Thanks for all the responses! To answer a couple of the responses.
Yes the machine is one of the old, black, heavy machines.
The material is uncoated 1.9oz ripstop.
I have the manual and confident the threading and needle is installed correctly (flat side to the left).
The tread is breaking at the needle.
I have only used brand new needles size 10-16
I have decent success (1-2") when I turn the wheel by hand, but it does take a considerable about of pressure.
When I pull on the thread the needle is deflected a great deal. I would be concerned about breaking the needle. The thread is in between the disks but I can not adjust the disks to be free and easy to pull the thread. I think the adjustment spring is not the correct one. I will try skipping the disks and go straight to the spring and see if that at least stops breaking the thread.
I may be able to lengthen the shaft (N) in the link above or reduce spring pressure. I also noticed it is skipping stitches too.