I've been hearing and reading about the Bernina 930 for a couple of years. It is a universally admired machine, praised for its quietness, smoothness, precision, features, and power. It's also one of the last all- or nearly all-mechanical machines Bernina produced, in the middle to late 1980s -- a period some consider Bernina's production zenith. Both the 930 (and variants such as the 931) and the 1030 (and similar variants) have been called the best machines Bernina ever produced.
With the advent of computerized machinery, step motors, cheap circuit boards, materials, and less expensive manufacturing, Bernina (like all other manufacturers) has succumbed to the quality and reliability issues inherent with this newer type of machine. Bernina still makes a very fine sewing machine but from all I have read, the differences in quality between it and other manufacturers has narrowed: modernity is an equalizer of sorts (but don't let buyers of $12K Bernina machines hear you say it). When dealer support has become the foremost consideration for purchase, you know that we have entered into a new era of products whose failure is a certainty. All computerized equipment fails and when that happens, such a machine is a door stop until fixed (at the dealer, of course).
Anyway, the 930 came in two main versions: the plain 930 Record and the slightly more elaborate 930 Electronic, or "930 E" to some. This later "E" version has needle up/down at the press of the heel of a specific foot controller designed to perform this function. Having used needle up/down on my Janome, I decided I didn't want to search for the plain 930. Ergo, I finally tracked down one of these "E" beauties for just $200 including the case, bed extension, knee lever (that raises the presser foot so that you don't have to take your hands off your project), foot controller and cords, and the one Bernina presser foot on the machine, a #0 or all-purpose zig-zag foot. This machine has a max stitch width of 4.5mm.
While not in perfect condition (a few light scuffs and the top cover's screw missing), it's in great condition for the price as these usually sell for well over $600 so equipped, with prices above $1000 for a serviced machine including a set of the lauded Bernina presser feet, original manuals, etc. The machine runs flawlessly and after a quick oiling and cleaning, I was able to create beautiful stitching at the first sitting. While I love a great Kenmore, I may make this machine my main mechanical zig-zag. It does have a nylon cam gear which is known to be problematic so I'll keep my eye on it.
As a nice bonus, the sale included a Cut-n-Sew attachment, a serger-like accessory that trims raw edges and sews them to prevent fraying, the result being a finished seam edge. While it doesn't replace actual serging, it is perfect for those who either don't own a serger or don't think serging is necessary for a particular project. It does a brilliant job.
This is a pretty basic machine and very easy to operate. Width, length, needle position (5), reverse, feed dog drop, stitch selector (26), and an on/off knob on the side. Bobbins are a slightly modified Class 15 type called 'CB', needles are 15 x 1. There are a few other features that I'll describe after I get to know this 930 a bit better. For now, I think this was a worthwhile purchase and one that allows me to consolidate my machine collection a bit.