Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Restor a finish

Wrigley was whining after dinner.  That meant he wanted a raw hide.  I had three left; out in the shop.  We went out after them and while they chewed, I decided that I had better put the handle back on the Bent Wood case top  before I lost the parts.  I started this project in May.  My intent was to just put the thing back together.  But while there I decided to try out the Restorafinish.  The case is pretty beat up.  I got it from Betsy.  She was selling it at her yard sale and it was my reward for helping her set up. 

Back in May I took it apart and fixed the lock.  Oh that thing was bent and did not work and it seemed hopeless.  I got it out, lubed it up and got it working.  Then I put it in Steve's vice and bent it back into a functional shape.

It fit back in its rightful home
and with a very specialized "key" it works.
I know that it looks very bent.  Trust me, it was way worse.  And since it actually does fit into a base and work, I am leaving well enough alone.

I tried out the Restor-a -Finish product.

I am not disappointed with the results.  I don't want to spend a lot of time restoring this case.  I am happy to get it looking decent.  Perfection is not my goal.  Here you can see how it looks when applied.

The end looks good, don't you think? (Compare to above.  That one is upside down, sorry)

Since I have too much to do, I think this is a reasonable alternative to sanding and putting a new coat of poly on these.  Besides, the veneer may be weak and why stress it?

I put a coat of feed n wax on as well.  While I was at it, I treated that pitman rod from the treadle.  Oh dear, another unfinished project. 

This is the before photo of the front.   Check in tomorrow for the "after" photo. 

True Test

There appears to be an OSMG (Old Sewing Machine Guy) collection of machines and parts for sale in Scranton.  On a lark, I emailed the link to Betsy.  She is considering it.  But I think if I said No it would end it.

But can I say no to even an inquiry?  One hundred machines for 500 dollars?  Where would we put them?  I have NOT said a word to Steven.   Jack was not opposed.   He said if she got them she ould keep half of them here.    I think we are nuts. 

Mother, you must not mention this.  

We will likely come to our senses........

But then again...... 5 bucks per machine and who knows what else????

Update....Sold.  Ok  we called.  But they were gone.  Whew.  I never did ask Steven.  Wonder what he would have said???

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I was sewing this afternoon when Wrigley came up to the loft and climbed into my lap.  That is not an exaggeration.  He would not get down.  Granted two of his paws were on the ground (the guy weighs 70 pounds, my lap can't hold all that dog) but he would not budge.  Clearly he wanted something.  I did not have to guess.  He wanted to get out of the yard and go up the hill.  It was almost 5 PM and he had waited ALL DAY for me to get off that chair and go up that hill.  So we did.
Wilson won't stray far from Frannie.  Wrigley lost his off leash privileges months ago when he ignored my pleas to "Leave that SQUIRREL alone and COME."  I get pulled along most of the walk.  Though I am tempted to let him loose, I know better.
The black berries are ripe and I had a snack on the way down the hill.  I love our field.  It is dry this year.  Most years there is a wet spot just about in the middle of the field here.  Wrigley loves it too.

I love the view too.  Can you see that one red tree in the middle of the photo?  I think it must have succumbed to the dry weather.  But sometimes in early August we do get that hint of fall in the air.  Ah Summer....
To check out what I was sewing, go to http://sewingmachinemagic.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 27, 2012


My lovely 201 does not like thread of color.  Well, not red thread anyway.  It does great with white thread.  It did ok with brown thread too.  But red thread it hates.  The stitch is lousy and I have to mess with both bottom and top tension when I sew with red thread.  At least that was the case today when I made this.
 Who knows?  Sewing machines are funny things.  Just the same, I love the way this 201 sounds.  Once I gave up on red thread and switched to a project that accepts white thread, I was much happier.  Maybe I will just need to use a different machine for red projects.  It's not as if I don't have a choice.


Today (August 5, 2012) I used red thread again.  Similar problem, unless I cranked the top tension way up.  Then, a perfect stitch.  I think that I just have to get over the idea that the tension MUST stay the same and ALWAYS be somewhere between 2 and 5.  Why, then, would there be choices from 0 to 9?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

No Power? No Problem

Why the power would go out on a perfectly sunny, gorgeous day I will never know.  It did yesterday.  JUST as I was preparing to review my lesson plan for our Wednesday class.  I am teaching.   I wanted to go through it, step by step and write it all down.

I was pretty ticked off.  So I came in the house and set to work on  the Red Head upstairs.  But the light was bad.  So I used the 31-15. 

How much better can life get?  A wonderful treadle sewing machine and a faithful companion at my side.  Of course a tidier desk would help....

The 31-15 is a treasure. It is very smooth and easy to treadle.  I do love it.  And I was able to complete the project.  But I hate the outcome.

The bag is too deep and it doesn't seem functional to me.  It is constructed from two fat quarters.  I  simply sewed them together, folded it in half. Maybe if I had folded it the OTHER way it would have worked better.  I made it into a little shoulder bag...for a small person....

Too Bad   I like the fabric.

Back to the drawing board.

See the revision at

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Worth What You Paid For It

The little post is to remind everyone that I am not an expert and not a professional Sewing Machine Repair person.  I just love old machines, fixing them up and playing with them

So remember, the advice in this blog is worth exactly what you paid for it.  If you are unhappy I will gladly send a refund in full.  (My dad always used to say this.....I miss my dad)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Thrill is Gone

A year ago I drove 77 miles one way to fetch a Singer LBOW.  I had "won" it on eBay and I was so excited.  I had really really wanted an LBOW.  It came in a case with some attachments.  I don't have a photo of it.  How odd is that?  Well it is on display in the museum.  So clearly, I love it.
OK  we all know I have way too many machines.  BUT I cannot stop looking at Craigs List and  just before we went to Boston I saw   an add  for a Singer 301 sewing machine.  It was only 30 miles away.  I called, after a few days.  It came in a cabinet and I was not that excited to have another cabinet around.  There was no return call so I figured it was gone.  But after a week or so when the ad was still listed, I emailed.  Still no reply.  OK. fine.  I have a million other things to do.  I was not particularly bummed out.  Not at all. 

 Then last Friday I received a reply to my email. So I called on Saturday. 
"I'm running a yard sale , so I will be home all day." 
"OK, great  I guess I could come over now."

I called Betsy and told her that the machine was still available and that the seller was running a Yard Sale. 
"Oh Dear." was all she said.

I picked her up on the way (she can't resist yard sales.  I knew it and used that as bait)  We drove the 30 miles over hill and dale and found the place.  True it was a yard sale. But is was one of those on going yard sales.  There was nothing there we wanted except the machine

"It doesn't have a power cord." V. told me when I had called. 

"So , how do we know it runs?" I asked.  Well duh,

"I was told it ran when I got it.  Some how the power cord got lost."  

"OK. I would still like to look at it."  And I lugged a power cord along with me.  No big deal.  I had one extra.

It ran and it sounded very nice, actually.  Ran like a rabbit truthfully.  Just like my LBOW at home. 

I paid her and brought it home.  Cabinet, some attachments and extra bobbins and all.  The cabinet has a knee controller.  That is a very nice thing.  I don't have a Singer Cabinet with a knee controller.  I wanted one. 

But honestly, I did not get the "OOOOHHHH LA LA" I used to get when I got a machine.  This was an "Oh well, is local.  I have to go look and if it isn't any good I don't HAVE to buy it." 
But turns out I think it will be a good one.
1956 Singer 301A  LBOW

I miss that thrill, though.  The hunt, the chase, the capture.  The DEAL.  It just didn't happen.  Now, if I came across a 201-3 or a 201-1, ooooohhhhh lala.  That would get me. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Singer 201-2 Centennial FOR SALE

Well I do rather have to sell a machine or two.  I decided that this one could go to market.  It is listed on eBay.  I have one more 201-2 to service (right, that is an understatement).  I have to re-wire the light fixture and re-wire the motor.  I think today I will do something fun. Perhaps taking more photos of sewing machines....


I like to work on the irons in the morning.  Before it gets too hot.  I have my little set up just outside the door, near the hose.  I have another station just outside the shop with the electric drill wire brush.  I figure that way I won't electrocute myself.  I scrubbed and scrubbed yesterday and then I drilled and drilled (Well, you know). Then I scrubbed some more. The SINGER letters will be a pain.  I think the Dremel tool will  do the job.  My arm is pretty tired from holding the heavy, Makita, electric drill.  But I am inspired to get the sides done .

For comparison, and dramatic effect

Now that I look at the photos, I see that the old silver paint did look like patina. 

GOOD NEWS!!!!ITS RAINING!!!!! I left the windows open in all the vehicles and left the tools out (well NOT the drill, but the tables) on purpose knowing that if I did that it would rain.  Yes, I am obsessive AND superstitious. 

Friday, July 13, 2012


I promised an after photo:
That there is bare metal. Yessir it is.

For those of you who missed the before photo
That there is dirt and paint and rust and what not.....  The what not was the easiest to remove.

Inspired I tackled the cross piece

And no I am NOT cleaning the house today.  Maybe on Sunday I will run the vacuum.  (I use a shop vac, it has the best power).  Today I am going to sew.  I need some fodder for the other blog so if I am not here, I am there.   http://www.sewingmachinemagic.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I know, I know I should just have left that huge lipoma alone.  But I was worried.  The vet had done a FNA (fine needle aspiration) and reassured me that it was a fatty benign tumor.  But it was getting bigger and I did not like it.  So now, instead of a lump, Wilson has about 15 or 16 stitches along an eight inch incision.

He is a licker.  While the position of this wound is not easily accessible he was managing to get his tongue around his leg and onto the incision.  Hence the collar.  I live about 15 miles from the vet.  I did not want to trek back out there yesterday.  I had a treadle wheel to clean up.  So I found this cervical collar in my closet.  It works.  He is wearing it now and has worn it all day and all last night.  When I take it off, he tries to lick again.

I don't think its as terrible as the other cone collars that you see some dogs wearing.   He just looks like he has whip lash.

And speaking of a treadle wheel, here it is before:
Stay tuned....Tomorrow the reveal.....what it looks like now.


I know what a presser bar is, what a feed dog lifter is, what a camstack is, what an eccentric is, how to adjust the timing on a Singer 66 and how to remove and replace a hook on a Singer 201.  Not to mention the fact that I can re wire a potted motor and I do know that left means loose (usually) and right means tight.  I do not know what  POP, DNS, ISP are.  I do not know about latency and bandwidth.  Still I managed to put togeter one page for a website for our dot com.

It is not much now.  But it will grow with pictures and information and links and most importantly FUN.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beauty on the Beast

I hate to clean the house.  I love having a clean house.  I hate to do the work.  I have hired housekeeping help but I am, ironically, very fussy when I am paying someone to clean the house.  I will live in incredible squalor but if I hire someone to clean and he/she doesn't change the mop bucket water when it is dirty, I seethe. 

So why do I love to clean up old machines?  I have spent HOURS already on the ten dollar treadle stand.  Today I cleaned up the wheel.  I have declared it done.  Over the weekend I started on that 201.  Today, on my way back from getting the Boye Needle Dispenser, I stopped at Home Depot rather than hurrying home to Wilson. ( He had a big old benign lipoma excised yesterday and I was worried about him licking his incision.)  Why did I absolutely need to stop at Home Depot?  Why, to look for Krud Kutter.  I never found it.  I bought Goo Gone instead. 

Goo Gone is a thicker version, I think, of LA Awesome (one dollar at, yes you guessed it , THE DOLLAR STORE).  La AWESOME is just that.  Awesome.  Testimonial photos below
One Squirt was all it took.  Truly.  Then I rinsed with denatured alcohol to get the residue off and polished with flannel cloth.

This beautiful piece belongs on the current 201 project.  It is the rear cover plate.  The machine itself is a bit of a beast.  It has some knicks and scratches.  No initials carved into the bed, but one huge divot along the rear just in the center.  Looks like something heavy was dropped right onto it (as they way here in Otsego county)

Now the degreaser is not so friendly to the old machine black finish.  But it did work well to get the melted insulation off of the pillar. I used it sparingly and rinsed with kerosene.

I always cheat, too.  I like to see how shiny parts and the machine will look way before I finish the project.  Carnuba wax is my new favorite for endorphins.  It smells pretty good, but I love the shine.

 So I don't know why I hate to clean house.  Maybe because it's so much bigger than a machine.  Or maybe because I have only so much time and well, machines are pretty important to me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Singer 201-2 light

The Singer Light sits on the front of the machine on a 201-2.  That is one way you can tell it is a 201-2 The round stitch length regulator is another.  Of course, the characteristic potted motor on the back is the tell tale give a way.

I have gotten myself into a project now.

The wiring on that other 201 (this is a photo of the Centennial.  Pretty, yes?)  is so bad.  I just have to pull the light.

So I dug in

The light comes off the front of the machine fairly readily.  One screw.
When the light is pulled away from the machine it looks like this back there.  ICK
That screw is a set screw that simply stabilizes the wires in the housing.  There is a little protector that sits between the wires and the screw.  You can see it in the next photo.

OK so now how do I get to the wires IN THE LIGHT FIXTURE?  Turn the lamp and look at the end and you will see the screw.

More fun.  I would rather......oh you know... anything...

Wilson had surgery today.  He had a big old fatty lump taken off of his chest wall.  Perfectly benign.  But it was big and as long as he was under for the dental cleaning, they lobbed it off.  He has a huge incision and I have to keep him quiet.  Not hard to do tonight.  He's pretty stoned on the anesthesia. Tomorrow might be another story.  So we have to go to Bainbridge to look at a Boye Needle Display.  Oh Darn.

There's a light

I used to live in Houston Texas in the late 70s.  That was where I first saw Rocky Horror Picture Show.     I still love the movie.  Now that we have a bigger TV and a flat screen it might be ok to watch at home.  But the theater is still the very best place to see it......I don't dress up....but I would take a lighter....

Anyway, this is the story of the light on this very icky Singer 201-2.  I have been scamming parts off of this machine for the 201 Centennial.  I have all the parts.  The tension spring (not check spring but the bee hive tension spring) the bobbin case position bracket.  The parts are probably fine but I wanted the best ones for the Centennial since it is going to market.

But I would like to get this one running.  Then all of the 201s that I have will be running.  If this one can't get up and stitching it will become a parts machine.

Since the 201 is Singer's best, supposedly, I think it is worth the effort to try.  And you all know how I love an icky challenge.  Just look at the melted latex on the pillar just above the light wire port.  YYYYEEWWW

I am sure that this is the worst of all four of the 201s.  I bought this one with a Singer 42 Deco cabinet.  I love the cabinet.  Its a mess too......

I took this all apart.
Once that 9/16 nut is off then the toggle will pass into the housing and it will come out.

I did remove the wires from the terminal before I did all that though.

Once the switch was released from the light wire, I could inspect it.

I found out that the  wire that goes to the three pin terminal is soldered on to the switch.  I thought that it would be best to try to buy a new switch.  I did .  It doesn't fit....  I don't know if there are others that might be narrower.  But I may practice de-soldering and see if I can't retrieve this one.

Another lesson.

The wires snake through the machine.  I already looked.  I can get them out.  But there is some sheathing around the wires that must be replaced.

But before I do any of that I have to be sure that I know how to de-solder.  At the other end of these wires is the light.  The connections to the light are also soldered.

And the motor that I thought (naively) that I could simply install, also, needs to be re-wired.  Or maybe I could just re-wire the end.....Nah.  gotta do it right.

More work.  For a machine that may not stitch.  Oh I think that is overly dramatic. This machine will stitch and I will learn how to re-wire a 201-2 light.  Yippee..  I  would rather go to the dentist.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Singer 201 tension issues continued

I changed the needle a couple of times.  I even took a picture of the needle to look for a burr or a bend or whatever.  NADA.

I adjusted the bobbin tension looser and that seemed to help some too.  But not enough.  Something was making the bobbin tension tighter or the top tension looser.

 Then just before we had to go to Treadwell for the Stage Coach Run, I wondered about the top tension.  The knob seemed to have a bit more "play" in it than the other machines in the shop (well the few that I checked....a couple of 201s, a 66, a 206, a 301)  so I wondered if the spring was sprung.  It did not look any different from another spring from a 201 but what the heck I switched it out.  Then I put the tension back together and set it a bit tighter.  It was hard comparing the lighter numbered dial to the black one......

but it looked like I had not turned the knob quite tight enough originally.  I held the numbered dial against the spring and turned the knob tighter before I  released the dial.  I set it at 6 and the bobbin tension was fine.  The top was a bit tight.  I finally inched it down to 4 1/2 and it seemed ok by then .  Even at top speed.  So who knows what was really wrong?  I did not take the bobbin case out again.  It is a ROYAL PITA in the 201 though I am getting good at it.  THANK YOU RAIN.

The machine seems to sew just fine now.  I will try it out again and see if it is holding true.  But I think the Centennial has to go........I can only have one 201-2 in the house. ...... 

Now, folks I am off to the shop again.  I bought a new toggle switch at the Hardware store today during my lunch break (yes I should have been doing charts, but a sewing machine addict has to do what she has to do) and I am dying to see if it will fit.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Singer 201-2 Tension issues

This Singer 201 -2 Centennial is for sale.  I think..  I finally got around to servicing it and getting it stitching  I thought that it was all good to go a few weeks ago.  I tried sewing with it and it was a mess. The thread would get caught somewhere along its path around the hook.  Then the bobbin case would pop out of its proper position in the position bracket and that would be that.

I re-read Rain's blog http://vssmb.blogspot.com/  all about 201-2 bobbin case maintenance.  I also read his post about removing the hook.  I made sure that the bobbin case was seated correctly and, for good measure I took the hook out and checked that the retaining clips were tight.  Yup.  All good.  Then I looked at the position bracket.  I had  taken it out to get the hook out anyway.   Something did not look quite right to me.  I compared it to the WIP (work in progress)  201 and sure enough, the position bracket was bent.
Now, I know that I did not bend that.  As a matter of fact, this was a part that I purchased on eBay because the original piece was broken, just at that spot.  When I installed this on the Centennial I was unaware that it was bent.  I thought it was supposed to look like that.

I gently bent the piece back into place but I decided that I wanted to use the un-damaged bracket on the Centennial....in case I sell it.

I put that in and the  issue  was solved.  I finished cleaning the machine and tested it.  Very nice stitches.  And it ran like a top.  So fast... so very fast. And quiet.  This is a really nice machine.

Cosmetically it shows its age.  It was a school machine and came with the 401 four drawer school cabinet.  You can see initials carved in the bed of the machine.  I think there are about 4 or 5 sets.   Otherwise it looks ok.  It shines up nicely.  I hope to take some decent photos, just in case.... My camera is sick.  I think I have dropped in one too many times.

I have two   other  201-2s.  One is not usable and the other is "mine."  That machine has the first motor that I rebuilt and so I have decided to keep it.   I think....but it is having tension issues.  It would sew fine at "normal" to slow speeds but if I ran it fast at all, the tension would be all wrong.  Stitches would be ugly with loops on the bottom intermittently.  I knew something was wrong.

  I took out the bobbin case and oiled and cleaned all around in there.  It was pretty clean.  I examined the needle plate. AH HA!  A big old burr on the needle plate
I sanded that down and for good measure I honed the hole as well.  Still not better.  DANG

Out came the bobbin case again.  I figured it had to be something to do with the bobbin tension. I just did not see how the top tension could loosen that easily and intermittently.

The tension felt fine when I pulled on the thread.  It was a little raspy, but the tension itself felt perfect.
I dug around in the spring with my dental pick.  Voila.  LINT!!!!!  
That helped, but there were still times when the stitch would just, well, SUCK.  The 201 is supposed to have the LOVELIEST stitch.  But this one was not so lovely.

So then I went back to square one.  the thread would pop out of the first thread guide.  It was not tight to the body of the machine so I gently tap tap tapped it into place.  No better.  By now its time to go to visit some friends.  I had to give up.  Only temporarily.  The rest of the story......tomorrow.