The feed wheel itself is free to revolve in a forward direction, but is prevented from rocking backward in Singer's machine by an ingenious little device, recently introduced. It consists of a small steel roller, situated within the angle formed by an inclined plane and the flange of the wheel, and constantly pulled into the angle by a spiral spring. Any backward tendency of the wheel binds the roller more firmly in the angle and stops the wheel. Former feed wheels were checked by a brake spring or block, which retarded the motion of the whole machine when heavily adjusted.
Feeders for Button Hole Sewing Machines are almost invariably of the wheel type, but in this case the cloth is usually carried by a clamping device, and moved in a pear-shaped path by means of a cam cut in the feed wheel, as shown in the samples of this wonderful kind of mechanism exhibited here to-night.
Compensation for wear is a part of the mechanist's art that appears just as essential to him as compensation for variation of temperature is to a maker of chronometers. In the construction of sewing machines to be run in factories by power at their utmost speed, such a system is of the greatest importance. An effective system of compensation has been eagerly sought by the best machine makers ever since the introduction of fast speed sewing.
Compensation has been attempted here and there in the machines for many years, but no sewing apparatus could be said to be so compensated until the cone compensator came into use, a device which has been taken advantage of by various makers. Save in the shuttle race itself there is not a part of the oscillating shuttle machine subject to serious wear that cannot be instantly adjusted to full motion by the turning of a screw, while wear in the shuttle race can be compensated for in the usual way. This effective system depends upon the union of two mathematical forms, long used in mechanism - the cone and the screw. In screw cones we possess a perfect compensator, and it is surprising that parts of mechanism so hung appear subject to very little wear. Another advantage, too, is gained by the introduction of screw cone bearings; the friction is always greatly reduced by their use. In every case the fine adjustment of the cones is securely maintained by locknuts (Fig. 7).
But the screw cone system is not the only compensator used in sewing machinery; where it cannot be easily introduced, other devices have been employed.
The well known tapering needle bars of former years have been superseded by cylindrical needle bars. The Wheeler & Wilson Company appear to be the first who utilized the engineer's shifting box as an antifriction device for round needle bars. They packed their bars round with felt rings, and compressed the whole by a screw cap.
In the Singer machines the same excellent device has been adopted, hemp packing and screw bushes being used (Fig. 8); f and g show the direct action on the needle bar. This method of forming needle bar bearings, partially of metal and partially of felt or hemp, has afforded the most surprising results.
When the bars are of hard or finely polished steel, no perceptible wear can be detected in them, even after they have been in daily use in factories for twelve months, whereas bars not so bushed might show considerable wear in that space of time. The packing, to be effective, should be sufficiently close to prevent as much as possible friction of the steel with the cast iron needle bar ways. Lubrication of the steel is insured by keeping the hemp packing moistened with oil.
Cylindrical needle bars, when combined with an effective system of brushing, have proved themselves superior to every other form of slide for lock stitch machines. But their introduction is by no means a thing of yesterday. They were used freely in sewing machines as far back as 1860, but were never very successful until united with the lubricating brush. Some makers go a step further, and elaborate the system by the introduction of steel brushes, easily renewable.
Every effort is now made to reduce, as much as possible, not only the extent of movement of the parts in high speed machines, but the weight of the parts themselves. Indeed, so far has this been carried that, in some of the Wheeler & Wilson machines now shown, the needle bars consist really of steel tubes. Small moving parts are made as light as possible, but rigidity is secured by the free use of strengthening ribs. Many of the parts are of cast iron, rendered malleable by annealing, and finally casehardened. Such parts are found to be quite as durable as if made of forged steel, and are, of course, less costly. As to the automatic tools now used in the construction of the machines, it may be said that scarcely a file, hammer, or chisel touches the frame or parts while they are being assembled to work together. The interchangeable system of construction is, of course, the only one possible for the accurate production of the millions of sewing machines now manufactured annually.
Sewing machines, as now constructed, exhibit a rather short and very high arm, a form of framework that has been found to contribute in no small degree to the light running capabilities of fast speed machines. While it reduces the length of the various parts concerned in the transference of the motive power, it adds to their rigidity and diminishes their weight, maintaining at the same time the capacity of the machine to accommodate the largest garments beneath the arm.