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Thread: Help Smoking Featherweight Motor

  1. #1
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    Help Smoking Featherweight Motor

    Help the motor is smoking a lot. I just bought this 1937 featherweight. It was on Craigslist so there is no returning it. I paid $60. I've never done anything like this but I would like to fix it myself. Stop laughing. I'm serious. Awhile ago I read this blog on how to rewire a potted motor. It looks difficult. I'm not looking to rewire it. Right now I just want to open the motor to see if gunk and oil are the problem. If so I would like to clean the motor. So is it possible to clean a motor without cutting the wires? Also one of the screw caps to the brushes is broken. The slot for the screwdriver is gone, how do I unscrew it? The big question I have is should I leave this to the professionals? Money is tight. So it will be awhile before I can afford to take it to a sewing machine guy. I'm not sure it is worth spending any money on it. Ugh I wish I had run it long enough to see that it smoked before I bought it. Any help would be great! Thank you!

    Here's the link to the blog

    http://vssmb.blogspot.com/2011/12/ho...rt-1-wire.html

    PS I don't have a way to post any pictures

  2. #2
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    QN,

    Sew-Classic has replacement brush caps, springs and brushes for the FW motors. Take the caps off, since it's already broken just carefully work it out with a sharp object. Use a q-tip with alcohol to clean the internal part of the brush tube and the armature as well as the brushes. More than likely the motor has been over lubed.

    If you get it cleaned it should quit smoking.

    Joe

  3. #3
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    Joe is right. If you have a dremmel tool you can carefully cut a slot in the brush cap so you can use a screw driver. If you don't want to do that, you can try digging it out as Joe said, but be very careful of the finish around the cap. Or you can take it to a local car mechanic and see if they will use a screw tap to take it out for you.

  4. #4
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    What kind of alcohol do I use to clean it?

  5. #5
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    Also what kind of belt is best?

  6. #6
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I use denatured alcohol. It has less water in it and is a better solvent.

    Joe

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    If you know a good carpenter or mechanic they have a tool to remove the screw driver. My husband has done this many times. If you open anything first take photos along the way for reference to put everything back. Use one of those magnetic tins for pins and keep near for the screws and any little pins. If you don't have a manual for the machine see if you can find it on the internet. If you know where the smoke was coming from look into that area and see if there are any hot marks. Take a photo of it. Some one on line may be able to tell you the problem. it will be worth the money. Can you take a photo and text it to a friends email then have them post for you? My sons do that often.

  8. #8
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilt Novice View Post
    Also what kind of belt is best?
    I like the old fashioned black ones. I've found that contrary to the add hype the amber cogged belts slip more and don't last near as long as the black ones.

    Joe

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilt Novice View Post
    What kind of alcohol do I use to clean it?
    Bourbon works for me.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the answers. You all are great! Here's one more. Is it possible to work on the motor without cutting and re attaching the wires?

  11. #11
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    You can go underneath the bottom of the machine and disconnect them from the cord block I believe.

    Joe

  12. #12
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    I like the old fashioned black ones. I've found that contrary to the add hype the amber cogged belts slip more and don't last near as long as the black ones.

    Joe
    I believe the same. The cogged belts on a cogged wheel are great. on the "smooth" wheel, they have less of a "contact patch" than a original belt that touches all around. And they ugly!(cogged belts)

  13. #13
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    OH NO! I just poked out a grease wick! Just one of them that is inside the motor. I have a feeling I shouldn't have done that. Rookie mistake number one. Is there any way to fix this?

  14. #14
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I'm having trouble picturing what you've done. Do you have a way to post a pic? Most things in these motors are really easy to fix Don't worry too much.

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    Okay I got the wick back in. Happy dance!

  16. #16
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    Update- I got her all cleaned up inside the motor. Put the whole thing back together. And IT WORKS!!!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilt Novice View Post
    Update- I got her all cleaned up inside the motor. Put the whole thing back together. And IT WORKS!!!

    Congrats! YAY!!! *claps*

  18. #18
    Super Member LoisM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilt Novice View Post
    Update- I got her all cleaned up inside the motor. Put the whole thing back together. And IT WORKS!!!
    You are some kind of AWESOME!!

  19. #19
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    good job! Mine has been in its case for a year or more, it began running very very slowly. I've read one suggestion to run it pedal to the metal for 10 minutes or more...not been willing to try it. it is a 50's model in excellent condition otherwise.

  20. #20
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    As I said before, oil the machine, the old oil may be gumming up. Lube the motor, clean the brushes and armature ( don't need to take the whole motor apart to do that) and then run it up.

    And make sure the belt is not too tight. That will slow one down real bad.

    Joe

  21. #21
    Super Member cabbagepatchkid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KalamaQuilts View Post
    good job! Mine has been in its case for a year or more, it began running very very slowly..
    I've had a couple of FW's that ran slowly and the issue was in the foot controller. It's a very easy adjustment.

    If you are interested I can tell you more about it when I get on my big computer.

  22. #22
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    Well, the last message in this thread was in May 2013, but... I have a question. How do I clean the armature without taking the motor apart? My 1936 FW (new to me) has a slightly smoky motor. I just oiled and lubed it... could that be the problem? Anything you guys can suggest?
    Ila

  23. #23
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Ila,

    If you just oiled the motor, yes that could be the problem. FW motors require grease, not oil. If you greased the motor and oiled everything else, just run the motor at max speed for a few minutes till it clears all oil out.

    To clean the commutator (the part the brushes fit against) just gently remove the brushes and clean it off with a q-tip soaked with alcohol. Clean the brushes, springs, brush tubes and caps too. Then run it at max speed for a few minutes.

    Hopefully that will clear it out.

    Joe
    I love the old iron and wood machines. They're solid and reliable.
    Founder of IAAA - I Am An Anachronism .

  24. #24
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    Thanks, Joe! I greased the motor and oiled everything else. I can't vouch for what any previous owner might have done, but I followed the rules! I will try contacting the seller to see if he/she knows much about the history of this machine and whether it was used recently or not.
    One of the brush caps is broken, so I am going to wait until the new one arrives and then I'll remove the brushes and clean them and the tubes. Denatured alcohol, right?
    Ila
    Again, thanks.

  25. #25
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Ila,

    Yes, denatured alcohol is what I use.



    Joe
    I love the old iron and wood machines. They're solid and reliable.
    Founder of IAAA - I Am An Anachronism .

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