Ode to an old Jones sewing machine

I’m doing quite a lot of sewing at the moment, so to supplement my Bernina 1030 I bought an old machine on eBay – not a modern one, an old second-hand 1980s model (my guess), very cheap and local pick up only. It’s a Jones, (later these were rebranded Brother), built like a tank and weighs a ton as the machine itself is all metal.

Its a Jones model number 125 with TUR 2 written on the motor at the back. I can’t find any info online about this machine, so if anyone has a manual or other info that would be helpful if be most grateful if you’d contact me.

The main problem was that the plastic case is degraded so the bed machine has dropped below the top edge of the case which means you couldn’t open the bobbin case, so that needed a bit of attention.

The Jones 125 machine

I have it several hours of TLC; opening the machine top, checking, cleaning and oiling everything. The bobbin and shuttle hook had all sorts of thread wrapped around it but that was easy enough to take out, clear and oil. Then I had to sort out the bobbin tension that was wildly awry.  the light bulb had blown, and I will replace it with an LED version.

There was no manual with the machine just a foot pedal, a plastic need extension and some spare bobbins – which for the price I really didn’t mind. However someone had put the needle in with the hole from front to back, like my Bernina, when actually it should have been in so that you thread it left to right. Its been a while since I’ve used a machine which threads like that, so it took me a minute or two to work out why the bobbin thread was not being picked up. Once I put in a new needle that faced left or right it picked up the bobbin thread no problem. 

Going back to the bobbin and case. The machine has a side facing bobbin in a vertical shuttle that is accessed from the top, so it’s not as easy to get to as a front loading one. Because the bottom case in which the machine suits is degraded and the plastic hinges have broken, the machine has dropped below the level of the case-edge, making it hard to reach the bobbin. I’ve stuck some shims in the sides of the bottom case which have raised the machine bed so that the bobbin plate will now side open. This also means the bed extension will now for correctly. The machine is in one of those classic Jones and Brother flowery carry-cases and although the bottom case plastic is a bit fragile, this seems reasonably sound.

Unlike the Bernina the Jones has adjustable pressure on its presser foot which takes a bit of getting used to. Now I’ve got it sewing it’s working fine.

What’s nice is that the feed dogs will drop for free embroidery if needed. It has good stitch length and a nice wide zigzag, so does the face mask job perfectly. 

Having got it sorted out I prefer to keep the Jones threaded for the masks and my Bernina for my personal sewing. OK, I’ll admit it, I’m a machine nerd! 

I think the Jones is also a bit of a consolation prize to myself; I’ve bought myself a vintage Singer slant shank machine which I’m really looking forward to getting, but I can’t collect it because of Covid.

The Jones is a great everyday all-purpose robust machine. I do get fed up with those people on eBay who are selling old machines as ‘heavy-duty’ and ‘semi industrial’. There are industrial or domestic sewing machines, but none that I know of were ever sold originally as ‘semi-industrial’. I agree that some modern machines are a load of rubbish, plastic and not really got for purpose, not that only a few – believe me I have seen some in the course of helping people with their machines. 

I’ve always preferred older machines, having owned a hand cracked Singer and a treadle one (I am filled with regret that I didn’t have the storage to keeping these), an Elna Supermatic (why oh why did I get rid of that?), a Singer Touch and Sew, and then a Bernina 730 (still got that one)  and an Elna TS (had to go for lack of storage again). 

Even the Touch and Sew would sew through loads of fabric, and I did like the pattern cams of that and the Supermatic. I think the slant needle slant shank machine I have just acquired probably won’t go through that many layers of fabric because the needle may possibly deflect? I will have to wait and see! 

So now it’s back to my sewing.

2 thoughts on “Ode to an old Jones sewing machine

  1. Deana

    I just bought a Babylock Presto 2.
    It’s the second new machine I bought.
    The first being a new Singer Heavy Duty I bought at the beginning of the pandemic I disliked it from 5 minutes in.
    And while I really like my Babylock it won’t go over several layers of material the way my old Morse or Eldon machines do.
    I break needles and cuss a lot and it’s currently in the shop for the second time in 9 months.. yet my vintage machines don’t let me choose needle up or down or cut my thread which I absolutely LOVE.
    There are probably 6-8 vintage machines out in my shed.
    Oiled and covered and one day I plan to donate some of them to others learning to sew and my Babylock will never replace my old heavy metal workhorses but I think each has a place.
    I keep looking for that great deal on a vintage Bernina or a Juki … One day.

    1. Hi Deana,
      I have not heard good things about those ‘heavy duty’ Singers, sorry to hear that you also found them not what they are cracked up to be. I’m not usr eif your Babylock is a serger/overlocker, but probably as I don’t think they make sewing machines. I don’t have a Babylock, but do have an older Elna one, and that tackles heavy layers well, but is a real fiddle to set to rolled hem etc, whereas my modern Janome one is a breeze to alter so it doesn’t interrupt your workflow too much. Like you say, the modern ones offer useful little tricks – like needle up – but the older ones are reliable and robust. I have since sold this machine as I needed the room in my studio, and reverted to my Bernina 1030 and the Singer Slant o Matic. Both of these are treasures, and if the Singer motor goes I plan to convert it to a treadle as I have the cabinet already. I’d love to have a poke around in your shed, old machines are such fun to work with. Its a lovely idea to donate them to others who are just starting out on the pleasure of sewing. My Jones went to a lady who used to sew and wanted to start up again, so I felt it was a good cause. Keep looking for that Bernina, it will be out there waiting for you once day….

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