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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 07-23-2012, 02:31 PM
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I am so impressed. Having been raised in the manufacturing business of sewing machine cabinets I was also aware of the wholesale and retail part of sewing machines. HOWEVER, at no time was I involved in the process of restoring the beautiful old machine heads and did not have a clue as to what to do for the major overhaul. I did repair machines but no restoration so I do thank you for all this wonderful valuable information. You are a dear for passing it along to the rest of us. I do have a 1911 White in need. I had the gorgeous cabinet restored professionally about 30 years ago so now maybe I could work on the head. Thank you again. BarbM32
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
KittyKat, I always test an area to see how will the decals will hold up or if they need a coat of shellac to protect them. Vintagemotif is right sometime all you can use on the decals is machine oil. I do this also when I know the decals will not hold up. But I always clean the black Japan.
Glenn, I have found that there are just some vintage machines that don't like to be messed with. They take on their own personality... and with that comes loving old age.
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by vintagemotif View Post
Glenn, I have found that there are just some vintage machines that don't like to be messed with. They take on their own personality... and with that comes loving old age.
Vintagemotif, you are so so right some of these old ladies just want to be old ladies with a little make up of sewing machine oil. They just want to loved and used as they were meant to be.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
Vintagemotif, you are so so right some of these old ladies just want to be old ladies with a little make up of sewing machine oil. They just want to loved and used as they were meant to be.
Haha Glenn this makes a lot of sense.

My Mom and I were talking about possible names for this machine, and one of her suggestions was Bette, after Bette Davis. It seems her personality may favor that option.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by KittyKat77 View Post
Haha Glenn this makes a lot of sense.

My Mom and I were talking about possible names for this machine, and one of her suggestions was Bette, after Bette Davis. It seems her personality may favor that option.
Bette Davis is a great name for this machine, her decals are a little fiesty like Miss Davis. Sorry she has caused you some trouble but that is Bette for you
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:46 PM
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Vintagemotif and KittyKat bring up a good point. My technique is not a cure all and will not restore bad decals or make them look new again but will brighten them, they do need to be cleaned well with sewing machine oil(decals). Remember they have tarnished with age so keep this in mind when they don't seem as clean and bright as you think they should be.
After cleaning apply shellac over them to protect them. Some decals are so brittle and basically rotten from age there is nothing you can for them but to leave them as is. the basic head japan black can be cleaned up well and will shine again but don't expect to get all the crazying out, although it will smooth out a lot. Are goal is to make the machine clean and pretty without ruining the original patina of age. All my old age wrinkles can't be smoothed either. This is not a miracle cure but it will make it look much better and in keeping with antique restoration techniques without devalueing the machine. Skip
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:16 AM
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Thank you so much for the tutorial Glenn, very useful as I have just rescued an old Jones treadle from death at the dump!

Do you have any tips on restoring the wooden table and coffin top, also the metal treadle?
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Enchantedglass View Post
Thank you so much for the tutorial Glenn, very useful as I have just rescued an old Jones treadle from death at the dump!

Do you have any tips on restoring the wooden table and coffin top, also the metal treadle?
Use my tutorial on cleaning and reviving sewing machine cabinets first. After this cleaning you will be abel to see what is needed in repairs and to the finish. Please post a pic of the machine and cabinet on this thread so I can see what needs to be done and can advise you better.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:37 AM
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Oh yes, I'd love to see it too!
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:30 AM
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Thanks Glenn for this excellent tutorial. I have a 301 that has lots of pin scratches and I think your plan will improve it's appearance.

Here is my 1904 15-91 treadle with it's delicate decals. Do you think I can touch them with machine oil? I love sewing on this machine.
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