Monday, 29 September 2014

MOP Singer 12 in the cabinet

The last lot of pics were sans cabinet, so here she is today (literally, just took these). The ridiculously lovely base was thanks to a rub with boiled linseed oil, which I also treated the wood with. It will provide rust protection, shine and cleanliness (until dust starts sticking to the oil of course).


According to ISMACS, the 12x1 was made by Schmetz under the designation 257 or 339 or 23:51 and by Groz-Beckert (no number given) but my local supplier has no listing whatever for this needle, meaning... (insert dramatic music here) they don't make them any longer. Well, this is no big surprise. According to the lady responsible for if you can get one in there, a common 16x231 will work. Well, I tried and the needle clamp wouldn't play along (sigh).
My new best friend Steve in the U.S. is sending me a couple of his, and I'm ordering some old stock from a place in Switzerland just as soon as they let me know how to pay for them. If they come through I'll tell you who they are, but I won't recommend them if they're not reliable.
There's a lady on Etsy who sells them, but she won't ship outside the U.S. (boo!), Alex Askaroff has a few left apparently and you could get some massively overpriced ones from eBay. I find the latter to be full of people charging too much for everything. It seems to coincide with eBay's constant fee changes, like the fact that they charge you the selling fee plus postage. This means that if you sell something heavy (e.g. a machine head) to an overseas person for the  99c recommended starting bid and it costs $300 to send it to them, you not only lose the money you paid for the item, you're left with a $30 fee plus paypal charges! It used to be a great way to sell things but greed always seems to spoil these things.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Singer 12 Mother of Pearl

This is the most beautiful sewing machine I've ever seen. I bought it because it was obviously a stunning piece. The needles will be a bit of a problem, though. Not all that many Singer 12s being used these days, and they stopped making them quite a while ago (1903). I'm surprised they were made past 1890 actually. My machine was made in 1885. The stand is original and has 1st May 1885 cast into it.

In reality it's even more beautiful than this. The shimmering light on the mother of pearl is something special.
If I get some needles for it I'll post where I got them.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Singer 15 revival

This machine was given to me by my friend who had issues with the number of machines she has and the space they take. It was made in 1910.
I didn't get a single picture of it before I touched it but here's what was wrong:
  1. The case's bottom veneer layer had come off.
  2. The rest of the bottom had broken and perished.
  3. There were signs of borer in the good part of the bottom.
  4. The coffin lid also showed borer holes.
  5. And was coming apart on several places.
  6. The machine was a bit stiff and made noises

The Case

So to work I went. Firstly, sanded off the remaining shellac coat from the case, then treated it with kerosene (twice) to make sure the borer weren't coming back. Then I took to it with wood glue and a clamp.
The base looked to be in good shape but when I removed the bottom it all fell apart, so out with the glue, also clamped it for 24 hours and was left with the following.
Lid, sanded and glued

Base, also sanded and glued.
I figured the original finish was probably shellac, so as I had some from another job a few months ago out it came. You can give it as many coats as you like, and it only gets glossier. The drying time was about 30 minutes and I lightly sanded with wet and dry emery paper (used dry) between coats.
Lid after one coat

accessory slide cover

base, one coat
Skipping straight to the finish now, she looked like this:
Lid after three coats

Base, ready for hardware
With machine put back, she's now on the kitchen table looking fine.

The machine

Rather stupidly I only took one picture of the machine before cleaning and it's of the undercarriage, thusly:
There was a lot of lint and fluff under the feed dog, always a bad sign. I just pulled the machine apart and cleaned it 'til it looked like a new one. Oiling is always last when you clean a machine. Reason is that if you oil as you go, dirt will stick to it and you'll end up with a sticky mess. This underneath bit comes up extremely well with Silvo soaked on the middle of a strip of fairly strong fabric. Wrap it around the part you want to clean and go vigorous. It's remarkable how much better you feel after doing all this, and after application of some oil, the noise was gone and the machine is as smooth and free as you could hope for.
That stupid amount of shine was the result of car wax. Does a spiffing job.
Here are some more "after" pics.
Slide plate. Considering having it re-plated

These decals are completely original

Took the bobbin winder apart completely to clean

Didn't clean all of it

Yes didn't clean all of it but the bobbin area got a lot of attention. It is likely where the noise originated so I disassembled it and thoroughly cleaned it, oiling as I reassembled.
One thing I didn't check was the timing. I mean, it's a 15, so what are the chances? The tension spring was broken, so part of cleaning the assembly was a new spring.
So, after pulling out the bobbin assembly, the bobbin winder, tension assembly how did it stitch? Didn't take pictures but it was like a 201 without even adjusting anything! Perfectly straight and no problem with tensions.
One thing I didn't notice was the lack of spool pin. I snapped a bamboo chopstick to the right height and now we have one.
I didn't enjoy sewing with this machine at all, though. The lack of a light wasn't a huge problem but the lack of my right hand to guide fabric was definitely noticed. The hand crank has been taken from a 66 (it has lotus decals) so I don't have a problem with adding a Singer motor and foot controller.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Pyjamas and a Singer industrial

These were another garment made from an old one. My favourite PJs were worn out and frankly a bit smelly too. My GF is a pattern maker and disassembled the old ones and made a pattern. Again, I put it together without any assistance, and again felt as though I'd achieved something significant.
Here's the final product:
Comfortable, warm and better quality than the originals. These were made almost entirely on the 1959 Singer 320K2, buttonholes done on 1891 VS2 (don't know why, it just does a brilliant buttonhole).
Machine-wise, I'm working on a 1938 Singer 29K58 leather shoe patcher which I probably shouldn't have touched. It was a real rust bucket, and took way too much work to get it freed up. Dad has done almost all the work and the thing already looks great. Here's a preview:
Just need to fix the bobbin winder and the front tension and I think she'll be ready to take on the world. Well, maybe a pair of shoes.

Harrington #2

Firstly my friend was turning 50 and I made him a Harrington. I discovered just now that if I don't write it down as it's happening there's no chance of my remembering what I did! Apologies, but it looked like this:
I made it reversible, because it wasn't much more work, and why wouldn't you? Who doesn't like a tartan jacket?
 This one was a lot closer to the Baracuta G9 design than the one I made for myself. Turned out extremely well, though.
Sewn on the Singer 201P. Stitch perfection.
The great triumph I felt with this jacket was in putting it together without any pattern instructions. This and the pyjamas were things that felt really good to finish.
Oh, and in case you want one, I'll take orders. Just email me.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Singer 320K2 bobbin case mod

Don't you love a mod? Ah the '60s... No that's a different kind, but this one's more useful than stylish.

Here is the bobbin case after Nick Ciancio did his thing:

The arrows point to the bit he machined off. I asked him to explain the mod and he said that when there's a 15x1 needle inserted, there's no problem when straight stitching. When zig-zagging, however, there's a real danger of the needle hitting the bobbin case, and the removed section marks the point of impact. The longer 15x1 goes down an extra 2mm or so and removing this by making the "U" shape a little wider (see arrows) removes the possibility of impact.

I now have an extremely rare old machine that has a free arm and uses common 15x1 needles! Allowing a 15x1 needle to punch the metal out is a bad idea. Just Google for the result and you'll find pictures of destroyed cases.

I'm more than happy to recommend Nick to anyone in Melbourne who has a vintage machine. He's very friendly, can repair anything and really loves the old machines.

Oh and I should mention that in a comment on my last post I said that I was a little disappointed in the 320s stitch quality. Checked the needle height and it was a mm or two out, which had also put the timing out. Spent 20 minutes fixing it and she sews much better now.