TinkerBeth

Costume design, vintage sewing machines, painting

1956 Morse 200 Deluxe

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I had a feeling this morning that something wonderful was headed my way, and when I checked my usual round of emails & websites found someone who was giving away a vintage Morse 200 Deluxe sewing machine. I would be happy if this machine was even in decent condition! I don’t know much about Morse machines, except that they were made by Toyota at one point and looked somewhat like a Zephyr train.

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So, why not? I contacted the owner, and within an hour I was as giddy as a kid at Christmas as I pulled my treasure out of its box.  And it did not disappoint!  It was love at first sight (sorry honey).  Gorgeous metallic blue and gleaming chrome . . . this 30 lb beast has real metal levers and knobs, not a BIT of plastic to be found. Now, I’ve owned vintage machines before (Franklin Treadle, Singer 66-8, Singer 20U) and have never been in such awe of the gorgeousness of a machine. It’s like time stopped the moment its former owner stopped sewing with it.  The chrome is flawless, there is no rust, the original manual is complete, accessories UNOPENED. Here are some basic pics:

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Some small touches that I just love: The graphic on the front of the manual is charming, “For Home Sewing Pleasure” indeed!  Then I found the gleaming miniature oilcan (unopened) and the cuff from an old shirt that was buttoned around the machine’s arm and used as a pincushion (what a great idea!) CORRECTION! This is NOT a great idea. The pins & needles can scratch the paint and cause pin-rash. It’s true! Don’t do it.

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I immediately started kicking tires & checking under the hood.  The only negatives I could find were a crumbling light cord and belt.  Fortunately, the set of standard belts sold at JoAnns fit perfectly, the light cord I will deal with later. The extent of necessary cleaning & maintenance: replace belts, blast some fuzz with canned air & oil all the spots. A side note: I was recently frustrated with my 5 yr-old domestic Viking machine because it had locked up & the manual said NOTHING about oiling, so I squirted it in the usual spots & it came back to life.  The Morse? Perfectly clear illustrations and directions for oiling.  C’mon machine manufacturers, give us some credit!

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Moving on – This machine has some interesting features: Non-Jamming: the description is kinda confusing, but I checked the race assembly, and there were indeed a couple of short peices of thread in there, so it must work.  Also features Automatic Darner, not really automatic, but it is a push button release for the pressure that the presser foot exerts downward on the feed dogs.  Kinda neat, never seen that before.  Fabric Selector controls the pressure that the feed dogs exert upward on the presser foot.

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This is a straight-stitch machine only, with reverse.  It ranges from 7-30 stitches per inch.  The only negative I’ve found so far is that it’s a little time-consuming to switch stitch lengths.  The lever needs to be in the middle, thumbscrew loosened, length adjusted, thumbscrew tightened, lever moved out of middle.  It’s a bit cumbersome, but the mechanism is pretty 😉 The bobbin winder is nice and solid, as well as fast.  It can be run with the needle disengaged OR  while you sew using a 2nd spool of thread.  LOVE that.  I also really like that the takeup lever, tension control and all that jazz is off to the left side of the needle, I hate seeing all that stuff whizzing up & down right in front of my face.  And yes, I’ve whacked myself in the forehead with a takeup lever when leaning in too close.  More than once.

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So, how does it run?  In a word; spectacularly. It’s not super-quiet, but quieter than my newer Viking.  I only had to make slight tension adjustments to get a beautiful, balanced stitch. It feels smooth, not jerky.  I also like the older style metal foot pedal, it gives you great speed control. One recommendation: Whenever you get a new machine, whether you have one or many (ahem) always make a stitch length sample to keep with the machine.  It’s easier to know what length you want if you have a visual reference right there.  Each of my machines does it differently; arbitrary numbers 1-7, 1-4.5, stitches per inch . . . and I cannot remember exactly what each looks like.

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Overall, I love this machine & can’t wait to get the lamp re-wired.  If you have the opportunity to pick one up in (at least) decent condition, don’t hesitate.  Here’s some eye-candy of other Morse models, I’m definitely a fan!

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UPDATE: Here’s the manual in pdf format for FREE download!

Morse 200 Deluxe Manual

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43 comments on “1956 Morse 200 Deluxe

  1. Anonymous
    February 22, 2012

    Good morning,

    I just purchased a Morse 200 yesterday and was on line looking for a new belt when I came across your page. My machine did not come with a manual so your offer to send a PDF put a huge smile on my face! I love old machines. My 1957 Pffaf, 1921 Singer treadle and 1956 Singer all sew beautifully. I am really looking forward to getting the Morse up and running.

    Kindest regards,
    Joyce

  2. Beth Laske-Miller
    February 22, 2012

    Hi!As you can tell, I love my Morse!  FYI, the generic belt set that they sell at JoAnns does fit the Morse, and it's only about $2.99, and includes the small belt for the bobbin winder 🙂  I think I may just post the Morse manual as a pdf on here so that anyone can just download it directly.  When I get it figured out, I'll send you an update. Happy to find another lover of old machines!!Beth

  3. Beth Laske-Miller
    February 22, 2012

    OK, I uploaded it as part of the original post, enjoy!
    Beth

    • T Miller
      August 8, 2013

      I have found a Morse Deluxe 200 for a steal. To my dismay, it did not come with a manual. I have not yet had the pleasure of sewing…I can’t seem to figure out how to thread the darn thing! You have made one young sewin’ mama deliciously giddy.

      Best Wishes!

      • Lorie murray
        February 9, 2016

        Same here can’t figure the darn thing out.

  4. Anonymous
    February 23, 2012

    Thank you so much Beth!  My husband finished repairing the electrical and replaced the belt ….  your copy of the manual promptly arrived and the Morse was purring like a kitten by 4.  What a wonderful machine.  It manages thick or thin with ease.  I can see many thread painted pieces coming from this machine….smile.Thank you again Beth…  it was so thoughtful of you.Kindest regards,Joyce

  5. Anonymous
    April 4, 2012

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I too have a newly acquired Morse deluxe 200. It looks like the one on the manual front page. I haven’t had a chance to sew on her but I’m guessing she’ll have a nice hum. It was fun finding your blog.

  6. Anonymous
    May 2, 2012

    My Morse Story
    I got a call from a co-worker. He had overheard me blithering away about an Elna Lotus I got from dumpster-diver. Sooo he went searching in a shed out at the ranch and brought me the twin to your Morse.
    For $40 I have a treasure beyond compare. His name is “Sharky”. San Jose Sharks Hockey team’s colors are teal/black/white. My new sewing machine looks like it was painted to be a Shark Machine. My light looks as trashed as yours but the machine appears to be a “57 Chevy with 84 miles on it!” It’s truly my find of the year.
    Thanks for the copy of the manual . That was a gift I shall treasure.
    Wanda Johnson (FabricButcher)
    San Jose, Ca

  7. Anonymous
    July 3, 2012

    Just bought a 200 myself,found it on craigslist and the guy had started at $85, by the time I got to it he was down to $55 but said he would go $50.
    So,i took my mother over since I know nothing about sewing machines and she tried to sew with it but she could not get it to grab the bobbin thread,we left without it.
    I called him the next day and was informed I could have it for $30 and I wish I could post a picture to show you how nice it and the cabnit are because you would understand why I was out the door in less than two minutes 🙂

    I brought the machine home and called mom to tell her of the deal I got,now it being 10pm by now didnt stop mom from running over,turning the needle the right way,lowering it and sewing on it for the next hour! LoL

    My mother loves this thing and should I run across something even better and decide to turn loose of the Morse without telling her I am sure she will not talk to me for a while.

  8. Beth Laske-Miller
    July 3, 2012

    Woo hoo Brian!
    There’s just something about these machines, I don’t know what I’d do without mine, I haven’t found anything it can’t do!

    Share nicely with your mother 😉

  9. Wing
    July 6, 2013

    The link to the user manual does work anymore. Would you email a copy to me? I saw the machine for sale at a local store but couldn’t get it to work properly. My email is po_813@yahoo.com.

    Thanks!

    • tinkerbeth2
      July 7, 2013

      Hi Wing! I updated the link at the end of the post. I’ll also email it to you directly.
      Thanks for letting me know about the dead link, I had no idea.
      And good luck with your machine 🙂
      Beth

  10. scharper
    October 31, 2013

    I just bought a Morse 200 deluxe from Goodwill today in pristine condition. Is there any way to control the speed? She runs smoothly but fast. Can’t get it to slow down. I can only stop it by unpluggin it.

    • tinkerbeth2
      October 31, 2013

      Hmmm, I’m not sure. Does it look like it has the original motor? You can usually tell if it doesn’t match the machine. I have heard of people swapping out the motor for one that’s either more or less powerful, depending on preference. If you get a less powerful motor, you may also sacrifice some strength for stitching through layers. If you can open up the foot pedal, it may also need a good cleaning. I’ll let you know if I discover anything else that might help.

  11. Kelly Spinola
    January 14, 2014

    Hi, my dad just found an old machine in my grandfathers house. The Morse emblem seems to be missing and it’s beige but otherwise looks like yours and the instructions seem to match it perfectly. The motor runs and moves the belt but not the needle. The hand wheel gave me a few stitches and then stopped. It seems like it wants to work :). Is it worth taking for repair? I have an inexpensive singer but am starting to do some heavier projects and wondering if this could make my life much better. Any advice? Thank you!

    • tinkerbeth2
      January 14, 2014

      Hi Kelly,
      Yes, there are a ton of machines that have this same basic setup, and that’s part of what is so great about them! Parts are easily replaceable & attachments can be shared with almost any straight low-shank machine. I think it’s definitely worth fixing the machine.

      The first thing you should look at is the wiring; are there any frayed spots, crumbling insulation, exposed wires? If so, you definitely should address that first. Be careful about sewing machine repair places & choose well! Some only want to sell you something new, telling you that fixing up an old machine isn’t worth it. But believe me, if you want to sew heavier materials, you need a heavier machine with a stronger motor, which the new machines do not have.

      If the wiring looks good, the machine may just need a good cleaning & oiling. If you tip the machine back & see lots of yellowish-brown gunk, you can wipe the various rods & metal parts with rubbing alcohol using a toothbrush or Q-tips. Then put a couple drops of oil on every joint that moves, and a small glob of grease on any gears. Try letting it run for a few minutes without a needle & see how it goes. If it’s still stiff, see if you can figure out what area is giving you trouble & aim a warm haidryer at it for several minutes & try again. Sometimes old oil & grease dry up & need to be melted away.

      Good luck!!

  12. Kelly Spinola
    January 14, 2014

    Thanks for the advice. I’m going to take another look tomorrow!

  13. dreamernkansas
    January 22, 2014

    My wife got a desk for school from a lady whose husband had made the desk for her. The machine didn’t work but the desk was quite useful. I would like to repair the machine and have a good sewing machine at the house. It is a Morse 200 Deluxe exactly as this model, but without the box. It’s been mounted in a desk. There is no power cord other than the one for the light, which is in pretty good condition. The cord coming out of the motor is cut off, so will have to be replaced. I do not know how to make the power cord. If you have an idea or some good pictures of how the cord is routed, I would be quite grateful. Thank you.

    • tinkerbeth2
      January 23, 2014

      Hi! In general with these machines, there is a two-plug outlet box that should be attached somewhere under the desk. One outlet is marked “motor” one is marked “light”. Both ends of that box should have a cord coming out, one goes to the foot/kneed pedal, the other goes to the wall outlet. The machine itself should have a cord with a plug end coming out of the motor, and a cord with a plug end coming out of the light. These are what gets plugged into the outlet box mounted inside the desk. If all you are missing is the cord with plug end that is coming out of the motor, it may be an easy fix, depending on how long the “tail” is that they left when it was snipped. If you’re comfortable with minor electrical work, it should be no problem. All you need is a short extension cord that you can snip off the “female” end, leaving the “male” end and enough wire to connect to your motor (usually only a couple of feet is needed). Strip about 1/2″ of of the ends of the extension cord wires, and split the insulation about another 1/2″ down to give you some room to work. Strip the wires coming out of the motor the same way. I like to use heat-shrink insulation sleeves (Home Deport, Lowes, Menards all have it), just remember to slide a sleeve onto each wire before twisting them 🙂 Now you just twist the ends of one side of the extension cord to one side of the motor wire, slide the insulation sleeve over the exposed wire completely, and heat shrink on place. Do the same for the other side & you’re done! One small note; the outlet box mounted on the desk may have 2 small openings for the plug, rather than the ones in the wall where one is larger and one is smaller. If that is the case, you can file down the larger prong with a metal file so that it fits. I have done this with at least 12 machines not & have never had a problem.

      All that said, if you are missing that outlet box, I’m not sure how you would go about replacing it, other than looking in thrift stores for another machine that you can scavenge parts from. It would not need to be an identical machine, just one with that same setup I described above. The thing about that box is that it controls the power flowing to the machine via the foot pedal. If you plugged the motor directly into a wall outlet, it would just run continuously with no way to control it.

      I hope this helps! I don’t have any good pictures of the Morse’s electrical setup, but I do have a slightly older Damascus machine that needs to be rewired, I’ll take some pics and describe that process once I start work on it.

      Also, I’ll see if I can figure out what’s going on with the Posterous gallery, I migrated this blog from Posterous & thought that all the pics had come over smoothly, but maybe the didn’t.

      • dreamernkansas
        January 24, 2014

        Well, I went through all the drawers, checked under the desk and inside the hidey hole where the machine is put when not in use and I wasn’t able to find any box, so I’m guessing that’s why the guy never repaired the machine, becuase he didn’t have that box. I’ll do some looking around and see if I can find another machine with it. Do you happen to know if the the middle prong (the round one) on the foot feed is for any electrical purpose or just for strength to support the plug? If it’s just for strength, then it’s probably just in and out off of one live wire from the box. I could build a box and plug to work for this type of setup. Thanks for your help.

  14. Jim
    February 27, 2014

    HI, I found your website and have read some of your comments and I was hoping to get some help if your willing. I have a Morse 200 deluxe that came with my house, the machine seems to work but the needle sticks in the down position sometimes, I have zero experience sewing with a machine and I do not have the manual for this machine,I was hoping you could send me a copy of the manual and any helpful tips you could. I would like to learn how to sew and am willing to learn, thanks.

    • tinkerbeth2
      February 27, 2014

      Hi Jim,
      I’m happy to help, these are wonderful machines! Here is the link to the manual: https://tinkerbeth2.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/morse1.pdf

      The needle sticking down could be several things:
      -The needle bar that moves up & down needs a good cleaning and oiling. You can check this by removing the chrome plate from the front of the machine that covers the needle bar, turn the hand wheel & watch as it goes up & down. If the joints look gunky, clean them up with some isopropyl alcohol & a Q-tip, then add a few drops of oil to each joint.
      -The needle may be old/bent/have a burr on it. Try a new needle, these take universal needles.
      -The bobbin area may need a good cleaning. The manual can help you more with the specifics of how to disassemble the bobbin case. If anything looks gunky, cleaning with alcohol followed by a good oiling cures most ills. Any metal gears should also be cleaned, then lubricated with grease.
      -Wind a fresh bobbin & rethread, then give it another try.
      -If the machine is REALLY gunky, you may need to point a hot hair dryer at it for a few minutes at a time in order to loosen up the old oil and grease.
      Good luck!!

  15. Sonia
    May 24, 2014

    You’re machine is identical to mine although mine was in MINT condition and the only thing missing was the original oil can which I have been trying to hunt down for a few weeks now. They are solid machines and I’ve had so much fun with mine so far (novice) however I was wondering if you could tell me what tension setting you’ve set yours at and whether or not you’d recommend a specific needle.

    • tinkerbeth2
      June 5, 2014

      Awesome! I had to keep my tension set pretty low, like a 2 or 3. I used Schmetz universal needles without a problem 🙂

  16. Lori
    June 10, 2014

    I just got one of these for myself over the weekend, and I’m sooooo excited to put her to work! Apparently she’s been in storage for a long while. She was covered in sticky dust, but that cleaned off easy enough. There were some cob webs underneath that a quick run through with the vacuum hose took care of. Even the light snapped right on! The belt(s) needs replaced and I have bought the basic belt kit at Joann’s (per your suggestion!) but still haven’t put it on yet. When I turn the wheel, its verrrrrrrry stiff, so I’m sure she will need a wee bit of oil. Then we will go from thereto see what else she might need. Mine looks as if it was taken very well care of (at least while it was running regularly) because I couldn’t find a scratch on it. The case is banged up quite a bit, but inside she’s just as shiny as ever! The power cord works, but looks a little shady so I may replace that at some point. I hope to have her all fixed up very soon ready for something marvelous!

  17. Vickie
    September 9, 2014

    I’m trying to figure out what you do with the “tack” on mine ? Mine doesn’t have EMBR option ?

    • tinkerbeth2
      May 18, 2015

      Tack just drops the feed dogs so you control the motion of the fabric.

  18. Jim
    September 10, 2014

    I just bought a 205 deluxe. My I tent is to do leatherette but I can’t get the belt to turn. Motor hums along if I take the belt off but there is tension in the machine. Will the 200 manual work? Mine is more squared off and 2 toned.

  19. Brenda Dalley
    September 28, 2014

    I just picked a Morse 200 up on the side of the road, in cabinet. Looks to be in prettygood shape and manual was inside, havent had a chance to see what else is in there, would love to find a suprise little oil can! Looks like the pedal is mounted into underside of cabinet! Cant wait to get a good look.

  20. Debbie
    October 16, 2014

    I am so happy I found your website. My son bought the 200 at a garage sale for $20. I have been searching for info on this machine. It did not come with directions so I was very happy to see your instruction download. Thank you very much. I was actually getting ready to take it to good will and figured I would try to do some research and see what I could find. Can’t wait to start sewing with it. 🙂

  21. Debbie
    October 16, 2014

    One more thing, who makes this machine? Thanks

  22. Genevieve
    December 17, 2014

    I just acquired this machine and immediately noticed that it needed a new belt. I will try my local JoAnn’s as you say the one they stock will fit. However I noticed a lot of blue colored rubbery type of lint all over the bottom of the machine and case below the balance wheel. On closer examination I found that it came from the blue rubber wheel behind the bobbin winder. In your picture of the worn original belt and cord you show this piece lying inside the belt. Did you replace this blue wheel and if so could you tell me what it is called and where I can find one?
    Genny in Indiana

  23. Diana
    January 13, 2015

    I just bought a Morse Deluxe and when I plugged it in there was a bit of smoke coming from the motor. i am having someone check it out. If I need a ‘new’ motor, I was wondering if you had a source for parts. Thank you for the pdf of the manual as it was not with the machine.

    • tinkerbeth2
      May 18, 2015

      If it’s just a bit of smoke, it likely got either oil or dust in there and just needs a good cleaning. Any sewing machine repair shop should be able to do it pretty easily, or any shop that services small motors. If you need a replacement, I’ve had great luck on eBay, just make sure to get the same size, voltage, etc…

  24. sue mart
    February 12, 2015

    Hello all, I have this same blue machine 200 deluxe in beautiful condition. I got it cheap and because it had obviously not been abused, I figured it would run. However, the light came on but not the motor, not even a hum. I was hoping to find an on off switch for the motor but no such luck. The wiring looks good, maybe a small nick in the light wiring. So where should I start other than a sewing machine repairman.?

    • tinkerbeth2
      May 18, 2015

      Sorry for the long delay! You’ve probably already got it sorted, but it sound to me like either your motor or foot pedal need to be rewired. Try to find a sewing machine repairman that works on the older machines (some won’t even touch them, even though they are so much easier to repair than newer machines).

  25. Estefani
    April 11, 2015

    Thanks so much for posting the pdf manual to the sewing machine morse 200. Just got one. So excited!

  26. Kathy Timmons
    April 29, 2015

    I just won an online auction at goodwill. I got the Morse 200 for 22 dollars. It has a few chips here and there..but is beautiful blue. They said that when turned on the needle goes up and down. The foot pedal looks to be the only thing included. Thank you so much for the download of the manual. I was wondering how she threads. I have no idea how to work on her so I found a sewing machine guy that said he works on all of the vintage ones. I will pick it up from goodwill tomorrow and take it straight to him. What size bobbins and needles does she use? I have a Kenmore 1946 and lots of bobbins and needles…I hope they will work. It has no case…will it work sitting on a table? You are so lucky to have gotten such a prize. Thank you for all of your info!

  27. LH
    June 11, 2015

    Received my Morse for graduation gift in 1982 and still love it !

  28. Jenny
    August 11, 2015

    I have been empting out a storage unit with my mothers stuff and found a Morse just like yours in the cabinet. It has the original book with it.I was so happy to find your picture and read your story.I have been selling most everything on rummage. Now I don’t know what I will do with this but it was exciting to find.

  29. Emily Campbell
    May 18, 2016

    Hello! thank you so much for your write up and manual pdf! Just snagged one at a second hand shop for $10 and mines pink/coral! it was missing alot of the marking plates to tell what the name was, but the deluxe on the sewing table area lead me to your blog! shes a dream..now..to think of a name for her!

  30. James
    July 26, 2016

    I just acquired a Morse 320 De Luxe in great condition!
    What an awesome machine

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