Friday, January 14, 2011

Singer Athena 2000

I love it when a student brings a sewing machine to class that inspires me to learn something. Thursday night happened to be one of those times. I could tell it was an older machine and I had two thoughts: I hope she has the instruction booklet and I'm excited she went to the trouble to bring it to class. I don't expect my students to bring a machine, but if they have one and can bring it, then I can teach them how to use it.

I offered to help her set it up and asked if she had sewn on it recently. I was happy when she replied she had tested it last night because then I knew there was a possibility of it working. I have had students bring in machines that have sat in basements for years. It is never fun to have to tell kids that their machines have to be serviced before they can be used. I hoped tonight that wouldn't be the case. I lifted the machine out of the container, plugged in the presser foot and power cord and it turned on fine. My student assured me she knew how to thread it, so I went to attend to another kid. Then I heard those famous last words, "Michelle, my machine isn't working..." I headed back over to her and sure enough, the machine was on, but it wouldn't sew! I noticed that the bobbin winder was engaged, which could prevent the needle from moving up and down. Typically that can be adjusted by pushing in or tightening the center of the manual wheel, but that was not the case this time. I was stumped! I asked if she has an instruction booklet (I think so, but I don't know where it is) so I decided I needed to sit down until I figured it out. I started investigating the machine: the more I searched, the cooler I realized it was! It crossed my mind that it was a hybrid of some kind from the early '70s and I wrote the model number down so I could research it later.

I still had a mystery to solve. The one clue I had was the bobbin function. It was a drop-in bobbin (on the top by the feed dogs, and not in the front on the neck) and it was a self-winding bobbin design I had seen once before in a vintage machine (I wish I could remember what that one was). I think, there must be something in the bobbin that I can disengage, but I can't figure out what. Then I just go for it. There is a panel of buttons with no information on the top of the machine. I press the first one: nothing (later I figure out it is the reverse button). I press the second one: bingo! It works! Mystery solved.

When I got home I did some research. Turns out the Singer Athena has an interesting place in history. It was introduced in 1975 and was the first electronic sewing machine. If you click on the photo it will take you over to a time line on the singer website. There are some other interesting facts about the machine and free pdfs of the schematics here: Athena 2000. I just love this stuff!

23 comments:

  1. Just saw one of these for sale on craigslist for $150, which includes the large cedar sewing cabinet.

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  2. I bought an Athena 2000 in 1975 when they were brand new. Along with the cabinet, it cost me something like $800. That doesn't sound like much today, but at the time, it was a fortune. I bought it "on time", paying a little each month until it was paid off. Over the next 14 years, I made ALL my daughter's clothes on it. Her first grade teacher told me she was the best dressed kid in class, and I'd send fabric scraps to school with her for art projects. When Katie hit Jr. High School, she wanted store-bought clothes like her friends, so my sewing ended for her. But I continued making my clothes for many years. Today, that Athena 2000 is still working perfectly. The only thing that has ever gone wrong with it was a drive belt that broke about 10 years ago. Every button, every stitch, still works like new. It's 37 years old now, and I have no plans to replace it. I still have all the attachments and manuals for it, and I look forward to sewing for grandchildren on it.

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    1. I have this machine. My Mom bought it at a garage sale and was so excited, but when we got home it didn't work. Took it to a local sewing store, but they said it wasn't worth fixing so it went in to a closet. After she passed away, I contacted a Singer repair shop and was told it was worth fixing. (my experience with this local shop is nothing is worth fixing, come look at this new sewing machine or vaccum.) Had it fixed it works great , but I cannot figure out how to wind the bobbin. I followed the pictures but the thread goes under the bobbin. What am I doing wrong? What I get from the instructions are: put the empy bobbin in with the slot up, slide the latch over, pull the thread under the left of the presser foot an the thread retainer and wind the bobbin. I know I must be doing something wrong. Please help. heatheranne62@msn.com

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    2. Petunia, did you touch the straight stitch icon after those steps?

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    3. I have had my Athena 2000 since 1979, when I also bought the cabinet with the swing away top. It closes like a desk with doors on the front. When I wind a bobbin, I put bobbin in case, slide the latch over, pull the thread under the left of the presser foot and hang on to it. I also push the button for stationary (third button from the left, the one with the black dot), then wind away to desired amount. I hope this helps. If it doesn't, you may need the winding mechanism adjusted. My machine is metal, not plastic. It is in the "shop" right now, timing belt broke. The last time I had it repaired, he said mine does not have the usual 2000 ailments. I always liked the one step buttonholer, a first for that machine, I think. I would like to know where to find the off center twin needle that this machine needs. One can use the center shank needle, but only a close double needle because it sews in the left needle position, not center position, and that cannot be changed. Later machines could be changed, left, center, right needle position.
      Bev

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    4. I am so Glad I found you all!!! My daughter was given an Athena 2000 a few years ago by one of our elderly neighbors. She said she only used it twice and I believe it. Everything was a little dusty but looked unused. Took it to our local sewing shop to be cleaned and replace the foam that had rotted and good as new. Sews like a dream! she has made several quilts.
      The problem she had yesterday is that apparently the needle hit the bobbin case two times (based on the holes we found). Now the thread catches on them as it goes across the bobbin case. I have found a bobbin case online for $29.99 (!!!). I called myself looking in the manual but I did not see how to remove it. I guess I am asking can a reasonably competent person take out the bobbin case and put in a new one or do I take it in? Do I need to replace anything else when I do?

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  3. Ahhhhhh . . . .I love my Althena 2000!!!! I purchased mine in 1976 - paid more for it than my first 3 cars!!! I am a professional seamstress/fashion designer and can't begin to tell you how many garments have been under my needle. I have never had a problem and I sew 20-80 hours a week. I know, one of these days, it will probably have it's last, but until that time, it will be my trusted machine to create beautiful garments!

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  4. Thanks for the encouraging remarks about its dependability! I have my grandmother's Athena 2000... I've been sitting here staring at it, thinking how easy my Slant-O-Matic (which is sitting right beside it, and was my grandma's machine too, and the one I learned to sew on when I was a child) is to set the stitching and tensions! I guess that's kind of backwards, huh?... Since the former is the electronic one! I know the SOM is a work horse, as it went through decades of sewing... My grandma, then my mom, and me. Sadly though, its motor has finally gone. Now, back to talking about the Athena! My grandma made dresses for me when I was little, but then developed arthritis not too long after. No one else has used the machine since. I just took it out of the closet to take a look at it because I'm interested in sewing some drapes.

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  5. The Athena 2000 is the first machine I ever sewed on back in 1979!! The machine is my mom's and I bought the newest Athena (2009) a couple of weeks ago.

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  6. I love hearing about everyone with their Athena 2000 machines! I got mine 3 or 4 years ago from my grandma-in-law. It was her mothers and since no one else in the family really sews, except for me, she gave it to me. It is my pride and joy. Sadly, I'm not sure if she's ever going to work again. I could be going overboard here because I haven't even taken her in to be checked out but lightning struck awfully close to my house about 2 weeks ago. It tripped the whole house circuit breakers and rendered my cordless home phone and a coffee maker absolutely useless, as in would not power up for love nor money. My Athena 2000 suffered damage as well although she will still start when turned on. Unfortunately, she's off and racing even without me touching the pedal the very second the switch is flipped. I'm hoping to take her in soon and praying that she can be fixed, otherwise, I will have to find me another one... and deal with the sentimental issues of losing this one, later. Say a prayer for me, if you think about it, that I'll be able to help her recover :).

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  7. Petunia:

    That latch for the bobbin slides over farther than most people think it should, and there will be a "click" when it's properly in place. Try again, this time pushing the latch over into place the way you've been doing, then pushing some more until it clicks. Very common problem for new Athena owners (I run a Yahoo discussion group on the machine), because the directions in the instruction manual are not clear on that point.

    And Unknown:

    When you get your Athena fixed (or find another one, which is usually much cheaper), PLEASE use it with a surge suppressor, and keep it unplugged when not in use. No sewing during storms, either. You've found out the hard way what can happen. Fortunately, preventing this kind of damage is easy - nothing much can happen if the machine is unplugged.

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    1. I know you posted almost a year ago - but I'm having the same problem. I read your last post and you were right - but I pushed it all the way over - and it's still not working. I also looked for your yahoo group without success... please help?! It's like the thread just isn't catching the bobbin... thoughts? Thanks!!! Jess

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    2. Jessica, I have the manual for the Athena 2000 - I have my mom's, and it's still working great. If you would like me to scan and e-mail you the instructions for bobbin winding, I'd be happy to do so. You can email me at cathysova @ gmail.com.

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  8. Ladies I love to hear the praises for the Athena 2000 I am a home economics teacher that specializes in teaching textiles fashion and clothing construction. I received my Touch tronic 2000 (a slightly new model in age only, it is exactly the same) in 1979 as a college graduation gift from my father. It was $800.00 back then. The touch tronic 2010 was $1000.00 and as one of the bloggers mentioned it was a fortune in 1979 dollars. More than my first car as well. The machine never lets me down. It always runs and has made more things than I can even imagine. (and top stitching, well nothing compares, Perfectly straight every time.) I have brought it in for service a few time each for minor repairs. and on a few occasions was told that the machine was not worth repair. Stupid me: I listened --- Purchased very expensive machines from other manufacturers I hate them all. I spend the money and go back to my singer every time. I thought I was the only one so loyal to my machine but I am very happy to read that I am not alone. I have used all kinds of machines, makes and models and I think it is by far the best machine ever made. Now I am getting ready to retire and find that I have quite a few machines in my basement. I will be giving them all to deserving students after my two children pick their favorite. The Touch tronic however will follow me until I die. [Just in case you were wondering, Neither one of my children sew but I believe a sewing machine is a home tool as valuable as a screwdriver. No home should be without one (It can be a cheap one) Even if it is only used to repair seams and hems. If you find you use your cheap one often then you can buy a more expensive durable model]
    Thank you for your loyalty it the machine. I now feel a little less crazy.....

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  9. I have a singer Athena 2000 with cabinet and it works. Can anyone tell me how much it's worth? Also, it has everything that goes with it manual etc. email at almorris247@yahoo.com thanks

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  10. i just found this sewing machine at a thrift store for 20 bucks! im so excited to learn how to use it!

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  11. I found my machine outside the dumpsters at my apartment complex. The only thing wrong was that it the rubber on the feed dog was past its prime, leaving a sticky mess. I ordered a new feed dog (the kind you can use for embroidery) for $10 and cleaned up the mess left by the old one. After I installed the new one, I downloaded some free threading diagrams to both my computer and smartphone, followed the charts and turned on the machine. Already an experienced, self-taught tailor, I was totally impressed with what a WORKHORSE this machine totally is! It glided right through the layers of recycled backpack cloth I used to make a coupon/checkbook holder like BUTTA! I couldn't believe how anyone could throw it out. Bobbin-winding was a cinch. Not having to use cams or number combinations---like on my mother's Slant-o-Matic 500--- for decorative stitching was a welcome break. A few minor problems:
    1. It seems to skip stitches and break needles on denim.
    2. When purchasing specialty needles, stay away from generic and foreign brands. I bought some Schmetz denim needles at the local fabric store and they were too big on top to fit under the clamp. Filing them down helped somewhat, but the alignment might have been off afterwards because I still couldn't get a good stitch.
    3. Fancy and zigzag stitching use up the bobbin really fast, so be prepared to do a lot of winding. TG, no need to remove it from the machine. The little window is a nice feature.
    I haven't tried the buttonhole or zipper feature yet, but will report later on those. This is a prime example of one person's trash being another's treasure.

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  12. I have two Singer machines, the 2000 Touch Tronic, I bought in 1979. I still have the manual and accessories that came with it. I was given the 2010 model with the 380 space saver cabinet with manual and accessories, about 4 years ago from a friend who doesn't sew.She only used it once back in the 70's. I took both of the to the repairman for regular maintenance. I LOVE them but I am selling them to put towards a new machine for the type of quilting and sewing I will be doing now. I am asking $3000.00 for the lot. If you know anyone who's interested please let me know. dms6.1@juno.com

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  13. Just inherited my mom's. I only needed about five minutes to turn it on, because I watched her sew on it so much. But my hubby will be taking it for servicing for me - it hasn't been used in about eight years. Thanks for posting!

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  14. Hi! I see that the Athena is the subject here but I'm hoping some can give me advice about my Touch tronic 2010. I bought this at a thrift store earlier this month. It came with no manual or accessories. I fell in love with it immediently. I ordered a manual and bought accessories on Ebay. Unfortunately, my the time my items got to me, my machine stopped working. When I turn it on, various stitch lights come on on their own and it now only sews backwards. The touch panel does nothing when I press it. Ideas anyone. I know I'll have a lot of fun with it but is it repairable?

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  15. Sounds like you need a new board, that rectangular section where you push all the buttons. Sometimes you can find just the board on eBay. I, myself, have 3 Touchtronic 2001's, two that run and one is a parts machine. One was mine that I bought originally in 1977 for $1000 and the other two I got pretty reasonable on eBay. Then I came across an Athena 2000 that someone was giving away. So yes, THAT'S how much I love that machine. I will never own another kind..

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  16. As a matter of fact there's a 2010 model for sale right now on eBay for $49.99

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  17. The entire manual is available as a free download in PDF format here:
    http://www.manualslib.com/manual/508740/Singer-Athena-2000.html

    Does anyone have a manual for the cabinet itself? I'm having a terrible time getting it re-mounted into the cabinet. Please email me at cathysova @ gmail.com is you can help, and many thanks!

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