Imperial Sewing Machine Model 171: Photos and User Manuals

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view.

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view.

This Imperial sewing machine Model 171 is complex machine, but pretty versatile. It uses 20 different plastic cams that lets the sewing machine do 20 different sewing patterns. The front also has a button hole option.

As usual, this Imperial looks like it weights a ton, so please be careful when lifting. Fortunately this model version is built into a small cabinet and therefore only needs to rotate up and into place.

Stitch length is controlled by the rightmost large knob on the front panel. The front panel left knob controls the stitch width, shown in the slider window from 1 to 5. The two small knobs lock the setting in place. There are two knobs so the stitch width setting is locked in place and will not move. The rectangular square button with the red “R” is the reverse gear. The two white buttons on the base allow the presser foot to go down (sewing) or up (darning). The cams are a bit fiddly but offer the owner a lot of versatility. Do not lose the cams or you’ll be stuck with straight stitch only. The large lightening bolt on the left side of the machine as well as on the front knobs is pretty flashy for a sewing machine.

The foot pedal seems permanently installed on the bottom of the cabinet, possibly operated by your knee. The top of the foot pedal has an extra piece of metal, used to extend the reach of the pedal down a little.

I’d like to thank ArnaudM from Hull, Quebec for his contribution of great photos, as well as scans of two user manuals (English and French), schematics and “troubleshooting” guide, all for free download for non-commercial purposes. This is a pretty fancy machine! The user guide links are below all the great photos at the end of this post.

Interestingly, this Imperial sewing machine is very similar to one offered in the Eaton's Spring and Summer 1965 catalogue, pp 323, Model 900. It is not an exact match, as there are two missing knobs for stitch width tightening. The Imperial 171 looks more modern and angular, with its left side cover lightening detail and two tone paint job. The Model 900 looks more classic, with smoother lines and a more prominent thread tensioner mechanism and all white colouring. The right sides of the machines, the bobbin winding mechanism, are identical. You can easily see the family resemblance. I would date the Model 171, with its art deco influence, to just a couple of years younger than the Model 900, around 1965.

Imperial 20-disk Automatic Sewing Machine, $109.95, Eaton's Spring and Summer 1965 catalogue, pp 323, Library and Archives Canada

Imperial 20-disk Automatic Sewing Machine, $109.95, Eaton’s Spring and Summer 1965 catalogue, pp 323, Library and Archives Canada

Twenty disks automatically produce beautiful, decorative patterns…there’s even a special disk for neat, accurate blind hem stitching! Countless additional patterns are your with the versatile zig-zag stitch control. Make any size button-holes and sew on buttons to stay. Patchomatic darner lets you mend, darn and applique with ease. Numbered thread tension control eliminates all guess-work. Hinged presser foot lets you glide over pins and seams – no basting needed. Automatic bobbin winder; push-button drop feed; push-button reverse. Built-in sewing light. Accessories and instructions. 115-volt A.C. or D.C. Model 900.

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view. Photo 1 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view. Photo 1 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, Imperial Logo.  Photo 34 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, Imperial Logo. Photo 34 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view. Photo 2 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view. Photo 2 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view. Photo 3 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front view. Photo 3 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, rear view. Photo 4 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, rear view. Photo 4 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, left side door, holds the light bulb. Photo 5 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, left side door, holds the light bulb. Photo 5 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, left side door, holds the light bulb. Photo 6 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, left side door, holds the light bulb. Photo 6 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, right side control panel. Photo 7 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, right side control panel. Photo 7 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, right side presser foot controls, up for sewing, down for darning. Photo 8 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, right side presser foot controls, up for sewing, down for darning. Photo 8 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, bobbin rewinder. Photo 9 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, bobbin rewinder. Photo 9 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, bobbin rewinder. Photo 10 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, bobbin rewinder. Photo 10 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, bobbin hatch. Photo 11 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, bobbin hatch. Photo 11 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, rear, presser foot lever. Photo 12 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, rear, presser foot lever. Photo 12 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, from below looking up, needle bar area. Photo 13 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, from below looking up, needle bar area. Photo 13 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, rear, motor. Photo 14 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, rear, motor. Photo 14 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top view. Photo 15 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top view. Photo 15 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top. cam hatch. Photo 16 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top. cam hatch. Photo 16 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top. cam hatch, no cam installed. Photo 17 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top. cam hatch, no cam installed. Photo 17 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top. cam hatch, no. 13 cam installed. Photo 18 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, top. cam hatch, no. 13 cam installed. Photo 18 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bottom, sewing mechanism, please see user manual for oiling points. Photo 19 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bottom, sewing mechanism, please see user manual for oiling points. Photo 19 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, underneath cabinet looking up, foot pedal. Photo 20 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, underneath cabinet looking up, foot pedal. Photo 20 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, CSA sticker with the model number 171. Photo 21 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, CSA sticker with the model number 171. Photo 21 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171,  front, model number 171 on chassis. Photo 22 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, front, model number 171 on chassis. Photo 22 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171,  cabinet, machine packed away. Photo 23 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, cabinet, machine packed away. Photo 23 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171,  cabinet, door partially opened. Photo 24 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, cabinet, door partially opened. Photo 24 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171,  an electrical plug branded Matsushita. Photo 25 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, an electrical plug branded Matsushita. Photo 25 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171,  underneath, bobbin race mechanism. Photo 26 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, underneath, bobbin race mechanism. Photo 26 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bobbin race mechanism, removed, disassembled. Photo 27 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bobbin race mechanism, removed, disassembled. Photo 27 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bobbin race mechanism, removed, disassembled. Photo 28 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bobbin race mechanism, removed, disassembled. Photo 28 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bobbin thread hook. Photo 29 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, bobbin thread hook. Photo 29 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, accessories case and different feet. Photo 30 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, accessories case and different feet. Photo 30 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, different accessory feet. Please see the user manual for instructions. Photo 31 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, different accessory feet. Please see the user manual for instructions. Photo 31 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, cams bag hold 20 cams. Photo 32 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, cams bag hold 20 cams. Photo 32 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171,  20 different cams provide different sewing patterns. Do not lose these cams! Photo 33 by ArnaudM

Imperial Sewing machine Model 171, 20 different cams provide different sewing patterns. Do not lose these cams! Photo 33 by ArnaudM

This download is available for free for non-commercial use. Please do not pay anyone for these manuals. They were donated to me for the world and I host them for free. Please do not charge others for this manual. If you download the manual please leave a message so that if there is any further info on this manual I will contact you.

Download here by right click and then “Save Link As” ->
Imperial sewing machine model 171 user manual in English
Imperial sewing machine model 171 user manual in French
Imperial sewing machine model 171 schematics
Imperial sewing machine model 171 Troubleshooting

If you have an Imperial sewing machine manual that you would like to donate, please leave a message. I am always looking for user manuals for these machines. All user manual downloads are free for non-commercial use.

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