Wednesday 8 May 2013

Using Paraffin to Unstick Stubborn Parts

Last week I collected a beautiful German sewing machine from a friend so I could clean it up for her. It had a few problems I needed to sort out, the most obvious of which was the foot.  I undid the thumbscrew so I could take off the foot and found that the foot was stuck on fast.  Someone had obviously been trying to get it off in the past and loosened the presser bar in the process, because it was loose and the foot could turn as if it were the hand on a clock.  Tightening the presser bar back into position was easy enough, but I still needed to get the foot off.

The answer was paraffin.  I tied a bit of cloth around the foot, spooned paraffin onto it until it was thoroughly soaked, and left it overnight.  The next morning the foot just dropped off.  The paraffin had broken up all the old oil residue that had dried between the presser bar and the foot.

The same trick worked at the opposite end of the machine and ungummed the stitch length mechanism too.

The machine is now cleaned up and raring to go...


  1. That was clever! I will remember that technique.

  2. Muv I so appreciate your tips but was scratching my head over using paraffin to loosen old solidified oil. I was puzzled over the description of spooning it onto the cloth. Then it dawned on me that UK and US often have different names for the same item. Fortunately for me I found a website that has a list of these differences. I was relieved to learn that UK paraffin translates to US kerosene. At that moment I chuckled and fully understood your instructions. Thank you again for your helpful instructions and videos.

  3. Paraffin is a bit of a puzzle for a Dutchman too. Thank goodness I have no stuck screws at the moment, :-)). In dutch kerosene would be airplane fuel, and paraffin something medical.

    By the way Muv, I read the advice regarding stitching in the ditch over at Gavin's blog (Oil and Thread). Would it be alfight to use a hinged foot on my Singer 127? The regular foot my 127 came with is not hinged, see, so I never tried any of my hinged feet on it.



    1. Hello Marianne,

      You might find this interesting
      Me, you and Sue in Oregon were all right, we just call paraffin different things.

      Yes, you can use the hinged feet on the 127; the feet are all interchangeable between the old Singer hand machines and treadles (as long as you avoid the back-clamping feet).


    2. Thank you so much, I'll bookmark that link.

      I'm delighted that the feet are interchangeable, because my 15 came with several feet.

      It's so nice that I can turn to you with these questions, so I can rest assured that my machines are treated properly when I use them.

  4. I am constantly looking online for posts that can aassist me.
    Thank you!

  5. The post about the slide bobbin cover really helped me. I "popped" it off to get in there and then didn't know how to get it back on. TY



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