Sunday, July 14, 2013
Hi everyone, I know, long time no talk. I recently got to meet Elizabeth from My Sewing Machine Obsession and that was pretty cool. She mentioned that I hadn't written in a while. Over a year!
I've been busy with work and fixing sewing machines on the side, even making housecalls in Manhattan. If you need repair work done on your machine, are in NYC and/or can bring your machine to me in lower Manhattan, drop a line.
Anyways, a customer brought this Singer 401a to me. She came my way from Peter Lappin's sewing blog. The customer had just purchased the machine from a "reputable" seller online, and the machine had been damaged in shipping, with one spool pin broken off. She asked if I could fix it, I said no problem.
When she arrived with the machine, she mentioned that after five minutes of sewing, the machine would begin to emit a smell. I told her I'd check it out.
Well, never mind the spool pin, I was appalled to see the condition of the machine. So much so that I subsequently looked up the seller. I will not mention him by name, but based on his reputation and self-description, any of us would probably buy a machine from this guy in a heartbeat. He has been working on machines for longer than I've been alive, so I cannot understand how he let these things go.
The first thing I went to do is plug her machine in to uncover the source of the smell, but I stopped dead in my tracks. Check it out:
See that green stuff? Old Singer lubricant (grease) turns that shade of green after many years, I've seen it inside plenty a machine. And here it is on the terminal prongs--not good. Even worse, there was more on the cable:
Saturday, June 9, 2012
In the previous post, we looked at how to remove and re-install the stop motion clamp washer on a potted motor machine. But many other vintage Singers (like the 66, 99, 206, 306 et cetera) will have a different washer, as seen in the photo above. Here's how you tackle that one:
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
When you set your vintage Singer sewing machine into bobbin winding mode, by cranking the stop-motion wheel counterclockwise, the needlebar is supposed to stop running. This is to save unnecessary wear-and-tear on the machine, and prevent you from having to unthread the needle to wind a bobbin.
However, if a few crucial parts of your machine are dirty, the needlebar will continue to move even though you are in bobbin-winding mode. This is easy to fix, and I've made two relevant videos, below, to assist you.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
|All photos in this entry by Eric from Ottawa|
Eric from Ottawa writes,
[The 15-91 I recently acquired] looks like it's in great shape, but it doesn't run. It has a knee switch rather than a foot pedal and it looks like the motor controller has failed.
To test it, I unscrewed the center of the flywheel so there was no load and plugged it in and got nowhere, even with the knee switch in and fully engaged.
Do you think it's worth re-wiring it to use a standard foot pedal like most of the ones I've seen?
Hi Eric, first off, a little about your machine. The chrome rim on the handwheel plus the design on the faceplate, from the little bit of it that we can see in the photo up top, indicate this machine is from the 1930s or early 1940s (assuming those parts are original). The old-school cylindrical Singerlight visible in the photo below also indicates the machine is from that era.
The “J-“ prefix on the serial number plate indicates your machine was made in Singer’s Canadian plant in Quebec.
Secondly, good on you for trying to run the motor with no load, that’s exactly the correct first step to test out a motor.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
If you are arriving at this entry for the first time, this is a comprehensive guide on how to re-wire the potted motors found on vintage Singer 15-91 and 201-2 sewing machines. It is my attempt to walk someone with zero experience through the entire process.
For your convenience, here are links to all 20 entries in the series. This way you can bookmark this page as a Table of Contents and quickly get to the entry you need.
Part A: Skills Building
1: Wire, Wire Stripping and Wire Braiding
Learn about the tools and wiring basics you’ll need to know to re-wire a motor.
2: Tools & Materials Required for Soldering
Learn what equipment you'll need to complete basic wire soldering.
3: Learning to Solder
Learn and practice basic wire soldering.
4: How to Terminate Your Wires
Learn how to create connections for attaching wiring to power terminals.
5: Covering Wire Joints with Heat Shrink Tubing
Learn how to clean up exposed wiring.
6: The Underwriter's Knot
Learn how to tie wiring into a strain-relieving knot.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
With the armature and worm back in place, we’re now ready to install the final items: The brushes and grease wicks, and then we'll re-fill the grease tubes, as seen above.
We’ll start with the brushes.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Folks, we’re now very close to the end. Having succesfully completed the actual re-wiring, your machine should now be up and running in no time. But first we have just a few more mechanical steps to get through.
Now we'll start closing the motor up, in preparation for re-attaching it to the rest of the machine. First, grab the worm, and I’ll show you a little time-saving trick.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Now that our potted motor has been rewired and is partially back together, we need to put the armature back inside. But first we ought to clean the part of the armature called the commutator. The commutator is the series of copper bars arrayed in a ring. They are what the motor brushes make contact with, and they need to be smooth and clean so that electricity can be transmitted between commutator and brush.
The Singer manuals all say to clean your commutator with nothing more than a pencil eraser, but in practice that’s never worked for me. Perhaps it was a valid fix five or ten years into the life of the machines, but some of mine are from the 1930s and require more aggressive cleaning techniques involving a power drill and some sandpaper. The best thing to use is actually a rubber honing stick, but as I'm guessing most of you don't have access to those, I'll show you how to do this with sandpaper you can find in any hardware store.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Now we’ll begin closing the motor back up. Please orient your motor as shown in the photo above, which is the way we had it in Part 15.
Then note that there will be a potential problem in closing it up, as seen below:
If we’re not careful, the bottom motor lead will block one of the screws that attaches the field core to the rest of the housing.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Now we’re finally ready to solder new motor leads on. Again, please ensure that your motor is oriented exactly as in the photo below, to ensure my explanations of “top/bottom” are correct:
|Motor oriented with field core at left, bobbin winding assembly at top right.|
Sunday, December 25, 2011
I almost forgot! Before we take the big step of soldering the new motor leads on, there’s one more thing we ought to check, as this is easier to do while we’ve got the motor leads clipped and out of the way. Take a look at the rubber grommet covering the hole that the motor leads will eventually go through.
Here I can see this one has a crack in it:
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Now that we’ve got the motor as open as possible, we’re going to cut the motor leads at specific points to prepare for soldering new ones on.
First, very important, please orient your motor as shown in the photo above: The field core is to the left, the bobbin winder is at the top right. We need to have our motors oriented the same way so when I say “right/left/up/down” you’re not getting confused and cutting the wrong thing.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Now we need to access the motor leads so we can replace them. To get to the motor leads, we need to detach the motor’s core, or field core, from the motor housing. As you’ll see, we cannot detach it completely; although we will physically separate it from the housing, it will remain attached via two wires. (In the photo up above, the two wires in question look like water mocassins.) We must be careful not to disturb those two wires.
The first thing you’ll need to do is remove these two screws.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
With the grease wicks removed (and the motor brushes if they were willing to come out), it is now time for us to crack the motor open. In this entry we will learn to remove the motor cover and perform the crucial task of safely removing the armature. We will also learn the difference between a worm and a worm gear.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
In preparation for removing the armature and cracking the motor open, we're now going to remove the two motor brushes. For those of you with no electric motor experience, they’re not “brushes” in the conventional sense; they’re little sticks of carbon that look like charcoal sticks. They reside in a tube leading into the motor and are covered by caps. There is one on the top of the motor, one on the bottom. And as you'll see, inspecting them can provide a good warning as to whether you'll be able to save this machine or not.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Now that we’ve got the motor separated from the machine, we can store the machine someplace else, to free up some desk space. We won't come back to the machine for a while.
Our next goal is to get the motor open. In order to do that we need to remove what’s called the armature, and if you don’t know what that is, you’ll see it shortly. In order to remove the armature we should first remove the grease wicks and the motor brushes, a multi-step process.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Now that we’ve got the motor leads disconnected (as shown in Part 7), we need to remove the motor housing in order to access the motor.
To get to the motor housing, we first need to remove the handwheel. I would ordinarily also disassemble and remove the bobbin winding assembly, but because that is an operation in its own right, I will save that for another entry and leave it attached to the motor housing. (Leaving the bobbin winding assembly on is not “standard operating procedure” for me, but as long as we are careful, we should be fine.)
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Okay folks, time for us to get our hands on the machine.
Before removing the motor from your 201-2 or 15-91, we must first disconnect the motor leads. From here on in we’re going to need lots of different screwdriver bits, so be sure to read the entries on proper screwdriver bits if you’re unclear on this area; if you use the wrong type of driver and strip a screw in the middle of a motor re-wire, you’ll find it a huge hassle.
Step one is unplug the machine. Not at the wall, but at the terminal body.
This is the last thing we need to learn before moving on to the machine! Congrats if you’ve made it this far.
After we eventually solder new wires onto the motor leads, inside the motor housing we’ll need to tie those new wires into what’s called an underwriter’s knot before we push the wires out through the housing.
An underwriter’s knot provides strain relief, so that if we tug and pull on the wiring while we’re installing the motor, it will not place any stress on the motor leads where they join with the motor’s field core. (The knot will simply catch on the inside of the housing.) This is very important, because if you break that connection at the field core, your potted motor then becomes a potted paperweight.
We’ll practice outside of the machine to be sure we can get the knot right. Ready?