Bought a stiff but pretty 99K

Old 10-27-2014, 03:17 PM
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Default Bought a stiff but pretty 99K

DH & I were finishing off a lunch break today and we stopped in a thrift shop, and my darling enabler husband spotted a little 99K for me! I was in a rush to get back to work so I gave it a quick glance over, decided it looked nice and clean and intact and bought it on a whim. $45 for the machine; no accessories but it has the pedal and a full case that's in pretty good shape. Looked up the serial and she's from 1956. UK machine (I think the K means it's from the UK? But it also says Made in Great Britain.)

I didn't realize how stiff she is, though, until I got her home. If I disengage the clutch she spins wonderfully, the motor sounds fine and doesn't smell weird. But with the clutch engaged the motor isn't strong enough to push the machine. Cranking by hand is difficult too, so it's not that the motor is really weak.

I've peered into and under it a bit and I THINK it's just old hardened oil gunking things up. Moving it by hand has already freed it up a little bit and nothing feels wrong or clunky; it's just stiff and gunky feeling.

So, I'll be re-watching some YouTube videos and doing some scrubbing of old gunk....maybe not THIS weekend, but probably next. I'm thinking a toothbrush and sewing machine oil will be my two primary weapons...

I'll have to post some pictures. The machine is very pretty IMO - the decals are simple but nearly perfect, there are only a couple minor scratches on the bed, the shellac is gorgeous and shiny, the cord is intact and limber.... No rust anywhere that I can see so far. The light is there and works. The case has some little damage on the corners but is otherwise in good shape. (It's the boxy 50's case, not the cool bentwood kind.)

I'm hoping I can get her up and running...not sure what I'm going to do with her yet but she was just so cute and small and pretty I couldn't say no!!
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Old 10-27-2014, 05:19 PM
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Congrats! The vintage 99 was my "first" Singer purchase, now there are 9 sitting in my sewing room, so watch out you will be getting more...
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Old 10-27-2014, 05:49 PM
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They do tend to multiply, don't they!? I just couldn't resist...especially after DH pointed it out. I couldn't hurt his feelings by leaving it there, now, could I? LOL
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:40 PM
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A little time at the spa for an oil treatment might loosen her up!
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Old 10-28-2014, 05:02 AM
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I put some fresh oil on top of the gunky oil and hand-cranked it a bit to try to work the fresh oil theory is that this will make the older oil easier to clean out when I have some time (hopefully soon) to give it a cleaning. It's slightly easier to turn this morning so I think that's a good sign that it really is just oil gunking up the works. She's such a PRETTY machine - definitely the prettiest one I own! I love that she's just a little bit smaller than usual, makes her extra cute. Is it weird that I want to cuddle a sewing machine? LOL
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Old 10-28-2014, 05:44 AM
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Singer 99s are 3/4 size machines. About the same height as a full size machine but shorter and narrower. Chances are it is just old oil. You can download a manual at for free. They use class 66 bobbins and standard sewing machine needles.
Old oil can be cleaned quickly and easily with alcohol. Just do not get it on the finish. Alcohol will damage the shellac but is great for easily removed items like presser feet.
Congrats on your find.
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Old 10-28-2014, 06:44 AM
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99K 's are wonderful machines.They are so much fun
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:11 AM
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Grats on your 99K. One of the first CL purchases I made is a Pfaff 230 ($25 if I remember Neither of us realized what a great machine it is) together with a Morse 200 (another $25). When she arrived to meet me at the agreed-upon spot, she lifted a 99K in a bentwood and said she was throwing it in for free. Mine is a future project.

Those who use them seem to really like them. My favorite 99s are the '50s style with the lever and reverse feed but the earlier ones are very nice.
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:01 AM
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Mine is from 1956 per ISMACS, but I don't know if it has reverse feed. I have been so busy poking around underneath and inside the head that I haven't really looked at it, but when I first looked it seemed like I only had a lever to control stitch length - I'll have to look again. I've only had maybe a half-hour of time to play with her so far.

It's nice, it DID come with a manual, which is pretty much in perfect condition. Of course I haven't had time to read it yet....I should have brought it with me to work! D'oh!

Alcohol for the old oil - great, I have plenty of that! I will be VERY careful to keep it off of the finish. I will be very very unhappy with myself if I mess that beautiful glossy body up!
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:04 PM
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Congrats! I have a shiny 99 too! Then I have a messy one in the garage awaiting help to look purdy. Be careful with the alcohol. I use a towel over the bed and added piece of tin foil under the needle bar and presser foot area when using it. I don't use it with a toothbrush (it will spatter!) except for scrubbing on parts I have removed and have safely a goodly distance away from any sewing machine.

Kerosene is another choice for removing old oil. It is not as dangerous to the finish but takes more elbow grease.
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