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Thread: Oiling a Featherweight

  1. #1
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    Oiling a Featherweight

    Last Saturday, I attended a wonderful 5-hr. hands-on maintenance class for FWs at a LQS. So informative! But I was flabbergasted at how often oiling is recommended: twice while making a king size quilt (or equivalent), or once for every 8 hrs. of sewing. Seems very inconvenient, plus it's hard to believe our vintage sisters followed this practice. Any input?

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

    That's not out of the norm. What would be more inconvenient is the shafts and other moving parts wearing out because of a lack of oil. Sewing machines are precision made machines and most of the domestic ones do not have bearings. Bare shafts turn in bare bores with only a thin layer of oil between them. The top shaft, the bottoms shafts and all the articulating parts are basically metal to metal. Hense the need for oil. The gears at the top of the vertical shaft need grease and grease doesn't run off or fling off as fast.

    I've read every 8 hours more than once. Oh and I have seen machines where the need for oiling was ignored. The machines are in bad shape.

    I'd rather clean up an over oiled machine, than try to repair one worn out because of a lack of oil.

    Joe

  3. #3
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    If you sew a lot, after a while you can hear the difference, and know your machine needs oil. Though if you're diligent with an oiling schedule, you may never get to that point.

    Most people didn't sew as much as one might think - a few hours here or there, and oiled once a week or so, and it worked out OK.

    The problem is we've since gone to so much "never service" type items that we've gotten out of practice. When I learned to sew (45 years ago) oiling was a normal part of the learning process. Same with oiling my bike, or the pony cart, or the lawn mower.

    There have been so many times my husband is dealing with a machine, and the grease fittings are broke off or so cruded up it's obvious no one has greased the machine in ages. BTW - he keeps a grease gun in his car just in case he gets to a job site and they don't have one. He takes his pre-operations check list seriously, but he also has a heart for the machines he operates.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

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    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Approx. 8 hours of use is what needles are supposed to last too, so it's a general rule of thumb to oil and change your needle every 8 hours. It's what I was always taught and try to do. I do have a few machines that need that spot of oil more frequently.

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    Gee, if I had 8 uninterrupted hours to sew, I'd be in heaven!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tenngal View Post
    Gee, if I had 8 uninterrupted hours to sew, I'd be in heaven!
    LOL, I'd be too!
    It would be hard for me also to know when I arrive to the count: 15 min here, 20 min here...
    When I feel the sewing machine is not performing smootly, I oil. Seems a good system.
    It`s also true for non-vintage sewing machine. I have a modern Artista 730; last week the machine was rattling so badly that I was sure something was broke. I had oiled it not so long ago, but it couldn't hurt to try, so I put a bit of oil in the race. When I turned it on again, it was quiet as usual.

  7. #7
    Super Member franc36's Avatar
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    When I got my Featherweight, about a year ago, I really dreaded oiling it. There are so many places that need oil. I made a copy of the charts showing places that need oil and check off the places as I oil them. Now, I no longer dread oiling, I don't really need the charts anymore, and the process goes quickly. I oil my Featherweight once a week and change the needle at the same time. I think I sew about 8 hours a week on it as I use my Bernina quite often.

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    Super Member JENNR8R's Avatar
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    Wow! I'm surprised... I just bought a Featherweight and took it to get serviced. I asked the technician how to oil it, and he told me that I wouldn't have to oil it until he did it again at the two-year maintenance visit.

    Where can I get instructions on oiling?

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    Super Member Mariah's Avatar
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    My tech. told me if we really feel we need to "shortcut" the oiling frequency on our FW's., if we just oil the bobbin parts, that is acceptable.
    He showed me to just take the bobbin out, and oil the little places that have cut-looking pieces. That isn't a very good description. If you take the bobbin out and look closely, you will see what I mean.
    He said to oil those after every use of your fw. I agree; you can hear your machine "tell" you that it needs oil.
    Mariah
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  10. #10
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    JENNR8R, Mariah,

    Both your mechanics are wrong. If you don't sew but once a year then you might get away with a two year service schedule, otherwise you're damaging your machine. Sounds to me like these two guys are trying to cause your machines an early demise so they can sell you a new one.

    There IS NO SHORTCUTS to oiling a sewing machine. The bobbin race area is a miniscule part of the machine's lubrication requirements. Oiling that would be like squirting oil on the throttle linkage of your car and ignoring the rest. It won't do.

    Instructions for oiling a FW or most any other machine are found in the owners manual. They can be downloaded from the Singer site FREE. I'd suggest doing that and printing them out so you can have them with the machine.
    { http://www.singerco.com/accessories/instruction-manuals }

    Joe

  11. #11
    Super Member ThayerRags's Avatar
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    I don’t oil my machines after every 8 hours of use either. I wait until they tell me to, so I guess that I’m in the “as needed” camp.

    CD in Oklahoma
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  12. #12
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    The only thing that bugs me about waiting for the noise is that the noise is wear or friction. That means you're waiting for a little wear to happen so you know when to oil.

    I would prefer preventative maintenance rather than remedial down the road.
    But I freely admit that I'm guilty of having had machines remind me too.

  13. #13
    Super Member manicmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    The only thing that bugs me about waiting for the noise is that the noise is wear or friction. That means you're waiting for a little wear to happen so you know when to oil.

    I would prefer preventative maintenance rather than remedial down the road.
    But I freely admit that I'm guilty of having had machines remind me too.
    CD, someone on the yahoo lists mentioned a few days ago that her vintage Singer (a 404) had a problem with the needle being slightly offset from the central position. This type of thing is a result of waiting until you notice evidence of some real wear before lubricating. A little damage has already happened by the time you notice it needs lube. Over time this will cause noticeable wear such as the offset needle bar.

    Tammi is guilty of it and so am I so no judgement here
    Singers: model 12 MOP (1885) Improved Family 29k58 (1939) 44K11 (1921) 201K2, 201K23 206k11 (1950) 222k (1959) 320k2(1959), 15K90, Bernina 530, Pfaff:360 (1959) http://tailororfailure.blogspot.com

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    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manicmike View Post
    CD, someone on the yahoo lists mentioned a few days ago that her vintage Singer (a 404) had a problem with the needle being slightly offset from the central position. This type of thing is a result of waiting until you notice evidence of some real wear before lubricating. A little damage has already happened by the time you notice it needs lube. Over time this will cause noticeable wear such as the offset needle bar.

    Tammi is guilty of it and so am I so no judgement here

    I agree that waiting until a machine tells you may not be the best thing, but often times poor castings are the culprit of offset needles. That, or a slightly bent needle bar. I wouldn't say wear would be my first guess as to why a needle is off center by a few hairs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JENNR8R View Post
    Wow! I'm surprised... I just bought a Featherweight and took it to get serviced. I asked the technician how to oil it, and he told me that I wouldn't have to oil it until he did it again at the two-year maintenance visit.

    Where can I get instructions on oiling?
    WOW, I can't beleive what I just read- I wonder if your serviceman thinks you would only sew on it once a year. I would seriously think of changing someone to service my machine. I have 2 FW's and a Bernina 930 that I use all the time and I oil them every time I complete a project if it doesn't take long to do. When I have a big project I am working on, I oil the machine just about every time I finish sewing for the day. I keep a scrap of fabric under the needle to get any residue of oil, and sew on that when I start the next time, to prevent any oil from getting on my projects. I think of oiling my machines like I would for changing the oil in my car, at least every 3,000 miles or sometimes before. That's like waiting until you completely run out of gas in your car, because you thought you could go a few miles further when the gauge showed empty.
    I have a great book that I purchased when I bought my first FW years ago, and it is completely illustrated with not only where, when to oil, but to basically do your own service on the FW. I have several books on the FW, including the original manual, but this book is much better in my opinion than any of the others. It is called "The Featherweight 221 and I" I purchased it from Featherweight RX, at www.featherweight221.com, has more than paid for itself and I keep it where I can get to it at all times. PLEASE do not wait for 2 years to oil your machine. I recommend this book to everyone who owns a FW- I'm not affiliated in any way with the owners of this site, but have been very satisfied with anything I have purchased from them. They sell all sorts of things for FW's. I have been sewing for 60 yrs. at least- and I take care of all of my machines myself. Prior to my passion for quilting I did garment sewing for 2 kids and self- just mended for DH. I don't take my machines to the machine hospital, because I keep them well maintained. I sew all the time, and now mainly quilts. Hope this site is useful to all.
    Last edited by Gerbie; 01-17-2014 at 05:22 AM.

  16. #16
    Super Member ThayerRags's Avatar
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    This topic comes up every now and then in sewing machine discussions across the net, and each time that it does, I can’t help but wonder how much profit the sewing machine companies (who wrote the instruction manuals) made from their sewing machine oil sales over the years?

    And by the way, the manual usually said that theirs was the sewing machine oil that you should “Always use” on their machines. I guess that leaves TriFlow out.....


    CD in Oklahoma
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