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Thread: Cleaning and repairing the shellac clear coat on vintage sewing mcahines

  1. #1
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Cleaning and repairing the shellac clear coat on vintage sewing mcahines

    Supplies needed: Shellac
    Denatured alcohol
    Linseed oil (boiled)
    Rags (old t-shirts or old tighty whites)

    1. Clean the head with you favorite method to remove dirt and grime.
    2. Wrap you finger with a couple of layers with the t-shirt.
    3. dip finger in alcohol and place a few drops of linseed oil on the finger
    4. now start rubbing the bed with light circular motions, add more oil if finger sticks to the finish.

    We are now melting the old shellac into a smooth coating trying to eliminate the dull brown spots of old shellac.
    5.Now go from left to right in a straight line ligthly lifting the finger and the repeat. you can also go from right to left if you like. Now we are trying to get rid of any swirl marks that were left by the rag.

    Stay away of the decals at this time. Cont this tech until you have a smooth finish on the entire head.

    When you hav a smooth and clear finish on the head(as clear as it will get and you will know)

    6. Now go over the the decals with the same method above very lightly.

    7. Let this cure for about a day then with new rag on finger dip it in shellac and place a few drops of oil and with a circular motion go over the decals and the head. Cont. dipping finger in shellac and a few drops of linseed oil and do this over the entire head and decals. this is adding more clean shellac to protect the decals and the japan coating. Always ending in the straight line finishing to get rid of the swirl marks made by the rag.

    8. Do this until it looks good to you and smooth and shiny. Let cure for a week and then wax if you want. You favorite brand of wax is okay although it is not needed now.

    Please note: I recommend you practice this french polish method on an old machine first so you can get the hang of it. Please do not hesitate to ask questions anytime. I am always here to help.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  2. #2
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Before and after treatment

    Here you can see the before and after treatment. The last photo is an old used singer oil bottle I load with linseed oil and the little mouthwash bottle is full of denatured alcohol. Makes it easier to but on the finger rag.
    Attached Images Attached Images



    Glenn W. Cleveland

  3. #3
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    Thank you, Glenn, for putting this in one thread.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bennett's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info! This was probably asked before, but I am assuming the linseed oil is to keep the shellac from drying too quickly and give you more working time? This sounds very much like what I've done with a couple of pieces of furniture to "revive" the shellac finish.
    I have a screw driver and YouTube--I can fix it!

  5. #5
    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    I have a little FW with some of the decals already rubbed off. Would you recommend this method?
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

  6. #6
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennett View Post
    Thanks for the info! This was probably asked before, but I am assuming the linseed oil is to keep the shellac from drying too quickly and give you more working time? This sounds very much like what I've done with a couple of pieces of furniture to "revive" the shellac finish.
    Yes you are correct the oil gives you more working time and to prevent the rag from sticking to the finish. It is the same tech we use when restoring furniture and French polishing finish.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  7. #7
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Jane View Post
    I have a little FW with some of the decals already rubbed off. Would you recommend this method?
    This method will not restore the missing decals but will protect the decals that are left. I recommend this on any vintage machine to improve the appearance.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  8. #8
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    You may want to add naptha or lighter fluid to the supplies. The naptha is used to wipe the the head to get rid of any oil or cleaning agents used to get the dirt off. Just one wipe down with naptha and a clean rag will do it.
    Skip
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  9. #9
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    My machine has precious little of the decorative decals left....is it madness to completely strip them off? I am not intending to re-sell or anything...

  10. #10
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by earthwalker View Post
    My machine has precious little of the decorative decals left....is it madness to completely strip them off? I am not intending to re-sell or anything...
    This is a matter of personal choice, I would not if it was my choice. I would just clean it up and use it like it is.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  11. #11
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    Yes, I think you are right....I will let the old girl hang on to some remnants of beauty.

  12. #12
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Thanks, Glenn.

  13. #13
    Super Member valleyquiltermo's Avatar
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    Great tute Glenn thanks ever so much for your time of doing this for us.
    http://www.skillpages.com/DonnaValleyquiltermo
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  14. #14
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    Glenn,

    Thank you this fantastic information and easy to use instructions.

    Cathy
    Cathy

    "Most sewing machine problems are due to the carbon based unit in the chair in front of the machine"

  15. #15
    Super Member SewExtremeSeams's Avatar
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    Thank you for the tute. I am a little confused as to whether it is Glenn writing or Skp using Glenn's account. Either way, thank you. I had just found your postings yesterday in March 31st posts. This tute beats the time it took to locate the info. LOL

    Linda

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  16. #16
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Thank you Glenn for posting the tutorial and answering our questions! Now on my to do list for the outdoor cleaning of machines. I will post photos of before and after once I get around to this project. Thanks again!!!
    Last edited by vintagemotif; 04-18-2012 at 10:53 PM.

  17. #17
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I sure did miss a lot by sleeping... My husband actually got busy and did this on my Vindex and on an old FW. No pics of the FW yet. Here is a pic of the cans - enough to do 100 sewing machines. Name:  vindex special refinish makeover 4-9-12 001.JPG
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  18. #18
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    before picture of my Vindex Special. Name:  Singer 503, Vindex and Franklin 013 small.jpg
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    Name:  Singer 503, Vindex and Franklin 016 small.jpg
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  19. #19
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Name:  vindex special refinish makeover 4-9-12 002.JPG
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    Last edited by miriam; 04-19-2012 at 01:47 AM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  20. #20
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    ok this is before I put all the pretty pieces back on - I don't have a picture of it all put back together - that should happen one of these days - she might star in a school play.... Fiddler on the Roof but who knows the teacher might want a modern machine that doesn't weigh ssssoooooooo much.
    Name:  vindex special refinish makeover 4-9-12 013.JPG
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    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  21. #21
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Thanks Skipper Glenn - I would never have believed that machine could look so good and take so little time. It is back together but still needs the screw I found to adjust the stitch length installed. The treadle cabinet is in rough shape. Maybe a tutorial how to fix those some time?
    Last edited by miriam; 04-19-2012 at 01:58 AM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  22. #22
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    I have a FW which has been repainted no decals & the paint is coming off How should I go about refinishing. It sews well & I probably will keep it til it Dies. Where & what kind of paint should I use. I found an outlet for the decals. Thanks for your help
    Eve

  23. #23
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Thank you Glenn. The only item not in my supplies is the naptha. Going to the hardware store today to get some.
    Sweet Caroline

  24. #24
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Miriam, Thanks for posting the pictures of your "star" Vindex. She sure does look very pretty!! Again, Thank you Glenn!

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    Quote Originally Posted by evevanna View Post
    I have a FW which has been repainted no decals & the paint is coming off How should I go about refinishing. It sews well & I probably will keep it til it Dies. Where & what kind of paint should I use. I found an outlet for the decals. Thanks for your help
    Auto paint
    http://www.keelersales.com/servlet/Detail?no=655

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