At least you are close to the repair shop(s).
Here is another roll of the dice.
If you are not in a hurry. It is almost garage sale time.
The best deal will be from an older lady, who is moving and getting rid of a machine that
she has taken care of over the years.
Perhaps, you can charm her into a few lessons and a good price
because she is happy her machine will be well used.
Definitely a good call on the garage sales. I will keep my eyes open for them. Always a pretty decent deal to be had. Plenty of those ladies you mention will probably spend the summer packing up to move down to FL. I wish I was old enough to have know to grab my grandmother's old singer before she moved down there!
I agree with Rev, Janome has some good machines and listen to the guy at the shop. If I were going to pick something else, if you find a Singer 99k in good working order it will last forever. They are built like tanks. We have 2, one from the '20s and one from the '50s. Hemmed many pants and several DIY projects have been done on them. The only thing our modern machine does that I wish they could do is button holes. I like to use button holes to finish the holes for draw strings and such.
I Just Purchased A Brother Thread Injector $25.00
Look on CraigsList in your location. I found a 1960 - 1970 with lots of chrome, some fancy stitches, all metal, the only thing I had to replace is the throat plate $5.05. I bought it from Goodwill Industries. However, I looked at a lot of junk before I found one worth bringing home.
Ebay has vintage machines, that have been reworked, however the shipping is very expensive, plus there are a lot of shady people selling stuff on fleabay now.
Yard sales are tricky, here in Portland, we have a large company that sells sewing machines. I have looked at a lot of machines they serviced, that NEVER ran correctly again.
There whole speal is oh, we fixed it, you need a NEW machine, buy one from us!
Maybe take a sewer with you, take thread, a bobbin, leather, silnylon, old ripped jeans, something cotton. Take some sewing machine needles with you also. Bad needles cause stitch problems. I clean out where the needle goes down between the feed dogs. It is kind of like checking the oil in a vehicle you are thinking of buying. Sew on your prospective injector for a little while see if it gets hot, smokes and/or smells bad. Make sure all stitches work, check the reverse gear, and the motor belt.
BE CAREFUL OF YOUR FINGERS, use a poker, or keep your hands a few inchess away from the needle. Needles through the fingers really hurt.
I am all set. A fellow forum member sold me an extra he had.