How to Service your Vintage Sewing Machine

Since posting my first sewing-machine piece here on my blog, I’ve received a comment asking for tips and tricks on how to service, clean and oil these machines. I figured I’d write up a posting here, to answer that question in greater detail.

Disclaimer etc: I am not a qualified, certified, expert, professional, master machine-repairman by any stretch of fact, fiction or the most rabid and erratic of imaginations. This is merely a small side-hobby of mine; but everything written hereafter, has been done so with the backing of research and experience gained from practice. I have serviced vintage and antique sewing-machines as a hobby, and have restored some for friends and family.

The information pertaining to sewing-machines as mentioned in this posting is strictly for older machines which are mechanically driven, and not those which are generally, post-1960s, which tend to be operated more via electronics and computerised systems instead of cranks, levers, cams and pistons.

How Does a Sewing Machine Work?

I figured I’d do a bit about this first, since it might bear importance later on.

Be they 100 years old, 150 years old, 50 years old, or brand new, all sewing-machines operate in the same basic manner.

Having prepared the machine for sewing, the following actions occur:

1. The needle descends and pierces the fabric. It retracts. As the needle rises up, it leaves a small loop of thread on the underside of the fabric.

2. The transverse shuttle/vibrating shuttle/rotating hook/oscilating hook (dependent on machine’s age and design) swings around. The nose of the shuttle or the swinging hook, catches the loop of thread left by the upper needle.

3. The loop of thread passes over and around the shuttle or the hook, which pulls the bottom thread through the loop as it goes along.

4. At the top of the machine, the thread take-up lever jerks upwards. This pulls the stitch tight and closes the loop.

5. The feed-dogs perform a four-motion movement. Up, back, down, forwards. This pushes the fabric up against the presser-foot, and shoves it back, out of the machine.

After those five steps, the whole process repeats again. Sometimes as slow as hand-sewing, or, as fast as you can run the machine.

Alright…let’s get to what you’ll need to do.

*SPECIAL NOTE: The instructions in this posting are on how to clean, oil and operate your machine. NOT on how to repair them or fix broken parts. By following the instructions in this tutorial, you understand that your machine is in WORKING ORDER, but requires cleaning and general maintenance*

Tools and Equipment 

This pertains specifically to old Singer sewing machines, but most of these things you can use to service any antique or vintage sewing-machine.

You will need…

Needle-nosed Tweezers

I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have a pair of these…forget it.

You must have a pair. There is absolutely NO other way to get into the TINY little recesses of the machine to dig out the dust, lint, fluff, dead insects, broken needle-tips and other crap that builds up in a sewing-machine over the course of decades.

Forget about the Dyson or the Hoover or the Miele. They can suck like a tornado, they will not remove the bits of grime that are glued and stuck onto the machine, or which are hiding in tiny, inaccessible places. Without needle-nosed pliers, it’s almost pointless to start.

Tissues or Bog-Roll

Tissues or toilet paper to clean, wipe, polish, stop oil from dripping, etc. Don’t just take one or two sheets. Keep a box of the things next to you while you do this.

Cotton Buds

I think the Yanks call these things ‘Q-tips’. Everywhere else in the world, they’re called cotton-buds. Those little plastic shafts with fluffy cotton balls on the end, about two inches long.

You need these to clean, wipe or polish areas of the machine which a tissue or other polishing-cloth won’t reach.

A Powerful Torch

Personally, my eyesight is not good. But this would apply to anyone. You need a bright, powerful (preferably small) torch (‘flashlight’ to the Yanks) while you work. This is so that you can shine extra light into the really dark, tiny, tucked-away places of the machine where conventional lights won’t be able to reach.

A Miniature Screwdriver

Cute little thing, isn’t it? This little Singer screwdriver (or one like it) would’ve come with most vintage Singers when they left the factory, or your local shop. This is my screwdriver

Some sewing-machines come with these little wotsits already supplied. Very handy. I know for a fact that Singer machines were sold with their own personal screwdrivers. If you have one, good. If you don’t, toddle off to find the very smallest screwdriver you can find. A flat-head screwdriver, by the way. Ideally, the size should be 3mm wide.

*SPECIAL NOTE: For owners of Singer sewing machines with bentwood cases. If you don’t have the key for your case and the machine is locked inside, you can use a 3mm flat-head screwdriver as a makeshift key. It does not damage the lock and will serve the purpose admirably*

The screwdriver will be essential for…well…undoing screws and removing plates.

General-Purpose Oil

Get yourself a can of general lubricating oil. Something that’s used on things like hinges and suchlike.

THIS IS NOT TO BE USED TO LUBRICATE THE MACHINE.

The purpose of this oil is to lubricate the case-lock which holds the machine-case onto the machine-base. And this is just about the only thing that it should be used for.

Sewing Machine Oil

You will also need a bottle or can of sewing-machine oil. Ideally, you want sewing-machine SPECIFIC oil. But if you can’t, a high-grade, thin, runny machine-oil, suitable for sewing-machines, will suffice. Just don’t use 3-in-1 oil. It may say that it’s for sewing-machines, but I have it on good authority that this stuff is not the best thing to use. Personally, I use SuperLube machine-oil, which was the one recommended to me by my local repairman. You can buy this oil from your local hardware shop or your local sewing-shop in little 125ml bottles.

Eyedropper or Syringe

This is to distribute the oil around the machine. If you have a spray-can of machine-oil, of the type described above, then you can use the little plastic tube that comes with the can instead, but if the oil comes in a little glass or plastic bottle, then you’ll want something like an eyedropper or a syringe.

Some of the places that you need to apply oil to in a sewing-machine are quite inaccessible to a big, bulky bottle. This is where a local-application tube, or an eyedropper can come in handy.

A Bowl or Plate

Something that you don’t use anymore. This is to house any screws, nuts, feet, plates etc, that you remove from the machine during the course of your restoration. These things are TINY and they will roll away from you, given the chance. And if your machine is 50, 70, 90, 120 years old, chances are, if you lose a particular piece, you won’t be able to just go out and buy a new one.

Metal-Polishing Paste

You’ll also want a tube of metal-polishing paste. You can get this stuff from hardware stores and car-maintenance shops and suchlike. Personally, I use a German-made product called Simichrome, it does the job on most metals with ease (except brass, I think), and the results will look stunning.

Machine-Manual

If possible, you should get a hold of your sewing-machine’s manual. Now I realise that if you’re reading this, your machine is probably one that you picked up at an antiques shop, a flea-market, or which you inherited from granny (that’s how I got mine!) and that half the crap that should have come with it, is missing (just like with me!).

Don’t worry. You can buy (or sometimes if you search really hard, download for free) facsimiles of original sewing-machine manuals.

Having the manual is a big help for obvious reasons. It shows you how the machine goes together, how to oil it, what all the parts are, and most importantly, how to use it!

Right…Got all those things? Let’s get started.

Cleaning the Machine

I’m going to assume that the machine you have is a really old one. By that, I mean at least 60 years old. No later than about 1955-1960 (after that, the technology kinda changes a fair bit and this sort of information isn’t as pertinent to more modern machines). Most likely, it looks something like this:

My Singer 128 Vibrating Shuttle machine

This little sweetheart is a Singer 128 model, and is representative of the kinds of machines seen around the turn of the last century. For those not very good with dates, that’s ca. 1890-1910. Possibly, you might have a slightly later model, such as a Singer 99-series model, from ca. 1920-1960. They look like this:

My grandmother’s Singer 99k

Or perhaps you’ve got one of those big, old foot-driven treadle-machines, which look like this?

Singer 66 treadle machine that I snapped at an antiques shop

Regardless of what machine you have, if it looks like those (or is very similar to those) and is of advanced age, this tutorial should cover all the necessary directions for getting it running again.

The first process of cleaning is de-linting or de-fluffing the machine.

These old machines have a LOT of places where dust, broken needles, fluff, lint, loose thread, bread-crumbs, loose diamonds and other bits and pieces can fall in and hibernate. They jam up the machine and make it difficult to run (or make it run not at all!). It is essential to remove as much of this stuff as possible before moving onto the next step.

When cleaning the machine, you want to start with ONE area at a time. Broadly speaking, a sewing-machine is divided into four basic areas:

1. Needlebar Assembly

The needle-bar is the area of the machine at the head of the arm (the bit that you pass the fabric under). This is comprised of the…

– Faceplate.
– Needle-bar.
– Presser-foot bar.
– Foot-lever.
– Takeup-lever.

 2. Bobbin Area

The bobbin area is directly beneath the needle-bar and presser-foot. It is comprised of the…

– Bobbin
– Bobbin-case
– Oscilating hook/rotating hook/shuttle.
– Feed-dogs.
– Slide-plate/s.
– Needle-plate.

3. The Undercarriage

The underside of the machine is where all the secondary cranks and pistons hide out. This is accessed by unscrewing any securing-bolts or nuts, and lifting the whole machine UP and BACK on a pair of hinges. This is where you would traditionally store things like spare needles, manuals, bobbins, scissors, etc. Small fiddly things that you might need. You need to clean in here to ensure that the bobbin-case and the oscilating hook (or other stitch-making apparatus) works properly.

4. Handwheel Assembly

The handwheel assembly and clutch-wheel is the part of the machine right at the back, on your right. This is comprised of…

– The handwheel (big wheel).
– the clutch-wheel (small wheel inside the big wheel. Also called a stop-motion wheel).
– Bobbin-winder
– Drive-belt (if your machine is electrically powered, or a mechanical treadle-machine).
– Hand-crank (if your machine is manually-powered).

Now that I’ve labelled those areas, pick one, and start the de-linting or de-fluffing process. This involves disassembling the area to as far a level as you’re comfortable with/capable of, and poking around with your tweezers (the all-important needle-nosed tweezers I mentioned earlier!) to remove any and all fluff, dust, hair, lint and thread that you might find.

Take your time with this. These old machines gather dust and crud like the Amish gather weaving-looms.

Work through each part of the machine, area by area, systematically. After delinting/defluffing, you want to take your tissues and wipe the area as clean as you can. You might also like to squirt a TEENSY bit of polishing-paste to clean a particular area and give it more of a sparkle. This does a lot more than make it look nice – it helps the machine to run better.

A Word of Caution

 In old Singer sewing-machines (and, I believe, in other makes and models), there is often a piece of RED FELT hiding inside the bobbin-well. LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

It is NOT lint. It is NOT junk. It is part of the machine’s design. Do NOT remove it. It is important. Exactly why it is important, I will explain later.

This is the red felt. I’ve included these photographs at the request of a reader, who wanted to see its exact placement within the machine: 

If the machine looks a bit weird, its because I unscrewed and removed the needle-plate underneath the presser-foot to take these photographs.

In these photos, you can also see the bobbin (round spool), bobbin-case (thing that the round spool is housed in), bobbin-release button (round button with crosshatching on top) and the feed-dogs (the raised bits with little corrugations on top).

After thoroughly de-linting and wiping down every part of the machine where lint is want to hide (take your time with this, trust me, there’s a LOT of places!), then you move onto the fun part.

Oiling your Machine

Right. You’ve pulled the whole thing apart. You’ve de-linted the machine, you’ve wiped it down, you’ve polished it nice and clean. Now you need to oil it.

Do NOT skimp on this step. Trust me, it’s important. Don’t ever worry about putting in too much oil. Better that the machine should drown in happiness, rather than break it’s back from overwork.

Now that you have thoroughly cleaned the ENTIRE machine, you need to oil it.

Take out your bottle of high-grade machine-oil, made for, or suitable for use in sewing-machines.

If you have a can of the stuff with a local-application tube, even better. If not, then also take out of its place of secretion, your eyedropper or syringe.

What you want to do now is to oil your machine. This is not hard to do. And to be honest, it’s kinda fun. It may take a while, but don’t give up hope. Just keep squirting and testing, squirting and testing.

Oiling a sewing machine is easy. Just follow the golden rule: Oil anything that moves. And oil it more than less.

Now, your machine might run jerkily and stiffly, or, as was in my case, it literally would NOT run AT ALL, and that’s with considerable effort put into trying to rotate the handwheel.

In either case, the procedure is the same.

Take your oil and drip it into, and onto any place in the machine where something moves, or something rubs up against something else. The key spots to oil are the key spots where I mentioned earlier, you need to clean. The four main parts of the machine. The needle-bar area, the bobbin-area, the handwheel-area and the underside.

How long does all this take? I can’t tell you. It’s dependent on the machine. With my first machine, which didn’t move at all before it was oiled, it took nearly an hour (about 45-50 minutes). Yours might take longer, or shorter than that.

Don’t worry about getting oil all over the place. These machines are designed to put up with that. More oil is better than not enough. So squirt or drip it all over the machine in places where it needs to go.

Your machine may have a series of holes all over it. Such as along the top of the arm, around the handwheel-area, at the top of the needle-bar area, and so-forth. These are OILING HOLES. Yay! You can pour as much oil down there as you can fit. The oil will seep into places such as pistons, rods, shafts and cams, and get them to wake up and start moving.

A word, though. Be sure that you clean these holes BEFORE you pour oil down them. You don’t want a dead blowfly inside your machine-head oiling hole to be sucked down into the guts of your great-grandmother’s Singer, to be mashed up into bug-goo.

While you oil the machine, periodically operate it. Pump the treadle, press the foot-pedal, push the knee-lever or turn the crank-handle. This will encourage the machine to move, and this, in turn, will spread the oil further around the machine. Keep oiling, pausing, operating, oiling, pausing, operating, over and over and over.

Oh, and remember that red felt I mentioned earlier? The stuff that hides in the bobbin-area?

Drench it in oil.

It’s there to act as a sponge. Squirt a whole eyedropper of oil onto it. This will keep it moist and happy, and will stop the shuttle or the oscilating/rotating hook from scratching against the metal near the felt, and prevent wear, tear and possible damage.

When have you put on enough oil?

You’ll have put on enough oil when the machine runs freely. You should be able to put your foot down, you should be able to press the knee-bar, you should be able to treadle like an Olympic cyclist, you should be able to crank at the fastest possible speed, and the machine offers no resistance at all.

At the same time, the machine should be a lot quieter. It won’t rattle, squeak, jerk, groan or shake the entire table when it runs. If it does, then it needs more oil.

“I’m done…Now what?”

Okay. You’ve finished the entire project! Now wasn’t that fun?

Once the machine is running and you’re hankering to become the next Savile Row master-tailor, you need to keep your machine in good condition.

Basically, this means keeping the dust off it, changing any broken needles, finding accessories, spare parts and other doodads for it, and keeping it oiled.

These old machines drink oil. And it’s important to keep them hydrated. After any significant project (say you just finished making a whole new set of slip-covers for the pillows and cushions of that big, three-seater couch and two armchairs in the living-room), you should oil the machine all over again. Not much, maybe 2-3 drops in each place. When you’ve done that, run the machine at-speed for about 2-3 minutes, to work the oil in, and then put it away.

Given regular maintenance, a vintage or antique sewing-machine will run for another 100 years. These machines were incredibly tough and they were designed to sew together anything short of sheet-metal. They will EASILY chomp through canvas, leather, denim, or even multiple layers of paper (my record is 56 pages, or 28 sheets of paper…I used the machine to sew together it’s own instruction manual!). Being made of steel and wood, there’s almost nothing on these machines that will ever wear out, apart from tires, protective rubber feet, belts and needles. These can generally be easily replaced, either with reproduction parts, original parts, or from materials jerry-rigged for the purpose (I have seen people who re-belted their old treadle or electromechanical machines using nylon rope, to great effect, I might add).

Dos and Don’ts with Old Machines

DO – Take your time with cleaning and oiling it. Nothing was ever gained by trying to rush something, when restoring a vintage or antique *anything*

DO – Use the proper equipment, materials and tools. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t have the right stuff to do it with.

DO – make sure that you cover EVERY part of the machine when you service it.

DO – check for things such as broken and/or bent needles (if such, then remove them), worn belts or tires, missing plates, bobbins etc. Finding reproduction or original parts for your machine will depend on make, model and of course, age. Singer being the most popular brand, it will be easier to find parts for a Singer machine than almost any other).

DO NOT – run the machine with the presser-foot down, and no fabric between the foot and the teeth of the feed-dogs. This will cause the teeth to scrape against the bottom of the presser-foot, and cause unnecessary wear and damage.

DO NOT – force the machine to operate when it won’t do so. Just keep oiling it.

DO NOT – operate an electrically-powered machine UNLESS you are either damn sure that the electrics are intact, or unless you’ve just had the electrics checked by a certified sewing-machine repairman, or qualified electrician. Don’t forget, these machines are about 75% metal. You don’t want to zap yourself making a quilt.

To the person who inspired this posting (I’m going to assume you know who you are), I hope this answers everything you needed to know about restoring your Singer sewing-machine. If it doesn’t, you’re welcome to post a comment or a question and I’ll do my level best to answer it.

 

284 thoughts on “How to Service your Vintage Sewing Machine

  1. Rae says:

    Really helpful – thank you. I have two vintage machines, one from 1915 and the other from around 1959-60…I kind of knew they needed a bit of a service and oiling before being useable, but this makes it much less scary! Hopefully I’ll get it done this weekend and then I can actually sew things! x

     
    • scheong says:

      Hello, Rae!

      It’s nothing to be afraid of! It’s a fun (if long, and somewhat messy) project that could easily be accomplished in one or two weekends. You just need the right tools and equipment (which I listed up above).

      If you’ve any questions about cleaning the machines, leave a message and I’ll try to help.

       
  2. Rae says:

    Really helpful – thank you. I have two vintage machines, one from 1915 and the other from around 1959-60…I kind of knew they needed a bit of a service and oiling before being useable, but this makes it much less scary! Hopefully I’ll get it done this weekend and then I can actually sew things! x

     
    • scheong says:

      Hello, Rae!

      It’s nothing to be afraid of! It’s a fun (if long, and somewhat messy) project that could easily be accomplished in one or two weekends. You just need the right tools and equipment (which I listed up above).

      If you’ve any questions about cleaning the machines, leave a message and I’ll try to help.

       
  3. Eugene Plakosh says:

    What should I use to re-hydrate the belt on my old pedal machine?
    Its brand new, but it’s a little brittle,
    Thanks
    Gene
    eplakosh@yahoo.com

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Gene,

      If the belt is still alright, you could use a leather-conditioner or softener, to remoisten it and prevent it from cracking. Most of the old drive-belts were made of leather. I assume you mean a treadle machine, right?

      Alternatively, you could take the old belt off and buy some nylon rope (use the old belt as a guide for how long it should be). Then simply melt the two ends of the nylon rope and fuse them together around the drive-wheel and the balance-wheel on the sewing-machine, and it should be fine.

       
  4. Eugene Plakosh says:

    What should I use to re-hydrate the belt on my old pedal machine?
    Its brand new, but it’s a little brittle,
    Thanks
    Gene
    eplakosh@yahoo.com

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Gene,

      If the belt is still alright, you could use a leather-conditioner or softener, to remoisten it and prevent it from cracking. Most of the old drive-belts were made of leather. I assume you mean a treadle machine, right?

      Alternatively, you could take the old belt off and buy some nylon rope (use the old belt as a guide for how long it should be). Then simply melt the two ends of the nylon rope and fuse them together around the drive-wheel and the balance-wheel on the sewing-machine, and it should be fine.

       
  5. jean says:

    i am having a problem with my singer 192k my stitching on the fabric is coming out all lose stitches and bunched up …help lol

     
    • scheong says:

      Sounds like a tension-issue. This can usually be solved by tightening the tension-nut above the machine-head. That should cause the thread to be held tighter by the machine and stop loose stitches.

       
  6. jean says:

    i am having a problem with my singer 192k my stitching on the fabric is coming out all lose stitches and bunched up …help lol

     
    • scheong says:

      Sounds like a tension-issue. This can usually be solved by tightening the tension-nut above the machine-head. That should cause the thread to be held tighter by the machine and stop loose stitches.

       
  7. Julie Bofenkamp says:

    I have an old singer machine that is 50+ years old. The motor works, but when I press on the press-foot, it won’t move the needle up and down to sew. I have used the instructions in the manual to properly oil the machine. Do you have any other suggestions?

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Julie,

      These old machines really can’t be killed. I’d suggest full disassembly (it’s not as scary as it seems!), a thorough clean inside, outside, up, down, over and under. Then oil everything at least twice. Don’t use the motor – work the machine by hand (just turn the balance wheel with your hand) to encourage it to move.

      Most of the time, these old machines stop working because they’re just so dirty that they can’t operate properly. That was what happened to my grandmother’s Singer. It hadn’t been cleaned properly in about 30 years, and it was jammed solid because of all the dust.

       
  8. Julie Bofenkamp says:

    I have an old singer machine that is 50+ years old. The motor works, but when I press on the press-foot, it won’t move the needle up and down to sew. I have used the instructions in the manual to properly oil the machine. Do you have any other suggestions?

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Julie,

      These old machines really can’t be killed. I’d suggest full disassembly (it’s not as scary as it seems!), a thorough clean inside, outside, up, down, over and under. Then oil everything at least twice. Don’t use the motor – work the machine by hand (just turn the balance wheel with your hand) to encourage it to move.

      Most of the time, these old machines stop working because they’re just so dirty that they can’t operate properly. That was what happened to my grandmother’s Singer. It hadn’t been cleaned properly in about 30 years, and it was jammed solid because of all the dust.

       
  9. Thanks for this – really helpful. I’ve just spent a merry afternoon trying to get my wife’s Singer 99 going after it started jamming up. Unscrewed what I could, did it up again, oiled it all, but it would barely turn.

    Finally I removed the needle and the machine started working like a champ. It hadn’t been in properly and had been fouling as it moved upwards.

    Also discovered that Mrs had tried to remove the Red Felt of Doom. Luckily there seems to be enough left in there to still work properly.

    Machine is believed to be 1927 vintage. We have the manual but it’s a lot tattier than the one in your picture.

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Hugh,

      Yeah, these old machines really can’t be killed. So long as they’re not physically broken (yeah right. Like that would ever happen…), they just need some TLC to get them going again. Easily done with stuff you can buy at your supermarket.

       
  10. Thanks for this – really helpful. I’ve just spent a merry afternoon trying to get my wife’s Singer 99 going after it started jamming up. Unscrewed what I could, did it up again, oiled it all, but it would barely turn.

    Finally I removed the needle and the machine started working like a champ. It hadn’t been in properly and had been fouling as it moved upwards.

    Also discovered that Mrs had tried to remove the Red Felt of Doom. Luckily there seems to be enough left in there to still work properly.

    Machine is believed to be 1927 vintage. We have the manual but it’s a lot tattier than the one in your picture.

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Hugh,

      Yeah, these old machines really can’t be killed. So long as they’re not physically broken (yeah right. Like that would ever happen…), they just need some TLC to get them going again. Easily done with stuff you can buy at your supermarket.

       
  11. Jacqui says:

    An aunt gave me her hand cranked sewing machine in 1950 when she got an electric machine, and as a child I learned to sew on it. Later when a student, I used it to make all my clothes. When I could afford an electric machine it was put in the shed and stayed in a succession of sheds for 50 years. Recently I dragged it out as I had decided to part with some of the unwanted belongings. I didn’t get rid of anything but am enjoying playing with my old Singer and now thanks to you I can give it a good clean, as I am pretty certain it hasn’t had more than an occasional oiling and the dust brushed off since my aunt gave it to me.

     
  12. Jacqui says:

    An aunt gave me her hand cranked sewing machine in 1950 when she got an electric machine, and as a child I learned to sew on it. Later when a student, I used it to make all my clothes. When I could afford an electric machine it was put in the shed and stayed in a succession of sheds for 50 years. Recently I dragged it out as I had decided to part with some of the unwanted belongings. I didn’t get rid of anything but am enjoying playing with my old Singer and now thanks to you I can give it a good clean, as I am pretty certain it hasn’t had more than an occasional oiling and the dust brushed off since my aunt gave it to me.

     
  13. Lyanne says:

    Hi,
    I have freed up a number of frozen antique Singers using GooBeGone in all the regular oil spots, with great success. My Scientist father inlaw told me it completly evaporates leaving no resdue I then go back and oil everything with a high quality sewing machine oil. 3in1 is definatly a bad idea as it dries out much faster and id denser and more resistant.

    I do have an industrial Singer 11-20 long arm cylinder base machine with complicated gearing which I have not been able to free up this way and may have to use a derusting solvent and a heat gun to free it up and diasemble it. I would love suggestiion on this.

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Lyanne,

      Yes, 3-1 is just terrible for sewing-machines. For dealing with rusty parts, there are rust-dissolvers that you can buy. There are even processes involving ACID to eat the rust away. I’m not sure how effective a heat-gun would be. Once the machinery is pulled apart, though, you can remove the rest of the rust using sandpaper to grind it off down to bare metal again, and that should stop it jamming in the future. Or you could soak the components in an ultrasonic bath.

       
  14. Venus P-L Foster says:

    Hi,
    Just read this very useful cleaning process.
    I have acquired a Jones electric sewing machine. The problem I have with it is there is no power that goes through from the drive belt/ handwheel because the pin that connects it to the needle bar (main body of the machine is broken/snapped) Please could you give me an idea where to get one. Or what do you suggest? When its fitted it how to make it stay. Welding? Or if its a wire bending it? Please help! Thank you… I know you only talk about cleaning but perhaps you have come across something like this?…

     
    • scheong says:

      My guide is strictly for use on machines without mechanical issues. I’m not aware of any ‘pin’ that you mention. The drive-belt turns the balance-wheel, which turns the drive-shaft. The shift rotates and turns two gears. One gear operates the pistons and levers which run the feed-dog mechanism underneath the machine. The other gear operates the sewing-mechanism.

      Every revolution of the wheel makes the needle-bar move up and down one time. The gears and levers on these old machines are extremely strong. I’d be surprised if any of them actually managed to break off without the aid of a cutting torch.

       
  15. Venus P-L Foster says:

    Hi,
    Just read this very useful cleaning process.
    I have acquired a Jones electric sewing machine. The problem I have with it is there is no power that goes through from the drive belt/ handwheel because the pin that connects it to the needle bar (main body of the machine is broken/snapped) Please could you give me an idea where to get one. Or what do you suggest? When its fitted it how to make it stay. Welding? Or if its a wire bending it? Please help! Thank you… I know you only talk about cleaning but perhaps you have come across something like this?…

     
    • scheong says:

      My guide is strictly for use on machines without mechanical issues. I’m not aware of any ‘pin’ that you mention. The drive-belt turns the balance-wheel, which turns the drive-shaft. The shift rotates and turns two gears. One gear operates the pistons and levers which run the feed-dog mechanism underneath the machine. The other gear operates the sewing-mechanism.

      Every revolution of the wheel makes the needle-bar move up and down one time. The gears and levers on these old machines are extremely strong. I’d be surprised if any of them actually managed to break off without the aid of a cutting torch.

       
  16. Venus Foster says:

    Hi,
    While waiting for your reply, I took my Jones to an 80 years old guy who look at it and you are right this machines are very well made. But unfortunately as the old guy said it has been dropped and there is just no catch to turn the part that makes it operate.

     
  17. […] How to Service your Vintage Sewing Machine. (May 20, 2012). Retrieved from                             http://scheong.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/how-to-service-your-vintage-sewing-machine/ […]

     
  18. […] How to Service your Vintage Sewing Machine. (May 20, 2012). Retrieved from                             http://scheong.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/how-to-service-your-vintage-sewing-machine/ […]

     
  19. Patricia says:

    Your site is fantastic! I just acquired a 1869 Willcox & Gibbs treadle and it is in excellent condition. But need o e help please!!

    It just needs to be oiled and I’d like to make the head nice and shiny w/o damaging the gold leaf. Also want to clean the plate which I believe is pueter. One last question. How tight should the leather cord be? Thanks Patricia

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Patricia.

      W&G treadle from 1869? Wowzers!

      Oiling is rather self-explanatory. Simply use sewing-machine oil, and lubricate anywhere that there is movement. Always use MORE oil than you think you might need. Spread an old towel underneath the sewing machine to soak up any oil-droplets.

      Polishing the machine-body without damaging the gold-leaf MAY be tricky. These machines were painted with a layer of thick, black high-gloss paint, and the gold-leaf was painted on, and then clear lacquer was painted over the top, to seal everything in.

      I have had good results using WINDEX (or similar product) to clean these surfaces. It takes quite a bit of elbow-grease, but it will effectively remove smoke stains, nicotine, cigarette stains, dried on dust, etc. Be careful when polishing around the gold. If the lacquer’s already peeled off, then the gold will be exposed, and that can be tricky to clean.

      Plates, such as needle-plates, bobbin-plates, etc., are usually steel coated in chrome. You can clean these using Simichrome, or Brasso, but do it very carefully.

      The treadle-belt is looped over the balance-wheel and down through the table, around the driving-wheel. You cut it to length, and then you STAPLE IT shut. The belt should be as tight as you can comfortably make it. If it’s not tight enough, then there’s not enough tension to drive the machine.

       
  20. scheong says:

    Hi Patricia.

    W&G treadle from 1869? Wowzers!

    Oiling is rather self-explanatory. Simply use sewing-machine oil, and lubricate anywhere that there is movement. Always use MORE oil than you think you might need. Spread an old towel underneath the sewing machine to soak up any oil-droplets.

    Polishing the machine-body without damaging the gold-leaf MAY be tricky. These machines were painted with a layer of thick, black high-gloss paint, and the gold-leaf was painted on, and then clear lacquer was painted over the top, to seal everything in.

    I have had good results using WINDEX (or similar product) to clean these surfaces. It takes quite a bit of elbow-grease, but it will effectively remove smoke stains, nicotine, cigarette stains, dried on dust, etc. Be careful when polishing around the gold. If the lacquer’s already peeled off, then the gold will be exposed, and that can be tricky to clean.

    Plates, such as needle-plates, bobbin-plates, etc., are usually steel coated in chrome. You can clean these using Simichrome, or Brasso, but do it very carefully.

    The treadle-belt is looped over the balance-wheel and down through the table, around the driving-wheel. You cut it to length, and then you STAPLE IT shut. The belt should be as tight as you can comfortably make it. If it’s not tight enough, then there’s not enough tension to drive the machine.

     
  21. Mags says:

    Thank you for a wonderful site, your help has been invaluable. I have a little hand driven sewing machine passed onto me by my mother. I estimate it is around 90 years old. It works fine, however the tension button or screw is missing and so I can’t alter the tension of stitches, I wondered if you could advise me as to where I could find something that would suffice.

     
    • scheong says:

      Mags, thread tension is adjusted through the tension-discs on the side of the machine, above the needle-plate. Tension is adjusted by turning a nut on a threaded shaft, against a spring. Tightening the nut compresses the spring, which presses against the discs, increasing tension.

      If your machine is a common model or from a common manufacturer, a replacement tension-nut can probably be found by scavenging an older, broken machine.

      Alternatively, you could try your local hardware store and buy a replacement nut there, although it may be a bit hit-and-miss. But the only thing it’s meant to do is screw in and out, so it may not be too hard.

       
      • Mags says:

        Thank you so much I have no idea where to find another old machine but I do know a hardware store near to where I live that might help.

         
  22. Mags says:

    Thank you for a wonderful site, your help has been invaluable. I have a little hand driven sewing machine passed onto me by my mother. I estimate it is around 90 years old. It works fine, however the tension button or screw is missing and so I can’t alter the tension of stitches, I wondered if you could advise me as to where I could find something that would suffice.

     
  23. Mags says:

    Whilst cleaning and placing oil in every conceivable part of my beloved machine I have found out that it is an original Saxonia machine dated around 1907. I have taken your advice and it truly looks and runs great. I just have to find a tension nut that will suffice, Many thanks again.

     
    • scheong says:

      Is it a transverse or vibrating shuttle machine? TS machines have bobbin and needle plates that meet in a cross. Unless you’re really lucky, you can’t get needles for those machines anymore. Vibrating Shuttle machines use regular machine-needles that you can buy at any supermarket.

       
  24. Mags says:

    Whilst cleaning and placing oil in every conceivable part of my beloved machine I have found out that it is an original Saxonia machine dated around 1907. I have taken your advice and it truly looks and runs great. I just have to find a tension nut that will suffice, Many thanks again.

     
  25. Mags says:

    It’s a shuttle machine and I’ve managed to get needles from my local Singer Sewing Machine retailer that seem to work ok. Since following your instructions on cleaning and servicing my machine it works like a dream and so very quiet. Thanks again.

     
  26. Mags says:

    It’s a shuttle machine and I’ve managed to get needles from my local Singer Sewing Machine retailer that seem to work ok. Since following your instructions on cleaning and servicing my machine it works like a dream and so very quiet. Thanks again.

     
  27. Yvonne says:

    I have a treadle machine that I bought at an auction. Everything works on it except that I can’t get the presser foot bar to lower. Any advice on how to fix this?

     
    • scheong says:

      As I said, these machines DRINK oil. Lubrication is the key. Buy some high-grade machine-oil and spray and drip it all over the machine-head area and on the shaft of the bar, to lubricate it. Don’t be afraid to get a little physical – these machines were designed to take abuse. Sometimes a few good beatings or jerkings around will loosen things up. I had the same problem with another machine I fixed.

       
  28. Yvonne says:

    I have a treadle machine that I bought at an auction. Everything works on it except that I can’t get the presser foot bar to lower. Any advice on how to fix this?

     
    • scheong says:

      As I said, these machines DRINK oil. Lubrication is the key. Buy some high-grade machine-oil and spray and drip it all over the machine-head area and on the shaft of the bar, to lubricate it. Don’t be afraid to get a little physical – these machines were designed to take abuse. Sometimes a few good beatings or jerkings around will loosen things up. I had the same problem with another machine I fixed.

       
  29. scheong says:

    You’re welcome 🙂 Feel free to comment again, if you have other issues.

     
  30. Sheena says:

    Someone essentially help to make severely posts I would state.
    That is the first time I frequented your website page and
    up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this actual submit amazing.
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    • Michelle says:

      What products can be used to clean the entire outer machine head without damaging the decals and gold leaf? One sight said STP Tuff Stuff foaming cleanser, but I’m very concerned about trying that on my 123 year old VS2.

       
      • scheong says:

        Hey Michelle, it can be tricky.

        The machines are painted with glossy black paint, and then have the gold-leaf on top. Then it’s all sealed with a type of clear lacquer or finisher, to stop everything cracking/flaking/peeling off. Constant scratching, exposure to moisture, and so-forth, damages the protective finish, which leads to damage of the paint and goldwork.

        I think a gentle rubdown with clear machine-oil should do the trick. I wouldn’t use water, because of the rust-risk.

         
  31. Michelle says:

    What products can be used to clean the entire outer machine head without damaging the decals and gold leaf? One sight said STP Tuff Stuff foaming cleanser, but I’m very concerned about trying that on my 123 year old VS2.

     
    • scheong says:

      Hey Michelle, it can be tricky.

      The machines are painted with glossy black paint, and then have the gold-leaf on top. Then it’s all sealed with a type of clear lacquer or finisher, to stop everything cracking/flaking/peeling off. Constant scratching, exposure to moisture, and so-forth, damages the protective finish, which leads to damage of the paint and goldwork.

      I think a gentle rubdown with clear machine-oil should do the trick. I wouldn’t use water, because of the rust-risk.

       
  32. Tiffani says:

    Hi mates, its wonderful piece of writing about teachingand entirely explained, keep it
    up all the time.

     
  33. Tiffani says:

    Hi mates, its wonderful piece of writing about teachingand entirely explained, keep it
    up all the time.

     
  34. Michelle says:

    Thank you for your help. I don’t want to ruin something that has lasted this long using the wrong approach.

     
  35. scheong says:

    These old machines are pretty hard to destroy. But with anything old, it’s best to do things carefully.

     
  36. June says:

    I have been given a 99k singer sewing machine can tell me how many screws the Seam Guide should have as it came with only one and it keeps moving. How do I stop it from doing this, should there be two screws if so can a buy one and were from .

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi June,

      Seam guide has ONE SCREW. You adjust the guide on the machine-bed, screw it in, and tighten it up. That’s all you’re supposed to do.

       
      • June says:

        Hi thanks for the reply I have done that but it still moves when I put any material ready for sewing there is two hole’s and I have tried both but it still moves .

         
        • scheong says:

          I suppose you can use another securing bolt, but by default, it’s only supposed to come with one. And that’s usually enough. Are you sure you’re using the right one?

           
          • June says:

            Hi it’s the one that came with the machine I suppose I could buy another one do you know which one would be it’s for a singer 99k machine

             
          • scheong says:

            Unless the machine is REALLY OLD (basically, a 1st-gen transverse shuttle), most of the Singer attachments are interchangeable across the vast majority of their machines (as well as copycat machines made in other countries like Japan).

             
          • June says:

            The serial number of this machine is: EK595454 dating this to 20th July 1955
            Singer 99k Sewing Machine

            this is all the info I have on the machine

             
          • scheong says:

            That’s a pretty late machine. You should be able to find the bits you need. Try flea-markets and such.

             
          • June says:

            Ok thanks for all your help .

             
  37. June says:

    I have been given a 99k singer sewing machine can tell me how many screws the Seam Guide should have as it came with only one and it keeps moving. How do I stop it from doing this, should there be two screws if so can a buy one and were from .

     
  38. Ken Schmandt says:

    I have a 04 treadle and am trying to clean the black exterior and decals. The degree of dirt/grim is so much that some of the decals can’t be seen. I have soaked with sewing machine oil for 5 minutes – with little success. Another site said use WD-40 — on a small section it cleaned up the gold leaf – however – it started to discolor the green decal. What do you suggest to clean the outside without damaging the decals where you have an huge amount of gunk?

    Thanks
    Ken

     
  39. Ken Schmandt says:

    I have a 04 treadle and am trying to clean the black exterior and decals. The degree of dirt/grim is so much that some of the decals can’t be seen. I have soaked with sewing machine oil for 5 minutes – with little success. Another site said use WD-40 — on a small section it cleaned up the gold leaf – however – it started to discolor the green decal. What do you suggest to clean the outside without damaging the decals where you have an huge amount of gunk?

    Thanks
    Ken

     
  40. Susan says:

    I inherited my grandmother’s 1950’s Singer e 10 model. It had to be taken out of the stand for moving. Doing so my dad disconnected the pedal and when I reconnected the pedal I guess the old wiring from the original light lost some of it’s covering and they crossed and caused an arc bad enough to trip the breakers in the house. I pulled the light out of the circuit but now nothing works. Could the arc fry the motor or the pedal?

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Susan,

      I’m honestly not sure. My experience with tinkering around with sewing machines is more aligned with the mechanics than with the electronics. But there are other blogs online which will cover the electronic components of vintage sewing machines.

       
  41. Susan says:

    I inherited my grandmother’s 1950’s Singer e 10 model. It had to be taken out of the stand for moving. Doing so my dad disconnected the pedal and when I reconnected the pedal I guess the old wiring from the original light lost some of it’s covering and they crossed and caused an arc bad enough to trip the breakers in the house. I pulled the light out of the circuit but now nothing works. Could the arc fry the motor or the pedal?

     
  42. Susan says:

    Thank you for the reply, I am taking my baby to a repairman today. Silly on how attached I am to her 🙂

     
  43. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for your info, I just got the sewing but and have a newer brother, plastic junk…… and remembered someone gave me their mothers old singer “99”, I think years ago, well I hope to get it running and play with all the many extra parts I have found over the years and experiment.

     
  44. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for your info, I just got the sewing but and have a newer brother, plastic junk…… and remembered someone gave me their mothers old singer “99”, I think years ago, well I hope to get it running and play with all the many extra parts I have found over the years and experiment.

     
  45. Hi, Well, I was cleaning up and oiling my Grandma’s old Singer Red Eye treadle..hoping to get it up and running. I removed quite a lot of the red felt inside of the little spring, not all, but quite a bit. I believe that most of it had previously been removed before I inherited the machine, because all that was there was packed inside of the spring, like the lint. I tried to figure out what in the world she must have sewn that was the same color as the Santa costume that Grandpa wore 70 years ago when I was a kid, and decided to check your blog in case it was supposed to be there. Now what do I do? Would a modern day sewing machine repair be able to pack more in there?

     
    • scheong says:

      I have seen videos and tutorials (and, have tried it myself) where the felt has been replaced with fresh felt, or with snippets of cotton rag/cloth.

      You have to understand what the felt DOES. You soak it with oil, and it acts as a sponge or a wick, to hold the oil in place, where it’s most needed. And that keeps the machine properly lubricated when it runs at high speed. That’s why the restoration/repair guides (including mine) suggest NOT removing the felt. Or if you must, then you should replace it with fresh felt when you’re done.

       
  46. Hi, Well, I was cleaning up and oiling my Grandma’s old Singer Red Eye treadle..hoping to get it up and running. I removed quite a lot of the red felt inside of the little spring, not all, but quite a bit. I believe that most of it had previously been removed before I inherited the machine, because all that was there was packed inside of the spring, like the lint. I tried to figure out what in the world she must have sewn that was the same color as the Santa costume that Grandpa wore 70 years ago when I was a kid, and decided to check your blog in case it was supposed to be there. Now what do I do? Would a modern day sewing machine repair be able to pack more in there?

     
  47. […] if you smashed it with a sledgehammer! If you DO have a machine that’s jammed up, follow my restoration-guide, to get it running […]

     
  48. […] if you smashed it with a sledgehammer! If you DO have a machine that’s jammed up, follow my restoration-guide, to get it running […]

     
  49. Beth P says:

    I cannot thank you enough for this information! I just purchased- last week – a 1918 Singer 99K hand crank sewing machine. I haven’t received it yet but have been doing a lot of research as mine does not come with a manual. You have helped a great deal!
    Warm regards,
    Beth P Harrisville, New Hampshire USA

     
    • scheong says:

      The Singer 99 is an EXTREMELY common machine. If you need any help with it – ask me. I’ll probably be able to help. You may email me if you wish. There’s a contact-email in my “About the Blogger” page.

       
      • rantsnmoans says:

        Im having trouble with my 99k singer – the wheel next to the bobbin winder isnt turning with the big wheel when i try to wind the bobbin. Any ideas? I am a total novice as you can tell by my lack of knowledge about the technical terms but really want to learn 2 sew with this beautiful machine! I have tried taking the bobbin winder apart & reassembled with no luck.

         
  50. Beth P says:

    I cannot thank you enough for this information! I just purchased- last week – a 1918 Singer 99K hand crank sewing machine. I haven’t received it yet but have been doing a lot of research as mine does not come with a manual. You have helped a great deal!
    Warm regards,
    Beth P Harrisville, New Hampshire USA

     
  51. Fiona M says:

    Hi, I want to thank you for this information. Unfortunately your photos have disappeared from the post, but the iformation is nonetheless valuable. I recently purchased a 66k hand crank to accompany my soon to be restored treadle version.

     
  52. Fiona M says:

    Hi, I want to thank you for this information. Unfortunately your photos have disappeared from the post, but the iformation is nonetheless valuable. I recently purchased a 66k hand crank to accompany my soon to be restored treadle version.

     
  53. Carla Daniels says:

    Hi, I have enjoyed reading your blog because I am a it fan of vintage Singer sewing machines. My problem is that my favorite machine, a Singer 205k25, recently started acting up. I was trying to use an old buttonhole attachment and it threw everything out of whack; never did get it to work right either. But after removing the buttonholer my machine began to damage my fabric so I adjusted the feeddogs and it stopped doing this. I also took the time to clean and oil the machine but not nearly as well as you do to yours. Now my machine wont make a zigzag stitch; the needle is moving back and forth like it is trying to but the straight stitch is all it will do. Also, the needle is occasionally hitting the presser foot and/or the bobbin case and nothing I have done can fix this although sewing slower helps. It also is breaking a lot of needles or the needles just fly out altogether while sewing, once or twice the little screw that holds the needle in place flew out too. Do you have any idea what’s going on? I’m at my wit’s end and any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Please respond via email (CNeo2199@yahoo.com) because I don’t know how to bookmark this site on my tablet. Thanks.

     
  54. Alana says:

    Hello,
    What a nice site, and so kind of you to answer people’s questions. I have what I think is a 127/128 long bobbin Singer. After cleaning and oiling it yesterday I had it running smoothly, albeit a bit noisily. The top and bottom tension was good, and my stitches were even.Today however, after 3 or 4 stitches the top thread catches and then winds around the edge of the bobbin, pulling it out of the shuttle and then jamming under the plate. I don’t see any obvious dings or bent parts. The front slide does meet with a bit of resistance when sliding over the shuttle. I’m also missing the wire thread guide on the side of the face plate. I’m using a cotton top stitching thread on top, and a lighter weight cotton on the bobbin.
    Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you kindly in advance.
    Best regards.

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Alana.

      I have tested your problem on my own Singer 128 and I have identified your problem. The bobbin is sliding out of the shuttle because it is not THREADED CORRECTLY.

      A properly threaded shuttle is when the bobbin inside the shuttle spins COUNTERCLOCKWISE, to produce the necessary tension on the thread. if it spins CLOCKWISE instead, then the thread comes out too easily and the bobbin just slides out and the machine jams up as a result.

      Make sure that your bobbin is threaded correctly! There are videos on YouTube which will help you with this 🙂 If you want more help, send me photographs to my blog’s email address (notyetpublished@hotmail.com) and I’ll see what else I can do.

       
      • Donna says:

        I have a Singer VS2 from 1887 and have cleaned and oiled it so that it’s running like a top! LOVE IT!! You are correct about the bobbin – and to help out some other people, I made a video of how to thread and load your bobbin correctly. The VS2 machine I have is the same design as the model 27, 28, 127 and 128 – so you might want to check out this video. Happy sewing!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sug69sYIIp8

         
  55. Alana says:

    Hello,
    What a nice site, and so kind of you to answer people’s questions. I have what I think is a 127/128 long bobbin Singer. After cleaning and oiling it yesterday I had it running smoothly, albeit a bit noisily. The top and bottom tension was good, and my stitches were even.Today however, after 3 or 4 stitches the top thread catches and then winds around the edge of the bobbin, pulling it out of the shuttle and then jamming under the plate. I don’t see any obvious dings or bent parts. The front slide does meet with a bit of resistance when sliding over the shuttle. I’m also missing the wire thread guide on the side of the face plate. I’m using a cotton top stitching thread on top, and a lighter weight cotton on the bobbin.
    Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you kindly in advance.
    Best regards.

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Alana.

      I have tested your problem on my own Singer 128 and I have identified your problem. The bobbin is sliding out of the shuttle because it is not THREADED CORRECTLY.

      A properly threaded shuttle is when the bobbin inside the shuttle spins COUNTERCLOCKWISE, to produce the necessary tension on the thread. if it spins CLOCKWISE instead, then the thread comes out too easily and the bobbin just slides out and the machine jams up as a result.

      Make sure that your bobbin is threaded correctly! There are videos on YouTube which will help you with this 🙂 If you want more help, send me photographs to my blog’s email address (notyetpublished@hotmail.com) and I’ll see what else I can do.

       
      • Donna says:

        I have a Singer VS2 from 1887 and have cleaned and oiled it so that it’s running like a top! LOVE IT!! You are correct about the bobbin – and to help out some other people, I made a video of how to thread and load your bobbin correctly. The VS2 machine I have is the same design as the model 27, 28, 127 and 128 – so you might want to check out this video. Happy sewing!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sug69sYIIp8

         
  56. Ray says:

    Hey there, love the page, quite fabulous.
    In an attempt to use my mother’s 15-90 Singer (bought in 1950 by her grandmother) for the first time (carefully and following the instruction book), it stopped working. The motor still works however the belt wont turn and I think that’s because the balance wheel is too stiff and I’m not sure why. It worked at first, but stopped as I figured out how to actually sew properly… I’m sure it needs to be cleaned but I’m not sure where and how. I also read about oiling the specific parts, but I don’t have the Singer sewing machine oil.

    It is dusty and such but I don’t think it is enough to be causing the balance wheel to be so stiff. And the way it’s stiff, it’s not constant or consistent; but will sometimes worsen or become less stiff, yeknow?

    SO, do you suppose it needs to be oiled? Where? And what could I use to oil it instead of what would have come with it? Was thinking WD-40.

    Thank you for talking time to read this and for your input !!

    Ray.

     
  57. Ray says:

    Hey there, love the page, quite fabulous.
    In an attempt to use my mother’s 15-90 Singer (bought in 1950 by her grandmother) for the first time (carefully and following the instruction book), it stopped working. The motor still works however the belt wont turn and I think that’s because the balance wheel is too stiff and I’m not sure why. It worked at first, but stopped as I figured out how to actually sew properly… I’m sure it needs to be cleaned but I’m not sure where and how. I also read about oiling the specific parts, but I don’t have the Singer sewing machine oil.

    It is dusty and such but I don’t think it is enough to be causing the balance wheel to be so stiff. And the way it’s stiff, it’s not constant or consistent; but will sometimes worsen or become less stiff, yeknow?

    SO, do you suppose it needs to be oiled? Where? And what could I use to oil it instead of what would have come with it? Was thinking WD-40.

    Thank you for talking time to read this and for your input !!

    Ray.

     
  58. Ray says:

    Hi it’s Ray again! I just oiled it up and the balance wheel is moving a lot smoother now, however it’s still not working… Again, motor is running and the thing the the motor directly spins which has the belt on it is spinning but the belt is not moving for some reason so now I’m totally lost..

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Ray,

      You may need to remove the belt (it may be perished, although I don’t think this is likely), and remove the balance-wheel entirely and clean it and oil it. Removing the balance-wheel is not difficult. Simply unscrew the screw in the clutch-wheel, unscrew it, remove the clutch-wheel, remove the washer (MAKE SURE YOU REMEMBER WHICH WAY IT GOES BACK!! Otherwise the machine won’t work!). Then remove the belt, and slide off the balance-wheel.

      Clean the balance-wheel and shaft thoroughly. Remove old oil and grease. Then re-lubricate (sparingly) with sewing-machine oil (any high-grade, thin, machine-oil will do. NOT WD-40). Then reassemble and try again.

      Lubricate the rest of the machine likewise (top and bottom) and see how that effects things.

       
  59. Shirley says:

    I really enjoyed all of the information. I’ve been doing a lot of sewing lately with thick fabrics. Machine was moving along slower and slower with problems getting bobbin on and off. Took your advice and took everything apart and oiled. It was dirty. Still had problems getting bobbin on and when I can get it on the top thread gets all wound up on bobbin. Should I take the whole bobbin casing apart?

     
  60. Shirley says:

    Shirley again. I have a Singer about 80-90 years old and bobbin is under the arm.

     
    • scheong says:

      What type of machine is it? Vibrating-shuttle long-bobbin? (eg: Singer 128) Removable-case round-bobbin (singer 15) or a drop-in round-bobbin? (Singer 66/99/201 etc)?

      Since it’s 90 years old, it’s probably a Singer 66, 15 or 27/28 series. Which one is it?

       
  61. Shirley says:

    Shirley again. I have a Singer about 80-90 years old and bobbin is under the arm.

     
    • scheong says:

      What type of machine is it? Vibrating-shuttle long-bobbin? (eg: Singer 128) Removable-case round-bobbin (singer 15) or a drop-in round-bobbin? (Singer 66/99/201 etc)?

      Since it’s 90 years old, it’s probably a Singer 66, 15 or 27/28 series. Which one is it?

       
      • Shirley says:

        Singer Featherweight 221

         
        • scheong says:

          I think Featherweights use a bobbin-system similar to the Model 15. Have you made sure that the bobbin is wound & loaded correctly? Bobbins jamming or coming out accidentally is usually a result of that. So check that, first. If not, then check the bobbin assembly & feed-dog area for any gunk and lint and dust. Remove all the plates and poke around with a toothpick. It can be the cleanest machine in the world kept in the nicest house on the sweetest table…and it will collect dust in the most unlikely of places. And this can jam the machine if it builds up over time.

           
  62. marian says:

    my vintage singer has finally stopped working. It is either the motor or the fan belt. Does anyone know someone who would service/repair it in central London?

     
  63. Tania GRIFFITHS says:

    I have found a Minerva M16E to renovate. I am starting with the cabinet. Will the finish be shellac or varnish?
    Also I will need a new belt. Who sells these accessories?
    Thanks
    I am in Australia. This is a fantastic web site.
    Tania.

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Tania,

      I’m not sure about finishing off the wood, but belts are pretty easy to find.

      One thing you can do is buy nylon rope. Cut it to length, and then melt the ends of the rope and splice/melt it together, to make a seamless join. Or you can just buy simple leather strapping and staple it together.

       
  64. Tania GRIFFITHS says:

    I have found a Minerva M16E to renovate. I am starting with the cabinet. Will the finish be shellac or varnish?
    Also I will need a new belt. Who sells these accessories?
    Thanks
    I am in Australia. This is a fantastic web site.
    Tania.

     
  65. Felicity says:

    This is an amazing site. I have been cleaning a hand crank sewing machine which research indicates is a c1935 German made model badged for the old department store Gamages (this is according to website where I saw another machine which appears to be just the same).
    I have been using a lint free cloth and WD40 which has been good for both metal and wood. At the moment it is resting as I think that it might be a good idea to let the WD40 work its magic for a bit.
    The machine has a problem. The lever operating the foot lift mechanism is not moving at all. I opened the plate at the arm housing the mechanism and I cannot see how this can be rectified. The foot lever shows signs that it has been raised in the past i.e signs of wear, but there just does not seem to be the space for it to move.
    I should be really grateful if you had any ideas or advice. It would be lovely to work with this machine.
    Best wishes
    Felicity

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Felicity.

      First, don’t use WD-40.

      WD-40 is Water Displacement No. 40.

      You don’t want to displace water. You want to LUBRICATE. Get a bottle or a can of sewing-machine oil. Any decent hardware shop, sewing shop or arts-and-crafts shop will sell this stuff for not much.

      I had to fix a Singer for a family friend with exactly the same problem as what you described.

      There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just STIFF. Get the sewing-oil, lubricate the presser-foot SHAFT thoroughly, and lubricate the presser-foot lever thoroughly. Let it soak in. Then wiggle it up and down to work in the oil. You might want to use the oil (and a tissue or a soft rag) to try and clear out any gunk trapped inside. This will help loosen things up and get the lever working properly.

       
      • Felicity says:

        Thank you very much for your advice.
        I shall have a go at the weekend. Unfortunately, I removed a small screw fixing the lever to the presser foot shaft. This caused the ancient metal of the nut to fall apart!! It looks like bits of old lead. Feeling really bad about abusing something that has been around for so long. We’ll see what happens next.
        Anyway, thanks again.
        Felicity

         
  66. Felicity says:

    This is an amazing site. I have been cleaning a hand crank sewing machine which research indicates is a c1935 German made model badged for the old department store Gamages (this is according to website where I saw another machine which appears to be just the same).
    I have been using a lint free cloth and WD40 which has been good for both metal and wood. At the moment it is resting as I think that it might be a good idea to let the WD40 work its magic for a bit.
    The machine has a problem. The lever operating the foot lift mechanism is not moving at all. I opened the plate at the arm housing the mechanism and I cannot see how this can be rectified. The foot lever shows signs that it has been raised in the past i.e signs of wear, but there just does not seem to be the space for it to move.
    I should be really grateful if you had any ideas or advice. It would be lovely to work with this machine.
    Best wishes
    Felicity

     
  67. Patricia says:

    you mentioned the red piece of felt… what if there is no red felt there? Meaning someone has removed it… is there something to use in place???

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Pat.

      The red felt acts as a wick to hold lubricating oil. If it’s gone, what you can do is get some wool yarn and wrap it around or pack it in where the felt used to be, and that can act as a substitute wick. It doesn’t work with all machines, but it is one way around it. This method works best with vibrating-shuttle machines.

       
  68. Patricia says:

    you mentioned the red piece of felt… what if there is no red felt there? Meaning someone has removed it… is there something to use in place???

     
  69. jennigma says:

    Thank you. You saved me a lot of typing, trying to help a distant person reclaim an old 99 to service!!

     
  70. jennigma says:

    Thank you. You saved me a lot of typing, trying to help a distant person reclaim an old 99 to service!!

     
  71. jennigma says:

    oh! and on replacing the felt, the recommendation I found and have used is to take a red spool felt and cut a wedge out of it, then fish it into the gap. Here’s the tutorial I followed:

    http://color-my-world-with-warmth.blogspot.com/2012/03/replacing-race-wick-on-66-1.html

     
  72. kymberlypease says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful advice. My husband fixed my Singer Slant-o-matic when she first came home, but it’s past time for another deep cleaning. After reading this I have the confidence to attempt this on my own.

     
    • scheong says:

      It’s very easy, Kymberly. You need not be afraid. These things were built to be cleaned and oiled by their owners, and it’s highly unlikely that you would damage it in the process.

       
  73. kymberlypease says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful advice. My husband fixed my Singer Slant-o-matic when she first came home, but it’s past time for another deep cleaning. After reading this I have the confidence to attempt this on my own.

     
  74. Thank you soooo much for this post! I was busy decrudding my old Singer 99k and was trying to yank out the red felt (which is no more than a small ball of determined red fluff in mine), before a little warning voice told me to Google it. Looking forward to making my poor old machine happy again 🙂

     
  75. Thank you soooo much for this post! I was busy decrudding my old Singer 99k and was trying to yank out the red felt (which is no more than a small ball of determined red fluff in mine), before a little warning voice told me to Google it. Looking forward to making my poor old machine happy again 🙂

     
  76. janice urffer says:

    The needle wont go up and down on my friends singer 401 any ideas i checked the bobbin winder wasnt that

     
    • scheong says:

      Checked the clutch wheel is tightened? Checked that it’s been lubricated? There’s no gunk clogging up the machine? Even if a machine has spent decades locked up in cupboard, it can still accumulate grit in the most unlikely of places.

       
  77. Angel says:

    Hi! So I’ve a Singer 15k Sewing Machine and while testing out it out for the first time and working the foot pedal, the machine was all good to go. So, I threaded it, used an electric pedal, but when i was done testing it if sewed on fabric, when I wanted to use the foot pedal again, it didn’t work like before. Also, I found this red rubber (with the inner band looking complimentary to the tshape of gears’ teeth), while looking through this circular hole in the machine. It was all dusty in there so I can’t tell if the rubber came out before or after I meddled with it! Please help me! I’d really love to use the foot pedal.

    As I tested it again, only the electric pedal worked but the not the manual pedal. ):

     
  78. Angel says:

    Hi! So I’ve a Singer 15k Sewing Machine and while testing out it out for the first time and working the foot pedal, the machine was all good to go. So, I threaded it, used an electric pedal, but when i was done testing it if sewed on fabric, when I wanted to use the foot pedal again, it didn’t work like before. Also, I found this red rubber (with the inner band looking complimentary to the tshape of gears’ teeth), while looking through this circular hole in the machine. It was all dusty in there so I can’t tell if the rubber came out before or after I meddled with it! Please help me! I’d really love to use the foot pedal.

    As I tested it again, only the electric pedal worked but the not the manual pedal. ):

     
  79. Mario says:

    I personally want to say thank you…your article was very insightful (loved the disclaimer), and what I found rewarding was the checklist and “DOs” and “DO NOTs”…my machine is a 1905 and just stopped working. I was scared to take it apart because I did not want to break it, but after reading your article I took on the challenge and got it to work (if you can see my grandmother’s watering eyes). In short, all it needed was oil…lots of oil (Did not realize how much metal to metal parts and oil is the key), thank you, again!

     
  80. I have just bought a 1954 Singer 99 hand crank on Ebay to patch and fix the endless busted straps on our horses rugs. My thinking was that a hand crank would be more likely to drive through canvas; not many stitches needed and I don’t mind how slowly it goes as I’m new to this lark. However when I crank it there is very little pressure on the needle; I can stop it with one finger on the side. Will cleaning it resolve this, or is something more sinister afoot? Many thanks for your help in anticipation, George

     
    • scheong says:

      Regardless of hand-crank, treadle or electric, no matter how fast you run a machine, there are some things that it just won’t penetrate.

      I assume it’s a fresh needle, right? You could clean the machine and lubricate it. And that would give you a smoother sewing action. That should work. I have a 99. They’re foolproof machines.

       
      • Thanks for your reply. To tell you the truth I haven’t actually tried sewing anything yet. I was just fiddling about getting to understand it’s workings when I noticed that the needle wasn’t going up and down when turning the crank. With a little encouragement it does, but as I say very weakly. I rather assumed that there was a direct drive from the crank to the needle gearing, but now think not. I will certainly follow your excellent cleaning lesson above, but does it not seem that something more drastic is wrong to you? I am very grateful for your help. Best, George.

         
        • scheong says:

          Sounds like the clutch wheel has not been tightened. The little silver wheel inside the main balance wheel. Tighten that puppy up and see what happens.

           
  81. Vicky H says:

    I am so glad I finally found a site that knows what I need to know (as in How To Clean ….). The only information I have found about how to clean the aged gunk off the outside of some vintage sms was oil. Yes oil cleans it to a point but it just wasn’t going to do the job. I thought I was going to have to have some sort of mild abrasive. I am on a mission for Simichrome. I also have sort of the same problem as Mr. Bingham above. I have a Singer 401A whose handwheel won’t tighten up but is loosened to wind a bobbin. When I turn it to tighten it just keeps going and the needle also goes up and down. Plus sometimes when it has been plugged in the handwheel will turn slowly. I have just got the project and am trying to access the situation of it all. Any information you could tell me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so very much for all you do in keeping this wealth of information up ! Good Luck. Vicky

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Vicky.

      Clutchwheels/handwheels that don’t work properly is usually because they’re gunked up with grease and grime and dust.

      Pull it apart and clean all the gunk outta there and reassemble it. It should help. And only put a SMALL amount of oil in.

       
  82. Vicky H says:

    I am so glad I finally found a site that knows what I need to know (as in How To Clean ….). The only information I have found about how to clean the aged gunk off the outside of some vintage sms was oil. Yes oil cleans it to a point but it just wasn’t going to do the job. I thought I was going to have to have some sort of mild abrasive. I am on a mission for Simichrome. I also have sort of the same problem as Mr. Bingham above. I have a Singer 401A whose handwheel won’t tighten up but is loosened to wind a bobbin. When I turn it to tighten it just keeps going and the needle also goes up and down. Plus sometimes when it has been plugged in the handwheel will turn slowly. I have just got the project and am trying to access the situation of it all. Any information you could tell me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so very much for all you do in keeping this wealth of information up ! Good Luck. Vicky

     
  83. Kate says:

    ooops!
    I inherited my Aunt”s 1926 Singer treadle. I love it and it sews and free motion quilts beautifully. However, when I first tried to FMQ the bobbin thread kept breaking so a thorough cleaning and oiling took place. I wondered why all that red fluff was in the bobbin area as my Aunt hardly used it. Sew, after much pulling and tugging with my wire nose pliers I removed it. She has since worked a treat with no thread breakage. Now i am wondering should I replace it or just keep the oil up to it?
    Great site lots of information for we vintage buffs. Thank you!

     
    • scheong says:

      The felt is the oil wick. If you don’t replace it, it just means you have to lubricate more regularly. Personally I’d try and put it back. It’d make things a bit easier.

       
  84. Kate says:

    ooops!
    I inherited my Aunt”s 1926 Singer treadle. I love it and it sews and free motion quilts beautifully. However, when I first tried to FMQ the bobbin thread kept breaking so a thorough cleaning and oiling took place. I wondered why all that red fluff was in the bobbin area as my Aunt hardly used it. Sew, after much pulling and tugging with my wire nose pliers I removed it. She has since worked a treat with no thread breakage. Now i am wondering should I replace it or just keep the oil up to it?
    Great site lots of information for we vintage buffs. Thank you!

     
    • scheong says:

      The felt is the oil wick. If you don’t replace it, it just means you have to lubricate more regularly. Personally I’d try and put it back. It’d make things a bit easier.

       
  85. sue thornton says:

    I have an old Singer hand machine – serial no.F2582850 – the arm that connects the handle to the large wheel has come loose. I can push the cog end of the arm into the handle end but the big screw just spins round and won’t tighten. The thread on it just spins round. It’s just been serviced and cleaned and was working well. The connecting arm came loose while trying to refill the bobbin on it’s rewind assembley. Can you please advise? Should I just return it to the shop who last serviced it in Jan 15, for them to repair?
    Many thanks
    Sue

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Sue,

      I don’t think I quite understand what your problem with the hand-crank is? You say that the crew holding the arm that slots between the spokes of the balance-wheel won’t tighten up?

      You could try sending it back. Or you could unscrew the screw and wrap the threads with a bit of masking-tape. That might thicken it up and give it the necessary grit and friction to hold, and then screw it back in.

       
  86. sue thornton says:

    I have an old Singer hand machine – serial no.F2582850 – the arm that connects the handle to the large wheel has come loose. I can push the cog end of the arm into the handle end but the big screw just spins round and won’t tighten. The thread on it just spins round. It’s just been serviced and cleaned and was working well. The connecting arm came loose while trying to refill the bobbin on it’s rewind assembley. Can you please advise? Should I just return it to the shop who last serviced it in Jan 15, for them to repair?
    Many thanks
    Sue

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Sue,

      I don’t think I quite understand what your problem with the hand-crank is? You say that the crew holding the arm that slots between the spokes of the balance-wheel won’t tighten up?

      You could try sending it back. Or you could unscrew the screw and wrap the threads with a bit of masking-tape. That might thicken it up and give it the necessary grit and friction to hold, and then screw it back in.

       
  87. Sunshine says:

    I had a question about my Singer 127 the bobbin winder broke a piece of metal broke off it so I can’t wind the bobbin. I tried super glue it wouldn’t hold. I don’t want to buy a new/old piece it’ll cost $40 .
    Any suggestions in how to repair I coul show you pictures if you would prefer.
    Thank you for your time.

     
  88. Sunshine says:

    I had a question about my Singer 127 the bobbin winder broke a piece of metal broke off it so I can’t wind the bobbin. I tried super glue it wouldn’t hold. I don’t want to buy a new/old piece it’ll cost $40 .
    Any suggestions in how to repair I coul show you pictures if you would prefer.
    Thank you for your time.

     
  89. Hello my wife inherited a beautiful hand crank portable Singer, but the hand crank or turning the wheel by hand will not work. Everything works fine for about one half a turn and then stops. What must I do to release it?
    Thanks for your help. Jerry

     
  90. Hello my wife inherited a beautiful hand crank portable Singer, but the hand crank or turning the wheel by hand will not work. Everything works fine for about one half a turn and then stops. What must I do to release it?
    Thanks for your help. Jerry

     
  91. Carol says:

    I need to know how to remove the cam gear. If you can help me this would be great.

    Thank you if you can’t.

     
  92. Carol says:

    I need to know how to remove the cam gear. If you can help me this would be great.

    Thank you if you can’t.

     
  93. jody says:

    I’m having trouble winding bobbin won’t move

     
  94. jody says:

    I’m having trouble winding bobbin won’t move

     
  95. Amanda says:

    Fantastic site, thank you. I am cleaning up a 1938 15-90 singer and i’m trying to decide if I am cleaning off an amazing amount of dirt, or if i’m really just destroying the finish…i’ve been using cotton balls both dry and with a little bit of mildly soapy water and they come away BLACK or a gross brownish. Also the decals are about half gold and half silver so i’m not sure what color they were originally…I haven’t gotten near those yet. Any suggestions?
    Thank you so much!

     
    • scheong says:

      Japanning (the black gloss finish) on old sewing machines is quite thick. If you’re scrubbing off the Japanning with cotton-balls, then I’d be scared to be around you, because that would take a lot of force!

      I think it more likely that what you’re doing is scraping off decades of filth. For cleaning decals (CAREFULLY), use cotton balls in sewing machine oil, or EXTREMELY FINE steel wool. That’ll remove the surface grime, and will return the decals to their original colour. I have a post about removing grime from decals here in my blog somewhere.

       
  96. Amanda says:

    Fantastic site, thank you. I am cleaning up a 1938 15-90 singer and i’m trying to decide if I am cleaning off an amazing amount of dirt, or if i’m really just destroying the finish…i’ve been using cotton balls both dry and with a little bit of mildly soapy water and they come away BLACK or a gross brownish. Also the decals are about half gold and half silver so i’m not sure what color they were originally…I haven’t gotten near those yet. Any suggestions?
    Thank you so much!

     
    • scheong says:

      Japanning (the black gloss finish) on old sewing machines is quite thick. If you’re scrubbing off the Japanning with cotton-balls, then I’d be scared to be around you, because that would take a lot of force!

      I think it more likely that what you’re doing is scraping off decades of filth. For cleaning decals (CAREFULLY), use cotton balls in sewing machine oil, or EXTREMELY FINE steel wool. That’ll remove the surface grime, and will return the decals to their original colour. I have a post about removing grime from decals here in my blog somewhere.

       
  97. Maryann says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post! I am off to gather cleaning supplies to make my vintage sewing machine shine and run like a race horse.

     
  98. Maryann says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post! I am off to gather cleaning supplies to make my vintage sewing machine shine and run like a race horse.

     
  99. I was lucky enough to be given a 1937 201 that folds away into a cabinet. It was serviced before being put away (20 years ago or so!), so was working, but I thought I would check for fluff and oil before using. All went well until I was trying to replace the bobbin case and hook ring. It was bit fiddly, and then the mechanism went very stiff. Now, even without the bobbin case and hook ring, it will hardly move. Have you any suggestions? Or has it spent nearly 80 years (and travelled half way round the world) only to be broken by me in half an hour?!

     
  100. I was lucky enough to be given a 1937 201 that folds away into a cabinet. It was serviced before being put away (20 years ago or so!), so was working, but I thought I would check for fluff and oil before using. All went well until I was trying to replace the bobbin case and hook ring. It was bit fiddly, and then the mechanism went very stiff. Now, even without the bobbin case and hook ring, it will hardly move. Have you any suggestions? Or has it spent nearly 80 years (and travelled half way round the world) only to be broken by me in half an hour?!

     
  101. Panic over – I glugged in oil as if I had shares in the company, and the stiffness wore off. Now I still have to work out how to replace the bobbin case and hook ring 🙁

     
    • scheong says:

      The bobbin-case should just slot back in, from memory, but it’s tricky to do it. These machines rarely need much disassembly. Give them enough oil, and the fluid itself would wash out most of the gunk sooner or later. And wiping it down also helps.

       
  102. Dana says:

    Hi – I have a portable 1929 128 model which is electric. There is a light attached, which works, and there is an opening which appears to be for a foot control connection/wire/plug in. Do you know where I can buy a foot control?

     
  103. K Burns says:

    Has this information been published in book form yet?

     
  104. K Burns says:

    Has this information been published in book form yet?

     
  105. lisa russell says:

    I removed the screw in the bobbin case that you’re not suppose to. Can you tell me why and what I need to do to fix it? Thank you

     
    • scheong says:

      The screws on the bobbin-cases are there to adjust thread-tension. This means that now you’ll need to readjust the tension all over again. It’s not impossible to do, but it can take a while to get it right.

       
  106. lisa russell says:

    I removed the screw in the bobbin case that you’re not suppose to. Can you tell me why and what I need to do to fix it? Thank you

     
  107. V Ferndale says:

    I have just purchased singer99k Y9874984. It is running but not stitching and has no red felt!! Can I sort this myself?
    Loving the machine already and what a super website.

     
  108. V Ferndale says:

    I have just purchased singer99k Y9874984. It is running but not stitching and has no red felt!! Can I sort this myself?
    Loving the machine already and what a super website.

     
  109. Sylvia Fayers says:

    Hi, am having trouble with a knee lever machine can you tell me how it works INSIDE the machine please, am really struggling. It fits into ouside fine but then just swings round, thanks

     
    • scheong says:

      Knee-levers have a sort of spring-loaded socket-switch inside the machine. You lock the lever inside the switch and turn it and that brings the contacts together to turn the machine on. The more you turn it, the faster the machine operates. Then when you let go, it springs back. If it’s spinning round and around, it sounds like there’s a broken connection of some kind.

       
  110. David Young says:

    Great blog, great tips! I recently acquired a 1902 treadle 15. It’s come up really well, it just one problem: it won’t pick up a stitch. Every thing turns as it should, but the bobbin thread is not being picked up by the hook. It tries, but the stitch doesn’t come all the way across the bobbin case, stops, and things jam up.
    It raises the bobbin thread OK though!
    It is frustratingly close to working again!
    Any thoughts on what could be e problem?
    Hope you can help.

    David Young, UK

     
    • scheong says:

      You sure the bobbin and/or needle are in the right way and set all the way in? Nothing’s bent or broken? In most cases, failure to work is due to improper installation.

       
  111. David Young says:

    Great blog, great tips! I recently acquired a 1902 treadle 15. It’s come up really well, it just one problem: it won’t pick up a stitch. Every thing turns as it should, but the bobbin thread is not being picked up by the hook. It tries, but the stitch doesn’t come all the way across the bobbin case, stops, and things jam up.
    It raises the bobbin thread OK though!
    It is frustratingly close to working again!
    Any thoughts on what could be e problem?
    Hope you can help.

    David Young, UK

     
  112. David Young says:

    I’ll take it apart again – there are only a few parts – the hook, the race, the shaft the bobbin case and the bobbin – and none of them show any sign of wear, even though the machine is over 110 years old. The needle is new, flat to the left, threaded right to left, just like the manual says. Grr!
    It must be something simple I just can’t see.

     
  113. David Young says:

    I’ll take it apart again – there are only a few parts – the hook, the race, the shaft the bobbin case and the bobbin – and none of them show any sign of wear, even though the machine is over 110 years old. The needle is new, flat to the left, threaded right to left, just like the manual says. Grr!
    It must be something simple I just can’t see.

     
  114. Cherie Del Ponte says:

    Great information. I bought a Singer treadle 66-1 Red Eye. It stitches well. Was originally stiff at bobbin area. I took apart and fount it was was very gummy with crudd. I cleaned bobbin area. Thread moves freely with appropriate tension. Sews good, even stitches. When moving moving the wheel it meets with slight resistance about every 360 degrees. Do you have a suggestion? I thought the wheel should move freely (without belt attached). I am at a loss what to do.
    Thanks for your help. Cherie D

     
  115. Susan Dains says:

    What a wonderful site you have! I am so thrilled to find you as I have just acquired a Spartan 192K and a Davis Vertical Feed treadle machine. I had not heard of either but now I am so interested in the history of both. You have given me the courage to get them cleaned up and use them. They both seem like they will work as the parts are moving, they are just full of dust from one sitting outside and the other in a sack in a basement for years. I’m so excited! And so glad I left that red felt in place when I was looking the Spartan over! I can’t wait to get started cleaning them. I will let you know how it goes!

     
  116. Susan Dains says:

    What a wonderful site you have! I am so thrilled to find you as I have just acquired a Spartan 192K and a Davis Vertical Feed treadle machine. I had not heard of either but now I am so interested in the history of both. You have given me the courage to get them cleaned up and use them. They both seem like they will work as the parts are moving, they are just full of dust from one sitting outside and the other in a sack in a basement for years. I’m so excited! And so glad I left that red felt in place when I was looking the Spartan over! I can’t wait to get started cleaning them. I will let you know how it goes!

     
  117. Patty Wilke says:

    Awesome informative page I’m 60 yrs old and I have had my grandmothers bent case Treadle machine-model 66 with serial # AB1000955. Spoke with my mother who is 85 and she said, her mother got the machine as a gift when she graduated high School around 1920. I remember just looking at it in grandmothers home as a child, watching the treadle go up and down as my mother and my aunts would sew on it when we visited on weekends.By the time I was 5-6 yrs.old she passed. Grand-dad and the sewing machine came home with us to live,and I mean live!! My mother taught me to sew on it-and I fell in love. I have only sewed on an electric in high school .I brought most projects home where I was comfortable to control the speed. I taught my daughter the basics but she never took a liking to sewing at all, but -several yrs. ago I taught my grand-daughter Mya,how to make “jam-ma” pants -what a joy! I began having belt issues[slipping] and decided I would Not- break and buy an electric to begin my next project. So I stumbled on your page-Amen-new belt- cleaned and oiled and runs like a top. Thanks loads- to many more years of sewing – A poem I wrote you may enjoy-titled; My Treadle Machine and Me;

    I first met you at grandma’s house though she lay very sick.Your drawers were filled with buttons and she’d let me have my pick.
    I’d sit upon her wooden chair and wish my feet could reach.I prayed one day I’d Treadle,for her;a gift so sweet.
    You and grandpa soon moved in and filled our home, so dear. Your iron treadle,up and down,was music to my ear.
    Skirts and shorts were quite the rage,all changing as the weather.Still looking back I cherish,the years we’ve had together.
    I know your so much older and your world has come and gone.Yet you and me together,still make a joyous song.
    I sense your feeling lonely and you wish I’d take the time,to sit and do some mending,to ease my troubled mind.
    You’ve met my grand-babe ,Mya, as she’s learning how to sew.Know one day when I’m not around ,it’s her home you will go.

     
  118. Patty Wilke says:

    Awesome informative page I’m 60 yrs old and I have had my grandmothers bent case Treadle machine-model 66 with serial # AB1000955. Spoke with my mother who is 85 and she said, her mother got the machine as a gift when she graduated high School around 1920. I remember just looking at it in grandmothers home as a child, watching the treadle go up and down as my mother and my aunts would sew on it when we visited on weekends.By the time I was 5-6 yrs.old she passed. Grand-dad and the sewing machine came home with us to live,and I mean live!! My mother taught me to sew on it-and I fell in love. I have only sewed on an electric in high school .I brought most projects home where I was comfortable to control the speed. I taught my daughter the basics but she never took a liking to sewing at all, but -several yrs. ago I taught my grand-daughter Mya,how to make “jam-ma” pants -what a joy! I began having belt issues[slipping] and decided I would Not- break and buy an electric to begin my next project. So I stumbled on your page-Amen-new belt- cleaned and oiled and runs like a top. Thanks loads- to many more years of sewing – A poem I wrote you may enjoy-titled; My Treadle Machine and Me;

    I first met you at grandma’s house though she lay very sick.Your drawers were filled with buttons and she’d let me have my pick.
    I’d sit upon her wooden chair and wish my feet could reach.I prayed one day I’d Treadle,for her;a gift so sweet.
    You and grandpa soon moved in and filled our home, so dear. Your iron treadle,up and down,was music to my ear.
    Skirts and shorts were quite the rage,all changing as the weather.Still looking back I cherish,the years we’ve had together.
    I know your so much older and your world has come and gone.Yet you and me together,still make a joyous song.
    I sense your feeling lonely and you wish I’d take the time,to sit and do some mending,to ease my troubled mind.
    You’ve met my grand-babe ,Mya, as she’s learning how to sew.Know one day when I’m not around ,it’s her home you will go.

     
  119. In the picture of the bobbin area I see that this Singer has the exact same bobbin set up as my treadle. My question is how to properly adjust the bobbin tension. When I got this treadle from my mother the thread in the bobbin was a very old cotton thread that is much more course than the thread we use today. Needless to say that the tension is too loose for my thread. Could you explain how to tighten the tension on this drop in bobbin setup?
    Thanks, Cindy. Clniels@yahoo.com

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Cindy,

      There is a screw in the bobbin-case in the bed of the machine. Adjusting the tension is a matter of tweaking this screw with a screwdriver (Duuuh!) until you achieve the correct tension.

      Do this by degrees. Fill the bobbin, load it into the machine. Sew. Check the results. Tighten the screw a BIT. Sew. Examine results. Tighten the screw.

      Repeat. Until you have the right tension and the stitches look neat.

       
  120. how can I find a schematic for the mechanical pieces of a 1906 singer treatle sewing machine?

     
    • scheong says:

      Schematics I’m not sure. But there are diagrams and such in old service-manuals and whatnot. I’d be looking there.

       
    • Donna says:

      In the Smithsonian Library archives online I found the actual Sept 22, 1885 patent for the mechanics of the vibrating shuttle treadle machine. This is the exact patent that Singer bought from the inventor Robert Whitehill and was used in all their machines going forward from that date – all the way up to the 1960’s! I don’t think I can attach a copy here; but you might be able to google it and find it online for a free download. It is called “R. Whitehill sewing machine patent no. 326,821 patented Sept. 22, 1885” It’s the closest thing to a schematic that I’ve seen so far. Good luck!

       
  121. how can I find a schematic for the mechanical pieces of a 1906 singer treatle sewing machine?

     
    • scheong says:

      Schematics I’m not sure. But there are diagrams and such in old service-manuals and whatnot. I’d be looking there.

       
    • Donna says:

      In the Smithsonian Library archives online I found the actual Sept 22, 1885 patent for the mechanics of the vibrating shuttle treadle machine. This is the exact patent that Singer bought from the inventor Robert Whitehill and was used in all their machines going forward from that date – all the way up to the 1960’s! I don’t think I can attach a copy here; but you might be able to google it and find it online for a free download. It is called “R. Whitehill sewing machine patent no. 326,821 patented Sept. 22, 1885” It’s the closest thing to a schematic that I’ve seen so far. Good luck!

       
  122. Maryvonne adams says:

    Hi
    What a great site. I just picked up an old ED85 9269 treadle which has been converted to electric . You press your foot on the treadle to make the machine run. It all works great but when I was putting the leaver down for the foot it snapped off. I can’t even move the foot down by hand do you think I would be able to do something about this.
    Thank you

     
    • scheong says:

      Depending on the model, you can buy a junk machine and remove a functional lever and then use that to replace the broken one. But it has to be the same model of machine, otherwise the parts won’t swap over.

       
  123. Anna says:

    Hello,
    Your site looks wonderfully informative and I hope that it can all apply to an old Frister Rossman picked up at a car boot. My wife uses it for art doll making and as she feels she is hopeless with machinery I wind the bobbins, change the thread etc. The problem we have is that with every change the tension seems to go haywire, and I am taking hours to get it right by fiddling with both bobbin and needle tensions. We have a copy of the manual which I refer to for this. But it takes so long as to make the using of the machine a frustrating undertaking.
    Can you please give any advice?
    Thank you.
    Grant T

     
    • scheong says:

      Hi Grant,

      F&R were a German sewing machine manufacturer as I’m sure you know by now. And German sewing machines were among the best. I’m amazed you can’t get it to work!

      There are two tensions you must sort out on sewing machines.

      1. TOP TENSION. The tension of the thread coming off the reel.

      2. BOBBIN TENSION. The tension of the thread coming off the shuttle.

      Top thread tension is somewhat dictated by the fabric you’re sewing. Bottom tension needs to be so that the bobbin and shuttle drop slightly when you jerk the thread (with the bobbin hanging beneath you). If it drops too far and doesn’t stop – tighten the bobbin tension. If it doesn’t drop at all, loosen it slightly.

      Once the bobbin tension is correct – LEAVE IT ALONE. There is no reason now to touch it – ever! Then, adjust the top tension as necessary when sewing.

       
  124. Carol says:

    Thanks for your posts on vintage sewing machines, I just found this site today and I think it’s wonderful!

    I have a 1940 Singer Model 201 in a beautiful parlor cabinet that belonged to my grandmother. I don’t sew often, but there are some things you just can’t buy – so far that includes quality Halloween costumes, traditional clothing from other countries for Girl Scout World Thinking Day, and a 1950’s circle skirt with chiffon overlay for my daughter’s Dancing Classrooms event.

    My parents had my sewing machine spruced up years ago – new power cord, a little cabinet refinishing where someone set a drink on it, and probably cleaning and lubricating. However, in all the years (20+) that I’ve had it I haven’t done any maintenance on it. After reading this post, I’m feeling very guilty! I’m afraid of making a mess of it, but maybe your instructions will give me enough confidence to give it a shot.

    Now to my question – we moved recently and now when I plug in my sewing machine nothing happens. The light doesn’t work, nothing happens when I use the knee lever. I wondered if the movers might have dropped it, but I don’t see any damage. Plus you mention several times above how hard these machines are to break.

    I realize this isn’t a repair blog, but maybe you have experienced this or one of your readers has a tip? I live in a place with no sewing machine repair shops, the nearest one I’ve found is about 50 miles and they don’t speak English. So with Halloween around the corner I’m looking for suggestions – I’ve googled incessantly but to very little avail. Is there a fuse anywhere that could explain it? I don’t see one in the wiring diagrams I’ve found online, could there be one in the replaced cord? Would you think it likely that it needs cleaning and lubrication, and the light not working is a separate issue? I’ve removed and replaced the 3-hole plug and it seems to be in securely. I know the outlet works. Any other ideas?

    Regards,
    Carol

     
    • scheong says:

      HI Carol. Sewing machine lamps can get NOTORIOUSLY hot when you turn them on. If the bulb blew, I wouldn’t be surprised.

      To me, it sounds like a loose connection. Or maybe the light’s blown and the machine’s seized up from lack of oil. These old machines DRINK oil. If you don’t lubricate them enough, they get really cranky at you and just decide to go on strike and not work.

      It’d be easier if I could see it to see what type of machine it is and how it’s set up.

       
      • Carol Vandergriff says:

        Thanks for the quick reply 🙂

        These are the only photos I have on my phone, if you want something specific I can take more when I get home from work.

        Regards, Carol

         
  125. Carol says:

    Thanks for your posts on vintage sewing machines, I just found this site today and I think it’s wonderful!

    I have a 1940 Singer Model 201 in a beautiful parlor cabinet that belonged to my grandmother. I don’t sew often, but there are some things you just can’t buy – so far that includes quality Halloween costumes, traditional clothing from other countries for Girl Scout World Thinking Day, and a 1950’s circle skirt with chiffon overlay for my daughter’s Dancing Classrooms event.

    My parents had my sewing machine spruced up years ago – new power cord, a little cabinet refinishing where someone set a drink on it, and probably cleaning and lubricating. However, in all the years (20+) that I’ve had it I haven’t done any maintenance on it. After reading this post, I’m feeling very guilty! I’m afraid of making a mess of it, but maybe your instructions will give me enough confidence to give it a shot.

    Now to my question – we moved recently and now when I plug in my sewing machine nothing happens. The light doesn’t work, nothing happens when I use the knee lever. I wondered if the movers might have dropped it, but I don’t see any damage. Plus you mention several times above how hard these machines are to break.

    I realize this isn’t a repair blog, but maybe you have experienced this or one of your readers has a tip? I live in a place with no sewing machine repair shops, the nearest one I’ve found is about 50 miles and they don’t speak English. So with Halloween around the corner I’m looking for suggestions – I’ve googled incessantly but to very little avail. Is there a fuse anywhere that could explain it? I don’t see one in the wiring diagrams I’ve found online, could there be one in the replaced cord? Would you think it likely that it needs cleaning and lubrication, and the light not working is a separate issue? I’ve removed and replaced the 3-hole plug and it seems to be in securely. I know the outlet works. Any other ideas?

    Regards,
    Carol

     
  126. Harriet Aarhus says:

    I have an old Decorah Posten treadle machine. The cabinet is in good shape, however, the head of the machine has lots of rust marks and you cannot see the gold stamping. Is there some kind of cleaner I can use on this?

     
  127. Harriet Aarhus says:

    I have an old Decorah Posten treadle machine. The cabinet is in good shape, however, the head of the machine has lots of rust marks and you cannot see the gold stamping. Is there some kind of cleaner I can use on this?

     
  128. Patricia Brennan says:

    I just recently purchased a willcox and Gibbs cast iron base in excellent condition. Is there something I should do to the cast iron (wax, etc.) to keep it that way?

     
    • scheong says:

      Most old sewing machines were covered in a thick layer of black Japanning lacquer to prevent rusting. So long as the machine’s kept indoors and dry, and well-lubricated, it should be fine.

       
  129. Debi Marquez says:

    Hi, I have a 1911 white rotary treadle machine, I’ve cleaned and tightened the belt but it still was hard turning and won’t continuously sew. I noticed the hand crank is hard to turn. I’ve cleaned and oiled. What else can I do? I also have a 1901 singer I’ve yet to finish. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Debi

     
    • scheong says:

      Pull apart the hand-crank and clean the gears, then lubricate it. Make sure you don’t have the bobbin-winder engaged and dig out any lint and grime. Add in more oil. These machines drink oil. You need quite a lot.

       
  130. boluyawng says:

    hello informative blog, just changed my belt but when in press the pedal it won’t move the pulley up so its not sewing am frustrated its a butterfly manual sewing machine like the old school grandmother ones am addicted to my sewing being at it all day pls help

     
  131. bimzsphinx says:

    Hi there,

    I just got a singer 15 and setting up,i find that the take up lever isn’t moving which of course affects the needle. Is there something I’m suppose to screw or unscrew? Pls help. Im really confused and frustrated.

     
    • scheong says:

      Do the other parts of the machine move? Chances are it’s just oil. Remove the front-plate, clean inside, lubricate thoroughly and try again.

      The Singer 15 is one of the most robust machines out there. Not for nothing have copies of it been made for over 100 years.

       
  132. bimzsphinx says:

    Hi there,

    I just got a singer 15 and setting up,i find that the take up lever isn’t moving which of course affects the needle. Is there something I’m suppose to screw or unscrew? Pls help. Im really confused and frustrated.

     
  133. Janet says:

    thank you for your blog! I have a 1910 16k series machine and have been using it for the last 30 years without the felt in the bobbin case. Is there any particular technique to replacing it, or should I just poke a small bit into the ‘spring’?

     
  134. Janet says:

    thank you for your blog! I have a 1910 16k series machine and have been using it for the last 30 years without the felt in the bobbin case. Is there any particular technique to replacing it, or should I just poke a small bit into the ‘spring’?

     
  135. Helene says:

    I just got a singer 192k. When I cleaned it there was no red felt in the bobbin area. I found the hole where it should be and stuffed some re felt I to it and then saturated it with oil. I saw on your site that there seems to be some kind of screw that should also fit in this space as well as the felt. The machine runs well as is. Do I need the screw as well?

     
    • scheong says:

      How the felt holds in place depends on the machine. If no screw is necessary, then it likely never had one. Singer vibrating shuttle machines, for example, had a simple oil-well stuffed with felt, without any screw.

       
  136. Bob Daley says:

    My wife has a Singer 319k (her dad bought it new for her in 1955) She uses it just about every day for 1/2 hr or so –I service it regularly and it’s NEVER given any trouble. In sixty years of use she has hardly ever had to adjust the thread tension ((people think that because a particular thing says it’s for adjusting they do just that –adjust — back in days when cars had carburettors the owners would often spend a whole weekend trying to retune the engine by making adjustments to the various screws on the carby –al to no avail when all that was needed was to clean the spark plugs. Once an expert has made the correct adjustments to most things it’s best to leave well alone —DON’T TOUCH

     
  137. Bob Daley says:

    My wife has a Singer 319k (her dad bought it new for her in 1955) She uses it just about every day for 1/2 hr or so –I service it regularly and it’s NEVER given any trouble. In sixty years of use she has hardly ever had to adjust the thread tension ((people think that because a particular thing says it’s for adjusting they do just that –adjust — back in days when cars had carburettors the owners would often spend a whole weekend trying to retune the engine by making adjustments to the various screws on the carby –al to no avail when all that was needed was to clean the spark plugs. Once an expert has made the correct adjustments to most things it’s best to leave well alone —DON’T TOUCH

     
  138. Tammy Paquin says:

    Good day! I have a #15 Singer treadle machine. The rubber wheel on the bobbin winder was dry rotted and I got replacements but I don’t know how to remove the bobbin winding assembly to replace it. There seems to be one screw holding it on but my machinist son insists that can’t be the way to get it off because it would require an offset screw driver (or something like that). I seriously doubt it was that difficult. Thank you so much for this great article! You are now bookmarked for future reference!

     
    • scheong says:

      The bobbin-winder is attached to the fender over the balance-wheel. It’s held in by a single flat-head screw. Simply unscrew it and lift the whole thing off the machine. Remove the old tire. Put on a new one. Done it myself.

       
  139. Tammy Paquin says:

    Good day! I have a #15 Singer treadle machine. The rubber wheel on the bobbin winder was dry rotted and I got replacements but I don’t know how to remove the bobbin winding assembly to replace it. There seems to be one screw holding it on but my machinist son insists that can’t be the way to get it off because it would require an offset screw driver (or something like that). I seriously doubt it was that difficult. Thank you so much for this great article! You are now bookmarked for future reference!

     
    • scheong says:

      The bobbin-winder is attached to the fender over the balance-wheel. It’s held in by a single flat-head screw. Simply unscrew it and lift the whole thing off the machine. Remove the old tire. Put on a new one. Done it myself.

       
  140. Hi, I have a White Domestic Model 268 sewing machine. After unsticking the zig zag lever and cleaning the bobbin parts. the bobbing driver doesn’t turn. I think I put the bobbin parts back together wrong. Is this model supposed to have red felt? it has a red plastic thing that hooks into one of the parts. Before getting the zig zag lever unstuck the machine was running, but now the shuttle, race and driver are not rotating. Three simple parts in the shuttle, but are driving me nuts! Could you please help me get this bobbin driver back together correctly so that it will rotate? The zig zag lever is also missing the two black thumb screws which I can’t find anywhere online. Thank you in advance, Hollyrose.

     
  141. Hi, I have a White Domestic Model 268 sewing machine. After unsticking the zig zag lever and cleaning the bobbin parts. the bobbing driver doesn’t turn. I think I put the bobbin parts back together wrong. Is this model supposed to have red felt? it has a red plastic thing that hooks into one of the parts. Before getting the zig zag lever unstuck the machine was running, but now the shuttle, race and driver are not rotating. Three simple parts in the shuttle, but are driving me nuts! Could you please help me get this bobbin driver back together correctly so that it will rotate? The zig zag lever is also missing the two black thumb screws which I can’t find anywhere online. Thank you in advance, Hollyrose.

     
  142. Hi, it’s me again. I love your site! After moving the zig zag lever in order to sew straight, the bobbin mechanism stopped oscillating. I took it out to clean and oil it now it won’t oscillate. There is no red felt in the bobbin case, but there is a “pin half metal and half red plastic. the motor really hums a long, but the bobbin mechanism won’t rotate. I did rotate until I moved the zig zag lever to zero. I love this machine because my mom left it to me. I hope I can get it running-can’t afford repair shop. White Domestic Machine Model 268. The motor sounds awesome, and the needle mechanism goes up and down. I just need to have the bobbin oscillating again. What in the world did I do? Regards, hollyrose2014

     
  143. Hi, it’s me again. I love your site! After moving the zig zag lever in order to sew straight, the bobbin mechanism stopped oscillating. I took it out to clean and oil it now it won’t oscillate. There is no red felt in the bobbin case, but there is a “pin half metal and half red plastic. the motor really hums a long, but the bobbin mechanism won’t rotate. I did rotate until I moved the zig zag lever to zero. I love this machine because my mom left it to me. I hope I can get it running-can’t afford repair shop. White Domestic Machine Model 268. The motor sounds awesome, and the needle mechanism goes up and down. I just need to have the bobbin oscillating again. What in the world did I do? Regards, hollyrose2014

     
  144. Hi, I’ve looked all over the internet for a WHITE SEWING MACHINE MODEL 268. Can you recommend a drive belt that world fit my model? thank you, Holly

     
  145. Hi, I’ve looked all over the internet for a WHITE SEWING MACHINE MODEL 268. Can you recommend a drive belt that world fit my model? thank you, Holly

     
  146. Kangafrog says:

    Hello. I recently acquired a 1929 99k with a knee control. The machine was in working order when I got it. I was very happy to find so much useful information here about how to clean and oil it, which I have now done. I found a large amount of lint as well as some dead insect carcasses inside it (ewww). It does not seem right to run the motor without also giving it a clean and lube and although I know nothing about doing so, I am prepared to give it a go.

    I would also like to source a new bobbin winding tyre and a belt. I live in Melboune, as I think you do too. Using overseas suppliers means delays and shipping costs larger than the cost of the parts. Do you know where I could find the new parts I am looking for and a copy of a motor manual (the motor says B.U.K.10-E)? Is that the relevant number or is the motor number what I should use to find a manual?

    Also, do you know if it is possible to replace the old motor with a modern one if the original dies (or I can’t get it back together)? In other words, are there new motors, not made for the 99 which would have the same power and fit the machine?

    Thank you for all the great information you provide here. I am very keen to keep this machine alive for as long as possible, both to use, as women before me did, and to look at. It is so beautiful. I would appreciate any repair/parts contacts which you can provide.

     
    • scheong says:

      Bobbin-winder tires are pretty easily found online. As for a drive-belt, there are shops (a few in Melbourne, I believe) which do sell replacements. You’d need to cut the belt to size, first.

      I’m not sure if you can get replacement motors, but I don’t see why you couldn’t find one on eBay.

      The Singer domestic motors were B.R.K. motors or something like that. That’s the acronym that’s on my manual, anyway.

       
  147. Kangafrog says:

    Hello. I recently acquired a 1929 99k with a knee control. The machine was in working order when I got it. I was very happy to find so much useful information here about how to clean and oil it, which I have now done. I found a large amount of lint as well as some dead insect carcasses inside it (ewww). It does not seem right to run the motor without also giving it a clean and lube and although I know nothing about doing so, I am prepared to give it a go.

    I would also like to source a new bobbin winding tyre and a belt. I live in Melboune, as I think you do too. Using overseas suppliers means delays and shipping costs larger than the cost of the parts. Do you know where I could find the new parts I am looking for and a copy of a motor manual (the motor says B.U.K.10-E)? Is that the relevant number or is the motor number what I should use to find a manual?

    Also, do you know if it is possible to replace the old motor with a modern one if the original dies (or I can’t get it back together)? In other words, are there new motors, not made for the 99 which would have the same power and fit the machine?

    Thank you for all the great information you provide here. I am very keen to keep this machine alive for as long as possible, both to use, as women before me did, and to look at. It is so beautiful. I would appreciate any repair/parts contacts which you can provide.

     
  148. Kangafrog says:

    Thank you for your very prompt reply. I found your post about the motor manual you purchased and I see that it is for a BRK motor. I don’t know how the motors differ, but mine is a BUK motor and I found a manual for it online after posting here. I will look for a sewing machine shop and try to source a belt. Thank you again for the fantastic resource you have provided here.

     
  149. Kangafrog says:

    Thank you for your very prompt reply. I found your post about the motor manual you purchased and I see that it is for a BRK motor. I don’t know how the motors differ, but mine is a BUK motor and I found a manual for it online after posting here. I will look for a sewing machine shop and try to source a belt. Thank you again for the fantastic resource you have provided here.

     
  150. Paulette Markfelder says:

    I have a Singer 95-80 that still sews beautifully, I’ve had it for 35 years now. It was given to me by an old neighbor who use to work in the garment district in Manhattan NY. I noticed that lately, I have to give the wheel on the right side a little help turning it, before the machine engages when I am using the foot trundle. I am thinking maybe the belt needs to be replaced, what do you think? I have a coil of the brown belt material.

     
    • Scheong says:

      Is it a treadle or electric machine? Belts can wear out over the years just from wear and tear, or the machine may need lubrication. If you haven’t oiled it in many years, that might be the other issue.

       
      • Paulette Markfelder says:

        It is an electric. I probably oiled it 8 months ago. I guess I will give it a good cleaning and then a good oiling. I’m a little apprehensive changing the belt because I would need to cut the belting to size, using the old one as a model. Do I cut it a little shorter to allow for any stretch the old one might have had? Do belts stretch much on a sewing machine? It was totally overhauled when I got it, but that was 35 years ago. Thanks so much for your responses.

         
        • Scheong says:

          Belts don’t stretch. The original Singer manuals used to say that you looped the belt around the wheels and then you tightened it and affixed it together. Then you adjusted the position of the MOTOR to get the right tension on the belt. The motors were typically just mounted on the side on a sort of sliding bracket. You slid it up and down until you got the belt as tight as was comfortable, and then simply tightened the nut to hold it there.

           
  151. Melissa says:

    I have an apartment electric sewing machine with a knee pedal. It I still stuck running on high speed and starts running as soon as I plug it in. Any ideas?

     
  152. Joyce Lazenby says:

    I have a wheeler and Wilson treadle machine that belonged to my great grandmother. It had been in storage for quite a few years so I brought it home. I did the take it apart, clean it and oil it up routine. My problem is…I don’t think I got the thread take up lever in correctly. It was sewing but now the stitches are a mess. Also can you send me another picture of the felt placement in the tension? My iPad won’t let me view the ones you have posted on this site.

    Thanks!

     
    • Scheong says:

      Most of the time when stitches are a mess, it’s a tension issue. I’d check the tension-nuts and screws on the machine, to make sure that they’re set correctly. It’s largely a matter of trial and error. You’ll get it set right eventually. The tension’s right when the bottom and upper thread pull away from the machine (when threaded correctly) with the same tension in both.

      The felt wick goes inside the machine near the stitch-making mechanism. There should be a little hole or slot for it to pop into, then just fill it with oil.

       

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