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Thread: Grandma nearly beat it to death...

  1. #1
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Grandma nearly beat it to death...

    I had a phone call from a kid last night trying to sell me his grandma's sewing machine. He had it up on CL and wasn't getting any action. He wanted an arm and a leg for it... He wanted some money to buy presents for Christmas... Someone told him to call me. Ahem. No I don't want to buy your Grandma's baby. I asked him what model Singer. He told me so we talked about it enough to make him realize it was one of the good ones. So I told him what he needed to do to try again to sell it. Then I told him he needed to sew a swatch. I walked him through that concept. Then I told him where to find a free manual. By the time I was done he wanted to keep the machine and learn to use it and make his Christmas presents.... I love it when that happens. I sold that kid his own Grandma's sewing machine...

    Grandma's sewing machine... I would wager if you go on your local Craig's List you could find some sewing machine that was owned by 'Grandma' - it will say that right in the ad... I'm all for getting them and making them sew but some of those people live in Lala Land... seriously.

    I know.. I know... I know.... I don't just only service ugly Grandma's machines but they are the ones that are the most interesting. They start out dirty, stuck and ugly and they seem to fall short of beautiful no matter what but they are a dream to sew with. There is something about the worn looking machine. I can set two identical models side by side, test them out but give me the worn one after is has been cleaned up... Anybody else out there have a worn machine that you just love??? Shoot a pic of it. Tell us about the worn and ugly old sewing machine. Seems like we see plenty of pictures of pretty ones and a lot of people seem to be drawn to the pretty ones. Anybody else out there love a somebody's Grandma's ugly machine???

    Here is one I just got running. First the before pic - it doesn't do it justice as far as how nasty it looked when I dragged it home. Oh and I dragged home two really pretty ones - which one do I start with??? Yup... old ugly...

    I did a routine clean up of the bobbin area, took the bobbin case apart and cleaned it up... It really wasn't too bad. Then I did the upper tension. It was in working order but the spring was a little bent. Just cleaned and cleaned. Then I used Glenn's French Polish method. I was amazed how nice the machine looked compared to where it had been. Miss L came over and we played around making some little hand warmers. It sews like a dream now.

    Dried up crud all over the chrome and everywhere else:
    Name:  ugly old Singer 15 031.JPG
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    magnificent pin rash:
    Name:  ugly old Singer 15 028.JPG
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    and the finish on it was pretty bad looking:
    Name:  ugly old Singer 15 029.JPG
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    I'll post some work in process pics in a few minutes.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

  2. #2
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Ok that was before but you can't really see how bad...
    The yellow crud you see is the old finish.

    Name:  ugly old Singer 15 034.JPG
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    The stitch length was like that, too - bad finish...

    Name:  ugly old Singer 15 027.JPG
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    I also posted a picture of this machine on Glenn's tutorial - he addressed the issue of the pin rash there:
    Cleaning and repairing the Shellac clear coat on Vintage sewing machine heads it's somewhere around page 32...

    I'm almost inclined to leave it. Somebody worked hard at that machine. Grandma must have made a lot of dresses maybe patched some overalls maybe made a few quilts BUT she sure did use a lot of pins.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

  3. #3
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Here is so far. I've cleaned, oiled, adjusted and sewed on it. I did a little French Polishing on it - more to be done - see the link in the previous window.
    Progress:
    Name:  ugly old Singer 15 038.JPG
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    Name:  improved ugly machine 001.JPG
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    Some of it is bad lighting but some of it is still needing some more French Polishing work. I can use the machine and just do a bit of polishing on it again some time.
    I think this one comes under bomb proof or something and no Grandma could not beat it to death - it just bounced right back ready to go.

    Wow 13,000 posts now that is scary.
    Last edited by miriam; 12-02-2014 at 04:01 PM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

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    It's cleaning up nicely. I am learning to appreciate the old machines.
    Sew a Little, Love a Lot & Live like you were dying!

  5. #5
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I've gone over it a few more times again. It looks kind of bad but it feels smooth and sleek to touch. Even the pin rash is smoother than it was. If I put a rag on there it might not look bad at all. I need to find just the right rag.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

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    Hi Miriam,
    So, did you get the brownish old finish off before you did the french polish? That looks a lot like what I thought was dirt on my 1938 Featherweight. I ended up stripping it off inadvertently, and am somewhat tempted to strip off the rest of it and then trying to polish it using Glenn's method. I thought I'd ask if you took the crud off or polished right over it.
    Ila

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    Some of the old stories are fascinating. I was talking with my supervisor today complaining that I had not seen a single sewing machine in any thrift or goodwill in Panama City this weekend. He told me about his great grandmothers machine. She passed on about 6 months ago at age 99. She sewed on her "ole black machine" till she died, even though her daughters had bought her a new machine about 10 years ago. Her husband bought her the machine used right after they married when she was 16. She sewed all of her family's clothes and took in sewing for others as well. Did that all of her life with that "foot powered machine".

    The first question I asked was Ya'll are gonna keep it ain't ya? He said yes that his great aunts all sewed. I made sure to let him know that if any of them had the desire to get rid of it to call me, that I would give it a good home. Just the thought of it going away horrifies me. I did tell him if he wanted to know about the machine to take some pictures and get the number and I could probably tell him something.`

  8. #8
    Super Member Mrs. SewNSew's Avatar
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    Glad to hear it's not just me. I always seem to grab the uggos because transforming them is the biggest challenge. I have four Singer 201's waiting for care in the hoard. I haven't chosen which will be mine, but am most attracted to the one with all the graffiti scratched into it. I thought maybe I was crazy.
    Christy

  9. #9
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iadhikari View Post
    Hi Miriam,
    So, did you get the brownish old finish off before you did the french polish?
    Ila
    That brownish stuff is the old finish and no you never remove that even though you want to so bad you can't stand it - that brownish stuff is what you French Polish until it is smooth - with out it you will need a new finish put on the machine. Some machines don't have it so pronounced but it is still there if there are decals. Mine feels smooth to touch now and less brown but I want it less blotchy looking. I can keep going back over it until I am happy. Right now I've quit on it for a while. I can go back over it any time. In Glenn's method you do not remove the old finish. You don't really polish over it you merge it into the new shellac. First in the process is Naptha. You do not have to spend a lot of time here. Just go over it and quit - once it looks a tiny bit dull quit. It cleans the old gunk and oils out of the old shellac then put the Naptha away for the next machine. The old shellac will still look yucky and brown. Then you put a little denatured alcohol on the rag wrapped around your finger and add some linseed oil. Don't use straight denatured alcohol ever. It will remove the old shellac. You don't want to do that. Ok back to the linseed oil and denatured alcohol, polish it once with that. It helps soften the old shellac and makes it easier to French Polish with out disturbing the old shellac too much.
    (Glenn doesn't dip his rag wrapped finger in the stuff he tips the bottle to his rag wrapped finger and wets it but I'm going to say dip since I only have to type 3 letters....) Then you will dip your rag wrapped finger in the denatured alcohol and then dip it in shellac. You polish the machine with that over and over. When it gets difficult you can go back to the DA and Linseed oil. Glenn uses very little of each liquid at a time - and trust me it is the only way to go... Ask me how I know... No hurry... That little bit of shellac will eventually dissolve old shellac so you are just reviving the old and spreading it. You add very little shellac at a time - this is not really an application of shellac - this is re-dissolving the old and spreading it evenly over the machine. Usually the bed is the problem. Glen has had me add a little spray shellac if there isn't any brown stuff left on the machine - I like the results better when I don't have to add the spray. This is NOT an instant project. This is something you work on a little then go back and work on some more. You are using very small amounts of Naptha, raw linseed oil, denatured alcohol and shellac and LOTS of t-shirt material, dirty finger and very light touch elbow grease - let the chemistry happen. You can also use a little wax when you are done - see Glenn for that - I haven't arrived at the wax stage yet. This is so simple to do it is hard to wrap my brain around it. I had one machine I took down to Glenn's place because I wasn't happy with how it looked. I thought I was doing something wrong. He said I just hadn't gone over it enough times. I was adding too much shellac at a time. I wasn't letting the layers that were there re-amalgamate. I worked on it some more then I set it aside. I can go back to it this afternoon if I have the time. I think a lot of it is we are used to the instant spray on look at this!!! OH WOW... Glenn's method is an old world type finish and takes some work but is worth it for the look. If you wax it before you are totally done, before you work on it you will need to use Naptha to remove pull off the wax and maybe some dirt that clings to the wax - again you don't scrub at it - just go over it one time. It will dull things so don't freak out when that happens - your chemicals will re-dissolve it once again. Glenn says you may have to go over it every couple years to maintain the finish. Using the machine is a good idea - keeps it in better shape than if it just sits.
    Last edited by miriam; 12-03-2014 at 01:20 AM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

  10. #10
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. SewNSew View Post
    Glad to hear it's not just me. I always seem to grab the uggos because transforming them is the biggest challenge. I have four Singer 201's waiting for care in the hoard. I haven't chosen which will be mine, but am most attracted to the one with all the graffiti scratched into it. I thought maybe I was crazy.
    I think it is any of us that has ever worked on a pretty one and then tackled an ugly - I think the lights just go on and you realize there is a gem under all that... unless you can't get past the ugly look of it.

    Then I've seen people who won't even look at a metal machine - they only will use plastic. The same day that kid called a lady called about a pretty White - she showed up, looked around my room and saw a Plastic Wonder (PW) and she changed her mind right fast about the pristine all metal White - she went off half crazy about how awful vintage machines were. She was surrounded and outnumbered... What could I say... I let her sew on it... She may need sewing lessons... Me and that PW parted company. Oh and I could have fixed her old PW. She took apart the bobbin area and couldn't get it back together. I can do those even on a PW. She was just sure it was toast......... She just wanted another machine... I have a lot more respect for that kid and his Grandma's machine. I told him to call back any time. I just hope the PW lady never calls back.
    Last edited by miriam; 12-03-2014 at 01:32 AM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

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