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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Home Model NLR: One Dirty Machine

I just picked up this machine yesterday. It's a round bobbin rotary model.

You can probably already see how dirty it is, but just wait, there's more.

Just look at that chrome on the hand wheel--hardly any silver showing through. It's mostly a dark, sludgy brown. And I'm quite sure that those yellow metal parts should actually be silver.  By now, you may have noticed the greasy appearance of the black finish. The entire machine is positively caked with a greasy substance.What could it be? My first guess would be that it was stored in a smoker's home. There is a very slight odor, but it's not nearly strong enough to justify the gunk all over the machine.

Ironically, the box of rotary attachments that came with this machine are in pristine condition. They're silver, shiny, free moving (not a speck of rust anywhere), and appear unused--not a scratch to be seen on any of them.

Here's a view of the back. I just love the retro look of the light, though (from what I've read) this type of sewing machine light likes to get very hot. That lighter patch on the bed of the machine under the motor is the model number and serial number. It reads NLR117455. I still haven't tracked down a manufacturing date, but this model is very close in appearance to the more known model NLB, which was manufactured from approximately 1941-1953. Again, ISMACS to the rescue with the full manual. This is the first manual I've ever seen that details every piece of the tension assembly, should you ever need to adjust or replace the check spring (scroll down to page 8).

And this is the strangest motor pulley I've every seen. That's because it's covered in masking and electrical tape . . .

. . . I'm not sure why, since the rubber doesn't have any flat spots, and it's not dried out. The motor housing sits very close to the body of the machine. Maybe the tape was added to make more space between machine and motor? I guess I will find out as I clean this machine up and get it running again. In the photo on a right, a bit of electrical tape is still on the pulley, and the set screw is removed. Again--very dirty, and very greasy.

Here's a closeup of the .7 amp motor, and you can see just how close it sits to the body of the machine.

Here's the faceplate. I'll get into threading in a later post. I'll have to remove this to oil some moving parts, but again, the manual is very detailed in this respect, and will guide me through it. Why can't all user manuals be this way?

And here is the famous New Home Light Running greyhound trademark. Overall, this machine is filthy--and I love it, because, under all that filth, the machine looks like it's in remarkably good condition. I can't wait to share before and after photos in another post!


  1. Hello Sarah in Michigan,

    That is one cool, but dirty machine.
    The fact that it is covered in "gunk" may have saved the finish from oxidizing and breaking down after all these years.
    Mine was that dirty and like I said, it took some elbow grease to get it cleaned up.
    I have a vast array of cleaners and polishes I use on a per situation basis. It doesn't take much to ruin a finish.
    I even use the Tri-Flow machine oil to clean parts sometimes.

    Let me know if you run into trouble with the clean-up.

    Did you happen to get a HUGE stock of CC1221, New Home needles with your machine?
    I have 3 left. I did make one from a 15X1 and it works fine. I would rather have originals........

    I will check in on your blog for new developments with your NLR.
    I too, am baffeled with the "masking Tape" on the friction wheel. ??????

    Dan in Indiana


  2. Hi Dan,

    We're practically neighbors--just one state away. :~) I went and checked the cabinet and accessories. Unfortunately, there was not a huge stock of original needles--just three (that must be the magic number) plus two blue needles that might be for leather (not sure since the packaging was incomplete). How did you make your own? Did you cut a bit off the top of a 15 X 1 needle shank?

    One thing I forgot to photograph (and which does not show in the pictures) is that there is an "actual size" silhouette of the needle painted on the front right side of the machine bed (will photograph next time). I find little details like these fascinating.

    I don't have much in the way of special cleaners for this project. I do have some TR-3 Automobile Cleaner and Polish "For New and Old Cars." It claims to restore oxidized finishes. Another vintage machine enthusiast/restorer used it on a black Singer with very good results. Still, I will tread carefully, and test it on the paint just under the bed. Any cleanser recommendations?

    Much Thanks,

  3. I have the exact same sewing cabinet as you that I recently bought a yard sale except I know nothing about it! Where did you get yours? Is there anything special I should know about these in general aside from having the original needles is important?

    I'm very interested in the value of this particular item. I have the original manual, a spare light bulb and LOTS of really old-timey patterns that are super cool.

    1. I got this machine as a local pickup from I think I paid a little over $8. I'm still getting to know this machine myself. You may already be aware, since you have the original manual, that the hand wheel turns away from you when sewing, instead of toward you like most other machines. As for the special needles, they can be made by shortening a standard 15X1 needle. There is a post on Dano's (above) blog, showing how he does it. I haven't tried it yet.

      When I first bought this machine, I joined the Yahoo! group, FreeWestinghouseNewHome. It's a small group of only 86, so there isn't a lot of frequent posting, but you may find it beneficial to read over the message archives, and peruse the photos section. I have to say, I haven't found a lot of information on the model NLR either.

      It's difficult to put a dollar value on these machine, as they haven't gained antique "status" yet, and you can get them very cheaply in many places. You may find it helpful to search COMPLETED Ebay listings and check the pricing of similar machines that actually sold.

  4. Hello, I ran across your post while looking for information on a Greyhound machine I found at a yard sale. This one does not have the picture like yours but actually says Greyhound where yours says New Home. It has lots of feet, needles and a manual, but I haven't been able to find any information on it. Do you know where I might find some info on this machine.

  5. Hi Char,

    I tried doing a little research before getting back to you. I wasn't able to find much information other than your machine was made by New Home. The machine I was most often able to find in my web search was the Greyhound Model 30, which is a 3/4 size machine you can see at this link:

    Is there a model number anywhere on the machine? Maybe near the back, right corner? I've posted a question regarding Greyhound machines in the Yahoo! group, FreeWestinghouseNewHome. Hopefully someone there can point me in the right direction.