Featherweight cleaning question

Old 11-27-2011, 01:01 PM
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Default Featherweight cleaning question

I bought a Featherweight yesterday, (I posted about it in the Featherweight Club thread; post #917) and now I have a cleaning question. In the picture you can clearly see there's some sort of edge in the finish, where something is worn away. What I can't decide is whether it's tar/nicotine (the faceplate was brown) and I should work on getting it off, or is it the finish and I should leave it alone? FWIW, the decals in the worn spots are paler (although not silvered out) than they are elsewhere, and I can feel them. All of which leads me to believe that's the finish and I should leave it be. All I did when I cleaned it was wiped it down a couple of times with sewing machine oil-I didn't want to do more until I figure out whether I should or not.

Otherwise, she runs like champ. I removed a ton of red fuzz from the feed dogs, then oiled everything that moved yesterday. We had a talk this morning about missing stitches, and not eating thread like that (GIANT bird's nest on the back, stuck in the needle hole), and when I went to adjust the tension, the whole thing popped off in my hand. So since it was off, I cleaned the discs, then I followed the directions for putting it back on. Since then, there have been no problems. We've been sewing all afternoon.

Any thoughts, suggestions, words of wisdom?
Attached Thumbnails fweightbed01.jpg   fweightbed02.jpg  
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by MrsBoats
I bought a Featherweight yesterday, (I posted about it in the Featherweight Club thread; post #917) and now I have a cleaning question. In the picture you can clearly see there's some sort of edge in the finish, where something is worn away. What I can't decide is whether it's tar/nicotine (the faceplate was brown) and I should work on getting it off, or is it the finish and I should leave it alone? FWIW, the decals in the worn spots are paler (although not silvered out) than they are elsewhere, and I can feel them. All of which leads me to believe that's the finish and I should leave it be. All I did when I cleaned it was wiped it down a couple of times with sewing machine oil-I didn't want to do more until I figure out whether I should or not.

Otherwise, she runs like champ. I removed a ton of red fuzz from the feed dogs, then oiled everything that moved yesterday. We had a talk this morning about missing stitches, and not eating thread like that (GIANT bird's nest on the back, stuck in the needle hole), and when I went to adjust the tension, the whole thing popped off in my hand. So since it was off, I cleaned the discs, then I followed the directions for putting it back on. Since then, there have been no problems. We've been sewing all afternoon.

Any thoughts, suggestions, words of wisdom?
----there are lots of cleaning methods out there. you have to steer clear of the decals with almost all of them. gojo hand cleaner(without abrasive !!) works well. do not use WD40. go gently. it looks like the clear coat is wearing
off in spots. nothing to do short of repainting--a tedious job left to pros. always turn the FW handwheel TOWARD
you. always hold onto the thread tails as you start a seam. those are the two worst offenders for snarls.
Enjoy ! read your manual, it is all in there.
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:53 PM
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It may well be nicotine - it does come off - Gojo or sewing machine oil will help... I got the Gojo from the dollar store for $2. How do you like that 1/4" foot?
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:01 PM
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It looks like someone left her in a sunny window for a long time. Her clearcoat is crazed. Be VERY careful using gojo around those decals. It WILL silver them since the protective coat is damaged. I use Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish for the faceplate. It will be beautiful in no time!
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by miriam
It may well be nicotine - it does come off - Gojo or sewing machine oil will help... I got the Gojo from the dollar store for $2. How do you like that 1/4" foot?
I LOVE the 1/4" foot! On my Pfaff, 1/4" is what I get when the needle is all the way to the right, measured to the edge of the foot. Can I keep it there? Heck no! This one, though, makes it SO EASY it's ridiculous. My piecing has improved tremendously. (I know, I sound like an infomercial.) So much so that I got that same 1/4" foot for every machine I've got, so I don't have to keep moving the same foot around from machine to machine.

Since everyone has recced Gojo, I tried some on the top of the machine, well away from the decals, and only made minor progress-not a lot of anything came off, nor does my test spot look any different than the rest of the body. Therefore I'm going to assume that the bare spot on the bed is missing varnish, not tar. In regards to that, is there anything I can do to further protect the decals? Can I hit it with clear varethane, for instance? I don't think it warrants a complete repaint (nor can I afford it right now anyway) but I'd like to do what I can to keep the damage from getting worse and taking the decals with it.
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Old 11-28-2011, 05:28 AM
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I had a FW that looked just like your first picture. Anything I did just made it worse. I believe you are right that the finish has worn off in those spots, maybe from a previous owner's enthusiastic cleaning efforts.
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:07 AM
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Default cleaning question

Originally Posted by MrsBoats
I have a cleaning question. In the picture you can clearly see there's some sort of edge in the finish, where something is worn away. What I can't decide is whether it's tar/nicotine (the faceplate was brown) and I should work on getting it off, or is it the finish and I should leave it alone? FWIW, the decals in the worn spots are paler (although not silvered out) than they are elsewhere, and I can feel them. All of which leads me to believe that's the finish and I should leave it be. All I did when I cleaned it was wiped it down a couple of times with sewing machine oil-I didn't want to do more until I figure out whether I should or not.
Any thoughts, suggestions, words of wisdom?
Do a lot of research before touching the finish. Here are some sites I found good but, use your discretion, in what to do. Of course test, test, test on a small inconspicuous spot first. Gentle does it. is the word of the day.
http://www.mckennalinn.com/cleaning-vintage-machines.html
heila-gaquin.suite101.com/restore-featherweight-221-finish-a66836
I would stay away from any sanding unless you have some metalworking or silversmith experience. There are products out there, that I have used, that have done a wonderful job in finish restoration.. I will add, I am not an expert and constantly am on the lookout for useful information.. I read voraciously, anything I can, and ask a lot of questions.. David McCallum's site is also good for info... I also feel, that if the machine runs well that it is a big plus, and some of the marks or finish blemishes are what makes the 'history' of that machine.
Best Wishes..Hope this helps..Enjoy your FW!
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:21 PM
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Thanks MrsBoats for the thread topic as I have been watching the responses with great interest. My machine looks exactly like your second photo and I believe that indeed the finish has worn off. Good luck to you in finding a cleaning solution.
Thank you Linkbeth for the information and website for cleaning vintage machines.
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:28 PM
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I own about 10 featherweights and have cleaned, restored and sold more than that. What you are showing is the top shellac finish that was the protective coating placed over the decals, You will risk damaging the decals if you try to remove it. The best advice I can give you is if it will not come off with either plain water or light coat of machine oil leave it alone, you can wax over it and bring back some of the shine, but if you use any waxes with abraisives it will further degrade the finish. I use turtle wax. NEVER use anything with alcohol in it such as wipes as alcohol will dissolve shellac. Love your featherweight as she is and realize that these machines have a history of being loved and used, and worn finish just authenticates the age and the fact that some overzealous re-finisher hasn't been at work. If you will notice the worn areas are in the fabric path exactly where you would expect them to be.

Last edited by patdesign; 11-28-2011 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 11-28-2011, 05:07 PM
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You can send the pics and your question to Dave McCallum at his site Featherweight RX. He would love to hear from you and will help you protect your girl.
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