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Thread: When is a machine "just not worth it"?

  1. #1
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    When is a machine "just not worth it"?

    Not because of parts replacement or adjustments, but because of the horrid amount of cleaning required to just get the machine useable.

    A month or so ago I got a Singer 127 with a Chinese hand crank along with a 500 and a 185K from a forum member. The 185 took very little work to get it up and running. I actually had to do more repairs on the plastic case bottom than I did the machine. My wife stole it from me.

    The 500 took about $35.00 or so worth of parts and a lot of cleaning, but it sews sooooooooo nice now.

    The 127 .... I'm still cleaning it. I put the hand crank on Rusty and was contemplating on putting the 127 in a treadle.
    But, I have never seen a sewing machine as grungy and filthy with built up, varnished, and solidified oil. Inside the machine is black. It honestly looks like an old car engine after 100,000 miles and only a few oil changes. That burnt on crud that looks like what you find in an oven that's not cleaned enough.
    I'm almost betting it was oiled with the old cheap bulk car oil you used to buy in the glass bottles with the metal funnel built on the lid.

    Kerosene wouldn't touch it. I had to buy a new jug of Hoppe's #9 to get started and that stunk the house up really bad. (Small house, too cold outside.) Once done with that I used denatured alcohol on cotton balls and q-tips to try to finish up with. But I'm still not done. Black icky cruddy oil residue is still leaching out of every nook and cranny. Yesterday I put it back together. I've cleaned everything and every place I can reach. But the Tri-Flow is dissolving some of the cruddy stuff so I've had to wipe it down a couple times now.
    I've also been using cotton balls and oil on the outside and although I've gotten it cleaner, every time I run an oiled cotton ball over it, it's dirty.

    I've had to replace one faceplate screw and the front slide plate. The slide plate that was on it wasn't correct and I had a correct one. Then I had to adjust the height of the feed dogs. That is all I've done to this machine other than cleaning.
    Now I find that the top tension spring is so over strong I cannot get it to sew with the nob and spring on the tension. It simply will not allow the thread to pass through the discs. I borrowed the spring off my 66-1 and it sews perfect, so one more part to replace.

    Then what? Is it worth using? Should I hunt up a treadle base for it? Put a motor on it and put it in a case? Boat anchor, door stop ............... I don't know. I'm just venting I guess. Sometimes I put way to much time in these things. If it wasn't for the decals, or what's left of them, I would have taken it to a machine shop and had them hot tank it like an engine block.

    So, when is a machine just not worth the time and effort it takes to clean it? A rhetorical question really, as I don't know when to quit.

    Joe

  2. #2
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Have you tried liquid wrench on the insides? That dissolves grease really well. Of course, it can damage paint so one has to be careful. But, it sure helped me today on my Pfaff 130. I worked on it with triflow and a hair dryer for about 6 hours before I doused it with liquid wrench and the gunk came off in seconds.

    I'm with you on the when to give up thing.

  3. #3
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    No I didn't use the Liquid Wrench on this one. Don't know why either, I have two cans of it sitting on the shelf. Well, it's still not clean inside, so I just might use the Liquid Wrench.

    Joe

  4. #4
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    Too bad you have such a small area. PB Blaster is my weapon of choice for the really bad ones. It does stink to high heaven though.
    I have a 31-15 head that kept dripping black gunk. I had finally had enough and took it to a do it yourself car wash. I washed it out with soap and water under light pressure then rinsed it really well - 3.00 worth of quarters - but it worked! I let it drip dry then gave it a light oiling. No more black gunk dripping from it, in fact it is sitting on the floor with nothing under it to catch drips. If the decals are shot on the 127 the car wash might be something to consider.

  5. #5
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Car wash? ARGH... I have used some harsh chemicals on machines - but I have to really watch that I do it only out doors - I have some serious health problems from prior chemical exposure. I have to work very fast, get out of the area and then I drink a LOT of water. I have a gummy 401 I need to clean up some more - seems like the more places dried oil can go the more dried up gunk you get...
    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

  6. #6
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    I wouldn't take an electric machine to a car wash and the 31-15 was an extreme case. It had been stored in a barn and smelled up the whole house. It was pretty nasty, partly from being in a factory setting for years then in a damp barn until it came to live on my floor.

  7. #7
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure this 127 would classify as an extreme case. YUCK. I'm about 80 % finished cleaning it. I'm going to borrow the top tension spring off of my 66-1 and test sew with it today. Depending on how that works will decide it's fate.

    The idea of running it through a car wash using the high pressure wand intrigues me. ( Do we have a devil icon here?)

    Joe

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    If you look on Dave McCallum's site he has a post where he opened the spool pin cover on a featherweight. Then he sat it in the sink and ran hot water and dawn detergent through it and cleaned it with a bottle brush and a toothbrush.

  9. #9
    Junior Member makitmama's Avatar
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    The only time I have gotten extreme in my year of doing this was a completely frozen rusty gunky machine that had mud daubers nests in it from it's stay in the barn. I put the whole head in a 5 gallon jug of kerosene. The guy wanted me to take the treadle base too- and every drawer was packed full of wasp nests, just like the machine.
    it did free up, and I made it a parts machine.
    Cil




    I'm a Queen.... at least my pantyhose say I am!


    (proud caretaker of a magenta 221, purple 222, assorted 66's, a 301, a pink Atlas and Monarch, and Granny's 201-2.

  10. #10
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    I did some cleaning on my 1914 treadle and I used Super Clean which is an engine degreaser. It did a good job and did not seem to hurt the machine.. Just be sure to wear rubber gloves..It is hard on the hands otherwise..

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