Saturday, July 13, 2013

It had to be done

I have many machines that need attention: 15-91, 201-2, 101s, 99s, 128s, Kenmores, White, Free Treadle, not to mention the real antiques.  But the Mystery Singer has grabbed me.  It has been a while since I have been excited about a machine.

Rumor has it that this may be a "one of a kind."  It is not an Improved Family, which commonly came as a Fiddle Bed.  How do we know this?  The bobbin case is removable.  On the Improved Family, it is part of the race.  It swings out to accept the bobbin and snaps back in place.  This removable bobbin case is just like the one in my 15-90 and my 15-91 and many other end loading class 15 machines.

It clearly was set up for manufacturing.  It has the knee lifter for the presser foot.  It also was set up for leather work, likely gloves.  It has the roller presser foot and a huge wheel feed.  I did not know that whole thing was the wheel feed.

I took it off today.  It had to be done.

Originally I was planning to clean the machine with kerosene and keep it intact.  When I looked at the underside closely and saw all the crud, I changed my mind.
True, I just knocked that wad of crud out of there but the race and feed were a mess.  So I did it.  I dove in.

I was very careful.  I looked over everything very carefully.  I studied the mechanism and determined what should come off first. 

The spring:

It came off easily but I am a bit worried:
I just don't see how this is supposed to be like that.  When I put it back together I will have to look again.  It definitely came off like that.  I wonder, though....

Then I unscrewed the front bracket. 
Next I found where the feed is attached to the machine: two cone bearings.

And out it came

That isn't exactly true.  I did some other screw removal first.

These screws hold the brackets which hold the feed in its race. 

I thought I broke it when I cleaned all that crud off.  I thought it was part of the bracket.  Not so.  WHEW
The sucker is dirty. 

But not to worry  I have my trusty machine
It works really well.  These parts are very very dirty.  The water turns murky and brown.  I used it to clean up the tension parts.   I would have loved to toss the face plate in but I was fearful for the remaining decals.  They are pretty tender. 

With all that fancy feed mechanism gone, it looks a bit more familiar.
I had to stop.  I know enough now to quit BEFORE I get tired.  I found a mystery screw.  I am not too worried.  I took lots of photos.  I can't wait to get this off and get it cleaned and look at the hook. 

If I don't do any domestic chores tomorrow I should have time to get it cleaned up and back together.  Then I can pop it into a treadle stand and see if it sews.  I dunked the feed mechanism in the ultrasonic cleaner.  I want to take it apart tomorrow and get it really clean.  I am not going to go too nuts trying to clean the body.  I would love to get it shined up but the decals are gonna go if I am too aggressive.  I like the green.  If this really is a one of a kind, I should try to keep it preserved.  But I cannot believe it is one of a kind. 

Gloversville, NY isn't far from here.  It is perfectly conceivable that this machine was used there to make, well, gloves.  It is small enough for delicate work and the wheel and round feed mechanism, I am told, is for leather.

I believe it must take a 15X1 needle.  I took the needle off and compared it to a new one.  Seems the same.  I hope it does.  Another interesting aspect, there are thumb screws on the  needle bar. Wonder why?
I am sorely tempted to remove the presser bar and the needle bar for cleaning.  I have already removed the presser foot.  I discovered, quite by accident, that it flips up

I dunked this in the ultrasonic cleaner too.  It came out pretty nice.  Later photos, in the reveal.

It's a project, for sure.  The ultrasonic cleaner helps tremendously.  I am forever indebted to Rain for that.  I cannot imagine how I would have cleaned the parts.  Tomorrow, I will show you just what I mean. 


  1. Wouldn't be surprised if it came from the Gloversville region - just found this little tidbit. There may be more of your type models nearby -

    "Throughout most of the history of the glove industry in Johnstown and Gloversville, most companies used home workers to sew the gloves. Men cut the gloves from leather in factories and women hand sewed the gloves at home. Later when the sewing machine was developed, many women moved to the factories to work. Until the last years of the 20th century, home glove workers were still working in the area."

    Lots of history info about Gloversville here:

    Can't wait to see your restoration. I absolutely MUST save up for an ultrasonic cleaner (I'm Gold and Green with envy!)

    And now I'm also pondering why there are thumb screws on the needle bar.

    1. I wish I knew why those thumb screws are there. Off, now to read about Gloversville. HMMMM. You have a boat load of machines from up that way. Wonder if you have any that look like this in your stash?

  2. Are there any identifiable fibers in the lint? It must be too greasy. A burn test might offer some insight into their origins: hide vs wool or plant.

    1. The stuff in the one photo above looks like it could have been wool. It was all pretty greasy and dirty and grimy. I didn't see anything recognizable, let's put it like that. Just dirt. And lots of it.

  3. I looked and looked the other day trying to find something on your machine. I found the same decal on an Improved Family at ISMACS. :/ I know...lots of help there. I'm on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what you find out! You are so brave!!! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!!!

  4. Fascinating post and thanks for all the photos. Looking forward to the next installment.

  5. How cool! It must be an early SV ("Special Variation" or "Special Variant," can't remember) version of a fiddlebed model. I think most of us tinkerers will never encounter a machine like that in our lives. You'd think I would encounter rare manufacturing machines here in NYC, given that the city must have been loaded with them back in the day, but stuff here gets thrown out in a ruthless, business-minded pace.

    I am thrilled to see the cleaner going to good use. And there is no "indebtedness." You oughta remember that you sent me a motor and refused to take any bread for it, not to mention found me a 223, a sewing machine unicorn as far as I'm concerned.

    - Rain

  6. This is a singer improved family central bobbin (IFCB). There is a manual for it in the Smithsonian trades literature archives. It was a domestic/industrial machine, or a medium machine. The industrial model is the improved manufacture.