antique machine info

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by , 10-28-2011 at 08:03 AM (932 Views) for Singer service manuals

I do not like WD40 or 3in1 oil for cleaning up the machines.
Use some kerosene apply with a brush or Triflow oil someone obviously loves the old machines and he has some good pointers about cleaning them up. I like to get lots of opinions before I try anything new.

Unplug Your Machine

For your own safety and to prevent damage to your machine always unplug the machine before you start cleaning and oiling your machine.

Remove Lint

Fabric and thread are a combination that is going to produce lint. Lint can build up in unseen areas of your machine leading to wear and tear that is preventable.

Open all areas that you can and clean the lint out of the machine. Use the brush that came with your sewing machine to remove lint in cracks and crevices and from under the bobbin case.
Try to get in the habit of cleaning the lint out of your machine every time you finish a project. That way the machine will be ready to sew when you are!

Sewing Machine Oil

Sewing machine oil is not something you borrow from the garage. It is clear white oil. Be sure to use the proper oil. Refer to your owner’s manual for the proper spots to oil. Some of the older machines have these areas marked.
After oiling your machine run stitches on some scrap fabric before you tackle your project. This allows oil to escape on to the scraps, if it's going to, instead of the project you are working on.

Oiling the machine not only lubricates your moving parts, to prevent wear, it reduces the risk of rust. Rust forms rapidly with any dampness, even just the humidity in the air. Surface rust can act just like loose sand granule in your machine, and create excess wear.

Loose Screws

As you clean and oil the machine you will find many screws and set-screws. As a general rule, tighten regular screws as you run across them. Set screws which usually require hex key wrenches, should only be adjusted by a repair person unless you have a complete understanding of the timing of your sewing machine.
If the set screws are missing or loose, take the machine to a repair shop. It may seem easy to just replace the screw or tighten it, but all of these details go in to the timing of the machine. If the timing is off you can do great damage and the repair bill will be much more then a tune up.


You should always be watching for wear signs on wires but while you’re cleaning your machine, take the time to honestly inspect the wires.
Check the entire length of the wire for abrasions to the plastic coating or for damage a pet may have done.
Check that all the electrical prongs are tight and secure.
Consult a repair person or electrician for any problems you may find.
another blogger has a post about cleaning up a machine - If you have never done it before, don't try to take the whole thing apart - just do a small area at a time. Clean the whole exterior. Do the tension. Put it back. Do the throat area. Put it back. etc. Short but some good insight.
There are various places to buy the kit - might be a good idea if you don't have that stuff around. - interesting info - does not totally refurbish but cleans and oil
looks to be advise from a sewing shop - not bad info though

Here are some websites that were most helpful: an international sewing machine collector's website. lots of good pictures and information here. They have a forum to join but you don't have to, to view their pictures. This is an organization that takes in repaired machines and sends them to Third World countries. Their online sewing machine manual is a techinical repair book for the most common of the old black Singers. Very useful information for restoring a machine. Very good site dedicated to people powered machines, meaning Treadles and Hand Cranks. Loads of different types of information on restoring machines. At first sight this page may seem a little strange but the people here know their business. They have a sister site:

For lots of pictures people have posted on line of the their favorite machines and hobbies go to There are thousands of pictures here.

Singer's website has the list of serial numbers for machines back to around 1900, when they first starting keeping the serial numbers lists. You can also buy or download free manuals for Singers.

You do NOT need to take it apart. I don't recommend that at all.

Get a box of q-tips, a tooth brush, and an old (but clean) mascara applicator/brush, a hair dryer, good quality sewing machine oil, some sewing machine grease and some denatured alcohol.

For the grease, you can use the Singer stuff they sell in a tube at the fabric store. I use tri-flow grease and oil that you can probably purchase at your local bicycle shop.

Take the lid off the top of the machine. Be careful as the top hinges and door hinges on the 500 are prone to breakage.

Cover the bed of the machine with a layer of protective newspaper and plastic. You do not want any of the alcohol to get on the exterior surfaces.

Using your q-tips and other tools clean everything that you can. Then replace the grease on the gears (one under the cam stack too) and oil where ever metal moves against metal. Do NOT put any oil on the geared motor shaft!!! Only grease goes there. If any thing is still stiff or stuck, put your hair dryer on high and warm it up while you wiggle it. Once it pops loose, clean and oil it.

Kerosene can also be used to clean up the inside, but do NOT get it on the wires.

Also, remove the bobbin holder and clean under there.

Or take it in to be serviced. good info - how to shop for a sewing machine good info

Videos I like:
it will go on and do part 2 when part one runs completely out
This is a very good video for cleaning up an old sewing machine!!!
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

She also has one on adjusting tension on a long bobbin sewing machine I think there are 9 in all.

that should keep you busy for a minute or two

tension clean/replace spring video:

Cleaning (and laughing at the 30 minutes part):

Cleaning another type of small motor:

Video on how motors work. (I like to know the "why" too, and I pretty much ignored high school physics).

for sale site:
15-91 info:
15-91 pin insertion tension
sewing machine tech willing to answer ?: jpechlin
how to treadle:
tips on treadling:
parts n stuff recmd by user: [email protected]
co merge info:
FW repair manual:
15-91 manual

new singer page ref:

single letter prefix:

double letter prefix:

quick and dirty trouble checks:

vintage website list from Buslady:

alternate machine cleaning info:

new singer website info :

my singer website:

diff between 400 & 403 & 500 & 503 by miriam
use correct letter sust for "g":

ismaacs info site:
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