Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Cleaning, Oiling, Adjusting, Making Ready!

I have a big road trip coming up.

With the next couple of days at home to prepare, I’m prettying up some of my little ladies and getting them ready to go on the road with me.

I need some space.  These machines deserve to be loved in a home where they are used, and used often!

I want to make sure that everything is in tip top shape so wiring has been checked, they’ve been oiled and lubricated, shined and adjusted, new needles put in and stitch samples sewn.

In most cases they are going for just what I have in them plus the cost of new parts.  Some machines were adopted without bobbin cases or cords or foot pedals.  Most needed new bobbin tires or belts.

All of them are precious!


This is a 1940s 128, a 3/4 sized bullet shuttle machine.

It’s got a crinkly finish, very popular starting in the WWII era, and you’ll notice that her slide plates are black instead of chrome.  Her end plate is also this gun-metal black.  The chromium went to the war efforts, and pieces were finished this way for a period of time.  She comes with a wooden dome cover and extra long bobbins.


I’ve been cleaning up a couple of very neglected 301s.

I spent time searching for and locating original vintage foot controls and cords, presser feet and bobbin cases – they were little more than just machine bodies when I got them.

They are not beautiful machines, something happened with thie tan paint in this era.  MANY of the 301s have spotting going on underneath the clear coat.  I’ve been told it is due to humidity or moisture, but chances are, if you have a 301, and you live in the south, you’ll see this happening.  I call them freckles.  It gives each machine its own personality.


But don’t let the spotted finish fool you!

These machines are work horses doing 1200 stitches a minute and delivering a perfect straight stitch in the process!

I’ve got some TR3 Resin Glaze on order, in hopes of getting their finish back to a nice shine, even with freckles.  One of the poor machines was SO awfully dirty, it was nearly a chocolate brown before I started cleaning late yesterday afternoon.  I start with a wipe down with warm water and a bit of dawn dish soap to see if anything will come off.  NO HARSH CLEANSERS.  I know that some use machine oil for cleaning, but that won’t do anything much but attract more dirt and make dirty things shiny.

I have no idea what the dark brown stuff all over this machine was –could it be nicotine?

Gojo hand cleaner, the non-pumice kind is my next go to, along with an old tooth brush.  Sometimes wooden toothpicks, when wet - make a good little tool for getting gunk out of crevices and grooves.  Chrome pieces are soaked in warm water with more dawn and scrubbed.

Everything is oiled and cleaned (NO WD40—it’s a solvent, not a lubricant!) and lubricated before reassembly and test stitching.


See the spotting on the bed?  Poor thing!

But that stitch is wonderful!

I must admit that my HIGH of the day (Or more likely evening) was after reassembling everything only to discover that the presser foot would not go down.  It was stuck in the UP position. 

I couldn’t see why it wouldn’t go down, so I compared the two 301s side by side, lifting the lever on each to find out what was supposed to happen, and why it wasn’t.  AHA!

A gentle tap with the hammer on the end of a strategically placed screw driver had the stuck bit unstuck and moving like it should, and that presser foot could not be more happy to be DOWN again.

There were loud cheers and fist pumping happening in the basement studio.  I figured it out, and solved the problem.  It’s a feel good all around.

There are a few other machines coming with me for fun.  My plan is that I will rehome what I can, and use what hasn’t found a new owner to sew on during my evening hotel sewing time.


I’m also wanting to rehome a terrific Bernina Activa 145, a computerized machine.  I’m just not using it, and I know there is someone who is going to want a 3/4 size lighter weight Bernina for classroom use.

(This is not my photo.  My machine also has accessories, hands free knee bar, cover and accessory box.)

I just brought home the Bernina 802 Sport, a mechanical machine that will do all I need it to do.  The Activa 145 is just way beyond what I need, so I am hoping to find it a new owner.

**Note** I am not shipping anything to anyone, these are available to students during my workshops.  I’m trying to keep this simple!


This one, well – I was on the fence  but…

Okay, maybe I’ll keep her just a bit longer!

One machine that is being discarded after an attempt to bring her back to life is a little 99 who shocked me TWICE when I plugged her in!  ACK!!  Someone had tried to rewire her in the past.  She is a knee controlled lady, but the knee bar doesn’t work, it doesn’t stay connected like there is something wrong with the post inside.  She is missing her slide plate as it is, and her finish is horrid, not to mention her case is falling apart, so I’ve made the decision to strip her down, save the parts I can (bobbin race, needle plate, face plate, tension assembly, presser foot and screw, needle clamp and screw, spool pin….) and let the rest of her go to wherever old machines go.  Discarding carcasses is a hard thing for me to do but there are some you just can’t bring back to life.

And who knows WHAT I’ll find on this upcoming journey?  Rehoming these machines means I can keep rescuing others and enjoy them for a while before passing them on to the next person who will love them.

Saving the world, one machine at a time!


Binding – all done!

All that remains in the hanging sleeve and the label.

But not tonight!  We’ve got Quilt-Cam tonight via Facebook Live!  If you miss it, it will be uploaded into tomorrow morning’s blog post, and also linked in the archives so you’ll see it there.


Quiltville Quote of the Day!

Any amount of moving forward is still moving forward! Sometimes progress can't be measured by the eye but it's there.

Oh how I love a simple nine patch! Quilt found in Grapevine, Texas.

See you for Quilt-Cam tonight!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

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  1. Can't wait to see you in Maryland!! Thanks for road tripping up to us.
    Your Saturday class is my Mother's Day present! Hubby is on toddler duty, I'll be there with my big baby belly and (hopefully) a finished Scrap Crystals top.

  2. The machines will be loved in their new homes. I have a 301A and absolutely LOVE it.

  3. You will make someone very happy when they adopt the 301s. I have the Bernina 145, too. It is a marvelous little machine for everyday sewing that requires other stitches besides straight stitches. I know it is hard to let some of these machines go, but just think of the joy they will bring to others. Safe travels and have a great trip.

  4. You remind me...I have a 301 I need to get going again!! Fun post, Bonnie!!

  5. I am bringing my new to me last year 301 to the Royal Ridges Retreat. It will be her 1st outing. Love seeing how to keep them sewing. Lucky quilters who get one of your Vintage Machines.

  6. So jealous wish I was close to buy your wonderful machines featherweight out west if you are lucky are at least 500.00 .

  7. Irene Hafer got me to buy a Singer 301, and if you don't have one, GET ONE! They have such an effortless and perfect stitch, now I want another one!!!! Have a tan one, I'd love a beautiful black one!!!

  8. I just sold my 301A. Wish I hadn't, but moved from house to RV full time. Had to downsize until it hurt. Missing sewing right now since we are still settling. Hope to get my machine out of storage next week, put out my awning & sew outsidešŸ¤ž Hope o catch quilt cam on I pad tonight or, lucky get my laptop connected to internet. Thanks for daily blog--keeps me sane (I hope).

  9. Love seeing your newly bound Straits of Mac. I got a featherweight and I am still getting used to it. I don't feel so mechanically inclined and tend to fall back on the newer Berninas that I have.

  10. Nice to see some of the machines will go to new homes so you can rescue more! I have the 801 sport and it is amazing...free motion on it and everything. Mom bought it for me in 1992 used, it was about $500 then (used). I love that it is mechanical and no computer to get in the way.

  11. I just moved two more machines to the "move-on" pile...a 301 is going to my niece who wants to learn to sew and the other is going to the boy scout yard sale (it is a Kenmore that runs but nothing special.) Phew...

  12. Don't you just love the little green Elnas! I have two and they are so cute, I could probably get rid of 1 but would have to keep one with the rest of the herd (they like her).

  13. I love your posts on vintage machines. I brought home my first treadle machine on Saturday. She is a gorgeous Singer sphinx 27, built in 1912 (so named after my grandma Ethel who was born in that year). The cabinet is beautiful too. I am excited to learn about all the attachments and how to use them. First up: threading the long bobbins, putting them into the shuttle, and figuring out how the shuttle goes into the machine. :-)

  14. I love the old machines. I now have 2 old Singers, treadle and hand crank. But I'm stopping there!
    I thought the freckles looked a bit like marbling - a Moda Mate! ;)

    Kindest regards

  15. Turn that 99 into a hand crank. They make great hand cranks.

  16. Bonnie, (or anyone), how can I get emails about your new blog posts in a more timely manner? For instance, this evening (May 8)I received the post from Wednesday, May 3.
    Loved that green Elna!


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