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Thread: The cleaning of a 1948 featherweight

  1. #1
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    The cleaning of a 1948 featherweight

    I know you mostly see posts of really pretty Singer Featherweight machines. I'm going to try to post about 20 pics of Mom's 1948 Singer FW - so please be patient and let me finish before we get real many comments. This machine has nicks and scratches on the nicks and scratches. If you think about a boy scout with a ton of merit badges on his shirt - this machine would be a life scout or what ever is the highest rank of scout if the nicks and scratches really were merit badges. I'll try to unfold this story as I go along. Perhaps my sister will chime in along the way.

    For Christmas my sister and I cleaned up Mom's FW. We took pieces off Mom never knew would come off and cleaned out lint and gunk. We cleaned the body of it up and the FW sparkles as best one that has been used for everything ever could. We took pics. I gave Mom a print out of a manual in large print. She has always been visually impaired - she had eye surgery but she still has some trouble. She has read the manual a couple times. She held the manual and kind of stroked it for a while. I love it. She beamed from ear to ear when we ran the machine and adjusted the tension - she said it hasn't sounded that good since she bought it new in 1948. My sister and I had to choke back when she said she had NEVER taken the throat plate off to clean the machine. It looked like it too. Here is the before picture - it looks exactly like the after picture.
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  2. #2
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    We put new feet on the bottom of the machine and on the foot control. This machine is missing it's bobbin winder - it went AWOL some time. This machine was a beater - we did get the chrome to polish up just a bit.
    Mom got this machine as a graduation from college gift from her parents in 1948. She sewed her wedding dress on it. The dress was made from an army surplus parachute. The dress had 200 covered buttons and loops to fasten down the back. The front was hand smocked. It had a very long train. Mom has always been very practical. One day she cut the dress up to line a coat she had knitted. Mom never had this FW in for servicing. All she ever did was drop one drop of oil in the oil holes once in a great while. The oil can she has is VERY old. Ok so let's take a closer look at this machine.
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    I already replaced the plug - it was cracked and wires were needing to go - as you can see there is a lot of lint and dust - motor was kind of dirty too.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  3. #3
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    pretty sad shape - this FW just about gave her life for our family... nah - this one will go a few more years with a bit of care and a few new parts.
    Lots of worn paint, missing the bobbin maker - not too dirty - just dust

    we cleaned up the out side with some machine oil and cotton pads
    You really can't see much difference between before and after on the outside of this machine.


    The underside - Mom only ever squirted oil down the holes - she says she never cleaned anything or greased it - nope not ever.
    Last edited by miriam; 01-02-2012 at 09:10 PM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  4. #4
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Name:  002small.jpg
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    I hope this picture comes up
    Attached Images Attached Images


    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  5. #5
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I think I might have put too many pictures on at one time. We cleaned up with some goop - we let it set awhile and then wiped it off. We found some dental brushes that look like pure torture to clean the gears. Mom used this machine to re-upholster the couch and several chairs. She made curtains. We all had comforter's know as quilts to us that she made. Mom remade coats. Made all of our clothing. All four of us kids (my brother too) learned to sew on this machine.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  6. #6
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I have seen old machines with the gears totally black with dried up oil or rusted. It amazes me that this can be cleaned and the machine can run again for another generation.
    Last edited by miriam; 01-02-2012 at 09:18 PM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  7. #7
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    just a close up. The grease is actually a protection - no rust on this machine - we did clean and re-grease.
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  8. #8
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Name:  008small.jpg
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Size:  220.6 KB The face plate lost a screw that holds it on so Mom used the screw from the button hole cover plate to hold it on. This area just needed a lite cleaning - mom just squirted oil in there once in a while.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  9. #9
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    so where did the pictures go?
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I've been having all sorts of problems with the pictures - hang in there - only a bunch more to try to load on here. Mom said she never had the throat plate off the machine. She was a bit horrified when we pulled it off. My sister gladly dug out all the lint - I'm wondering how it would work if she never cleaned it - my guess is that she did clean it but has forgotten about it. Ok let's try for another picture. Name:  009small.jpg
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  11. #11
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I just don't see enough lint for this to have NEVER been cleaned - I know how much this machine was used. Shaking my head for sure. Name:  011small.jpg
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  12. #12
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Maybe she took it apart once and had a hard time getting that throat plate back on. There is a groove on the bottom that the race thingy has to fit into or the machine just plain won't work right. My sister kept pulling lint out of there.
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  13. #13
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Lots of oil drops - all dried up - This all cleaned up nice - we got busy and forgot to take after pics
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    Last edited by miriam; 01-02-2012 at 09:36 PM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  14. #14
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    The thing with grooves!!! Mean Green or dish soap cleaned it up nice - My sister was in charge here
    Attachment 299951
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  15. #15
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    how the groove thing goes
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  16. #16
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    gunk really does come off - do you like my little light?
    It has a magnet on one end and a light on the other - the wire thing bends so you can stand it up and bend it where you want to see - really handy to get light in the tight spaces.
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    Last edited by miriam; 01-02-2012 at 09:47 PM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I don't know why but I'm having trouble getting the last couple pictures to come up.
    Let's see if I can get the After picture to come up - well Mom's FW isn't a whole lot prettier - Mom wouldn't let us take off the stick on magnet - who knows how long that was on there. This is the same machine that sewed silk neck ties for my Dad and re-upholstered our furniture. Amazing isn't it.
    Attachment 299955
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    When we got all done we plugged the machine in and tested it out. We had to adjust the tension just a little and we had perfect stitches. Then my mom said it ran as good as when it was new. She was so amazed. She has a copy of her original owner's manual - the first 15 pages and the last 15 pages are missing. She has one pressure foot and a button hole maker - that's all she's ever had. Mom was a home ec major in college. She used an old hand crank chain stitch machine for all her classes. She said the teachers laughed at her but the stitches held so they got over it. This machine was a vast improvement for her. You name it this machine has probably sewn it.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  19. #19
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Mom has a newer Singer machine Dad bought a few years ago. She said she wonders why she ever bought it. Mom sewed in the alteration department at J C Penny in Indianapolis - she used to fit the princess dresses for all of the Indianapolis 500 gals. Someone else would do the sewing. She is 85 and has a lot of trouble with co-ordination. Her hands and feet don't always do what she tells them to do. She called one day a month or so ago and asked me how to thread up the FW. I walked her through it over the phone and she sewed chef hats and aprons for my grand daughters - her great grand daughters. Shear determination. Then the made Christmas cookies. Oh and the hats and aprons fit each girl perfectly of course.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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    Super Member Lucky Patsy's's Avatar
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    This is a great thread! A spunky little featherweight for a great gal, refurbished by another couple of great gals! I have a centennial FW in much the same condition waiting for some TLC. I love the old machines, knowing how hard they have been worked, all the items sewn on them, and they just keep going! Got a pic of the parachute-wedding dress? Would love to see it!

  21. #21
    Super Member Nanamoms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    how the groove thing goes
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    s
    Miriam, your pic of the bobbin case base is great. It makes the screw on the left that removes the "gib" look a normal size. There is a piece of thread stuck in that area on my FW and the screw is soooooo tiny! I have several different screwdrivers that fit the slot (from my glasses kits) but I can't get that screw to budge!! I'm so frustrated...the only thing affected is the groves in my hands from the screwdriver. I have spraye
    d it with Liquid Wrench, tried to turn it, sprayed it again and tried again many times. Don't want to strip the screw. Any suggestions? I don't have a "strong male" in my household to use his strength.

    I've posted under the VSMS thread that both my FWs were being naughty girls!!!

    Thanks for any help! Carolyn

  22. #22
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I don't have a pic of her in her wedding dress. I'm not sure she does. She had pics in a closet one time and there was a moisture problem and most got ruined. Those old parachutes were made from white silk. I cried when she cut it up to line a coat - my sisters and I weren't too happy with her. My sister's husband was stationed in Hong Kong and bought his mom 5 yards of white silk brocade and gave it to her. The future MIL gave my sister the silk and my mom used every inch and made her wedding dress out of it. Funny - that FW is still alive.... never serviced... shaking my head.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  23. #23
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanamoms View Post
    s
    Miriam, your pic of the bobbin case base is great. It makes the screw on the left that removes the "gib" look a normal size. There is a piece of thread stuck in that area on my FW and the screw is soooooo tiny! I have several different screwdrivers that fit the slot (from my glasses kits) but I can't get that screw to budge!! I'm so frustrated...the only thing affected is the groves in my hands from the screwdriver. I have spraye
    d it with Liquid Wrench, tried to turn it, sprayed it again and tried again many times. Don't want to strip the screw. Any suggestions? I don't have a "strong male" in my household to use his strength.
    I would go walking in to a place that sells quality tools with that machine hanging on my arm. I don't think they will think you stole it... Ask them to sell you a screw driver that will fit that slot - It has to be a very thin and narrow blade - I have a long one that would do it. It is one of my prized possessions - I freak out when I can't find it - and I do misplace it all the time. I need it attached to my wrist or something. Pad the machine, then turn that thing on it's end in your lap and press down as you turn - the tool guy might even help you. (wink) Go easy on liquid wrench - it eats paint you know. Don't lose the screw - it's not very big.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  24. #24
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Love this thread Miriam. Lots of good information for us all. Is the FW getting a name?
    Sweet Caroline

  25. #25
    Senior Member wichypoo's Avatar
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    WOW, I really need to read and re-read this, I received a FW from my Husband for Chiristmas. I just don't know where I should start,,,,,,maybe a professional machine cleaning..... thanks for the photos and info.
    Karen

    Finished is always better than PERFECT!!!!

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