Friday, May 31, 2013

Even if I do say so myself

I now work part time at my day job.  I have every Friday afternoon off.  Which means that I usually get home by two o'clock, if I am lucky.  Today I was lucky.  I was out in the shop by 2:30 and at 3:00 I started in on the 15-91's motor.  I decided that I would just jump in and get it done. After an hour I had removed the brushes, grease wicks, worm and armature; cleaned the commutator and cleaned all the grease out of the body of the motor and grease tubes.  It took another thirty minutes to prep the motor leads for re-wiring and solder new ones on.  I did not tie an underwriter's knot.  I did not cut the old leads back far enough to allow for room to tie the knot.  I did, however, replace the grommet and crimp and solder new "U" connectors.  The whole thing took about two hours.

I usually use round connectors or make rings myself at the end of the motor leads.  Today I used the "U" connectors because I have about one hundred of them.  When I tried them out on Mr. TPT (three pin terminal) they didn't fit so well.  So I crimped them.  I thought that was a clever idea, if I do say so myself.  I like how the leads look with the heat shrink color coordinated. 
The light needed re-wiring too.  That wasn't so hard but I discovered that the bake lite switch was broken.  I guess I will just have to leave the light on all the time.  I don't see how I can fix that.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What we have here is a faiure to lubricate.

I couldn't stand it.  After supper I headed back out to the shop.  Last night I had read up on the  Singer 201-2 motor.  I read the adjuster's manual which on page 26 it instructs one to fill the grease tubes with about 1/4 of a tube of Singer Lube.  I had put NO WHERE NEAR that much lube in the grease tubes.  Even the second time around with the different armature I had not put that much lube in.

I also went to Sew Classic blog and read about lubricating the motor bearings.  In my mind a bearing is a ball bearing.  I asked Steven.  He thought a bearing was a ball bearing.  There are no ball bearings in the 201-2 motor.  He looked it up in the dictionary.  "the support and guide for a rotating, oscillating, or sliding shaft, pivot, or wheel."  There you go.  What I called bushings were bearings.  It all made perfect sense to me.

The noise all along had sounded like a bad bearing.  I have been around enough bad bearings in my life to know what one sounds like.  So the fact that I thought that winding on the armature was causing the problem proves that I am an idiotic moron. I was worried about that winding and was convinced that was the problem.  Instead of paying attention to all of the EVIDENCE I jumped to a conclusion.  Sort of like some politicians in the news. 

I had noticed that when the worm rotated, it sort of "caught"  Tonight I took the worm out and polished the ends and then I polished the ends of the bearings in the motor.  Then I cleaned them and replaced the armature, tightened the set screws on the worm and lubed up the grease tubes.  I loaded those tubes right up.  I also melted some vaseline with the trusty old hair dryer and primed the new grease wicks.

 Boy, when I look at it now, it sure does look like a boat load of grease.  I hooked it up to the machine and it is quiet.  No screeching, no groaning, no problem.  So, if I had read the adjuster's manual I would have saved myself a boat load of trouble.  But I didn't.  Now, however, I know. 

So, in all of this mucking around, I did break that little tab on the grease wick clip.  Now that I know the original  armature might be ok, I don't have a parts motor.   I wanted to fix that little clip.

All that tab does is hold the spring in place.  I had to fashion a tab somehow.  I did try soldering a wire to the edge of the clip.  That was another moronic idiotic idea.  I cannot braize with solder.  So I made a tab with some stranded wire.  I soldered it because I can and tried it out in the grease tube.
It fits.

Tomorrow I may work on this motor.  It belongs to a Singer 15-91.  I could work on the machine as well.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Back on the Bench

I always like to make a project when I finish a refurbish.  Today I took this 201 up to the sewing loft and made a tote bag for its foot controller and cord.  The machine sewed very nicely.  I was pleased as could be. I thought I heard that noise again.  The screeching noise but it was not as loud, not as growly.   Then, I set about making Wonder Wallet.  The aforementioned noise returned (see previous post).  I thought it was a gear.  Nope.  I tried to run the machine a full tilt, but it seemed to get better only to return.  Since the noise was random and not improving with time, I had to give up sewing for the day and return the machine to the bench.

My theory about the armature was wrong, clearly, since the motor continues to make the noise.  I suppose it could be that the grease wicks are not yet greasy enough to lube the shaft of the armature.  It really sounds like a bad bearing or a too tight belt.  Since I cannot find a bearing  or a belt anywhere on this motor, I have to start over.  I pulled the motor AGAIN and found that the worm does seem a bit tight in one spot on rotation.

Until the next time, I will keep you updated. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Switcheroo, again. Hiho Silver.

 Please note:  This post contains erroneous information.  I have decided against removing the post because I am basically narcissistic and think that I have something to offer by keeping this up and explaining in a future post what the real problem is. If you skip this post and go to the next one, the story won't be complete without reading this one.  Suit yourself.

I finished re-wiring the motor leads to the 201-2 from 1940.  I installed the motor and fired it up.  What a racket.  The machine stitches  very nicely none the less.  The machine would zip along and then screech/groan, slow down and then pick up again.  I wondered if I had missed a spot with the oil and the grease.

I removed the handwheel and just ran the motor.  Same thing and this time I could see the worm slow right down.  I knew it was a motor problem and I was pretty sure what the problem was.

Look at the photo.  Look in the red circle.  There you see two wires that are unlike any of the other wires coming out of the windings and connecting to the commutator.  I have never seen any armature like this.  Every other one has those fuzzy thick wires winding out from the coil and onto the commutator.  I wondered about this when I took the motor apart.  The inside of the motor was a terrible mess with lots of debris and carbon.  The brush springs actually had grease in them and the grease looked oily.  I wonder if someone oiled this motor?  I am certain that these wires are supposed to be fuzzy like all of the others. 

So I just happened to have a parts 15-91.  I pulled the motor, took out the brushes, took off the worm and pulled out the armature.  Sure enough, that armature had all of its fuzzy connections.  I cleaned it up and switched it out for the other one. Which means that I had to take the motor off of the machine, remove the cover, take out the brushes (brand new ones), remove the grease wicks, loosen the set screws on the worm and pull the armature out.  In replacing one of the grease wicks I broke the tab on the grease wick clip.  I honestly think it was fragile from the start.  I wonder if I can JB weld it?  It only has to hold a spring.  It does not have to be INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH.  That will wait for another day.  But I had to have a functional clip.  Back to the parts motor, more cleaning of old grease and voila, a functional motor.  It sounds so much better.  Nice and smooth.  Though, for some reason, not as fast.  Who cares?

I did re-wire the foot controller as well.  I did not solder the little wire rings.  I am tired.  The machine is as tired as I am.    The decals are worn, there are many chips on the front of the bed, there are scratches and the clear coat is gone.  But the machine works and it sews very nicely.  It doesn't have to be pretty.  I am in love. 

UPDATE:  This was NOT the problem. Go to the next post.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I have had a 1940 Singer 201-2 on the bench for a couple of weeks.  It was a mess and slowly it is being transformed.

The rubber insulation on the old wires had melted and run all over everywhere, including into the switch.  The clear coat was flaking and the thing was filthy.  The hook and bobbin case, however, were in great shape.  They were donated to another 201.  A beauty.

I took the switch out and started cleaning it today.  I used some denatured alcohol on a q tip to wipe away as much of the black gunk as I could.  I could tell that it was actually inside the switch mechanism because it had run out onto the darling little white toggle.  I cannot believe that I did not take a picture of it.

It really isn't so hard to get the switch out of the terminal block

The first thing you do is remove the collar.  Then you remove the nut.  Then the switch pulls into the terminal block and you can remove it.  I forgot,  remove the wire connections from the pins first.

Once the switch is out, you can re-wire it.

First de solder the connection.  I futzed around with a piece of wire braid on top of the old solder joint as I heated the connection with my soldering iron.  I just could not get it cleaned up.  Then I remembered that I had bought a desoldering bulb.  Oh did it work WELL.  (Max is sitting next to me and I must not use improper grammar but I so wanted to say GOOD.)

I heated up that joint and removed the wire.  Then I heated the solder up again until it was liquid and sucked the liquid into the blub.  I did it a couple of times.  Got it pretty tidy

Next I prepared my new wire.  I do like to make home made wire ring connectors vs crimping on the commercial connectors.  Personal preference.  I solder the ring just because it is so much fun.  You don't really need to.
Then I stuck that end into the switch and soldered it in place.  This one did not come out as neat and tidy as the "practice" one.  But it will have to do.

 I put some red heat shrink on the end to identify this as the red lead. 
Then I put it all back together.
My "practice" switch project was the switch that came out of this machine.  I tried cleaning it but it still did not work.  I figured I had nothing to lose so I used it as practice.  I was amazed that it wasn't so hard to de-solder and then re-solder a new wire.   Once I had it re-wired it gave a bit of a flicker so I thought I could just keep cleaning it. Still no go.  I was bummed.   I had a switch I had bought with some other 201-2 parts and I rewired it for this post.   And lo and behold, it works.

After the Bath

Max came home for the weekend.  It's raining here. Which is a good thing, really.  It is cold, though, which is not a really good thing. 
OK, so the one in the middle is a man

"Wrigley stinks, Mom"

"Yes I know."

"He needs a bath."

"Yes, I know."

Since we have to have a fire going all day, I decided it was time to give Wrigley and the poodles baths.

One down, two to go.
I am rewarding myself before I do the poodles.  I am going to the shop.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

And Love again.

Everyone raves about the 201-2.  Really.   Not only is it a very elegant looking machine.
Singer 201-2 Centennial  FOR SALE
But it makes a very lovely stitch.  After all, isn't that why we love these machines?  For their beauty and their stitch?

I always like to sew a project on a machine after I fix it all up.  Yesterday I made three Wonder Wallets (Lazy Girl Designs) on this 201.

 Isn't it just gorgeous?  The whole machine is not this pristine, but this is what I saw as I stitched along.  I have had ten 201s come through and this one has the nicest decals of all of them.  

And what a stitch.  This little wallet is made from quilter cotton.   I think there are 8 layers there.  The directions called for a walking foot.  I didn't need it, though.  What a nice machine. 

It is on its way to a new home.  But I have more to keep me happy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Love and Love again

"Hi This is A.W from up the hill.  I have an old black Singer sewing machine that was my mother's.  I wonder if you are interested.  It's gotta go and the sooner the better.  Give me a call. ### ####."

I got that message yesterday on the machine.  I was pretty sure I knew who it was, but our machine is so bad that it is hard to understand the message sometimes.  But, there are very few people "up the hill" and even fewer who sew.  I knew who it was.

I called her tonight.  Steven and I went up to look.  I was hoping he would nix the deal.  But he didn't.  He was downstairs with  B checking out the hobby shop (remote control airplanes).

I couldn't say no.  It was a gift.  A. Wanted it gone in a big bad way.  They are re-insulating their basement and need to clear stuff OUT.

I love it. (Boy I must dust off that base.  Maybe paint it with some gloss paint)
Singer 66-18  1941

It came with some bits, as the folks in the UK say.  I don't have a godzilla anything.  I think this may be a keeper. 

When I look at the refurbished treadle stand, I  fall in love with it too.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


The school cabinet that came with the 201-2 was too far gone.  The feet on the legs were rotted from sitting in mud.  The veneer was peeling.  The drawers, however, were good as were their frames.  I salvaged them.

I also salvaged ALL OF THE HARDWARE.  The knee controller has already found a new home.  The big spring that helps fold down the machine into the cabinet was a bit rusty.  I soaked it in vinegar and water 50/50 (my new favorite rust remover THANK YOU ANDREA) and it looks like new.  I greased it up to prevent further oxidation and it is all packed away. 

Steven chopped up the timber for me this morning, early.  We had a chilly day here.  So I warmed myself with a fire.  Fueled by, you know what.
I know that there are folks who believe that all things sewing machine should be saved.  I am not one of them.  This cabinet was a MESS.  I have two others exactly like it.  I had no room to store it.  Now it is easily disposable.  I will throw the ashes on the garden.  That way, I will still have some of it around.  Just in a different form.

There was one very nice piece of oak, however, that I saved.  I think I will use it for something.  Don't know what yet.  But something. 

It is a Beautiful Thing

I installed the pitman rod today.  It is so pretty. 
The balance wheel, the foot pedal and the skirt guard all look so good compared to the irons.  I think that when I retire I will just pull this whole thing apart and redo the irons.  The timber is pretty good. 
It does need some work on the veneer.  I tried the warm iron on top of wax paper, cardboard and a soft cloth.  It didn't work.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What is WRONG with us?

Wednesday night, long after I should have been in bed, I checked Craigs List.  Nothing new in the Albany list but OH MY OH MY what a surprise when I checked Oneonta.
Photo by Ken, the Seller
I could not believe it.   A 201-2 in MY BACK YARD.  (almost, closer than any other 201 I have found).  It was too late to call and the seller refused to honor emails.

Mid morning on Thursday I found time to call.  Something was very familiar about that number.  Turns out, I had responded to a CL ad last week from the same seller.  He was selling a porch glider.  Steven and I went to look at it and rejected it.  Well, Steven rejected it.  I would have bought it.  But it was a VGT (Very Good Thing) that Steven was with me.  He has a much more discerning eye.

I called anyway.  I figured the guy did not take it personally that we did not buy the glider.  I was right.

Today, after Steven and I got a load of manure for the garden we drove to fetch it.

"I'll just stay in the car."

"Good,  I told the guy I was going to buy it and I don't want you nixing the deal."


I hopped out of the car and found Ken and the machine.  The cabinet is trash.  I was going to leave it with him but it had some "bits" in the drawers.  I wanted it all.

"Could I look at the Kenmore?"


It was in rough shape but I saw a fairly new motor on the back of the machine so I handed Mr. Lincoln over and removed the machine from the cabinet.  Now I rather wish I had brought the cabinet along too.  It had those nifty invisible hinges.  I just have NO MORE ROOM.

As we were driving to fetch the 201, my pocket buzzed.  When we arrived at Ken's I looked at my phone.  Two photos via Text message from Betsy.
The text message from Betsy "Good Husband Award"

Turns out, there was a yard sale locally and since Betsy had to work all day, she sent Jack.

"Yes, he does get the good husband award."  I told her when I called her tonight to report on my two new acquisitions.  (The Kenmore 84 I got is clearly a parts machine.)

"I am leaving EARLY tomorrow morning, but there is a Rotary Rummage sale tomorrow on RR avenue and there are two machines there."

"What are they?"  I asked.

"I don't know." 

"I could just decide not to go, Betsy.  But what if there is a 201 there?"

"Or what if there is a little black box?"  she added.

"You know, with the two machine I picked up on Wednesday and the four we got today, we have added SIX machines to our inventory."



No 201 nor a little black box.  There were, as promised, two machines.  Both Singers: a Touch and Sew and a Singer Fashion Mate 438 or something.  I did not pay attention.  I am well known in town as a SMF (Sewing Machine Fanatic).

"Did you see the Sewing Machines?"

"I did."

"Make an offer."

"OK. I will take both of them if YOU pay me 50 dollars."

Needless to say I am holding fast at four machines this week.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A White and a Morse (and a Necchi, not mine)

I imagine there will come a time when I will say ENOUGH !  Until then I will keep cruising Craig's List.  I don't troll eBay the way I used to.  I do lurk on  I don't like to buy machines that require shipping.  I ship machines.  I know what can happen.

There is also the psychology of shipping costs.  If I find a machine I want and the shipping costs are 30 or 40 dollars, I am deterred.  WHICH MAKES NO SENSE.  Today's Century Ride cost two hours and 2.5 gallons of fuel.  Diesel is $4.15 a gallon.  Actual cost is around 10 bucks.  OK  Now I feel better.  It would have cost much more than that to ship two machines over that distance.  So, I am not as nuts as my mother believes.

See what I got?

Both are lovely Japanese made class 15 machines.  The White has no power cord or foot controller.  I have extras.  The plug to the light has been severed.  I have plenty of plugs and will put  a new one on in a matter of minutes.  I couldn't resist giving it a quick bath.  The moldy dust washed away easily.  I think it is gorgeous. 

The Fotomatic will require some attention.  It is a more complex machine.  I have oiled it some already.  Its camstack appears to be metal.  There is some surface rust evident but I can clean it off with kero.  I must, however, first finish Buddy Folly.  He is scheduled for surgery on Saturday.  The donor hook and bobbin case are ready for transplant.  

What is the Necchi link?  A friend of mine went after a Necchi out her way.  She lives about 500 miles from here.  A few weeks ago the seller contacted me and asked if I was interested in it.  I was, but hey, there is a limit.  I contacted my dear friend, since she lives pretty close to him.  She already knew about the machine and today, she rescued it. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remember the Pfaff?

Today the board of Sewing Machine Magic held a special meeting.  It seems that the company is not doing well and it is time to re-evaluate.

Our president suggested that we market our machines more aggressively.  The Chief Operating Officer agreed.

"I know that we must off load some product.  I just wonder, though, the Pfaff 130 has been touted as semi industrial on the FB group.  I wonder if the 230 is, as well."

"Yes, I had heard that.  But there are so many STEPS and too many levers to make it work!" cried the President of SMM.

"But what if it were just used for straight stitch and Zig Zag?" Countered the COO, calmly. "let me just try. I never sewed with it when I was working on it."

I lugged the thing over to one of the sewing stations in the class room.  Gosh, that thing weighs a ton.  Much more than a 201.  We could never ship it in a card board box.  We would need a crate.

I set it up, tested the straight stitch.  Nice.  The motor was fast and quiet.  I tried a zz.  Very nice.

"I like this machine."

"You like every machine.  What machine have you not liked?"  Gosh she was getting testy.

"Well, up till now, only the Pfaff.  Maybe we should keep it.  It is supposed to be semi industrial.  It is fast and powerful and it sews very nicely."

"Well,  let's see how it goes through this."  The President of SMM handed me some vinyl. 

No problem.

"Hmmm.  I don't know.  OK wait.  let's see if it will go through denim. "

"Oh, but we need a bigger needle for that.  This little 80/14 won't do well."

"Here,  I found a jeans needle. Try that.  Here, try this fabric"

"But it isn't denim !"

It's the closest thing I have right here."  (some days you just don't argue with the President.)

"OK.  8 layers."

No problem.  Not even a whine. 

16 layers.  No protest.

"We don't have anything that will sew through that kind of thickness.  You know that."

"I know.  But we aren't taking it off the website." 

No we are not.  But we are going to raise the price and add a parting fee.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013


I don't really know how it happened.  I was in the shop and Steven came home from work and found me there.  I was cleaning up one of the cone bearings.  I asked him to show me how to use his propane torch.

"What for?"

"So I can heat up this cone bearing and get the screw loosened."

"Boy, it sure looks clean."

And the next thing I knew he was in his part of the shop rustling around with some tools.  Then I heard the grinder going.

He was grinding down a very large and long screw driver.  I watched as he honed it down to fit into the slot on the screw.  The cone bearing was in a VMV (Very Manly Vice)  He put a vice grip on the shaft of the driver to get more torque.  Still no go.

That's when he got out the torch.  He got that nut red hot.  Carefully placed in back in the VMV and used that big, honking driver and TURNED THE SCREW.  I was so excited.

"I'll get you the other one."  I had to dig it out of the naval jelly and clean it all off.

"I don't suppose I have time to run and get the camera, do I?"  asked I, as he lit the torch.

I ran.  I found the iphone in the car.  Much closer.  Which explains the lousy photos.

 Very carefully, he placed the nut and bearing back in the VMV

And then positioned the driver into the screw.
and turned.
I then took both of them and placed them in my VDV (very dainty vice) and worked them over.  I brushed them with the wire brush, cleaned them with brake cleaner, lubed then with vaseline and turned the screw in the nut a 356 times.EACH

Before treatment
Now, they are nestled in their home in their new stand.

Naval Jelly

When Steven started working on the pitman rod, I realized that I was missing the very important adjustment pieces.  Then I found them; in the naval jelly. I had put them there on Sunday.   Oh boy did they clean up nicely.

I figured it was worth a try, so I stuck the cone bearings in some naval jelly and left them for a few days.

It was.

I rinsed and scrubbed that gunk off.   And they looked like new.  But I still couldn't budge them.  But boy were they clean

That naval jelly does work.  It will turn the item black but I scrubbed with a wire brush and it restored the metal look. 

No after photos.  Poor planning on my part.  But WAIT  there is more.  In the next post.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I was busy packing a machine for shipment today.  I heard a whining motor noise from the shop.  I smelled oak burning.  I checked it out.
 Steven was making me the custom pitman rod to replace the one I broke. 
He even whittled it down and sanded it to make it look like the original
I do have the best husband in the universe.  And to show him how thankful I am, I made dinner. 

Monday, May 6, 2013


As a reward for mowing I allowed myself some time in the shop. I am happiest when I am there.  True, it was a gorgeous day.  I walked the dogs, mowed some of the upper field and neglected the garden.  I looked at it and decided that it was too much.  So I made myself happy and went to the shop.

  First I worked on the 404A.  It is ready to go. 
I like this machine. True it is only a straight stitcher but the motor is quiet and the machine is fast.  It is lighter than the 201 and doesn't do really heavy heavy stuff the way the 201 can, but it is a lovely machine.  Anyone who wants to learn how to sew could easily manage this machine.  Plus, it has a manual.  In pristine condition.

I also worked on the cone bearings.  Not budging. 

I finally decided that a few DAYS in the ATFAcetone bath would be the best thing.

Then I finished up the 391W.  Truthfully I had been putting off this project because I was concerned that I had to do more with the timing.  Not so.  Nice stitches but stiff on the zag.  More oil and heat.  I also moved the needle bar back and forth manually about a gazillion times.  I tried to mount the hand crank but the motor mount on this machine is too high to accept it.  Too bad.  I used the spoked wheel any way for more ballast.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Don't tell Betsy

Betsy and Jack came to dinner last night.  We had Moose Steaks.  Very tasty.  They brought the rusty treadle stand with them.  Jack is glad to get it out of his garage. (Steven has kept mum)

Someone brought the treadle stand, without the "timber" to Betsy.  I have a treadle stand that is missing the pedal, the wheel, cone bearings and pitman rod.  I don't care about the dress guard.  This stand is just like mine, but it has those parts.  Mine is not rusty.  This one is.  Very Rusty
When we put it into the shop last night I squirted PB Blaster on all of the fasteners.  I squirted some more today before I left to look at another treadle (I didn't buy it) and left it in the sun.  I thought that I would just "try" to get the screws and cone bearings loose.  I spent the afternoon on this mess.

It had a wooden pitman rod.  Pitman rods are attached to  the foot pedal and the wheel.  I wanted to get the pitman rod off.  But the little adjusting screw in each end of the rod was so terribly rusted.  In trying to loosen it, I broke the end of the pitman rod off.  DON'T TELL BETSY. She advised me to be very careful of the pitman rod.  Actually she said "Don't break it"

The sucker fell apart in my hands, really.  The good news?  I can make a replacement.  It will not be OEM but it will work.  As far as I am concerned, that is key.  Looking at this rust bucket, I will be lucky to get these parts cleaned up and installed on the other irons. 

I did manage to get the cone bearings loosened and the pedal off.

cone bearing nut

one cone bearing loosened

the other cone bearing loosened

 I am soaking the cone bearings and their nuts in some ATFAcetone mixture.  DON'T TELL BETSY.  Oh, all right.  You can tell her.  I mixed it up outside and have the container outside.  She won't yell at me for that.
I think I will try gluing the pitman rod with epoxy.  If all else fails I can make a new one.