Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A little Dab will do Ya

I am old enough to remember this commercial

Today as I was working on the 301A,  I kept repeating to myself,  A little Dab will Do Ya (TNWSS)

Clearly whoever serviced this machine last did not have that philosophy.  Though I have a feeling he (likely he) is also old enough to remember this commercial

Double you Tee EFF?

(OK  I have never pretended that this blog is G rated.)

It took me a very long time to get this goop cleaned out.  I used a toothbrush and kerosene and wiped and wiped and wiped.  I would use the toothbrush soaked in Kero, scrub and then I would wipe it off on a rag and start all over again.   I flushed with SM oil then scrubbed some more. It was a MESS.

But so worth it.  Just a small little bit of Tri Flow grease and these gears are good to go.

Remember yesterday's photo?
This was a bit easier to clean up.  And true to my philosophy, there is just a dab of Tri-flow grease on the textolite gear.
 In order to clean this all up, I took the motor out. A future post covers that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I put the first coat of polyurethane on this weekend.  I am surprised at how it darkened the wood.

Before and During

During and After

I tried staining the repair on the bottom front.  It looks awful. 
 I think that I will buy some Mahogany colored paint and just paint it.  Supposedly this stuff was stainable.  Apparently not.  As you can see in the photo of the back (above this one) I left the repair "natural" that I did on the back.  We aren't building pianos here.  My goal is to get this project finished, the machine installed and move on to the next project.

Which is another Singer 301 with very icky gooey gears

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kenmore 158.84 stitches

Betsy came over yesterday with her Kenmore 158.882 Trispan.  It is a lovely machine.  The feed dogs don't drop and the stitch length varies.  For comparison, to see how the feed dog drop worked, she got out my Kenmore 158.84.  I had not worked on this machine since November of 2011 when I took it to the Ray White class.

It had a broken gear
I bought this machine December 31, 2010.  It came with my Singer 319.

 I don't understand how the gear broke, but it was easy as pie to replace.  I unscrewed three screws holding the whole piece in place and dropped the new one in.  Ray had said something about timing the blind hem stitch cam or something.  I cannot remember.  I never got around to it.  None the less when Betsy got it out, I decided to look at it.
I could not figure out what he meant.  There did not seem to be any sort of adjustment necessary.  So I just found a foot for it and fired her up.

She works very well.  Quiet like all end loader Kenmores and strong.  I tried one cam and it worked. I imagine the others will as well.  It is a very nice machine for a beginner.  I wonder if I still have the cabinet that it came in.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Once Upon a Tme

"What are you doing, honey?" I said as I came in from more sanding.

"Working on my gortex pants. I need to sew on belt loops."


"My suspenders hook to a belt."

"Oh. How many do you have to do?"

"Six or eight."

"How many have you done?"

"One half."

"Oh for Heaven's sake.  We have over one hundred machines.  Let me help."

So I got out Viking Designer II.  True I could have used the Singer 237 treadle or the 401.  I have not used the Viking is such a long time. I thought I should try it out.  Once upon a time it was my only machine.  I knew nothing else.  Now that I have all these vintage machines I know better.

I had to remember how to thread it.  I kept reaching around back for the presser foot lifter.  The whole thing is automatic and electronic.  I was pretty confused.  I managed to sew all 5 nd 1/2 loops though and Steven's belt fits and he can wear his suspenders on his mountain climb tomorrow. 

Do I like this machine?  There are some features that are nice.  Needle up and Needle down.  Automatic foot lifter. It sounds like a remote control airplane, though  and I live in fear that its 10 year old mother board will die.  Its stitch isn't pretty AT ALL.

What should I do?  I can't service it myself because I can't figure out how to get into it.  Bench fee starts at 90 bucks and I am not at all interested in paying someone to service a machine that I rarely use.  So I guess I will sell it.  Locally.  I am not interested in shipping it.  Not at all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

More Sanding

Short day at work today which meant I could come home early and work on the cabinet some more.  I am not going to do the perfect restore on this piece.  I did decide to take the hinges off of the top piece.  I wonder if those little shims are original?  It certainly doesn't look as if this piece has been refinished before.  Maybe the cabinet maker routered out the hinge recess a bit too much. 

 I think that the spring in this hinge functions to help hold the support bar in place when the top is folded in the closed position. 
I had some repairs to make.  The plywood was peeling where the veneer had been damaged.  I also found a foot in one of the drawers.
Since it was above 60 in the shop by this time, I decided I could repair these with wood glue and clamps
I think the foot will hold.  I am not so sure about the veneer and the peeling plywood.  It is in a vulnerable spot.  I can see how that part of the cabinet could get kicked frequently.  I could see a nice narrow piece of copper along the bottom there.  But copper turns green when it oxidizes.  Maybe a thin piece of brass.  That would be classy. 

I sanded one drawer.   I took DreinPA's advice and used a sponge as a sanding block.  It worked very well.  The finish is old and sands off easily.  Look how nice the top looks. 

Steven tells me it is mahogany veneer.  I am going to sand the back of the top and apply a coat of polyurethane as a test to see how it looks.   I don't want to stain it dark.  I like the natural look.  Plus it is less work.  I would like to highlight the handles with a different color stain.  Talk about more work.  I may have to re-think that. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


It seems that when I turn off CAPTCHA for comment screening I get a lot more SPAM.  Some folks that I want to have access cannot comment because of CAPTCHA.  So I will leave it off and amuse myself with the spam until I get tired of it.  

"Wonderful web site. Plenty of useful information here.
I am sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
And obviously, thanks on your sweat!"


"Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!"

English is clearly not their native language!

UPDATE January 25, 2013

more spam

"Wow, this article is fastidious, my sister is analyzing these kinds of things, thus I am going
to inform her. "

This one came it today (Jan 29, 2013)

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this,
like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with
a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog.
A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

Clearly a plug for the author's blog. Like I don't have PICTURES?

Here are two more   Ground hog day 2013

You actually make it seem really easy along with your presentation but I find
this topic to be really one thing that I think I would never understand.

It kind of feels too complex and extremely wide for me.
I'm taking a look ahead to your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the cling of it!

I think Sarah Palin wrote this one.

 You will find excellent saving and numeгous tοtally
free item aсcessiblе in the evеnt you are prepared to invest
thе time and wоrκ іnto couponing.
You arе ablе tо literallу save
hunԁrеԁs or perhaps thousаndѕ a уear using thе use of cοuponѕ.

Howeѵег it dоes takе a methodical methoԁ and аlso you do requirе
to ԁedicatе time tο ρreparіng your technіque and oгganіzing your cοupon
ѕtοck.This short аrtiсle can get you
bеgan аround the glоbe of utilizing coupons and saνing lаrge.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Singer Number 42 Cabinet

This cabinet came with the 201-2 I just finished servicing.  To read the story of how I acquired it go here:

Anyway, today I needed a mindless task. Steven had been keeping a fire going out in the shop.  It was all of 50 out there at one thirty this afternoon.  Of course it was about 9 outside so I think that was pretty good.  I stoked the stove and set to work.

The cabinet was in better shape than I remembered.  There is only one area on the bottom front where the veneer has come off. I can re-glue the plywood underneath it and stain it to match.

The top
The back

The Side

The Other Side
Front in progress

 To remove the drawers look for the hole inside the drawer.  It is toward the back between the rivets that hold the slide to the bottom of the drawer.

Place a screwdriver into the hole and depress the metal spring and pull the drawer out and over it.  The drawer will then be freed.

I don't know what kind of wood this is.  It is not a hardwood.  But it looks quite lovely now.  I stripped it with 80 grit stripping sand paper.  Then used 100 grit garnet and then 150 grit garnet.  I am calling it good.  Of course I must remove the top to make the upper trim accessible.  I won't try to get the hand hole perfect.  Just rough it up enough to accept new varnish.

 There were two big stains on the back.  Happily they sanded out.  Wilson always sits like that and just watches me. 
If I am lucky, I can do some more strip sanding on Saturday and Sunday.  Then perhaps put some finish on it early next week.  I am inclined to leave it as is and not stain the wood before applying polyurethane.  If I can get the front sanded more evenly, I will.  The palm sander is such a nice tool on the flat surfaces.  I wish I had a mini one for the tight places.  (TNWSS)

The drawers will be the challenge....they are curved.  Patience.  Maybe I can make it a meditation. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blogging Endorphins

I write this blog because it makes me happy.  Recently Peter Lappin, the famous blogger of Male Pattern Boldness, published a post all about writing a sewing blog.

I do not blog about sewing, so his advice is lost on me.  Still, it is interesting to read what other bloggers consider important.

Honestly?  I don't care.  I write because I like to learn about sewing machine repair and I like to share what I have learned.  Of course, Ego likes positive feedback.  Id just wants to have fun and Super-Ego rarely makes an appearance.   (Super Ego gave up a long time ago.  Probably after machine number 30 or so joined the herd)

I like to re-read my blog too.  When I can't blog, I amuse myself, sometimes, by going back and reading the more clever ones.  Of course, with the wealth of information contained herein, I also review past projects and remind myself of what I did. 

I do appreciate that daily there are hundreds of pageviews.  Sometimes as many as 500 !  That is rare.  Usually it is around 250 -300.  I remember when it was less than 10.  Ego likes pageviews and I cannot prevent Ego from checking "how many today."  Id is just having fun, lots of it.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bobbin Winder Switch

 It was about four o'clock today when I finally had a chance to stitch test the last 201-2.  I had spent the earlier part of the afternoon building a base to display it, and the others, in a photo shoot.  Steven trimmed the tongue from some oak flooring for me and I was thrilled to have some really fine material for the base.  But it was too narrow and would not fit.

By then I was left to my own devices and found some other scrap flooring (fir, I believe) that had already been tongue trimmed.  I happily cut my pieces and, using my fancy new  Christmas present

Screwed and GLUED the pieces together.

Actually this was the second attempt.  The first attempt ended up in the kindling box.  I was going to live with the mistakes, but Steven told me to just start over.

"It's kindling.  It's ok."

I decided he was right. 

Pretty pleased with myself at how quickly this went together, I tried it out.  Too Big.

"Better that, than the other way," Mr. Professional Builder said as I exclaimed my disgust with myself. "You can take it apart."

"I GLUED it too."  I said as I backed the screws off one side of the base.

"Oh.  And that stuff really holds."

I got my hammer and whacked it.  Pop, off came the side.

"Do I have to take it  all the way apart or can I cut it on the chop saw like this?" Batting my eyes at the professional.

"I can do it for you."
And with that he trimmed the excess off of the ends and I drilled new pilot holes with my fancy new Bosch and screwed it back together.
When I first started making these bases, I would chisel out notches for the hinge holes.  Not now.  I just add that little piece to support the back in between the hinges.  Much quicker and neater.  Quicker if you remember to measure twice, cut once.  Note the counter sink on the screws.  I filled them in with wood putty after I sanded it.  Once the filler is dry I can paint it.

So, finally, at Four PM I was ready to stitch test this machine.

I have to say I was nervous.  This machine had been a parts machine, in a way.  I used its position bracket for the Centennial this summer.  Then I scammed its bobbin case for the miscreant 201 that was not stitching properly.  I also switched out tension assemblies.  I wasn't really sure it would sew.  The motor sounded good but who knew how it would stitch?

I do like to check the bobbin winder when I stitch test a machine.  I figure if the BW doesn't work, the machine isn't worth much.

The bobbin would not fit.  That's not exactly true.  The bobbin fit, but the guide that fits inside the bobbin as it winds, was too big.  Look.

 You can see that it is too big for a class 66 bobbin, right?  Guess what fits on there just perfectly?  A class 15 bobbin.  I was muttering to myself, thinking, "How on earth did he (I had bought the machine from a man, so I knew) ever wind a bobbin?  Did he know it was like this when he sold it to me?  What a chump I was.  "

Then it dawned on me.  I had taken this motor from a 15-91 parts machine and never changed the bobbin winder.  I wasn't a chump, I was a moron.

"Well, good, I can change the BW from the lost cause motor.  I hope."

Wrigley was sleeping on his bed in the shop as I said this.  I wasn't REALLY talking to myself.  Steven was in the shop, too, but could not hear me for all the noise of his power tools.

I got the Lost Cause Motor and looked.

"OK.  I have to loosen two screws and pay attention to how that spring fits under the motor housing.  Should be easy."

I did the one on the machine first.  No problems there.  Clever me, I even left the spring in its housing on the machine. 
I put the 201 guide back on the machine, but it had no spring, despite being attached to the spring in the housing.
Of course, I discovered this AFTER I had screwed it back on.

I removed it and the spring fell out.  It was broken.
"Well, no wonder." Had I been less clever, I would have known this earlier. 

I found the remaining part in the housing and pushed it out through the hole on the other side.

You can barely see it in this photo, sorry, in a hurry.

I took the intact spring and placed it inside its housing, making sure that one tab fit in that little hole.

When you are replacing the guide, be careful to keep every thing lined up and don't let that spring fly across the room. Be sure that the screw is seated correctly or the guide won't spring back as it should.  if it doesn't, just loosen the screw a bit and reposition it.  It will seat itself if allowed.   It is no where near as tricky as replacing the analogous spring on a Singer 66 BW.  Actually it was pretty easy.

 All that was left was to place the other piece in position and tighten it in place making sure the spring was hitched under the housing and the two pieces articulated correctly. That was easy enough because I never removed the screw from its housing and thus, did not change the spring's position.

 So finally I wound the bobbin and was able to stitch.

I like this machine. It makes a very nice stitch.  See?
OK now that makes the seventh 201-2 I have serviced and "rescued."

I think one of the reasons Steven is so complacent about my "habit" is because he realizes that all the sewing machines could, just as easily, be dogs.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Noisy 301/401 motor

Often, these particular machines sound a bit noisy.  It seems that the top motor bearing can get dried out.  Applying a bit of oil to this bearing can quiet the motor quite nicely.  Be careful not to over oil as you don't want to get oil on the rest of the motor.  For even better description, straight from the horses mouth, go to vintagesingers yahoo group.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

They All Look Alike

I had been having a love affair with the 201-2.  I love its sleek body, the quiet motor, the perfect stitch.  I have serviced seven as of today and, honestly, that is enough.

It is reportedly the best sewing machine that Singer ever made.  I believe it.  Every one of the machines that I serviced stitched beautifully as soon as I stitch tested it.  Now I did have an issue with "my" 201. The one that I decided was mine because it was the first motor I had ever re-wired.  It also is my logo.   It was sewing nicely then started to sew very poorly.  All of a sudden.  It was dirty.

That was the one with the stuck feed dog lifter roller.  Before I discovered the problem with the roller, I pulled the hook and found some dirty lint here:
Singer 201-2 hook
It is sewing much more nicely now and I hope that is what was wrong.  We shall see as soon as I try to use it and really test it. (This photo is of Lazarus's hook.  It had a burr on it and I wanted to see if I could depict it photographically.  I can see that the hook looks rough,

here is a better photo...

 I sanded it down can you see the difference?

This final 201-2 to be serviced has been sitting around since summer of 2011.   It came with a #42 cabinet. I was still pretty naive then.  I was also pretty obsessed and reading Craigs List like it was Fifty Shades of Gray.    I was so thrilled to have found this one, in a #42 cabinet no less.  The asking price was 100 bucks.  I pointed out the need for a complete re-wire and offered much less.  He accepted.  Lucky me.

 That same day I bought another, in a Queen Anne cabinet.  It wasn't that much further to drive, maybe only another hour.   I spent the whole day on the road chasing 201s.  I did some self-flagellating on the way to pick up the second machine.  I was rewarded, though, because this one looked pretty good.  The wires were intact and it ran nicely. Cosmetically it looked good.

I rationalized it on the 130 mile trip home from Granville, NY

"This one has good wires," I told myself.  "I can use it as a model so that I can re-wire the others and then I will have three really good machines.  I can keep one and sell the other two to pay for gas."

Turns out, the one I thought was a good one, the one I chased all the way to the Vermont border,  had a truly foul  re-wire job.
Today's had a very icky light switch and lamp connection.

I had toyed with the idea of re-wiring the light.  I took another look today and decided that I could cheat and crimp on a new connector and add some shrink insulation and call it good.

What I did not understand was how to connect the switch to the light.  I knew I had taken photos. I had even written a very descriptive and detailed post about it.   I just was too lazy to leave the shop and look for the pictures on the computer.    I did figure it out.  The ring connector on one of the wires was too small for  Mr. Three Pin Terminal.  It would only fit on the light switch. Sort of a no brainer when you think about it.

  Nice and tidy, eh?
Now, that is not the original Mr. TPT.  I had bought some 201-2 parts I found on eBay.  I am so glad that I did.  It was worth the money not to have to clean out that mess today.  I will clean it all up eventually and keep the switch as well.  I might need it one day.  You never know.

And look, it works !
It didn't at bulb.  I am such a genius.

For a while I had a couple of 201s in process at the same time. For a long while from the looks of it.   I think the original motor for this machine went with the Granville, NY machine which I sold. It was cosmetically much prettier.   It doesn't really matter, I guess.  But it's just a sign that it is time to get rid of some machines. Or not to have more than one machine apart at a time.

I scammed a motor from a parts 15-91 and I contemplated re-wiring the motor leads.  I took another look and decided that the wires were intact and safe.  I did put new shrink insulation over them, soldered on new connectors and was good to go.
The brushes were adequate.  I like to put new brushes in when I service a motor but I am plumb out.  I did replace the grease wicks.  The motor sounds great.  BUT the clutch knob did not screw on all the way.  It was dirty, dirty,  dirty and would not tighten far enough.  Twenty minutes and three hungry dogs later, I had it all cleaned up and working beautifully.

I have yet to stitch test it. Perhaps on Wednesday.  I would like to set up all four of the 201-2s that I have for sale, each in a cabinet.  What a pretty site that would be.
Singer 201-2 1941
I doubt I would pick up another 201-2 on speculation.  I have four now that need to go.  If one landed in my lap I would take it but my days of driving 260 miles round trip (it was really only an extra one hundred miles that day) to fetch this model are over.