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Thread: I want to restore my mom's featherweight

  1. #1
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    I want to restore my mom's featherweight

    Ok...little back history here. I've been away from the board about a year or so as hubby had surgery and sometimes life gets in the way. My mother has I think a 1946 Featherweight. I haven't ran the serial number in a long, long time, but it's from the 40's somewhere. Mom died after an extremely long illness in 2007. My father died in 2000 and he was in charge of her affairs then, but I rescued mom's machine from the trash dumpster. My sister was trying to purge the house of everything she didn't want to look at anymore. Anyway, I knew mom's machine was something I wanted to have even though I had never sewn a stitch before. I didn't really have any interest then either, I just wanted the item that mom made all our clothes on.

    Fast forward to 2006 -- I had been bitten by the quilting bug via my MIL. On a visit up north, she looked at mom's machine and couldn't believe it was in such poor shape. Little did she know. Anyway, it jammed up every time the wheel turned and the bobbin casing was missing entirely. I had joined a little quilt club and one of the members does all her piecing on her featherweight. She looked at it and pulled a considerable amount of fabric all ripped up from the underside of it. It didn't jam up anymore. She said the bobbin case had to be replaced and it needed a good cleaning.

    Fast forward to 2011 - I managed to find mom's bobbin case. I still have no idea how it got in that particular place, but it did and it was found. I had started reading everything I could about vintage machines after I bought a Singer 66 to quilt on. I was interested in restoring mom's machine but didn't really know where to start.

    2013-- Mom's machine is in her case on top of my sewing table that I have to move every time I want to work on something. I want to keep in fresh in my mind that she needs some TLC. I've watched videos and trolled this site and I keep getting confused because 1 - the videos I've watched are vintage machines, but not featherweights and 2- the featherweight threads I've followed on here don't show the spots that mom's needs work on.

    So now I post this help request. I need to see if i can find a replacement thread spool holder thing. It's supposed to have a hole on each end where a screw would fit to keep it on. One of the holes broke off so you can just slide it forward and back. If you slide it and look down in there it's all gunky. Is that part something I can find somewhere and purchase?

    Also, if you unscrew the bottom part of the machine and take all that stuff out, it's totally gunky down there too. All the grease or oil or whatever is all balled up down there. There's a thing, oil pan maybe?, that sits between the bottom of the machine and the thing you have to unscrew and take off the bottom of the machine. It's been shredded in spots and looks like it needs to be replaced. I don't know what the name of the part is to try a google search to see if I can replace it.

    A lovely gal on here suggested at one time that I pick up a FW somewhere and play with cleaning it up before touching mom's machine. That's a great idea. I've been trolling Craigslist for 2 years and this area has an absolute CRAP TON of vintage machines available and I found 2 FW's, but both were in good condition and their owners are on some type of drugs cause they were trying to sell them for 900.00. Sheesh that's a lot of money!

    Do you all have any suggestions? I found tri-flow oil at the hardware store and I'd like to start researching everything I can so maybe when NEXT spring comes, I can hang out in hubby's garage and get her restored. This machine was mom's baby and since it doesn't jam up or have any other problems of any kind, I'd really like to get her working. She just needs a SERIOUS cleaning and I have no clue how to do it.

    If you all need pictures, let me know and I'll post some.

    Thanks in advance for your help. I now own 2 vintage machines, the 66 and moms and I set a goal if I can get moms working, then I'll treat myself to a 15 cause that's the only other vintage machine - so far - I'd like to get.

    Thanks,


    Melissa
    Proud mom/step-mom to 8 children. We promote awareness of Autism and Huntington's Disease. Please pm me if interested in sending Campbell's Soup Labels or box tops which we collect for our kids' schools.

  2. #2
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Well, it sounds like you've come to the right place. Cleaning up machines is what we do..... many are better at it than I. But, from what you say, I don't think the job will be real tough. You might want to watch muv's video about cleaning vintage machines in the vintage section of QB. Get all that gunk off the machine and then oil and grease it. I oil and grease mine every couple of weeks if I'm using it a lot. It will just hum so sweetly when it's gotten its oil bath. You can download a manual for the FW online for free. Good luck and keep us posted.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TinkerQuilts's Avatar
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    I can't help much with restoring, but there are lots of board members here who can direct you to some great links on how to do it (like Muv's). I have a 15-31 (a $20 garage sale find) that I've cleaned up, and I need to get to work on Gramma's 66 treadle (it's in bad shape like your featherweight). And I have Aunt Sandi's featherweight that is in great condition.
    Anyway Good Luck and have fun with it!

  4. #4
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Melissa,

    Cleaning the machine is pretty straight forward. You need to get the build up of gunk off the machine.
    To do this you can start with sewing machine oil and see how much that cleans off. After that I use either / and Hoppe's #9 gun cleaning solvent and denatured alcohol. Lots of q-tips, cotton balls, small tooth brushes and time. Set aside lots of time.
    Don't get in any hurry and don't use any harsh chemicals on the paint. What's left of the decals will be ruined.

    For parts here are several on line sources:

    { http://www.thequiltgal.com/index.htm } I believe the quilt gal is a member here.
    { http://www.shop.sew-classic.com/ }
    { http://pages.suddenlink.net/joyof301s/glenn.htm }
    { http://sewingmachine221sale.bizland....re/page18.html }
    { http://www.april1930s.com/index.html }

    I'm sure there are more, but these came up in my bookmarks.

    I would suggest Tri-Flow oil and grease for the machine after you get it cleaned out, and Singer Lube (in the tube) only for the motor. These can be had at Sew-Classic.

    Joe

  5. #5
    Senior Member TinkerQuilts's Avatar
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    I knew you would come thru Joe!

  6. #6
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Yep. Joe to the rescue once again. You always come up with the web sites that my old brain just won't remember. I guess I should bookmark them like you.

  7. #7
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    So the machine has to be cleaned with sewing machine oil not tri-flo? What can I use to run down the height of the machine from underneath the broken spool holder thing? I really don't know what Hoppe's #9 gun cleaning solvent and denatured alcohol are. I'm going to go check out the links. I need to bookmark Muv's videos too cause I can never find them when I want them.
    Proud mom/step-mom to 8 children. We promote awareness of Autism and Huntington's Disease. Please pm me if interested in sending Campbell's Soup Labels or box tops which we collect for our kids' schools.

  8. #8
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    Already learned a couple things. Felt drip pad and spool pin both need replaced. One very cheap and the other not too expensive. Woo Hoo! So the parts are still available. Good. Now to go youtube search for more of muv's videos.
    Proud mom/step-mom to 8 children. We promote awareness of Autism and Huntington's Disease. Please pm me if interested in sending Campbell's Soup Labels or box tops which we collect for our kids' schools.

  9. #9
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Melissa, for the oil bath plain old sewing machine oil works fine. Use the Triflow for oiling. I am sure that we all would like to see before and after pictures of your Featherweight experience. It is wonderful that you saved her from the dumpster.
    Sweet Caroline

  10. #10
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpeters1200 View Post
    Already learned a couple things. Felt drip pad and spool pin both need replaced. One very cheap and the other not too expensive. Woo Hoo! So the parts are still available. Good. Now to go youtube search for more of muv's videos.
    Melissa,

    You don't have to go search on utube. Muv's videos are listed here on QB. Just go to the vintage section and click on the 'how to clean and use vintage machines'.... it's one of the first post headings. Open that post and, Miriam has them listed right there. All you need to do is click on the one you want to watch.

  11. #11
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    Good thing you found the bobbin case because it is expensive to replace it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Raine54RN's Avatar
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    Go online and go to featherweight Rx the gentleman that posts the site can help you get started. There is a book and video you can buy and literally take the machine apart. It really isn't hard, he is very explicit. Also if you don't understand he has offered to walk me through stuff. You can get some parts from him but there are other sometimes less expensive sources. I've had my FW a short time literally weeks, but Ive found it easy to work on. I don't work for him . When I wrote to this board about caring for my machine it was suggested to learn myself. Many owners do, and it's difficult to find someone that does work on them I have found. It will be a labor of love, but I bet you can do it!

  13. #13
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    Melissa,

    http://www.featherweight221.com/fwrx/index.html

    Dave McCallum is absolutely wonderful and well know for restoring Featherweights. He will answer questions on the phone (yes, a real person on a real phone) and spend time with you. He has written a book and made a very professional DVD - right now free shipping too. From experience I can tell you this is the best money you will spend for your FW. My FW was like your mother's - after some hours of elbow grease and encouragement from Dave, I absolutely love my FW, and I did it all myself. I did not know about anyone else, and with the above info from Dave, I would not hesitate to sell mine for $900!!! and know I was selling a good product. That's how much I love my "Miss Kay"! Treat yourself in memory of your mother. She would be so proud of you!
    Cheryl from the Quilt Palace

  14. #14
    Member papagrandma12's Avatar
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    I agree with cherylrom. I used Dave McCallum's book and DVD to restore my 1930's featherweight, Irma. I had a problem with the finish on my machine, emailed Dave and he called me to help me solve my problem. His book and video also help you to restore the case. I use my featherweight all the time.

  15. #15
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    So fast forward 6 months and I'm finally getting off my bootie to fix up this machine. It helps that I reorganized my sewing room and on purpose put mom's machine where it will constantly be in the way. Keeps it at the forefront of my mind.

    I've watched all of Muv's videos. Gosh, those are amazing! A couple questions though, is metal polish something only available in the UK? Is it something I can get at the hardware store to polish up the metal on the machine? Also, does it matter what color the sewing machine oil is. What I use on the rest of my machines are clear, but the guy who runs the vintage machine shop in town only uses yellow.

    I got her out last night and showed her to my girlfriend. She couldn't believe after all these years it's not rusty or tough to move nor does it get stuck anywhere. All the parts that should move do.

    I'm getting closer!
    Proud mom/step-mom to 8 children. We promote awareness of Autism and Huntington's Disease. Please pm me if interested in sending Campbell's Soup Labels or box tops which we collect for our kids' schools.

  16. #16
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    Try the hardware store for metal polish. My dh has some Nevr-Dull that I used on my 66 that worked very well. I'm not sure where he purchased it. It may have been at Walmart or an auto parts place.

    http://www.nevrdull.com/
    Singer 66 treadle, Singer 15-91, JC Penney 6923, Kenmore 50, White 2334, Brother 920D serger. RIP Singer 1036

  17. #17
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    "Regular" good-quality sewing machine oil is clear. It's a first choice to clean the finish, and to remove gunk. It is the most gentle cleaner, so try it before anything else. You can also use it to oil the machine once you're done with the cleaning, but tri-flow is better. About the yellow oil, I'm not sure what that is -- maybe synthetic? Possibly dyed so that you can tell the difference? I would ask that guy. Or maybe someone here knows?

    I'm really curious (or nosy) -- where was the bobbin case??

    The job is not hard, but set aside some time and just try to remove as much gunk from the machine as possible. About cleaning the paint and polishing the metal -- these things are cosmetic and don't affect the running of the machine, so I like to do them last. Be careful not to use alcohol on the paint because it dissolves the clear coat. The clear coat protects the remaining decals. So far I've only used oil on the paint. I've seen some people use castile soap or dishwashing liquid on decals, while others say water-based cleaners are bad. It's very confusing. One thing everyone agrees on is that you should test a cleaner in an inconspicuous spot first. But since the FW doesn't have showy decals, maybe oil will work just fine. It is the safest thing. Use soft cotton rags or cotton balls for cleaning the paint. Microfiber rags are not good because they are somewhat abrasive.

    One last thing -- be careful not to get oil on the wires. Rain has a good tutorial for oiling the FW, but he missed one spot on the underside, on the left. Actually he probably didn't miss it in real life, but it's hiding from the camera. Put a small drop of oil in each spot where metal rubs against metal. Turn the hand wheel and look for these spots. You can do it without the tutorial, but the tutorial is nice, especially for the warning about the spots near the wires. For lubing the gears you can use Singer lube, petroleum jelly, or tri-flow lube.
    Rain's oiling tutorial:
    http://vssmb.blogspot.com/2011/07/ho...sing.html#more

    Rain also has a favorite metal polish --- I forget what it is, but you can search his blog.

    I think your mom's machine is in great shape considering that she made all your clothes. (Pics are in another thread.) The FW was also our family machine. My mom didn't make many garments on it, but she did make me a beautiful fancy dress when I was 13. She used it mainly for altering and mending, and I learned to sew on it and made a bunch of things. When I was a teenager I abused it by sewing denim and leather. It is not nearly in as nice shape as yours. Your mom took good care of it!
    Sheila

  18. #18
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    That's a fantastic tute and just what I was looking for oiling of the machine. Thank you!
    Proud mom/step-mom to 8 children. We promote awareness of Autism and Huntington's Disease. Please pm me if interested in sending Campbell's Soup Labels or box tops which we collect for our kids' schools.

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