The introduction of the Touch & Sew series marked the beginning of the end of classic heavy duty Singer machines. Plastic parts took the place of steel, aluminum and other cast metals. The result was lighter and quieter machines, but without the strength and longevity of their predecessors.
Because of this, the Touch & Sew often gets a bad rap in vintage sewing machine circles. However, there are a handful of Touch & Sew models that are graced with the same STEEL gears that drove the 400- and 500-series slant needle machines.
It's not uncommon to find 600, 603, and 604 models with steel gears, but the 626 is another model to watch for. You'll have to remove the bottom cover (which means unscrewing all 4 feet) to be sure, but your efforts will be rewarded if you see steel gears beneath the bobbin-compartment.
There are a lot of reasons to love a steel-geared Touch & Sew. They are less industrial feeling than the earlier slant needles, which means a smoother & quieter sewing experience. And the stitch quality is superb, with some of the best satin-stitching I've seen.
The steel-geared 626 is one of my favorite all-purpose sewing machines. It's a joy to use for everyday projects and has the chops to tackle heavy duty jobs too. If you're looking for a great all-around sewing machine without the vintage price tag, keep your eyes open for a 626 with steel gears!
OldSewinGear is the collaborative effort of retired repairman Gary and daughter Barbara. We love old sewing gear and enjoy sharing what we've learned in our vintage sewing machine adventures. We are located in Roseburg, Oregon.