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

  1. #1
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Cleaning and repairing the Shellac clear coat on Vintage sewing machine heads

    Ok, here we go the first two pics are the supplies and tools needed to do what I do with these old machines. Now remember this will not completely get rid of the blemishes and rough spots on the japan of the machine and this technique will only work on a shellac finish which is 95% of the machines( unless you get an East German machine like Charlee). If you follow these instructions you will do no harm to your machne but if in doubt please ask questions before starting and you may want to practice on something first. Now PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM THE DECALS UNTIL I TELL YOU. I can't be responsible for damages to your machine. Now lets have fun and clean an old machine.
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    The coffee is optional. Ok this is the before pic of the machine in a terrible shape
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Now at the stage I spray the internal and underneath parts with Plast Buster and while the PB is working I begin to scrub the moving parts with a small wire brush then spray again and then begin the tear down. I only remove the bobbin winder, the motor and light and all the shinny metal parts and the front plate. I do this for easy of cleaning the head. Then all the rusty parts go into a bowl of evaporust.
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Now use your favorite dish soap. Put some water in a bowl and dish soap work the rag in it to a rich lather and then wash the dirt off the machine then rinse with clean water. The rags I use is white t-shirt and old tighty whities. this type of rag will be used thru out the tut.
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Now we are going to repair the shellac clear coat as best we can. If you like you can clean the decals with sewing machine oil before starting this. Now wrap your index finger in the t-shirt and apply with a couple of drops of denatured alcohol and and a drop or two of linseed oil and begin to clean the surface in a circular motion and ending in going in one direction by bringing the finger down and lifting off the surface at the end. Now stay away from the decals at this time. This will keep you from sticking to the surface. You want to go in one direction to eliminate the swirl marks. Do this until the surface of the machine is as smooth as it will get. Now remember this will not reverse age of the finish but will improve it 100%. Now wipe over the decals with a little alcohol and linseed on the finger with one little swipe(lighlty). The machine should begin to look clean and shinny. Now dip the wrapped finger in shellac and apply a few drops of linseed oil and go over the decals, this will apply shellac over them to protect them. Do this several time because this method only applies a thin coat each time.
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Now as far as the pin rash is is what I did. Remove the rust and then Painted the area with and aniline dye stain alcohol soluble that is mixed with shellac to a paint consistency. You can purchase the alcohol soluble stain in Ebony or Negro depending on the company. Any wood workers cat will have it. I buy mine at Lee Valley or Woodworkers supply. It comes in a 0ne once package in powder form that you mix with the alcohol and shellac. It coat about 10.00 for one once but will last you a long time. I mix 1/4 tsp with a tsp of alcohol until desolved and then add a enough shellac to make a paint. If not black enough add more powder. The little jar in the pics of tools is what I use to mix it in. Paint it on the bad spots with a good artist brush. Let cure for a day or two and then you can french polish over it to smooth it out adding more black shellac as needed.
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    After the black finish was to my likeing I took gold paint and repaired the lettering using tape and and an artist fine brush. I am not an artist so bear with me here. After the paint was dry I applied a thin coat of shellac over the decal to protect it using the french polish method. At this point let cure for about a week and wax if desired but it is not needed at this point if you applied a clear coat of shellac over the entire machine. Ok now lets show you the end results of this cleaning of the very nasty machine. To shine the metal parts I used Brasso and a dremel with a cloth buffing pad. Then put it all back together ecept the motor that I will not use. Thanks to Charlee I have a bobbin slide plate to this badged White. Thank you Fiesty. Now ask all the questions you want.


    Skipper
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    this is the before and the after together
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    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Well done. I am taking notes as I am new to restoration. Here is a 1922 white. I also have the wooden case in really good shape. I am going to use a product called restore on it as i have used it in the past.
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    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    Glenn, it's beautiful. I wish I had time to do my two right away. Thank you so much for the wonderful directions.
    Judy

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    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    Thank you Glenn! I bought a 'boat anchor' Wheeler and Wilson a few weeks ago. It was definitely used a great deal during it's lifetime. The paint is worn away down to bare metal around the spool pin. I'll use your method to bring her back the best I can.

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    Senior Member grayhare's Avatar
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    Wow, the machine looks beautiful!! The Lettering that you did is PERFECT!! Great tutorial! Thank you!
    Anamaria

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    Glenn, what the heck is Plast Buster, where do we get it and exactly what is it for?
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Needle View Post
    Glenn, what the heck is Plast Buster, where do we get it and exactly what is it for?
    I get Plast Buster at the auto store, I use it to loosen up rust and and clean all the moving parts. Some use kerosene but I use Plast buster. It is neater and can be sprayed in all the internal parts.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    I also don't use Tri-flow, I use sewing machine oil or a good quality clock oil and only sewing machine lub when needed for motors. Some like the Tri-flow and have had good results. I just dont use it because I am a driven by traditional methods and when the book says sewing machine oil that is what I will use. I think I forgot to mention that after cleaning oil the machine well.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    I also don't use Tri-flow, I use sewing machine oil or a good quality clock oil and only sewing machine lub when needed for motors. Some like the Tri-flow and have had good results. I just dont use it because I am a driven by traditional methods and when the book says sewing machine oil that is what I will use. I think I forgot to mention that after cleaning oil the machine well.
    Glad to see you say that! I figure if sewing machine oil & Singer lubricant kept these old machines going this long, it's certainly stood the test of time. That's all I use & my machines run as smooth & quiet as the day they were made.

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    Super Member jeaninmaine's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great tutorial, Glenn. I have a few machines that have to cleaned and these directions are just what I need. What kind of gold paint did you use to touch up the lettering?

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    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    Skip...YOU ROCK!! Thank you!!

    I still haven't figured out how to handle the finish on the Köhler...I think I may end up touching up the lettering, letting the base decals alone, and applying shellac to clear coat and preserve what's left of them.

    You did a great job on that slide plate...that had some ugly to it when I sent it to you!
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

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    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    ​My candidate for Glenn's Method, the Brunswick. Too bad that the cabinet is beyond repair.
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    Sweet Caroline

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    Super Member ppquilter's Avatar
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    Wonderful job! Love the decals!
    Born to Quilt, Forced to work.

  21. #21
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeaninmaine View Post
    Thanks for the great tutorial, Glenn. I have a few machines that have to cleaned and these directions are just what I need. What kind of gold paint did you use to touch up the lettering?
    I used a testors gold paint pin, then used a fine artist brush dipped in the paint on the felt of the pin
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  22. #22
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlee View Post
    Skip...YOU ROCK!! Thank you!!

    I still haven't figured out how to handle the finish on the Köhler...I think I may end up touching up the lettering, letting the base decals alone, and applying shellac to clear coat and preserve what's left of them.

    You did a great job on that slide plate...that had some ugly to it when I sent it to you!
    Charlee that is about all you can do with the poly. I did not mess with the bed decals either I figure it is wear from using the machine for many years and it would have been very diff to paint all the missing decal there on the front side of the bed. It gives the machine character..... I could not stand the pin rash and just had to something with it.
    Skip
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  23. #23
    Super Member jbj137's Avatar
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    You are so Smart & Dedicated to the restoring art.
    You did a beautiful job.
    J J
    J J (jbj137)

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    This needs to go on a sticky!!!
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  25. #25
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline S View Post
    ​My candidate for Glenn's Method, the Brunswick. Too bad that the cabinet is beyond repair.
    Caroline you have a very good machine for my method of cleaning and bringin it back. Just make sure sure you clean the mechanics first then after the dish soap bath clean the decals with sewing machine oil then wipe the thing down with naptha to remove the oil. Now you can to the shellac tech. Have fun with it.
    Skip
    Glenn W. Cleveland

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