but it soon dries out. My preference is to use Tri-Flow. It costs about five or six bucks and is often available at sporting goods and bike shops.

I lost my last sewing machine…old black swinger tabletop. :frowning:

It’s the lever that engages the cam to rock the needle is out of alignment. Pull apart, clean realign. (It got loose over time…No real way to explain but that.)

Newer machines might be plastic geared…so I dunno bout that. They make em to break.

My Kenmore wouldn’t zig-zag. I checked Youtube but no help, opened it up myself to look.
Inside, the mechanism that brings the needle up and down, should be able to wiggle from side to side easily.
Mine would not. The machine would push the needle over to the right but it wouldn’t come back on its own. I thought maybe the spring that was to pull it back was worn or old or loose, but no.
There’s a shaft going at right angles to the up and down needle part, when you wiggle the up down sideways you’ll be able to see the shaft. Mine was really sticky.
I used WD-40 on it and wiggled it a lot, and more WD and more (in small amounts).
Eventually, the shaft became loose again, and now the zig zag works.
An easy fix, try this first!