MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Dec 29, 2010

Oh Joy! Oh Rapture! The Pfaff 30



Friends, let's face it: when it comes to sewing machines, I'm a playa.  In just eighteen months I've been with more sewing machines than some of you will sew on in your entire lives.  Is it me or are men just that way?

I've had sexy Italian Necchis, the off-beat, not-easily-forgotten Elna Grasshopper, plain but reliable Kenmore,  sensuous Singers 15, 66, and Spartan, the showgirl Genie, a Viking on the skids, a Brother, and a White.  There's even been another Pfaff in my life, my smooth-as-silk 139 zigzagger. 

I've made progress toward settling down with my 15-91 though I admit I also had a little thing going on, on the side, with my 66 -- now 15-90 -- treadle.

But readers, I've finally found the one.  I think.



This Pfaff 30 was being sold on Craigslist for $40 by a real live Broadway actress.  The machine belonged to her mother and had been used as a bedside night table for -- I'm guessing -- many decades.  Yes, this machine has a table, which I'll be picking up later today and will show you tomorrow.

I picked up the Pfaff around 4 pm, twenty blocks north of where I live, approximately a mile.  Michael wasn't available to come with me so I figured I'd just go take a look at the machine and then if I decided to take it, come back for it.  But once I was there it was love at first sight and I couldn't leave without her, so I carefully removed the machine from the table (unscrewing the knee pedal -- very excited about the knee pedal) and fortunately the seller had a sturdy cardboard box I could carry it in.  I'd guess it weighs about 30 lbs. -- heavier than some, lighter than others.

But the traffic at this hour was horrendous (Ninth Ave. and 42nd St.), total gridlock, and a bus or cab was not to be had.  So readers, I walked.  After about ten blocks I called Michael and told him to get his coat on and walk up the East side of Ninth Avenue and come help me!

Despite having been in a table, the machine was dusty and had all the tell-tale signs of decades-long neglect: bobbin with old, discolored thread, crusty dust balls under the needle plate, stiff gears.
 



But it had an intact belt, decent wiring, and it ran, albeit stiffly.  After a lot of oiling and some spit and polish, however, it purred.

And it stitches beautifully.

Leather:
 

Four layers:



And back to cotton shirting with no tension adjustment needed.



A few great things about the Pfaff 30: it takes standard Class 15 bobbins, it fits Singer tables and Singer straight stitch accessories, it has a 1.3 amp motor (powerful), and it uses standard needles.





The sewing experience is wonderful.  It's beautifully engineered, and feels so powerful and precise.  Check out the stitch length selector -- much more accurate than a similar vintage Singer.



There's not a whole lot of info online about the Pfaff 30.  It sounds like it's nearly identical to the Pfaff 131.  The instruction manual actually says 131 on it, so I'm guessing they're close kin.  The machine also says Made in Germany (as opposed to West Germany) which suggests that this is a pre-WW II machine. 



I'll have to make a movie of the Pfaff in action sometime soon, because it really is something special.

I think this is the one you marry, folks.  I think.

Anybody out there have any additional insights?

Do you forgive me for my promiscuous peddle-hopping?  I think, since I did sell seven sewing machines this very month, I'm entitled to a few new ones to help fill the hole in my heart, don't you?

Anyway, no more for the rest of the year -- promise.

Happy Wednesday, everybody!

36 comments:

  1. What a beauty! I'm incredibly jealous of that machine right now - today I desperately tried to get my Bernina to stitch just 3 layers of cotton, sadly to no avail.

    Don't you find it satisfying cleaning all the gunk off an old machine? :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's a beautiful machine. Resistance is useless . . .

    Hope you and yours have a cozy wonderful New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Four layers of leather? WOW! I can see why this is the one you marry. And lucky you being able to call Michael and get him to rescue you. My DH would simply have said "What do you need another machine for?" I'm looking forward to seeing what you stitch up on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. OK, NOW I'm jealous! My best machine is a 18 year old Pfaff and it is the only machine I have that can sew through leather. (My then fiance bought it new for me for $1000.) My newer machines laugh at me when I try to sew anything thicker then 2 layers of med weight canvas. But to have such a beauty of a Pfaff...for $40..just stab me in the heart. ;) Congrats on your latest acquisition!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gorgeous!!! With all of our technology they just can't make them like they used to.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Clearly, not just a "guy thing." ;)

    But, yeah, I'm a mono-machine sort of girl.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm feeling the love for this one Peter!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Last time you talked about machines I bought a Singer Featherweight; the only machine missing from my "want list". I just don't know what I am going to do since you brought up the 1.3 amp motor!! No wonder you can go through many layers of leather. Congratulations

    ReplyDelete
  9. I had a stint in the early 2000s when I sewed on anything that moved. Id rather not talk about it...

    I can relate. But it looks like you found the take home to Mama machine....for now MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fabulous! These are wonderful machines!

    ReplyDelete
  11. ohhh i love pfaffs! i have a 7570, but i would give up various body parts to own an older one like the beauty you have. and for $40?! amazing!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sometimes when I'm sewing on my Necchi BU, I pretend it's a Pfaff.

    I think you found a keeper.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a beautiful machine! Totally worth walking 10 blocks for. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh my that Pfaff is gorgeous! Looking at the original pictures, it always amazes me to see the transformation once they get some TLC.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Now Peter, you touch a subject I know a bit! Because I live in Germany, I can tell, this vintage Pfaff 30 model is one of the most available here! It commonly found as a treadle, but some electric powered appears here and there in the auctions or adds. One think I have noticed though, is that here they are not equipped which such powerful motor! Can it be that it was made for the American market? I do not think I know the model 131, but the Pfaff 130 is looking exactly the same as the 30, just it is a zigzag machine. From the same period there is also Pfaff 31 which has the tension adjustment on the side, like the Singer class 15.

    The Germans are famous for precise design, though sometimes when exaggerated it turns the designed object a bit "cold" and too much industrial... it is not the case of your machine though. There is also a funny Singer Lotus, do you know? It is the German version for the Spartan. It has also cool stitch length selector.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Not on the same level as your Pfaff 30 score, but when I leave work this evening I'm going to pick up a Bernina 930 that I have been lusting after.
    I can certainly understand the rush of a new love.
    Mermie

    ReplyDelete
  17. But, but, but you already married the 15-91; with literary allusions no less!

    ;)

    Congrats, he's a beautiful machine; love that stitch selector.

    So, no more sewing machines for two days. Might just be doable. But next year you need a pretty little hand crank to round out the collection.

    ReplyDelete
  18. oh that is a beauty! I have also played the field quite a bit. Evidently I have settled down. I have been sewing on my Bernina for a whole year now! (For me, that is a long time) and I am not even looking anymore.
    If you have wild oats, sow them.
    so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Peter, Your Pfaff 30 is a real treasure and bargain at $40. The vintage Pfaffs are excellent sewers. Like you, I have played the field with a variety of sewing machines. One of my favourites is a 1910 Bernard Stoewer treadle made in Germany. The Stoewer is similar to the Singer 127, the differences are the Stoewer has a reverse and the bobbin has a tiny hole that fits over a peg in the bobbin winder. These bobbins are no longer available so my husband drilled the hole in new Singer 127 rod bobbins. They work perfectly. Congratulations on selling seven machines in December, well done. Currently, I have 13 sewing machines and in 2011 I plan to downsize to only eight machines.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Tammy, you have my support. Just don't overdo it! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm glad you're such a playa so that I can be a voyeur.

    ReplyDelete
  22. As a lover of the vintage machines, I know exactly what you're talking about. I just bought a 301 and it's the quietest machines I've ever used and has had all the power I've asked of it so far. We'll see as I keep trying it on new things. Take care and stay warm. Lane

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am obsessed with checking and tightening the feed dogs in my Pfaff. I will have to discuss the issue with my repairman when we take the other machine in to be serviced. The screws seem to loosen on their own and then cause no end of trouble with my stitching. It's the cause of about 95% of all my stitch length and tension problems these days. At least it's a quick fix--take off the needle plate, tighten two screws, and put it back on.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a great find
    congratulations,looks gorgeous!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have a pfaff 30 31 in outstanding condition and would be grateful to know how to oil it and where to get a manual. I can't afford $100 to get it re-oiled right now. Also, I see you sold yours. I was wondering how much you sold it for as I may not have the room to keep my machine and need the money. Thank you so much for your time! This blog post inspired me to get back on my old pfaff- It's a workhorse!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa, I think I sold it for about $75, but a lot depends on the condition and your local market for used sewing machines. You can oil it yourself: a drop of oil (or two) in the holes on top, a drop of oil underneath wherever metal moves against metal. Open the front and the same thing -- wherever metal moves against metal. Use sewing machine. Good luck with it!

      Delete
    2. Hey, i have a Pfaff 30 31 in great condition oiled and everything, and in working condition. all id like to know is when this machine was introduced in the market?

      Delete
  26. je vien de metre la main sur une identhique machine meme modele que toi Peter avec son meuble d origine sauf que moi la mienne es identifier made in western germany contrairement a certaine autres que j avais deja vue .Esque ca change sa valeur et elle fonctionne encore comme une neuve ? revien moi la dessus svp .a leloup88@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Peter. Funny I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn and last year I picked up the same machine for $50. Pfaff 30. I love this machine as I dabble leather work and it's served me well in that department. How is the foot control speed on your machine? Do you have the capability to go various speeds? That's the only problem I have is speed control--it's very fast, too fast actually, help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If your machine is racing, Nico, you might want to attach a foot in better condition (even a vintage one) -- or have someone do it for you.

      Delete
  28. A German neighbour, just gave me a Pfaff 30, sewing machine 1952. The instruction book is in German, so am looking for an english translation. she said the machime didn't work, but when I opened th oak cabinet, was surprised to see it in mint condition and a treadle to boot...a little tightening of the belt...and it sews like a dream

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try this:

      http://www.sewusa.com/Sewing_Machine_Manuals/Pfaff_Manuals/30_Instruction_Manual.htm

      Delete
  29. My Pfaff 30 had a single bobbin in it for a full year until I tried a standard bobbin and saw it fitted. Clearly the Pfaff 30 and Singer 66 are almost the same machine; they even look the same in design.

    Pfaff's later bobbin looks the same, has the same diameter. but is not as deep. The reason I picked up my 30 (for €8 no less!) was because I thought my many Pfaff 90 bobbins would fit it.

    In terms of robustness and stitch quality these machines simply put today's fancy plastic, made-for-quilters machines to shame.

    ReplyDelete
  30. What a beauty - every time, I say this is the last machine (for awhile), and then another one steals my heart - thanks for your post - I am definitely promiscuous as far as sewing machines go!!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I can't believe I got a pfaff 30 today in portable cabinet with extras and instruction book--perfect condition--at Goodwill--total $7.49. I wanted it for sewing leather. It had never been used so I oiled it and started sewing.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails