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-   -   Cleaning and repairing the Shellac clear coat on Vintage sewing machine heads (https://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage-antique-machine-enthusiasts-f22/cleaning-repairing-shellac-clear-coat-vintage-sewing-machine-heads-t193635.html)

grannysewer 07-06-2012 06:36 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Glenn, thank you so much for posting this tut. Do you think I would be able to use it clean up this Pfaff? Other than the 2 bad spots, it's not in bad shape. Thanks, Bobbie

Glenn 07-06-2012 06:41 PM


Originally Posted by grannysewer (Post 5344618)
Glenn, thank you so much for posting this tut. Do you think I would be able to use it clean up this Pfaff? Other than the 2 bad spots, it's not in bad shape. Thanks, Bobbie

Bobbie you sure can. Just make sure you remove the loose japan and paint it with the aniline dye stain I described and then polish with the shellac technique and it should come out fine. Skip

redbugsullivan 07-06-2012 08:06 PM

Glenn, your time has been well spent here. There are tons of vintage machines that will be salvaged due to this thread. While most folks treasure looks over function, this method of restoration will be sure that each is worthy of best of both worlds!

Just remember folks, these machines have history worthy of saving, stitch by stitch. Each time you "fix" a machine to increase its value, even if it is just its looks, a wee bit of the past is saved. Our young ones are paying attention, to be sure!

miriam 07-07-2012 02:23 AM


Originally Posted by redbugsullivan (Post 5344844)
Glenn, your time has been well spent here. There are tons of vintage machines that will be salvaged due to this thread. While most folks treasure looks over function, this method of restoration will be sure that each is worthy of best of both worlds!

Just remember folks, these machines have history worthy of saving, stitch by stitch. Each time you "fix" a machine to increase its value, even if it is just its looks, a wee bit of the past is saved. Our young ones are paying attention, to be sure!

I could not agree more. There will never be machines like these made ever again. They are so well made. Clean them up and fix the finish.

DanofNJ 07-07-2012 06:22 AM

Great thread.

I am a bit confused though.

Why don't you use lacquer rather than shellac. I use lacquer and spray it when I'm completed with paint restoration, then buff. The key question is?

Did Singer et. al. use clear lacquer or shellac?

Thanks,

Dan

Glenn 07-07-2012 05:07 PM


Originally Posted by DanofNJ (Post 5345638)
Great thread.

I am a bit confused though.

Why don't you use lacquer rather than shellac. I use lacquer and spray it when I'm completed with paint restoration, then buff. The key question is?

Did Singer et. al. use clear lacquer or shellac?

Dan

singer used shellac not lacquer I use only the original finish on these machines. I touch up the japan with alcohol based aniline dye mixed with shellac. i never repaint a machine. I always restore with the original products.

DanofNJ 07-07-2012 07:33 PM

Didn't realize that they used shellac...I will start using it too then...great help.

Dan

redbugsullivan 07-08-2012 08:57 AM

Since I have now cleaned 2 machines using this method, here is a useful tip. When cleaning those areas that have heavy residue embedded in the japan, apply the alcohol/linseed mix and wait half a minute. You can sure tell when the grunge is ready to be wiped off! It starts to get tacky instead of just waiting for a quick wipe. Then, I apply a bit more of the mix with a cotton swab on the worst areas only. The results are amazing!

I also use those blue shop/paper towels instead of fabric. Yes, they cost more but I find myself doing a neater job when working. Instead of searching for a clean area of the rag, I grab a new towel! No lint, great at holding the mixture in one spot instead of bleeding through to larger areas. Plus, this way I don't have to go searching through my DH rag bag!!

Glenn 07-08-2012 01:01 PM


Originally Posted by redbugsullivan (Post 5348406)
Since I have now cleaned 2 machines using this method, here is a useful tip. When cleaning those areas that have heavy residue embedded in the japan, apply the alcohol/linseed mix and wait half a minute. You can sure tell when the grunge is ready to be wiped off! It starts to get tacky instead of just waiting for a quick wipe. Then, I apply a bit more of the mix with a cotton swab on the worst areas only. The results are amazing!

I also use those blue shop/paper towels instead of fabric. Yes, they cost more but I find myself doing a neater job when working. Instead of searching for a clean area of the rag, I grab a new towel! No lint, great at holding the mixture in one spot instead of bleeding through to larger areas. Plus, this way I don't have to go searching through my DH rag bag!!

Great tip redbugs. thanks Skip

nanna-up-north 07-09-2012 07:46 AM

Skip, great tut, as always. I so appreciate your advice. I'm wondering though where to look for evaporrust. My DH and son left some fishing lures down in the boat last week and the hooks got rusty from the heavy rain that came down. I'm thinking that soaking the hooks in evaporrust might be the solution to the problem. If the hooks aren't sharp (and rust sure makes them dull) the fish don't get caught. I've got to find a way to get the rust off. Then, I can use evaporrust on the machines I find as well.

Christine- 07-09-2012 11:09 AM

I found it at Advanced Auto. It's near the naval jelly.

nanna-up-north 07-09-2012 12:30 PM

Thanks Christine. I'll check out our auto supply when I go into town...... 30 miles from town so we don't go often.

Christine- 07-09-2012 01:57 PM

You might call to make sure they carry it. I tried 3 hardware stores and 1 other automotive store before I found it at Advanced Auto. Everyone carries naval jelly, but you can't use naval jelly on chrome. Evaporust is safe even for bare hands. And it does a great job on the rust, I was amazed when I saw the results.

Glenn 07-09-2012 02:04 PM


Originally Posted by nanna-up-north (Post 5350648)
Skip, great tut, as always. I so appreciate your advice. I'm wondering though where to look for evaporrust. My DH and son left some fishing lures down in the boat last week and the hooks got rusty from the heavy rain that came down. I'm thinking that soaking the hooks in evaporrust might be the solution to the problem. If the hooks aren't sharp (and rust sure makes them dull) the fish don't get caught. I've got to find a way to get the rust off. Then, I can use evaporrust on the machines I find as well.

I get mine at Auto Zone, Skip

Christine- 07-12-2012 07:50 PM

Is there a method of treating the cracked paint on an old machine? I found a 201K (with the light mounted on the back :thumbup:) and it must have been in the heat at one time in it's life. The paint is japaning (why is it called japaning, by the way?). It should arrive in a week or so.

Christine- 07-14-2012 09:58 AM

Is there a method of treating the cracked paint on an old machine? I found a 201K (with the light mounted on the back :thumbup:) and it must have been in the heat at one time in it's life. The paint is japaning (why is it called japaning, by the way?). It should arrive in a week or so.

I want to fill in the cracks where bare metal is showing through.

Glenn 07-14-2012 02:38 PM


Originally Posted by Christine- (Post 5360453)
Is there a method of treating the cracked paint on an old machine? I found a 201K (with the light mounted on the back :thumbup:) and it must have been in the heat at one time in it's life. The paint is japaning (why is it called japaning, by the way?). It should arrive in a week or so.

Yes there is and it is not hard to do. When you get the machine post a pic here and I will show how to repair it. In the meantime you can collect your supplies. Boiled linseed oil, denatured alcohol, clear shellac and aniline dye stain that is mixed with alcohol(any wood workers cat will have it.)

DanofNJ 07-15-2012 07:48 PM

I have been pondering this issue.

I am finding that lacquer stabilizes and fills in cracks better than the shellac. That is not to say that the final coat can't be shellac to give the machine all the authenticity that is desirable. I am working and nearly finished with a 201-2 that was in horrible shape. I will post but I like the results. The main issue is the decals. I don't trust the french polishing with them, and yes, I did see your strategy for dealing with them. If you lacquer, they are safe forever and then you can shellac over the lacquer. Let's keep in mind that these machines are 50 to 75 years old on the average. I think that you can get a nicer result if you don't have to worry about the decals, and also the finish will be very smooth. I'd be interested to know your thoughts. I know that a purist would probably disagree with this, but we are doing reverse engineering. Clearly, Singer put on the decals after the machine was shellacked and hence the problems we now face. To shellac over them really is not authentic either, so I err on the side of preserving the decals as best I can. Lacquer is difficult to use. I spray it with a compressor and get decent results, then sand, then will apply the shellac. Just some thoughts.

Dan

Charlee 07-15-2012 07:54 PM

Dan, I see your points, but disagree. The decals are exactly that...decals. If they were put on after the clear coat (shellac) you would have the edge ridges, ever so slight, but still there.
If you look at where the decals are most often missing, it's on the cross bar, where people either had a pin cloth wrapped around it and/or grabbed the machine to raise/lower in and out of the cabinet (or lift it for whatever reason), or on the bed where hundreds of yards of fabric passed.

Shellac can and does protect the decals and the finish on the machine. In most cases, I'm not a purist, but I'll stick with Skip's method. Shellac is extremely forgiving!! :)

DanofNJ 07-16-2012 06:32 AM

This is a great debate...

But...Shellac, especially French Polishing can be touchy. especially for the beginner. If, and we have all gone through a bad shellac experience, it has to be removed, the process of removing to shellac to redo will fade or destroy the decals because they are not happy with shellac being "rubbed" off of them. Then you have nothing but a mess and destroyed decals which in most cases cannot be replaced. Glenn is an expert....so the likelihood of this happening is lessened, but for the average person trying to restore a machine for the first time it will end in disaster. If there is a lacquer base, you can rub shellac off and on the machine all day with no fear of damage because lacquer is not dissolved by the alcohol. With that said, I do very much respect Glenn's expertise and he could work on one of my machines anytime :). I also agree that shellac is very forgiving. Just one note as well, by lacquer I do NOT mean automotive clearcoat which is basically plastic. I mean regular lacquer. As noted, I will post my latest project as a hybrid of Glenn's technique.

miriam 07-16-2012 06:33 AM

Well, we are pretty average and did it.

Glenn 07-16-2012 09:32 AM


Originally Posted by DanofNJ (Post 5369296)
This is a great debate...

But...Shellac, especially French Polishing can be touchy. especially for the beginner. If, and we have all gone through a bad shellac experience, it has to be removed, the process of removing to shellac to redo will fade or destroy the decals because they are not happy with shellac being "rubbed" off of them. Then you have nothing but a mess and destroyed decals which in most cases cannot be replaced. Glenn is an expert....so the likelihood of this happening is lessened, but for the average person trying to restore a machine for the first time it will end in disaster. If there is a lacquer base, you can rub shellac off and on the machine all day with no fear of damage because lacquer is not dissolved by the alcohol. With that said, I do very much respect Glenn's expertise and he could work on one of my machines anytime :). I also agree that shellac is very forgiving. Just one note as well, by lacquer I do NOT mean automotive clearcoat which is basically plastic. I mean regular lacquer. As noted, I will post my latest project as a hybrid of Glenn's technique.

Yes I am a purist and will not use lacquer on a machine. I disagree, shellac was applied over the decals after application to protect them and make them smooth with the bed. I have also used lacquer with good results but don't like it. Lacquer is difficult for the average home owner to do correctly so I don't recommend it. Yes I have been doing this for a long time and it comes easy but it is something the novice can do with not much problem. You can do a tut on you technique maybe a member would like to try in on one of their machines. As for me I will stick to the original finishes and proven antique restorations technque for the cabinets and the machine. Looking forward to seeing some of your work and continue the debate on different techniques.
Skip

Charlee 07-16-2012 10:32 AM

I have only used "The Method" on one machine so far, and with that one, knowing that shellac was missing over the decals, I cleaned and then dabbed shellac over the decals before I started the French Polish...that was I knew I wasn't going to be messing anything up! :)

KittyKat77 07-20-2012 12:11 PM

Hello there. I am a beginner to working on old sewing machines, and quilting as well. I am not quite a beginner with sewing, my mom started me out with her sewing machine when I was maybe 9 or so. My mom had an old Singer treadle when I was little. I used to love it when she would open it up to show our friends how it worked. We had to sell it when we moved, unfortunately. I don't claim to be an expert, but I know enough to be dangerous!

Anyhow, this week I did something completely crazy and brought home a Davis treadle vertical feed machine... the belt is gone, there's a bit of rust here and there, and the finish is of course a lovely orange-peel texture on the bed of the machine. The good news is when I turn the hand crank the needle and foot move like they ought to, and the shuttle also.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8021/7...f75cd026c5.jpg

I'd like to make this old beauty shine again. I may be overly optimistic, but I think I can get her working again. Should I use this technique with orange-peel textured crackled finish? Or is there something I should do first to protect the remaining decals? I've cleaned off the head some with sewing machine oil and gently wiping with a soft cloth. I just really don't want to damage the decals. I know my chances of actually damaging the body are laughable, unless I did something evil and left it outside in the rain. ;)

I don't have a vast selection of old machines to practice on, so eventually my only choice will be to make a decision:
jump in with both feet and see if cleaning it works OR leave it as-is with regards to the paint, and just work on getting the mechanics running smoothly. I want to make sure when I choose, it is an educated decision. Any personal experiences or links to more Davis-related resources greatly appreciated!

Glenn 07-20-2012 02:16 PM


Originally Posted by KittyKat77 (Post 5380449)
Hello there. I am a beginner to working on old sewing machines, and quilting as well. I am not quite a beginner with sewing, my mom started me out with her sewing machine when I was maybe 9 or so. My mom had an old Singer treadle when I was little. I used to love it when she would open it up to show our friends how it worked. We had to sell it when we moved, unfortunately. I don't claim to be an expert, but I know enough to be dangerous!

Anyhow, this week I did something completely crazy and brought home a Davis treadle vertical feed machine... the belt is gone, there's a bit of rust here and there, and the finish is of course a lovely orange-peel texture on the bed of the machine. The good news is when I turn the hand crank the needle and foot move like they ought to, and the shuttle also.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8021/7...f75cd026c5.jpg

I'd like to make this old beauty shine again. I may be overly optimistic, but I think I can get her working again. Should I use this technique with orange-peel textured crackled finish? Or is there something I should do first to protect the remaining decals? I've cleaned off the head some with sewing machine oil and gently wiping with a soft cloth. I just really don't want to damage the decals. I know my chances of actually damaging the body are laughable, unless I did something evil and left it outside in the rain. ;)

I don't have a vast selection of old machines to practice on, so eventually my only choice will be to make a decision:
jump in with both feet and see if cleaning it works OR leave it as-is with regards to the paint, and just work on getting the mechanics running smoothly. I want to make sure when I choose, it is an educated decision. Any personal experiences or links to more Davis-related resources greatly appreciated!

Use my technique as described in this thread and you should have good luck it making your Davis shine
Skip

CindyA 07-20-2012 04:19 PM

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[ATTACH=CONFIG]350349[/ATTACH]
I watched Muv's tutorial and she mentions metal poslish. Can I use metal polish on this medallion? It says (in part) "a century of sewing service, 1851-1951."

miriam 07-20-2012 04:38 PM


Originally Posted by CindyA (Post 5380916)
[ATTACH=CONFIG]350349[/ATTACH]
I watched Muv's tutorial and she mentions metal poslish. Can I use metal polish on this medallion? It says (in part) "a century of sewing service, 1851-1951."

I want to know that too.

Glenn 07-20-2012 04:47 PM

Yes, you can polish this with brasso and it will be very pretty.
Skip

susansomethings 07-20-2012 04:48 PM

You are awesome at this!!

Christine- 07-20-2012 07:57 PM

Be careful when putting Brasso on the medallion, you don't want to remove the blue paint from the Centennial badge.

redbugsullivan 07-23-2012 09:36 AM

I am excited to see how that Davis turns out! It is a PERFECT candidate.

Dan, I understand your position. Skip's method is amazing and I've used it multiple times. In fact, I'm going to try and save what is left of the finish on my Alvah National (my very first treadle). On the flip side, I am using non-traditional finishes on the woodwork. Wipe-on poly is my finish of choice because I know life happens! None of my cabinets ever have decent finishes when I get them. Sometimes, I spend more time gluing down lifting veneer than working on the head!

Like Skip says, make your own tutorial! I'm not very skilled with metal/paint finishes so I'll be sticking with the French Polish method for the heads. It will be very interesting to contrast the two methods. Right now, I'm avoiding buying machines with cracked paint. Could you start with one of those?

Christine- 07-23-2012 10:12 AM

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[ATTACH=CONFIG]350848[/ATTACH]

This is my 201k. The ebay auction showed the paint was cracked, but it's not as bad as I had expected. The shellac is cracked some but it's not down to bare metal. In fact, the cracking is minimal and I'm not going to do anything to it.

Notice the light is attached to the back! Yipee! I'm going to rewire the entire machine, the wiring is in bad shape. And then I'll put it in a table.

J Carol 07-23-2012 11:01 AM

Glenn

Did you use gold paint or gold leaf to repair the decal? What brand of gold paint or gold leaf? Your machine is beautiful. I now have 23 machines all in different stages to refurbish and your instructions a very explicit. Thank you

J Carol 07-23-2012 11:09 AM

Our Lowe's store carries evaporust but it is in with cleaning supplies near the naval jelly.

KittyKat77 07-23-2012 12:02 PM

I am trying to fix up my Davis, and it is looking better... the black areas no longer have that icky sticky orange peel texture, BUT, some of the areas with the decals seem stubborn, and despite going very slow and cautious, I ended up with a bit of silvering. It may be the damaged shellac is adhered so strongly to the decals that anything affecting the shellac will damage the decals. Talk about a catch-22. It's made me nervous to continue!

I have been focusing instead on cleaning and rust-removal of the metal pieces.

Glenn 07-23-2012 12:25 PM


Originally Posted by KittyKat77 (Post 5388106)
I am trying to fix up my Davis, and it is looking better... the black areas no longer have that icky sticky orange peel texture, BUT, some of the areas with the decals seem stubborn, and despite going very slow and cautious, I ended up with a bit of silvering. It may be the damaged shellac is adhered so strongly to the decals that anything affecting the shellac will damage the decals. Talk about a catch-22. It's made me nervous to continue!

I have been focusing instead on cleaning and rust-removal of the metal pieces.

Clean the decals first with sewing machine oil then apply a little shellac over them to protect them. Then continue. Remember the decals have gold in them and other metals so they will have tarnished some and will not come as bright as we would like them to. If the decals are silvering you are removing two much shellac over them. Please don't rub hard and use more linseed oil with the alcohol.

vintagemotif 07-23-2012 12:40 PM


Originally Posted by KittyKat77 (Post 5388106)
I am trying to fix up my Davis, and it is looking better... the black areas no longer have that icky sticky orange peel texture, BUT, some of the areas with the decals seem stubborn, and despite going very slow and cautious, I ended up with a bit of silvering. It may be the damaged shellac is adhered so strongly to the decals that anything affecting the shellac will damage the decals. Talk about a catch-22. It's made me nervous to continue!

I have been focusing instead on cleaning and rust-removal of the metal pieces.

I own two Davis NVF with the same situation of the protective coating and decals damage as yours. Most, not all, but most of the Davis NVF that I have seen seem to have this issue. My suggestion is to only clean these machines with sewing machine oil. The sewing oil is the only chemical that does not remove the decals or "silver" them. For one of my machines, some previous owner used something other than sewing oil which made the decals turn green, not silver. I'm not into using lots of chemicals to clean these vintage ladies and gents since I dislike using them. The sewing oil cleans up the dirt and old oil, that is good enough for me. Since I use my Davis for quilting and binding work, the crackled in the protective coating of the machine doesn't hinder that work or damage the fabrics. The machine still works well! I doubt I will be looking very pretty or even working when I hit a hundred. :D

KittyKat77 07-23-2012 12:45 PM

Hi Glenn,

I did clean them first with sewing machine oil. I had been gently wiping them with sewing machine oil before I read this.

What I've been doing is dipping the rag in the linseed oil, and then just barely touching it to the alcohol.
When that started silvering one spot, I also tried oil + a tiny dab of shellac. That worked better in one spot, but the darkest/crackliest area on the front doesn't seem to want to lighten up, and even going very slow, mostly oil and the tiniest drop of alcohol or shellac, I still got a bit of silvering on one section.

I'm going to continue rubbing mostly oil and a bit of shellac to try to protect it. I am pleased with how much better the black areas look, that's for sure.

Glenn 07-23-2012 01:52 PM


Originally Posted by KittyKat77 (Post 5388208)
Hi Glenn,

I did clean them first with sewing machine oil. I had been gently wiping them with sewing machine oil before I read this.

What I've been doing is dipping the rag in the linseed oil, and then just barely touching it to the alcohol.
When that started silvering one spot, I also tried oil + a tiny dab of shellac. That worked better in one spot, but the darkest/crackliest area on the front doesn't seem to want to lighten up, and even going very slow, mostly oil and the tiniest drop of alcohol or shellac, I still got a bit of silvering on one section.

I'm going to continue rubbing mostly oil and a bit of shellac to try to protect it. I am pleased with how much better the black areas look, that's for sure.

the decals on the Davis seemed to be more delicate than the singers or others. I think in this case you need a good coat of shellac on the decals and leave them alone. Just work on the black Japan. I have found that some decals just need to be cleaned with machine oil and a coat of shellac and just leave well enough alone. Being so delicate just clean around them. You are doing everything right you have just run into some bad decals.

Glenn 07-23-2012 01:58 PM

KittyKat, I always test an area to see how will the decals will hold up or if they need a coat of shellac to protect them. Vintagemotif is right sometime all you can use on the decals is machine oil. I do this also when I know the decals will not hold up. But I always clean the black Japan.


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