Zorba, Male Belly Dancer


Henna Design National Model "D" Rotary Henna Design


Thanx to the generosity of eBay seller "denick07", Zorba has been able to make freely available a PDF of the manual (18.3 MB).


national model d rotary
A crinkle brown example, badged "Eldredge". Photo courtesy of eBay seller "denick07".

national model d rotary
With a Featherweight/Sewhandy style carrying case. ibid.

national model d rotary
"International" badged machine in rare turquoise color. Photo courtesy of Randy.

national model d rotary
Also courtesy of Randy, this one shows one badged by GE. Note difference on RH top of machine.

national model d rotary
And my example as received, gloss black also badged "Eldredge". RH top is the same as the two non-GE versions.

What I've been able to find out so far:

This model is as rare as hen's teeth or unicorn tears. I'm only aware of 4 examples, although I'm sure there are plenty more. Two of these were brought to my attention by "Randy", my friend who has forgotten more about NSMCo than I'll ever know. He has parts books and dealer literature going back to the 1940s, and they make exactly ZERO mention of this model. However, THIS DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN ITS WORTH A PILE OF CASH! Sellers can ask whatever they like, but putting *RARE* in the listing doesn't make it worth a lot. If nobody's ever heard of it, there's no demand for it, see my reference to the "Bobble-Blook Super Stitcher 5000" in my What's it Worth? article. I paid $40 for mine in an UNCONTESTED eBay auction.

Even somebody who knows a minimum about sewing machines can tell this one is a bit different. To my eye, its downright bizarre! Front mounted motor, and its a non-spring loaded design similar to the Streamliner. This "molded in" look is ONLY found in full sized Nationals, yet this 3/4 sized model has it too, never mind the front mounted weirdness. The thread path and takeup arm are beyond weird, the built-in spool compartment only slightly less so (see the Sewmatic Chainstitcher as another example of something similar). Unlike any other National, it has a "bolt on" base, similar to the Singer 192K ("Spartan"), and some 99K and 185K Singers as well. This means its harder to oil the bottomside of the machine as the base must be unbolted (Three bolts instead of the one that Singer used) for access. Interestingly, the machine does have provision for hinge pins, and could be mounted in any case/cabinet compatible with a National 3/4 sized machine. As the above picture shows however, it was (apparently) usually/always supplied with the bolt-on wooden base and a Featherweight/Sewhandy style carrying case.

In any event, this machine was released sometime in the 1930s - the above manual scan is dated 10/38. There is no doubt in my mind that this machine was a reaction by National to the 1933 release of the famed Singer Featherweight and/or the GE "Sewhandy", both 3/4 sized lightweight aluminum machines just like this one is. The fact that there are zero references to it in 1940s NSMCo literature suggests strongly that it was a complete flop for whatever reason, and NSMCo dropped it like a hot potato!

The GE badged example is quite interesting but not the only instance of GE purchasing machines from National to sell under their own name, this Reversew Rex (below) is another example. Nobody knows the why of this, particularly in light of GE selling their "Sewhandy" (collectible in its own right) during the same time period. These G.E. badged Nationals are also seemingly quite rare, or perhaps better expressed as *RARE*!!

National Reversew Rex
Reversew "Rex" with similar G.E. paint and badges.

National Reversew Rex
Pretty machine, but "why?"

national model d rotary
For reference, the G.E. "Sewhandy", Photo courtesy of Randy.
It is said this was the machine that prompted Singer to introduce their "Featherweight".

national model d rotary
Thread compartment. Note that there is a spool ejector dingus that is missing from this machine.

national model d rotary
Handwheel end showing friction drive and not-so-conveniently located bobbin winder.

national model d rotary
Removing plate that covers thread path...

national model d rotary
... shows the take up lever.

national model d rotary
Cover removed to show take up mechanism. Odd place indeed!

national model d rotary
Faceplate very similar to the Reversew "Rex". Wire emplaced because one of the two clips is broken.

national model d rotary
Carbon pile controller is not OEM, but should work well enough.

national model d rotary
Bottomside - note shipping damage.

national model d rotary
Bottomside

national model d rotary
Base was damaged in shipping. Fortunately, very little split wood, mostly came apart at existing seams.

national model d rotary
Looking closely, there is some moisture damage that needs some help anyway.

national model d rotary
Bottom view of base showing the three mounting holes and the one remaining bolt, presumably OEM.

national model d rotary
Excerpt from manual, showing shuttle and bobbin.

national model d rotary
Looks little like reality, see text.

national model d rotary
Uses standard rotary shuttle and bobbin as used on the Model 40, 30 ("Streamliner"), and others.

national model d rotary
Standard National bobbin.

national model d rotary
Showing the hinge pin holes with tapping for "grub screws" that aren't used here.

national model d rotary
Nothing to do with the machine, cute folding steam iron is perfect for "Stitch and Bitch" sessions!

Ok - so what's up with the shuttle and bobbin situation? The line drawing in the manual looks nothing like what's on the machine. Different shuttle, different bobbin; the latter looks similar to a Featherweight bobbin! My best guess is that the manual was drawn to a prototype, although its possible that somebody in National's manufacturing engineering department asked why this machine wasn't using the same rotary bobbins as everything else. We'll probably never know - like so much else with this machine, its "Goddess only knows" as nobody else sure does!

national model d rotary
Finally started on the base. The "Rim" was further damaged by removing the rotten,
water damaged side panels, but its all here and looks like it can be re-assembled.

national model d rotary
Trial re-assembly of rim. Two of the corner blocks are also damaged, but all there.

national model d rotary
Discarded side panels and their veneer.

national model d rotary
The very first of many repairs, split mended with hot hide glue.

MORE TO COME!

Base repair and re-finish, machine cleanup and oiling, and test sewing. I'm currently working on another sewing machine and haven't really gotten to this one yet, I've taken some pictures, verified that the motor runs and the light works, but not much else! Stay tuned...

Sewing Machine


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