AND, I finally got something I've been wanting for a long, long time now. I was going to get a brand new industrial sewing machine but I accidentally came across a Kijiji ad for this used Juki DDL-555 and I couldn't pass it up.
After sewing with regular machines for a few years now, I must admit that I was a bit intimidated by something that has a separate, very large and noisy motor. BUT, I'm good now. It was extremely difficult to get information online about buying, setting up and using an industrial machine so I wanted to share what I have learned so far.
Before you do ANYTHING, get the manual for your machine. I learned so much from the manual that I searched for FOREVER and finally found here. If I had not purchased this manual and read it, I probably would've broken this machine before using it once.
Industrial sewing machines sit in an oil pan. The oil get sucked up and splashes around inside the machine and keeps everything working smoothly. If the oil pan is empty, this is very bad and you can break the machine if you try to run it.
Second, find a sewing machine dealer who can provide you with service and parts for your machine. I am lucky to have found Paul at The Sewing Machine Centre and I am always amazed at how much he knows about every single sewing machine in the world. He does not service industrial machines himself but he has someone who does. He also has a contact at another sewing store who will be ordering any parts I need including needles.
I figured out how to thread the machine, wind a bobbin and adjust tensions quite quickly but I am finding it to be very fussy. The tension has to be "just so" for the bobbin and the top thread. I have finally figured everything out and just sewed through 12 layers of duck canvas like it was butter.
I am in love.