Singer “Black” Sewing Machine Paint Chip Repair – What you NEED to Know

Beautiful form, beautiful gold decorative decals, beautiful chromed plate and covers, beautiful black japan lacquer paint… just this description is enough for many people to think “Singer sewing machine”. They fit the description and more. Aside from outstanding build quality in the machines sewing mechanisms, no effort was spared in the cosmetic detail and finish of these outstanding vintage sewing machines.

Due to years of use, chips in the paint are very commonly found on the sewing bed edges, the sewing arm, and around the rim of the balance wheel. I do not find these chips objectionable, but when reconditioning a classic vintage cast iron black Singer sewing machine, it makes a difference. If you are contemplating paint chip repair on your black singer machine, you may find the following information helpful.

What I have learned is that when it comes to paint matching, “black” isn’t “black”. In fact, there is a very noticeable difference between different brands of black paint. This is true of gloss black, satin black, jet black, and flat black.

Compared to the deep black japanned lacquer originally applied on Singer sewing machines, readily available black paints look “gray” when placed side by side for comparison. Rustoleum, duplo, krylon, automotive paints, artists paints, on and on… they just don’t match the original shade of black on these machines.

The black lacquer Singer used was a formulation that used carbon black powder as the pigment for the deep black color. It was mixed in a shellac base and dipped… not sprayed or brushed on. Unfortunately, this type of finish is not commercially available today. This complicates finding a suitable color match paint considerably because any acceptable paint must have an oil base. Enamels are not compatible with and cannot be applied over this lacquer finish. The same applies to clear coats,

Based on my extensive research and experimentation, the only black paint that comes close is a GM touch up auto paint called “lamp black”. It can be purchased in small quantities suitable for chip repair. Available in paint pens and 1/4 ounce jars, it is as close to the original Singer black as you are likely to find. Use the internet to find the product as you will not likely find it at your friendly auto parts store, hardware store, Walmart, etc.

Expect to get good results on small areas (chip repairs) only. It is close in color, but noticeable upon close inspection, especially as the repaired area gets bigger.

If you are contemplating repairing the small chips on your machine, I with you the best results and hope you found this information helpful.

Let me know what you think!

Published by pungoliving

First and foremost, I decided to share some of my experiences with vintage all metal sewing machines. It is a natural progression of my life experience exercising my hands and my mind. My background is a simple story... graduating High school, I wanted a trade. I landed an apprenticeship at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in welding. 5 years later after earning certification and working in many different environments, I decided to enroll in College and earn an Engineering. At the same time, I married a wonderful girl and started a new life. Graduating College with a degree in Structural Engineering, I began a 35 year career in the Federal Government. Along the way, we were blessed with 3 beautiful children. Earning a Masters degree in Engineering and registration as a Professional Engineer I worked for the benefit of my family and my Country. Over the years, I have pursued many different hobbies... woodworking, car mechanics, astronomy, and taking apart and putting together all sorts of things. Pretty much anything I could put my mind and my hands into. So now, many years later, I am retired and finally able to wile away my days at home with the love of my life. Her interests have always been in sync with mine, but spending so much free time with her, I realized how broad her talents are! One interest she is particularly fond of is sewing. It didn't take me long to put 2+2 together and realize that I could do something with this. So, acquiring, adjusting, servicing, and restoring sewing machines was a win-win. I have a hobby that is detailed, involves tinkering with precision engineered high quality manufactured machines, while she has an opportunity to sew on various different makes and models of sewing machines. While there are many that have information on line, and what I have to say more than likely has already been said, I wanted to contribute to that conversation and learning gleaned from my experience and research.

6 thoughts on “Singer “Black” Sewing Machine Paint Chip Repair – What you NEED to Know

    1. Hello,

      You can get a good color match with GMC S15 19 Lamp Black paint, it can be found online and I would recommend getting the 2 ounce jars rather than the paint pens.

      Good luck and let me know how your repairs turned out!

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  1. I have a question , did singer experiment with color paint in the early 1900s , i seen they had somewhere but cant seem to find any info , i ask because i have a model 28 from 1904 and i can see a red paint as a base color threw chipping on my machine and in more then one place , i know my finish is origanal and also seen somewhere they took them in for trade but also they recycled some as well , any info would good to know , new collector .

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    1. Hello Scott,

      That’s a good question! I am not an authority on your question, but I have done a lot of research on the subject. As far as I know, Singer did experiment with different colors but not in a major manufacture or production of machines. Their standard manufacturing process was to dip the raw iron finish machine in a black lacquer paint and then heat cure the finish. They did not use a primer or base coat. They did experiment with a few colors on a small scale. These included green, light blue, and yellow gold. I do not know if these “concept” machines were produced as early as your machine. Later vintage machines did use different colors with the introduction of model 404, 403A, and 401A and later production models, but these are not lacquer based paints.

      Singer came to realize that their machines did not wear out and to encourage folks to buy new machines, they did take old machines in trade. These machines were destroyed and not leaked back into the market. Also, during WW2, Singer ceased production of sewing machines for a period of about 4 years. Because no new machines were being produced, they did refurbish older machine to factory new condition. I have seen examples of these machines that were restored and resold.

      It is a mystery to me that your machine has a red coating under the black finish and I would be curious to see a picture of your machine. If you would send a few pictures to pungoliving@gmail.com I may be able to better answer your question!

      Like you, there is very little information to be found and what I have learned is the result of a lot of digging… hopefully, there is someone who knows the complete history that can help clarify and educate others for an answer.

      Welcome to the world of vintage sewing machine collectors!

      Have a wonderful day,
      Lee

      Like

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