Tuesday 14 March 2017

A Problem with Oiling a Singer 15K

Regularly maintained machines can still give you a nasty surprise. 

Before starting my latest project I thoroughly oiled my Singer 15K treadle, taking particular care to oil all the accessible points revealed when the rear inspection plate is moved.  I also made sure that I oiled the felt oil reservoirs at the top of the needlebar and presser bar and the ones that are reached through the holes next to the spool pin.  These two previous posts show my 15K hand machine, which has exactly the same innards.  The mechanism was in a different position, which explains why the photos seem so different.

So I have been quilting happily over the last couple of weeks, and everything seemed fine until last night.  Suddenly the machine started labouring, sounding as though it hadn't been used for aeons and I had just brought it home from a second hand shop.  

A good half hour was spent checking the machine to find which particular spot needed oiling.  It was a real puzzle, because there was still plenty of oil in evidence from the last time.  Eventually I realised that the noise was coming from the U-shaped junction on the left in the photo above, where a shaft that goes down the pillar to the base of the machine joins the horizontal rod that is turned by the wheel.  In theory the oil reservoir should keep this joint well lubricated. 

The right side of the joint was fine.  However, to the left, where indicated by the knitting needle, it was bone dry, as if it had completely missed the last oiling.  Needless to say, I have slathered the machine in oil, and it is running like a train again. 

Why did it dry out so quickly?  I'm not sure.  Either I have been using the machine more than usual (I didn't think I was); or, the oil reservoir no longer wicks as it should; or, perhaps because of the U-shape and the position of the needle when the machine is not in use, the oil has a tendency to drain away.  Who knows?  Who cares?  The problem is fixed, and I know what to look out for in the future. 


  1. Huh! I'm in awe of you folks who actually service and use your vintage machines. :) I picked one up a couple summers ago, and still haven't used it beyond the test session to see if it worked. It needs to be thoroughly cleaned and lubed, and I'd like to replace the cord to the foot lever. I have excellent manuals to do so, but I just keep shying away from digging in and learning!

    1. Lynette, Do it over a period of a couple of weeks and expect to get grubby fingernails. You will end up having a whale of a time. It's big girls' Meccano.

  2. Good morning! I'm the person who sits in the very back row and doesn't speak much but I've been reading your blog for a long time now and I have a question maybe you can help with. I have an old "R.H.Macy" machine. As near as I can figure It is very similar to an Eldridge Rotery. I LOVE sewing with this machine but if the needle stops toward the up point (most of the time) I have to turn the wheel by hand to get it going. The motor just hummmmms! I've oiled everything I can think of. You talking about oiling your machine made me think to ask you. Do enjoy reading your blog!

    1. Hello Margie - how nice of you to pop up out of the shadows!

      The problem could be any number of things. If the needle stops at a particular point every time my instinct is to check the stop motion screw (I'm not familiar with American machines, but my guess is that yours has one). Look at this post and see if the stop motion mechanism needs cleaning:-


      Otherwise, it could be a troublesome joint elsewhere in the machine. Inspect the inside of the machine as thoroughly as you can. I only found the dry spot in my machine by sticking my finger in.

      Lack of oil may not be the problem. It could be congealed sticky residue, best tackled with paraffin (also known as kerosene). Just make sure it doesn't come into contact with the japanned surface of the machine. An overnight soak with a bit of rag in the right place can work wonders:-


      Good luck Margie! So glad you have been enjoying the blog.

      Love, Muv

  3. Thank You so much! Will try the set screw first. I just went and looked and the machine does have one, a very small one, so need to round me up a tiny screw driver. Thanks Again



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