A Humming Bird

Remember this? I needed to remove the entire hook assembly, and work at the rust. I have to say, I wasn’t sure how this would turn out in the end. There was more rust between the layers than I anticipated. It required several rounds of soaking in kerosene, some scrubbing, then some buffing. I needed to get it to the point that everything could move smoothly and thread wouldn’t get caught on rust or burrs when stitching.

This is a quick video of the first “movement” test. Keep in mind, at this point, the machine has not been oiled.

It’s Alive!!

Once movement on the hook assembly and bobbin case was tested, I cleaned the machine up. I needed to wait until the new belt arrived to continue working on the machine. The original belt was brittle and falling apart due to age. The motor ports didn’t appear to have any lubricant in them, but the carbon brush was surprisingly un-worn. My guess is that piece HAD been replaced at some point in time. I did remove quite a bit of thread that had wrapped around near the belt bushing / cap.

Fast forward to today. The replacement belt, the only non-vintage piece we ended up needing, came in the mail! It was time to oil the machine, lubricate the motor (no lubrication on gears for the white machine), and install the new belt. Now we are getting somewhere!

I was surprised by the noise that the machine made when the belt was not on the motor. I did not take the motor apart to investigate. However, after fully assembling it with the belt, the noise seemed to go away. If I was suspect of anything that might need additional work later, it will be this. However, It could be related to the lack of lubrication that has been in the motor for a long time.

Scary Motor Sounds

Final Adjustments:
– Re-install the belt
– Install the needle
– Wind a bobbin
– Adjust bobbin case tension
– Adjust machine tension
– Polish (because, why not!)

Listen to it hum! I am happy with these results. I managed to repair it with some kerosene, oil, motor lubricant, and a $10.95 part! With a little de-rusting and some general machine care, this machine is brought back to life. I’m sure with regular maintenance and use, she will last a long time.
Now, it needs a name. Doesn’t every good machine?
But, alas, I don’t get to keep her. This belongs to my friend. Hopefully, my friend gives her a great name and if he finds any other orphans at the antique and estate sales, he will keep me in mind!
Featherweights are pretty fun to work on.

Happy Sitching!


Feather Beds Are Over-Rated

Now we get to the meat of the machine.  Some of the most important areas to look at on a machine you want to refurbish / repair are interior mechanics and the exterior bobbin case and hook assembly.  A cosmetic finish can be replaced. But the mechanical components must be functional to make it worth it. A machine can look beautiful on the outside, but be a hot mess inside.  Let’s look inside of this cutie.

After removing the oil drip cover, there is some evidence of rusting, but nothing that concerns me. Those mechanics should clean up well with some kerosene and machine oil.   The part that worried me was the bobbin case and hook area.  There is significant evidence of rust.  The bobbin case was completely seized onto the hook assembly, and the hand wheel and assembly could not move.  This machine wasn’t going anywhere.  Furthermore, the bobbin case lever was “free swinging” and no longer moved the bobbin case slide.  The bobbin case became the first order of business!

First, get it out, carefully.

Second, remove as much rust as possible and try to disassemble it. 

Original, vintage bobbin cases are always best if your machine has one, and can be cleaned up enough to function.  A replacement can cost anywhere between $75 – over $120 depending on if you are after a reproduction or a replacement vintage model.

As luck, and patience, would have it, I was able to use machine oil to gradually get the case to budge.  Normally, you could remove the case with part of the hook assembly, but that was rusted in place too. 

Here are some pics of the bobbin case after extraction and before I was able to get the bobbin removed.  Yes, the bobbin was also stuck in the case. Fun fact.  As I accessed the bobbin and started removing the threads so that I could see better, I took off no less than five different colors of bobbin thread!  Is that a thing, to wind many colors of thread on the same bobbin?  

I mentioned that the slide was seized on the case from rust. After soaking it overnight in kerosene, scrubbing it, leveraging some WD40 and some gentle tiny mallet tapping, I finally removed the slide. To my utter surprise, the tiny spring inside was not rusted out, just surrounded and the slide unable to move.

This story has a happy ending in store I think.

I was able to get the case cleaned up and buffed. I might have to work on the interior more and test out the other spring. However, the slide and lever is now functional again, AND will fit on and off of the hook assembly! This is a very good point to be. The next line of business is the hook assembly itself, another $110 part to replace. Let’s hope we don’t have to do that.

Scorecard so far: Only one part that must be replaced, the belt, and that part is ordered and in the mail!

To be continued…


A Moody White Feather

On Tuesday, a friend, and previous colleague texted and asked me if he could drop off a recent find. Lucky for me, it wasn’t a kitten, and light as a feather!  He was able to purchase it at a reasonable price, but it would need some tune-up and repair (see the picture, complete with mood lighting!). I hope we can get her running!

I couldn’t resist diving right in. The machine is a Singer 221K Featherweight, circa 1964 and manufactured in Great Britain. My mom has one like it and loves that it runs so quiet! Here are some pictures of the machine on arrival. If you are interested in the history of the white machine and how it compares to earlier models, take a look at the Featherweight Shop’s schoolhouse post.

The machine appears to have some chipping and exposure to moister / water damage. The belt is not salvagable. I was surprise at how brittle it was. However, since my friend loves everything vintage, the goal is to recover all of the other original vintage components if possible. The first order of business is to look under the hood and see what the mechanical components and the bobbin case looks like. Just wait until you see what we found!

To be continued…