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Thread: Restore or Repaint old paint surfaces?

  1. #1
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    Restore or Repaint old paint surfaces?

    Hey folks,

    I have been having a debate through PM's that I think would benefit from public discussion.

    The primary question applies to OLD machines. Machines which have the potential to have historical value or at least historical uniqueness.

    The 1st question is "When is it appropriate to wipe the slate clean and completely redo a machine?"
    The 2nd question is "How can you preserve what is there without giving up on a "shiny cool machine?"

    MY perspective (Green as grass) is the sequence of consideration is
    Historical importance
    Function
    Beauty
    $ Value

    The reply that I got from Glenn was: (with his OK to re-post)
    " I believe in restoration and not completely making a piece new. There are times when the thing is so far gone you have no choice but to completely re-do the whole thing. We in the antique business say the less you do the better. This is to retain the value of the item, but now I am into these old machines and real value is little I want my machines to look pretty again so I make no excuses for redoing some of them. If you need to repaint decals that are missing and paint on the bed then by all means redo it completely."

    Others that I have ask this question to have answered in a very similar way.

    A large portion of the discussion is about what CAN be done also. If you have the ability to do something well, you are are likely to be willing to go for it than if you "might be able"

    I asked Glenn specifically "Using your methods, is it possible to "repair" the finish and/or add missing paint in the process?"

    the answer was
    " Yes you can. After the areas are made rust free you can apply auto glazing compound to level the area or build up the finish with black lacquer ( the original finish is japanned). You do this by using aniline dye mixed with shellac(making very black paint with shellac as a base) until level then you can french polish with shellac to give the sheen they are noted far. I have done this myself but it takes time each step takes at least 24 hours to dry before another coat can be applied. You can speed the process with black lacquer and then use the shellac french polish to complete the look. Then you can rub the new areas down to match the old finish that is left. "

    Other people have different beliefs and different methods available, so we though it would be worthwhile to post it to the general discussion

  2. #2
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I have one machine I'd love to have Glenn work his magic on. It's too good for me to try anything on, I'd ruin it for sure.

    I've got another one I'll try myself when I get someplace I can set it all out to work on without any thing else needing the space.

    Until then I clean them up and make them functional.


    Joe

  3. #3
    Junior Member makitmama's Avatar
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    I don't ever repaint anything with historical value or rarity. On other machines, if it is a common model and pretty trashed I will repaint it. For example- I have 5 red eyes. One has maybe 10% of the decals left, mainly behind the pillar. The name has been erased by pin pricks. That one will end up some other color, and I have an excited grandma coming to get it this spring. She wants an indestructible hand crank for when the gk visit.
    Cil



    I'm a Queen.... at least my pantyhose say I am!


    (proud caretaker of a magenta 221, purple 222, assorted 66's, a 301, a pink Atlas and Monarch, and Granny's 201-2.

  4. #4
    Super Member jlhmnj's Avatar
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    I can't think of any sewing machines that would suffer from or lose value by a well done, accurate restoration.

    Jon

  5. #5
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    makitmama,

    Paint it fluorescent red and use the gold only red eye decals. That would look snazzy.

    Joe

  6. #6
    Junior Member makitmama's Avatar
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    I just got done doing one with the Kessler colored decals...and I don't care for them. I am thinking more along the lines of my OSG, sewingmachinesteve. He uses non-singer decals. I will post one from his FB page- it is dark red with gold decals, and no top coat yet.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Cil



    I'm a Queen.... at least my pantyhose say I am!


    (proud caretaker of a magenta 221, purple 222, assorted 66's, a 301, a pink Atlas and Monarch, and Granny's 201-2.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlhmnj View Post
    I can't think of any sewing machines that would suffer from or lose value by a well done, accurate restoration.

    Jon
    Just like any other antique that's rare or has some historical value, everything that's not original (including the finish, new parts, etc) will lessen the value significantly.

    If it's NOT rare/valuable & you just want to pretty it up a little for yourself (or to sell), go for it.

  8. #8
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Let's face it. VERY FEW vintage machines are what I consider "valuable" in monetary terms. With new sewing machines costing up to 10 grand, a vintage machine that costs in the $20-$400 range is not what I consider valuable. Most of my machines cost less than a good dinner out and a few of them, a few good dinners out. I love my vintage machines, but I USE them and will continue to do so. I will be putting my mark and wear on them. I agree that a quality restoration won't take away value...because most are not worth much to start with! I guess it's all relative. I'm not rich, but I really don't think $100 for a tool is all that much if I USE it. Anyone been to Home Depot lately and have seen the cost of "tools"?

    The problem lies in a quality restoration. People who blob house paint on machines to cover up blemishes are just making it worse. If you have the skills to have a beautiful end product, go for it. Most of the quality FW repaints I've seen have doubled the "value" of the machine. I tend to leave the machine as is, because I enjoy the history of the machine and know I'll be putting my own wear on it. But, I will absolutely refinish a machine that is far gone, if I bought it for a low price and think I would use it more if it were spiffed up!

  9. #9
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    PATH49 - So, you are saying that if you were given the option of buying a Singer Model 12 that was completely original and so,so looking with stiff hardware VS a Singer Model 12 that was very well restored to be "pretty" and work smoothly, people would chose the "unmolested original" for the same price or more? I do not think so.

    Crappy restorations ALWAYS destroy value, we get that, but done correct, I do not believe the value is actually less for a restored piece.

    Remember folks, the reality of the "value" of these machines is that they are not actually worth very much.

    Value is first based on visual perception. I have bought over 20 machines, some are very "Rare" and I have not paid more than $100 for any machine (except the Howe Model B I just bought for 107)

    Even among ourselves, we do not pay much for machines and we pride ourselves on finding "deals" If WE are not going to pay high prices, then who is? The folks who buy them for stupid prices and believe that they will be able to sell them to US for a profit...NOT!

    Unless you machine was made VERY early in the process, has near perfect decals, or is a FW (grrrr) they are really not going to sell for a big profit.

    I think a great example of how people "value" these units is the number of CL ads which only show the cabinet.
    Last edited by SteveH; 02-07-2013 at 04:12 PM.

  10. #10
    Power Poster oksewglad's Avatar
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    I just purchased a Singer 66 (1928) in a carrying case (not the original) for $20. I'm like Candace--I don't have the time to do a great job of refinishing. A bright new finish would only get scratched up. My learning curve in owning her will be to clean her up and to sew away. I think it's phenomenal that a machine so old can still work as it was supposed to.
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    I donate quilts to the AAQI.

  11. #11
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    Sure, I want pretty sewing machines. I'm talking actual monetary value of a RARE machine (or ANY antique) to a true collector. My parents had a houseful of antique furniture...all refinished, reglued, reupholstered...just gorgeous. But they were fairly common pieces & they fixed them up to use. But let's say they had something TRULY rare & VERY valuable...& they were going to a big auction house with one of these pieces. The value would drop dramatically! Just watch Antiques Roadshow to see what I mean.

    My machines have ALL been restored to as "like new" as I can get 'em! Paint touched up, parts replaced, cabinets refinished, etc. But I don't have anything worth more than probably $350. I use them & if I sold one, it would sell for more than a crappy looking one, I'm sure.

    I was talking rare/valuable as opposed to more common, everyday machines....

  12. #12
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    I certainly agree with that.

    I would not "restore" a machine made between 1954 and 1865 for example.

  13. #13
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I guess I think of my mother's FW - it was her college graduation present in 1948. That machine is well used for sure. It has hundreds of nicks, scratches and pits. Mom never pulled out pins when she was sewing the camper canvas or the drapes or re-upholstering the couch or when she made me a new coat out of an old coat or some such project.... My sister and I cleaned and oiled it for her Christmas one year. She said it ran just as good as when it was new. I know new finish would make it look better, but all those nicks and scratches and pits are from honest hard work. Merit badges on the machine maybe... I wouldn't want to repaint that machine - it wouldn't be right. It would be like erasing memories or something. That machine will never look or act like a new machine anyways - things that should be tight are loose. It still sews and will keep on sewing for a very long time. We did try Glenn's method on a different FW and it turned out much better than I thought it would. I'd do it again in a heart beat if I had the time... I sure do have machines that could use it - just not my mom's.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  14. #14
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    I agree with Steve that a good restoration will not devalue a sewing machine as he said we are not willing to pay much for them anyway and no one is except the ones that don't know. That being said we admit they are not worth much, this not an investment we sew with them and just like the way they look. People become so sentimental about their grandma's 1916 Red Eye they try to sell them for 500 to 1000 but in the antique business sentimental has no value. when I was still restoring antiques we repaired what was broken using the old methods of construction with old tools. the we repaired the the old finish that was bad using the same techniques and materials of the period of the piece, waxed the thing and stopped. By law we had to state what had been done but then again these valuble peices were based on a prestine piece with out any work and was for the true collector. I think it is perfectly fine to restore and old sewing machine as for as you want to go. Most of them come to us in sad shape or so dirty we have to clean them before they will move at all and then the pin rash and such. I say restore repaint the bad spots, repair the stencils if you can and sew with them. If it needs a complete repaint go for it. If you like them just cleaned repaired and sewing then that is perfectly alright to. If you restore just learn the correct techniques to do this restoration and you will be much happier with the results, remember you don't have to be perfect just do the best you can.
    Last edited by Glenn; 02-07-2013 at 06:36 PM.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  15. #15
    Power Poster solstice3's Avatar
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    Is it for you or resale? I refinished my treadle cabinet including new veneer. For me it was the right choice. If for resale as long as it is presented accurately

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