Monday 30 November 2015

Freeing Up The Action On A Singer 99K

Looking at these first test stitches made by a 1918 Singer 99K, you would not be able to tell that two days previously I was hardly able to turn the wheel.  This is the machine which has the improvised repair, the thread guide made from a safety pin.

The next big problem was that the mechanism was well and truly gummed up; in fact, so stiff that I was nervous of turning the handle too much in case I suddenly discovered a bit of hidden metal fatigue.  The last thing I wanted was a snapped handle, so much of the time I was turning the wheel by hand.

First I cleared all the accumulated fluff from underneath the bobbin plate and needle plate and from behind the face plate.  Next I cleaned up the stop motion screw and checked that the wheel was able to move freely.  Then I gave the machine a very liberal oiling, and found that the movement was still very stiff, even after leaving the machine for hours to give the oil time to penetrate.

After a few turns the machine would start labouring.  Somewhere there was a gummed up joint, but it wasn't obvious where just by looking.  I could hear it creaking, and decided that the sound was coming from the bobbin mechanism underneath the machine.

One or more of these joints was objecting.  The answer was paraffin, which I have used before to unstick stubborn parts.  I wrapped a piece of old cotton rag around the entire bobbin mechanism, tied it with string, and soaked it with paraffin.  Then I left it in place overnight, and this is how it looked the next morning - clean and very dry.  The paraffin had removed all the fresh oil and all the old oil residue that was causing the problem.  Once I had re-oiled underneath the machine, it turned freely.

Now that I was able to turn the handle, it was obvious that the handcrank needed more oil than I had already given it.  Essentially, the handcrank is made up of two cogs, which both need oiling.

The lower cog is oiled next to the large central screw, just behind the handle.  The cocktail stick shows the oil hole.  Note mug of tea lurking in the background.  It helps.

The upper cog is oiled at the top of the arm that connects the handcrank with the wheel.

The machine was then left overnight, and next morning all I needed to do was wipe off the excess oil, especially from behind the handle, where it oozes out, bringing out black muck that has been hiding there for years.  If you are too enthusiastic, and turn the handle before dabbing off around it, you can end up getting splattered.

And finally I had the thrill of getting this machine sewing for the first time in decades.  Beautiful stitches, every bit as good as I had hoped. 

Linking up with Connie's blog Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday


  1. Some places call paraffin kerosene
    Here, paraffin is a wax to put on top of jelly

    1. Yes, Copperhead, I know. For what you call paraffin we say paraffin wax, and (broadly speaking) what you call jelly we call jam, and what we call jelly you call Jell-O. So I refer to things by the names we use and let people work things out for themselves.

  2. Hi Muv
    How satisfying to get those parts clean and turning freely! I really enjoy reading about your refurb and maintenance projects. That 99 is going to be a great little workhorse for someone by the time you are done.

    1. Hello Gavin! I must admit I had a few doubts when I started work on this machine, but persistence has paid off. It is a really good machine, well worth the time spent.
      Love, Muv

  3. Congrats on getting it all cleaned up and I'm glad someone else talked about the paraffin as I was thinking of wax also.

    1. Thanks Connie! I am hoping to pass this machine on to its new owner very soon.



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