Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vintage sewing machine, Brother Galaxie 221A - RIP

After many hours and a vigorous go with a hammer, it's decided.  The Vintage Brother sewing machine is beyond redemption.  First time I've met a sewing machine I could not recover.

Built in redundancy seems to be the problem.  Despite being a heavy duty machine with cast metal body and wonderful features, there is this one essential cog/cam that was bound to break.  It's a mid-grade plastic and has to stand up to wearing against metal cogs all day long.

I put most of it back together, but have several bits leftover I didn't bother to reassemble.

What did I learn?

I learned all about how zig zag and fancy stitches work in a machine.  So many lovely springs and leavers to boggle the mind.

I learned not to put too much energy into cleaning the machine until you find out if it works and whether it can be repaired.

Most importantly I learned when to walk away.

Some of the machine I could salvage for parts later on, I suppose.  This dial in particular has a real steampunkish feel to it.  It might do for my Mystery Project later on.

But as for the rest of the machine, I can't think of anything better to do with it than put it all in a box labelled 'dead brother'.   Wish I could find some inspiration to give the remains of this machine a new kind of life.  I'm not really big into jewellery making... what else could I do with it?


Angie said...

Aw, I'm sorry the poor machine was beyond repair. At least she had to to love on her one last time and try to give her new life!

Josiane said...

It's too bad those plastic parts ruined the whole thing. At least, it was a useful learning experience.

Anonymous said...

Does the nmotor work? My dad made me a nifty electric bobbin winder for my weaving projects from a sewing machine motor.

Rocky Delafontaine said...

Hi Victoria, I believe that even if your vintage sewing machine is no longer functional you can still keep that for aesthetic purposes. This model may no longer be in the market and very rare to find. And you can use it someday for nostalgic purposes. It can remind you of your love for sewing and the person who gave it to you.

Peggi said...

I have the exact same machine with (I think) the exact same problem with my Galaxie 221. It looks like that one plastic gear (or wheel or cog or whatever you call it) broke in half. However, I'm not ready to give up yet. My DH fixed a 40-year-old Kitchen Aid mixer with a similar problem; he replaced a broken plastic gear with a nylon one, cleaned off all the old, solidified grease, applied new grease, and now that mixer purrs right along.
I'm looking for a manual for it, do you have any idea where I can find one?

raven said...

Hi Peggi

Let me know if he can fix it. It would be great to know how he did it.

I posted a link to a potential site that might have a free copy of the manual somewhere in this series of posts:

I've seen lots of people offering to sell manuals to this machine, but I haven't tried any of them yet, so I can't recommend one.

peggi said...

Raven, thanks for the info. I did post a request for the manual on Yarnhog's site (right after you did, as a matter of fact) but haven't received a response. Was it the large plastic gear that was broken on yours, too? My hubby thinks he might be able to make a new gear... we'll see. Right now I'm struggling with how to get the central shaft off so I can remove the gear. Did you ever get that far?

raven said...

No, I never did get that plastic gear off the machine. I ended up mining it for parts for other projects instead. Pity as it's such a great machine, but that's the life.

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Sergey Tarasov said...

I think you should have a new sewing machine for your convenience. Don't let yourself be disturbed in your vintage sewing machine since you just got problem using it. Your experience will give now the idea that you have to get a new one.

dhiraphat said...

Nice Brother Sewing Machine, Can you give or sell to me ??? ... I will take a chance to fix it.

My wife want sewing machine badly for do stuff for our first baby (will born in next 5 month)

I will pay for anything that take it to Thailand. (hope it not much)

Thank you ...

dhiraphattra from Thailand.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I picked up a Brother 191 with the same ailment. Beautiful mocha brown with the 1970s fake wood "stationwagon dashboard" panel on the front.
It was those cheapo,plastic/nylon cams that had bit the dust. And you're right, it's a show stopper.
Story goes that in the old days the company told the OSMGs (Old Sewing Machine Guys) at the repair shops that they would replace the cam shaft for free, just remove it and send it back to the Company. Well, this "offer" was so cost-prohibitive to the owner that it wasn't worth it, so the machines were left at the repair shops. (Taking that cam shaft out would be a major bear!)
My Brother 191 looks literally brand new, too. I'm using the parts for other machines and I'll turn the body into a flower pot or something.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I had the same problem with a Brother 191 Opus. Beautiful brown mocha with the 1970s fake wood "dashboard" panel, just like the old 70s station wagons. The machine looked brand new.
Got it home and the thing "thumped" when you sewed, popped the lid and those nylon/plastic gears had a crack in them. The only way you could remove it was to take the entire cam shaft off the main gear rod which would be a super major undertaking, plus there were no replacement cams out there. A real show stopper, huh?

Found out from old sewing machine guys that when these came out, the Company offered to replace them for free if the repair guys removed the entire thing and shipped it back. Well, the cost was so prohibitive for the owner that these ended up sitting in the back room of the repair shops and the owners were just stuck.
Mine even still had the tags on it!

I've removed parts and I'm turning the hull into a flower pot. :)

Best wishes, Kim

ebnifong said...

We got a Brother 221 Galaxie as a donation here at Busy Hands fo Michiana. I got training on repair of machines and have some mechanical abililties. I cleaned the machine up and in testing it it has a snap sound as I sew. It appears not to affect the stitches. In turning it over manually, I find "slop" in the cam shaft a during revolving the cam shaft. The puzzle is,it is not all the time, just at certain degrees on revolving the cams. It is positioned on the rignt hand zig/zag, although it does not matter what stitch is selected.
Can anyone with experience offer some solutions.
EJN, Indiana

Anonymous said...

After removing the cam selector assembly I find the plastic drive cam on the right side has split in two places. This causes the fingers that move the gear to have slop at these points. This certainly will cause distress in attempting to do any of the design patterns on the zigzag selector. So, I believe I am in the market for a replacement drive cam. I do want to save this machine if I can. It one of those that run quiet and are well designed. (except for the plastic gear)

Northern Transplant said...

I could not find a source for a replacement plastic cam stack drive gear. What a shame a beautiful, heavy duty machine has to just be put on a shelf.

Northern Transplant said...

I would like to have the engineer who thought this way of driving the cam shaft would hold up. The search for model 221 Galaxie parts have been for naught. It would be a challenge to pull the cam shaft to replace that plastic drive gear...I would do it if I could find the replacement gear. I truly do not see a solid fix for trying to epoxy over the cracks and reform the notches. It would not work out to be uniform between notch movements.
Just hate it would I have to give up on a machine. Any furthe effort is a waste.
ejn, Indiana

Anonymous said...

Beautiful machine, have one just like it. Mine is running really well, wouldn't trade it for the world.

Andrea Archer said...

I have the same brothers machine - which I dearly love as well... and with the same broken cog (although mine is just cracked) - would you be interested in selling me your bronken one for parts? I am going to try and get a new cog machined. My email address is

Anonymous said...


I was just given one and, shockingly, it came with a vintage but very legible manual.

Anonymous said...

I'm still looking for a manual.

Anonymous said...

I would also like a manual,

Kristy Lee Monix said...


Do you still have the instruction book?

Max said...

It's been a while, and you probably don't own this machine anymore, but maybe you could 3D print this gear? Here's a very interesting article that I found:

To save a machine as beautiful, it's worth the shot.

Best regards.