A bit of advice for those individuals who wish to buy their own sewing machines: buy the best and newest machines you can afford. Avoid old machines! They’re usually worn out, and parts may be hard to get. Buy self-lubricating machines as opposed to ones you need to oil manually. Always get machines with a reverse mechanism. Get an adjustable “K leg” stand and table. This allows you to set the height of the table to best fit your physical needs. Large people bending over a short table for any length of time will understand the need for this feature. If the rigger is buying a new machine, it is possible to order an oversize table top in place of the standard 20" x 48" size. This allows better control over harness and containers so they don’t overlap the table. When buying any machine, particularly.
When buying any machine, particularly from a sewing machine dealer, get the operator’s manual and the parts manual for the machine. The operator’s manual tells you how to set up and operate the machine. The parts manual is indispensable when the need to order parts arises. The average person could never figure out the names of some of the parts, which makes it necessary to refer to the part number. Without the parts manual, this is impossible. In fact, some companies and individuals refuse to take delivery of new machines if the manuals are not with them. Experience has shown that the average rigger who wishes to set up a loft needs three initial machines: a lightweight single needle such as a Cowboy 740 single needle walking foot machine or 74400 single needle compound feed lockstitch machine for canopy repair. A double needle such as Cowboy 74420 or Mitsubishi LT2-220 with a binder or taping attachment for binding material and light manufacture; and a medium-duty double throw zigzag machine such as a Cowboy 9518 or Adler 525 for suspension line repair and replacement.
For those individuals on a tight budget or with space constraints, a good idea is to buy a double needle machine first. By removing one needle and bobbin, the machine will perform excellently as a single needle machine. Replace the needle and bobbin, and the machine again is a double needle. This gives the rigger two machines for the price and space of one. A good zigzag machine will also do multiple duty. Its primary purpose is for zigzag sewing. However, adjusting the stitch regulator allows the rigger to do an acceptable job sewing bar tacks. By changing the stitch length and adjusting the width to the narrowest setting, some machines will do good straight stitching such as the Cowboy 9266 or Adler 266-1.
For those riggers who advance to master rigger and wish to really get into the profession, they will need additional specialized machines such as a medium duty, single needle, compound feed machine like a Cowboy 7204 (www.cowboysew.com/product2.htm) or Adler 204-370. This type of machine is used for doing container repairs and light harness work. The next machine should be a heavy-duty harness machine such as a Cowboy 733 (www.cowboysew.com/product2.htm), Seiko SLH-2B or Singer 7-33. These machines specialize in sewing 5-cord nylon or heavier thread used in the manufacture and repair of parachute harnesses.
Lastly, a bar tack machine such as a Cowboy 71008R (www.cowboysew.com/product7.htm) or Singer 69 class allows fast, strong, professional repairs and is invaluable in line replacement and manufacturing. This selection of machines provides the rigger with the ability to undertake virtually any repair or modification needed on today’s parachutes.
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