Kenmore Sewing Machine Won't Turn

My pink Kenmore 1951 model won't turn over, even when turned by hand it is very hard.

By Bob


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November 29, 20140 found this helpful

There are many possible reasons why the machine wheel will not turn, especially in very old machines. It is very difficult to assess your machine's problems from afar. Suggest you take the machine to a repair shop for help.

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December 4, 20140 found this helpful

As other posters have mentioned, there could be several reasons why this is happening.

On a vintage machine, however, it's almost always the belt drive worn or even broken. If you're handy and feeling brave, you can try the following to see if it is your belt - it's an easy fix because the only thing you have to take off is the head cover, the belt is on the right end of the machine closest to where the handwheel is on the outside. You can't miss it, and you can't miss if it's worn (it will sag on the shaft and gear) or broken (you'll see the snapped belt first thing).


First, examine your machine to see where and what type head screws are holding the cover down, then get the right tool and a muffin tin to hold the screws as you remove them.

*Important* Take several clear pictures FIRST of where all the screws go! And once you have the cover off, take photos of the internal workings BEFORE you do another thing. The photos will help you replace the cover correctly, and can be emailed (internal snaps) to Sears for email diagnosis (yes, they do this, they'd rather you brought it in but if you email the snaps and ask what part you need to purchase from their extensive catalogue, they're ok with that:).

After you have all the screws out and are looking at the insides of the machine you should see the belt either on and sagging from the drive shaft, or bits of it hanging and scattered in that area.


(You'll see what I mean the minute you get the cover off if I'm right)

Contact Sears parts for the correct belt, the package usually has replacement instructions but it's an easy do, like you would on your vacuum, for example.

*If you get the cover off and can't see anything wrong with the belt, replace the cover and take the machine to the Sears repair centre. Their techs are factory trained and have the tools and knowledge to fix anything more complicated than a belt. Be sure to check that the cost of the repair includes a complete servicing of your vintage Kenmore - you have to ask as they no longer do this routinely.

I teach sewing and do self-taught repair over here in the UK to a number of my students vintage machines. Hope this helps!

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