Thursday, November 3, 2011

Singer 111W155

Singer's often copied, walking foot sewing machine. Every industrial sewing machine manufacturer has made a version of this machine. They all have that unusual bump you see on the neck.

When I purchased this Singer 111W155 it was all out of timing and needed some serious cleaning. You can tell by the lost paint that this machine had been used through the years.

These are indestructible sewing machines. Connect it to a motor and it will sew through a steel wall - OK, maybe not steel. Leather, on the other hand, is easily conquered.

I went through and adjusted this one according to the factory specs, and replaced the bobbin case with a new one. She now runs smooth. No excessive play or wear.

Newer machines have reverse but their prices are quite a bit higher. I've been told by an old-time user of upholstery sewing machines that reverse is overrated. I suppose the convenience of not having to flip the material around to backstitch is worth something.


  1. I am interested in this machine. Can you let me know how I can reach you so I may get more information. Thank you


  2. Wynter, I sold this machine last month. I can answer any questions you might have, as long as it's within my area of knowledge...

  3. Do you have any industrial machines for sale?

  4. You don't have to flip the fabric around to 'reverse'. You just lift the fabric up and forward and then start sewing again for one or two or three stitches to the end. I wouldn't say the reverse is over-rated, but it's not absolutely necessary to do good work and/or keep your sewn stitches from coming out.
    Nice site though, my first visit. The background is cool-busy without being distracting.

  5. I am going to be selling a Bernina 317 soon. Watch for it. The video and post should be up in a couple of weeks. Are you in San Francisco?

  6. Anonymous, Thanks for that tip. I may be an expert on vintage sewing machines, but I'm afraid I don't sew. I'm going to change that though. I'll be taking sewing classes soon...

  7. You said in the video you used a servo motor so you could control it better. Which did you use? Also, where did you get the factory specs for adjustments? I have been looking and have not found it yet.

  8. I've been having good results from this servo motor on eBay:

    Also use a small 2" motor pulley. I found a couple of old military pubs. including this one, Google it and download for free: NAVEDTRA 14217 (AIR CREW SURVIVAL EQUIPMENT 1 & C) it has a section on the 111W.

  9. HI from Alaska :) Will installing the FESM-550 w/"reverse" give the 111-w-155 reverse capability or not?

    1. Sorry, but I don't think it will. As far as I know the 111W115 can be retrofitted with reverse by a sewing machine repairman, but turning the hand wheel in reverse will not make the machine sew in reverse - as far as I know.

    2. See what another commentator said about reverse:

      You don't have to flip the fabric around to 'reverse'. You just lift the fabric up and forward and then start sewing again for one or two or three stitches to the end.

    3. The 111W156 (not too maney of 'em around) has a factory reverse, or if you want a reverse and larger bobbin capasity in this size machine see the Consew 206RB or one of its clones. More money, but if you are conserned with time savings it should be the ticket.

  10. I think my 111w155's switch box is broken, do you know how or where I could get a replacement?

  11. Interestingly, I too was worried when I finally bought an industrial sewing machine and found it didn't have reverse. Then a wonderful man showed me a great trick where you can use the knee lever to lift the foot *just a bit* (loose but not so much as to let the material rise up) and then quickly move the material back and forth along the stitch line, while running the machine. Sort of a manual, in-line bar tack. It takes some practice, but is apparently how those who run these sort of machines for a living back-stitch.



  12. Just got a 111W155 off a fellow on eBay. Went and picked it up. The head had been dis mounted fromt he table, so all I could do was power up the motor ( ran well) and hand cycle the machine. Moved smoothly.

    The table top was deformed and the chip wood had water damage, so I replaced it with a fresh table top.

    My problem is that the foot lift hand lever is missing, and it has an arm across the rear of the machine that appears to do the same function if hooked to a rod and knee lift. I just bought a knee lift but don't have the connecting rod yet. Not sure where to mount the lift. My SInger 20U has one, but it connects under the machine, not the same as the 111.

    Any good directions to hook that all up? ANy Utubes for it? I do have the official Singer service and parts manuals, but maddingly, it doesn't talk about the rear side except for oil points.

    ANy help would be greatly appreciated!!!

  13. Nice blog........I was a Navy parachute rigger for 24 years and spent the last 6 and half years teaching "C" school. I wrote a tech manual(500 pages) on 9 classes of industrial sewing machines fore the three week class I taught. This was in 1979 thrugh mid 1985.
    Now I collect the old machines. The 111W class and clones are my favorte group. I have 5 in this class now, 225 Consew, 111W151 and three are 111W155s. Then I have a monster of a 144W103, a 45k67, a 22w 156, a 245-3, two 31-15s and a 31K15. I am awating dilivery of a 11-17 free arm leather machine. There are 4 or 5 other machines of less inportance. I gave away a 331K1 last year. They are basicly 31-15s in a diferant looking casting.
    The 97-10 and 7 Class are also some I'd love to own, But at the price I can't justify 'em.
    I now have three servomotors in use and I love 'em. The best way to fix that broken swith box (transmiter) is to get the servomotor and it comes with a swtich and everything you need to install it. Shop Ebay for it,