Imperial Sewing Machine, Model 535

April 19th, 2010 by dontai


Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Front, Perhaps made in Japan and badged in North America

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Front, Perhaps made in Japan and badged in North America

Fate has voluntold me as the human caretaker of an Imperial Sewing Machine, model 535. This lovely machine was left out on the curb as trash, coincidentally as I was bicycling. Though the machine weighs a LOT, it is all metal and sews very beautifully. It even sews quieter than my Singer. The 535 has straight and zig zag stitching, and can darn. Included were about 5 different presser feet. Casting marks “J-C 27″ and “304-1″, and printed marks “JA/3″. A thorough internet search has provided very little, except a couple of photos of similar machines, but images from Needlebar.org shows parts of similar looking machines were manufactured in Japan and badged in North America, circa 1950-’60s. As I did not see a Model 535 anywhere I hope that someone can see my photos and help me find its origins, and perhaps an owner’s guide.

Note: I have found a user manual for an Imperial Model 535, thanks to Gord Bestwick, and have posted it to my site for free download. If you have any other user manual I would like to see it.

The 535 has a light on the head, with a rotary switch above it. The machine is all metal and heavy. It can do zigzag and straight stitch. You can vary the width of the zig zag from 0 to 5. There are two smaller knobs used to adjust the larger zig zag knob. The larger knob varies the zig zag amount, which is locked down by the smaller left knob. The right knob locks down the setting so it will not move. There is a knob to adjust the stitch length, from 0 to 5 in half increments. There is a reverse button with a red “R”, and darn and sew buttons, which toggle. There is a bobbin winder. The thread holder on top of the machine conveniently folds down. The presser foot has 4 up lever positions.

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: back. All electrics are Canadian made and certified CSA

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: back. All electrics are Canadian made and certified CSA

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Front cover light. The head swivels open, revealing the heat shield and the bulb underneath. The head does heat up when the light is on.

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Front cover light. The head swivels open, revealing the heat shield and the bulb underneath. The head does heat up when the light is on.

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Top. No casting markings

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Top. No casting markings

On the bottom are casting markings “J-C 27″ and “304-1″. The bottom plate is marked JIS 8210.

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Bottom. Casting markings J-C 27 and 304-1

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Bottom. Casting markings J-C 27 and 304-1

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: model number, printed number J-A/3

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: model number, printed number J-A/3

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Motor. 115v 1.0 amp Electrohome, Kitchener, Canada

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Motor. 115v 1.0 amp Electrohome, Kitchener, Canada

All the electrical is made in Canada and stamped CSA (Canadian Standards Association) certified. The motor is an 115v 1.0 amp Electrohome, model 67-C5. Both the motor and light plug into a built-in “power bar”, which then gets power from the electrical outlet. The power bar is stamped “Mercury Electrical Products MFG. Co.”

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: CSA sticker

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: CSA sticker

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Electrical power bar. Mercury Electric Products

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Electrical power bar. Mercury Electric Products

The accessories box contains 6 different presser feet and attachments as well as an extra feeder plate. There are no markings on any of them. The accessories box looks identical to one I saw on Needlebar.org’s photo gallery, under a Myer zig zag.

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Pedal and accessories box

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Pedal and accessories box

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Foot Pedal. Mercury Electric Products

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Foot Pedal. Mercury Electric Products

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Front. I am looking for an owner's manual and information about this machine

Imperial sewing machine, model 535: Front. I am looking for an owner's manual and information about this machine

Addendum: September 14 2011: I found an Imperial 535 user manual.

23 Responses to “Imperial Sewing Machine, Model 535”

  1. Anthony Dejager Says:

    I have an Imperial 518-J.
    Iam also looking for an owner`s manual.

  2. dontai Says:

    I have not been able to find any owner’s manual for any Imperial sewing machine. They all seem to be generic Japanese made and badged to whichever store requested a sewing machine line. Imperials and a whole host of other name brands all have similar features that indicate they were made in the same place (Japan) by similar designers at around the same time period (1960s). They just switched up parts to make a wide variety of different looking machines.

    If you can take a photo could you send it to me? I’d appreciate it and will add it to my other Imperial posting. There are few photos and even less information about Imperial Sewing Machines on the Internet.

  3. Jesse Says:

    I have an Imperial 507 and would be interested in any information that you have been able to find about them. Particularly, how to thread them and use them. I can also take a photo, if you want me to send it to you.

  4. dontai Says:

    If you send me a clear closeup photo of the front needle side of your machine, from top the top of the machine to the base plate, I can outline how to thread the machine. Maybe some multiple closeups might also help. Threading is usually not complex.

    Please also send me a photo of the complete front of your machine so I can add it to the rest of the Imperials. There is so little information about Imperials on the Internet. I’m sure others are looking for info as well.

    I tried contacting you through your email address but got a rejection notice.

  5. Chantal Says:

    I have the manual for Model 535-J, my mother-in-law gave me her Imperial machine last week and she found the manual for it last night

  6. dontai Says:

    Thanks for visiting Chantel. I’ve sent you an email. If you can get the Imperial 535-J manual into digital format and send it to me I will host it and have it indexed on Google. Then the rest of the world can share your manual. There is so little about these Imperial sewing machines that every small bit helps.

  7. Karin Says:

    Dontai: Did you ever get a copy of the manual for this machine–that is, 535J. I have one in pristine condition, but no manual. It doesn’t look quite like yours but very similar.

  8. dontai Says:

    Hi Karin, I’ve sent an email but have unfortunately received no reply.

    Keep sewing, Don

  9. JM Says:

    I have an Imperial 164. The threading is a little different but I’ve sorted it out. It purrs. Years ago I’d had a Singer Fashion Mate which would sew on either side of center. A later machine would sew only to the right of center. My old Imperial does both a feature I love for doing zippers.

  10. Shelley Says:

    My mother recently sent me her Imperial sewing machine. I’m not 100% sure when it was manufactured, and I don’t have the model number handy, but I know it’s similar to the one you have pictured here but in blue tones.

    This machine will sew ANYTHING, and I mean it. I remember my father sewing pieces for our old canvass tent trailer with no problems, if that will give you an idea of the strength of this machine.

    You’ve got a treasure!

  11. Janice Says:

    I have recently acquired an International Sewing Machine with 591294 / D1 stamped in the metal base.. there are no other identifying numbers and it is almost exactly the same as the photographs here on this site: the feed dog buttons, the stitch adjustment knobs, the color. Mine however has the thread tension adjustment around the left side/back corner of the machine. I need the tension adjusted, but it appears to be in really good repair. I will also adjust the feed dog lift.

    I am taking it to a sewing machine repair shop. He is very good and I have known him for some time, so i trust he will have a story for me on the machines. I looked high and low all over the internet to find “International” sewing machine manufacturing co. with no luck.

    I do suspect that our farming background will bring us back to the Singer /International Harvester Co. got to together to create a sewing machine.
    I read in an article while searching that 90% of the purchasing power from late 1800′s to early 1930′s was sewing machine sales to middle class and developing countries. Should have book marked the site.

    Was Imperial and International the same company. Are their parts available and I will sure have a better idea on Monday, when I have this checked out. Look forward to hearing from some of you. Thank you in advance.

  12. dontai Says:

    If the design and most features of my Imperial seem to match your International, then I would say that your sewing machine is certainly Japanese made and branded “International” for sale in North America. The Japanese made a lot of these sewing machines and would brand their machines with any name that would make them look North American. Needlebar.org has a library of Japanese sewing machines and their North American branded labels. Unfortunately I cannot get through to their site just now.

    While I have found many different “Imperial” brand named sewing machines on the internet and in real life, I have found no spare parts sources nor any user guide. Your only hope is to find a spare machine of the exact design and use it for parts. Spare parts are one of the many benefits of the Singer line.

  13. sophia Says:

    hello..i just want to ask where can i buy the belt of that sewing machine… i have a manual of this kind… model 535… i bought the sewing machine in the garage sale but the belt is broken..i didn’t know though… pls help me find a store …thanks so much..

  14. dontai Says:

    Hi Sophia, Sewing machine belts are available at sewing machine stores. They are pretty standard belts with a “V” cross section. You will need to know the length of your belt. Carry your old one to your local sewing machine store for comparison. The drive mechanism on the sewing machine that uses the belt is somewhat adjustable, so the belt can slip on and be tightened up. If you have no sewing machine store near you, an industrial machine or farm store might also have similar belts. The belt should cost around ~$15US.

  15. Jill Baird Says:

    Hello, I am looking for some more information on a sewing machine that my mother-in-law has. It was manufactured by Imperial in Japan. B&B Grade A Premium quality. Precision sewing machine, SR#M60-0479.
    Any information on an owners manual, where to get parts or anything on this machine would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

  16. dontai Says:

    Hi Jill. The only manual I have found for any Imperial sewing machine is available for free download from my site, thanks to Gord Bestwick. I only ask that you do not sell it for profit and you leave your name and email address after download so that I can contact you when the manual is updated. As for spare parts, I have heard of no place that stocks parts. Gord is starting to document compatible parts from different machines, but this will be a slow process. His list is also part of the manual.

    Please warn your mother-in-law to take care when lifting these Imperial machines. They are well built, contain a lot of metal and therefore very heavy. We would not want anyone to strain their back while lifting.

  17. Monika Says:

    Hi,
    I also have the Imperial 535, but the accessory feet went missing. I do not have a hemming foot or a zipper foot. Does anyone know where I cold get these or if any other accessories are compatible with the Imperial?

  18. shirley lang Says:

    I have an Imperial sewing machine my Mom bought for me 30 years ago. It doesn’t have a model # but has Z103435 and Ja2 and Delux. I have an intstrustion bookm that came with it. If you are interested in any info my email is shirleylang21@gmail.com

  19. Sherrie Says:

    Just got the model 535 identical to your photos from a garage sale.
    Everything seems to be working fine but, the belt seems to be too big, not the right belt for the machine maybe?
    Could you tell me how to get the right belt and what size of belt? Desperately wanting to sew!
    Thanks

    [Don: Look for an adjustment screw that allows the motor to move further away from the main wheel, thereby tightening the belt. This adjustment screw usually requires a screwdriver to loosen, and should be on the side of the machine. If you have maxed out this adjustment, take the belt to a sewing store and ask for a smaller belt.]

  20. Cash Register Says:

    We have purchased a 535 imperial sewing machine & would like to get the manual and also find out about the motor/light switch box. There seems to be a short in it and we need to find out how to take it apart and fix it.

    [Don: The user manual for the Imperial 535 is on my site, downloadable for free. As for your short, take the switch box apart and take a look. There will be no instructions on how to fix an electrical short. If you cannot do this yourself take the machine to a sewing machine repair centre.]

  21. Jaychra Says:

    Hi there,
    Just out of interest – I thought I’d let you know I have a St James 60′s Australian badged Japanese sewing machine, which looks a little different (http://pinterest.com/pin/250090585527193683/) but the feet it comes with, and the way it works, appears to be exactly the same as what your manual describes. I found the connection through looking up the JIS 8210 number which I also have on the throat plate. Otherwise there is nothing to identify except for the number 78190 stamped onto a little metal label inside, and Made in Japan. This manual is a very helpful find for me, thank you so much! ~ Ashley.

    [Don: It had never occurred to me that these sewing machines would be exported to other countries outside of North America, but this makes a lot of sense. Your machine looks very similar to the Imperial sewing machine lines. I will add your St. James sewing machine to our sewing machine lineup. Thanks. I am glad I documented all the numbers I found on my machine. Google is great!]

  22. katherine goldschmidt Says:

    I need a part for my 535 imperial sewing machine, it’s the small metal part where the casing goes into.

    [Don: I have never seen any store or web site that offers parts for Imperial sewing machines. The only source of parts that I am aware of would be to find another like machine and scavenge the required part. I do this often with Singer sewing machines.

    Imperials are not that rare and do pop up on a regular basis, so look on Kijiji and Craigslist. Other like brands might also work. I am unsure what you call the casing. If a metal part has broken it might be simpler to repair the part or have it remade, rather than hunt down a donor machine.]

  23. Alfred Foh Says:

    Canada Eatons Viking Model 133 sewing machine is a variant of your Imperial 535. Recently I acquired this sewing machine and was looking for a user’s manual on the Internet, where I found this blog of yours. I want to send you a picture of my heavy cast iron Viking 133 but nowhere in your site can I find a place where I can upload a picture to you. I downloaded your Imperial 535 manual. It is close enough. Thanks for sharing.

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