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Kenmore Sewing Machine 158.162 Won't Start?

I was recently given my grandmother's sewing machine and I have never sewed before. I have it set up in my room and am trying to learn this new skill however, it won't actually start. The light comes on when I flip the switch, but the needle doesn't move when I push the foot pedal. Is there an on/off switch somewhere I am missing?

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
September 12, 20180 found this helpful

Those old Kenmore machines do seize up frequently.

Did you tighten and untighten the wheel? Did you check that the bobbin is in right (they can fit backward but don't work...at least mine is like that)?

Did you check that the feed dog is in the upright position?

Is it all clean in the undercarriage and in all the doors that open in the front? NEVER use canned air...just an old toothbrush or if you were luckly enough to have the original cleaning kit the little brush that came with it.

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There are some decent YouTube videos on the old Kenmores. Most are very similar so you may find some helpful hints to get it going. These are workhorses....just a little finicky!

Be wary of using oil other than sewing machine oil if they tell you about oiling. I say that and I will tell you that I NEVER, EVER oiled my Kenmore (bad experience with oiling a Singer that ruined a project when the oil got all over it).

I had it in for service once many years ago and they may have oiled it... back to Sears (when we still had a Sears), but keeping it clean has always worked for me and my machine is...hmmmm...50 years old...maybe older.

There used to be manuals online for free. Maybe someone else on the site can point you to those. I can only find the pay version, which I wouldn't do unless it was a last resort:

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www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL6gUXzBIGs
www.kenmoresewingmanuals.com/.../kenmore_158_manuals.htm

Hope it is an easy fix! Happy stitching!!

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
September 12, 20180 found this helpful

It sounds like there is a loose or broken wire in the foot pedal. You may have to take it in for servicing

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September 13, 20180 found this helpful

Thanks for input apparently I need to have the light on when I use the pedal and it works fine..now to learn how to put bobbin in

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April 12, 20200 found this helpful

how do you repair the foot pedal

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
September 15, 20180 found this helpful

Now, I am going to say something about your machine and learning to use it.

  • Since this machine was a gift, do you know if your grandmother or someone else has used the machine anytime recently?
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  • If you do not know or if it has not been used in a long time then I would highly suggest you have it professionally cleaned and serviced. Even if it has been used it would probably still be a good idea to have it serviced.
  • Since this is a Kenmore that means it was sold by Sears (probably Sears & Roebuck at the time this machine was made) I would suggest it best to take it to a local Sears Service Center and let them service it.
  • The main reason I suggest taking your machine to Sears is that they can tell you what brand of machine this one happens to be. Sears places Kenmore name on products they sell but other companies make the products and that company could change each year. In other words, your machine could actually be a Singer, White, Brothers or a generic machine made at that time but has a Kenmore label.
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  • This could be very helpful in finding a manual or if you need a part or accessory in the future.
  • Sears may also have a free manual for this machine as I am like Pghgirl and did not find a free manual. It appears legal copies of this manual (158) have been pulled and it has been expressed that any manuals being sold are illegal copies. But that does not really matter if you can pay a few bucks and get a copy for your own personal use.
  • The next thing that I would suggest is for you to find a place to take actual sewing lessons - hands on is the very best way to start learning how to sew. In fact, if you really do plan to use this machine (excellent machine by the way) and have some goal in mind then I would suggest you go beyond basic lessons and take one or two advanced lessons.
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  • You can Google sewing lessons with your zip code and probably find several sites to check out. I usually send people to their local Michael's or Jo Amm's craft stores as they usually have information on local sewing classes and may be able to help you find one near you. Be sure to tell them you have a vintage Kenmore just in case they know of a class that works with vintage machines.
  • You do not say if your machine is a portable or if it is in a cabinet so whatever type it is may make a difference in where you can take lessons. Some teachers will have spare machines for someone to borrow but others may not.
  • Of course, it is always best if you can do your lessons on your own machine but not absolutely necessary.
  • Why is this important? Mainly because most people start out really enthusiastic about sewing but soon become disillusioned as mending items may be "easy" but actually making something can get very frustrating for a beginner.
  • That is the main reason so many sewing machines are just sitting (taking up room) and not being used. Sewing can only be fun and enjoyable if you can see a nice finished product sometime - something you can proudly present to the world and say "I made it!".
  • A little bit of history about your machine:
  • Some people call this a "Model 16" but it does match the 158-162/163 and was probably made around 1975 so this is a true vintage machine.
  • One of the nice things about this age machine is they were built to last a life-time and also made so repairs could be done by the owner.
  • I hope you enjoy using your grandmother's machine, and, if she is still alive you can show her something nice you have made. If not, then you can do it in remembrance and display it proudly.
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