Gosh! A new post … and it’s the last one

Yes, it’s been a while.   But we got overtaken by Life and stuff, so I couldn’t keep up this blog any more.

Anyhow, our last Grasshopper has now gone to its new home together with the last of the spares I had, so this is the end of the road.  Goodbye folks 🙂



Elna Grasshopper Instructions

coverHurrah!  I finally got round to scanning the first half of the English-language instructions, and you can now download a PDF of them here …Elna Grasshopper Instructions Part One

Not a Grasshopper but …

Elizabeth emailed me this morning and very kindly drew my attention to a wonderful ad posted by a Goodwill shop.  I often think it’s a real shame that we don’t have Goodwill, or indeed Craigslist, in the UK – particularly when I see adverts like this one.

It’s for an “Elna Brand Sewing Machine in Original Box” and it’s in Indianapolis.  It’s actually a Supermatic, and of course it’s not in its original box, it’s in its case.  Big difference!

But whatever.  “Color” is listed as “Sewing machine is mint green in color”, which is fine, but we get a feel for where this ad is headed when “Pattern” is described as “Sewing machine is mainly solid in pattern”.

“Condition” is the familiar “Sewing machine plugs in, light comes on and wheel turns”, which on Ebay at least often indicates a non-runner in much the same way as “needs plug” or “we don’t have the foot pedal” does.

But it’s the “Notes” which I’m in awe of …

“This particular sewing machine has a very strange device for making the machine work.  You have to stick a long chrome-colored l-shaped device into a slot on the front of the machine and then move the rod in order to activate the machine.  We think that this is maybe for people who don’t have legs or feet.”

Isn’t that wonderful?

The contents of the Grasshopper Accessory Box

As far as I’m aware, the accessories contained in the box supplied with the the Elna Grasshopper were as follows …

503707 Darning Plate

503773 Standard Presser Foot

503866 Hemmer Foot (earlier machines) or 503884 Hemmer Foot 4mm (later machines)

503854 Hinged Presser Foot

503852 Darning Foot

503251 Speed Reducer

503704 Small Screwdriver

503876 or 503673 Large Screwdriver

503742 Brush

503770 Right-angled Screwdriver (up to machine s/n 145600)

503893 Oil can

503882 Kerosene Bottle (earlier machines) or 503898 Kerosene can (later machines)

Also in the Accessory Box was the elusive Tray, which is part number 503847.

As time allows, I’ll try to photograph most if not all of these.

Grasshopper versus Featherweight

As far as I’m aware, the Singer Featherweight 222K i.e. the free-arm version, was introduced in 1954.

That’s 14 years after Elna started production of the Grasshopper.

So where do people get this idea that the Featherweight was the first domestic free-arm sewing machine?

How to date an Elna #1 Grasshopper

Let me begin by stating that I don’t consider myself to be any kind of authority where the Grasshopper (or indeed anything else) is concerned, so what follows is not necessarily definitive.  It should, though, cover most eventualities, and hopefully be better than nothing.

OK, we start by lifting the access door on the bend in the arm, and noting the serial number, the first digit of which is the last digit of the year of manufacture …

Now, given that most Grasshoppers were produced between 1940 and 1952, the question arises as to whether this one is 1942 or 1952.  Similarly, any serial number starting in 0 or 1 is going to be ambiguous.  So how to tell?

First off, swing up the round plate which covers the access hole at the back of the column and see if there’s anything punched there like this …

If you can’t see that, get closer …

If there’s numbers, problem solved.  That’s the date of manufacture, in this case March 1952.

If there isn’t, and your serial number starts with 0, 1 or 2, your date of manufacture is most likely to be 1940, 1941 or 1942..  If that’s the case, the top of the motor housing on your machine will have a hump in the middle of it and/or the part of the knee-lever linkage which comes into contact with the back of the flywheel will be square-ish, not cylindrical.

Out of the 7 machines I have here right now, the only one without a date punched on the periphery of that access hole is the one with the serial number starting with a 5, and that has to be 1945 because production had stopped before 1955.

I have seen a date-stamp inside a motor housing done with an ordinary rubber stamp, and apparently some machines were rubber-stamped with a date underneath, but whether or not those could be taken to be its official date of birth I have no idea.