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Cleaning and repairing the Shellac clear coat on Vintage sewing machine heads

Cleaning and repairing the Shellac clear coat on Vintage sewing machine heads

Old 07-16-2012, 06:33 AM
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Well, we are pretty average and did it.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by DanofNJ View Post
This is a great debate...

But...Shellac, especially French Polishing can be touchy. especially for the beginner. If, and we have all gone through a bad shellac experience, it has to be removed, the process of removing to shellac to redo will fade or destroy the decals because they are not happy with shellac being "rubbed" off of them. Then you have nothing but a mess and destroyed decals which in most cases cannot be replaced. Glenn is an expert....so the likelihood of this happening is lessened, but for the average person trying to restore a machine for the first time it will end in disaster. If there is a lacquer base, you can rub shellac off and on the machine all day with no fear of damage because lacquer is not dissolved by the alcohol. With that said, I do very much respect Glenn's expertise and he could work on one of my machines anytime . I also agree that shellac is very forgiving. Just one note as well, by lacquer I do NOT mean automotive clearcoat which is basically plastic. I mean regular lacquer. As noted, I will post my latest project as a hybrid of Glenn's technique.
Yes I am a purist and will not use lacquer on a machine. I disagree, shellac was applied over the decals after application to protect them and make them smooth with the bed. I have also used lacquer with good results but don't like it. Lacquer is difficult for the average home owner to do correctly so I don't recommend it. Yes I have been doing this for a long time and it comes easy but it is something the novice can do with not much problem. You can do a tut on you technique maybe a member would like to try in on one of their machines. As for me I will stick to the original finishes and proven antique restorations technque for the cabinets and the machine. Looking forward to seeing some of your work and continue the debate on different techniques.
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:32 AM
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I have only used "The Method" on one machine so far, and with that one, knowing that shellac was missing over the decals, I cleaned and then dabbed shellac over the decals before I started the French Polish...that was I knew I wasn't going to be messing anything up!
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:11 PM
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Hello there. I am a beginner to working on old sewing machines, and quilting as well. I am not quite a beginner with sewing, my mom started me out with her sewing machine when I was maybe 9 or so. My mom had an old Singer treadle when I was little. I used to love it when she would open it up to show our friends how it worked. We had to sell it when we moved, unfortunately. I don't claim to be an expert, but I know enough to be dangerous!

Anyhow, this week I did something completely crazy and brought home a Davis treadle vertical feed machine... the belt is gone, there's a bit of rust here and there, and the finish is of course a lovely orange-peel texture on the bed of the machine. The good news is when I turn the hand crank the needle and foot move like they ought to, and the shuttle also.


I'd like to make this old beauty shine again. I may be overly optimistic, but I think I can get her working again. Should I use this technique with orange-peel textured crackled finish? Or is there something I should do first to protect the remaining decals? I've cleaned off the head some with sewing machine oil and gently wiping with a soft cloth. I just really don't want to damage the decals. I know my chances of actually damaging the body are laughable, unless I did something evil and left it outside in the rain.

I don't have a vast selection of old machines to practice on, so eventually my only choice will be to make a decision:
jump in with both feet and see if cleaning it works OR leave it as-is with regards to the paint, and just work on getting the mechanics running smoothly. I want to make sure when I choose, it is an educated decision. Any personal experiences or links to more Davis-related resources greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by KittyKat77 View Post
Hello there. I am a beginner to working on old sewing machines, and quilting as well. I am not quite a beginner with sewing, my mom started me out with her sewing machine when I was maybe 9 or so. My mom had an old Singer treadle when I was little. I used to love it when she would open it up to show our friends how it worked. We had to sell it when we moved, unfortunately. I don't claim to be an expert, but I know enough to be dangerous!

Anyhow, this week I did something completely crazy and brought home a Davis treadle vertical feed machine... the belt is gone, there's a bit of rust here and there, and the finish is of course a lovely orange-peel texture on the bed of the machine. The good news is when I turn the hand crank the needle and foot move like they ought to, and the shuttle also.


I'd like to make this old beauty shine again. I may be overly optimistic, but I think I can get her working again. Should I use this technique with orange-peel textured crackled finish? Or is there something I should do first to protect the remaining decals? I've cleaned off the head some with sewing machine oil and gently wiping with a soft cloth. I just really don't want to damage the decals. I know my chances of actually damaging the body are laughable, unless I did something evil and left it outside in the rain.

I don't have a vast selection of old machines to practice on, so eventually my only choice will be to make a decision:
jump in with both feet and see if cleaning it works OR leave it as-is with regards to the paint, and just work on getting the mechanics running smoothly. I want to make sure when I choose, it is an educated decision. Any personal experiences or links to more Davis-related resources greatly appreciated!
Use my technique as described in this thread and you should have good luck it making your Davis shine
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Old 07-20-2012, 04:19 PM
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fw-oval-medallion.jpg
I watched Muv's tutorial and she mentions metal poslish. Can I use metal polish on this medallion? It says (in part) "a century of sewing service, 1851-1951."
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Old 07-20-2012, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by CindyA View Post
Attachment 350349
I watched Muv's tutorial and she mentions metal poslish. Can I use metal polish on this medallion? It says (in part) "a century of sewing service, 1851-1951."
I want to know that too.
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Old 07-20-2012, 04:47 PM
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Yes, you can polish this with brasso and it will be very pretty.
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Old 07-20-2012, 04:48 PM
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You are awesome at this!!
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:57 PM
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Be careful when putting Brasso on the medallion, you don't want to remove the blue paint from the Centennial badge.
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