Restoration of a Vintage Singer Model 99K-31

So my next project is a beautiful Singer model 99K-31. Serial Number EM933902 reveals that she was born on November 6, 1957, and shares her birthday with 49,999 sisters.

We look for these wonderful old black Singer sewing machines of ANY model. Mechanically, they are built with superior fit and finish. They are all mechanically durable and can be reconditioned to sew like new. Cosmetically, they run the scale from well worn, to hardly used. Reconditioning decals and compromised paint is difficult to achieve with out a tremendous amount of work and expense, and you end up with a beautiful machine… but not original. That is why the vintage black Singer’s we acquire and recondition for our Etsy PungoLiving Vintage Sewing Machine store inventory are all in better than “good” cosmetic condition. We are picky about the machines we select. We understand that condition is tied to age, and also to price (we often pay a premium for these machines). While they be in less than perfect condition when we get them, the finish and decals must be such that after the many hours we spend in cleaning and reconditioning the machine, the paint, decals, and mechanisms will be beautiful in appearance and worthy of display.

This model 99K-31 met and exceeded all of our expectations, the machine came to us in excellent cosmetic condition. The case has the typical issues but will be in great condition after it is detailed.

The reconditioning process is the same for all of our machines, and despite its beautiful condition when we got her, disassembly and cleaning is always the first step. In this case, all body, plates, covers, head, motor, bobbin winding assembly, balance wheel, tension assembly, bobbin case, all of the mechanisms in the sewing head, and all little shiny bits are removed. This allows cleaning to be done without obstruction. Under the bed, all of the mechanisms including the feed dogs, shuttle hook, rocker arms, and related assemblies are removed.

The parts are laid out and sorted for ultrasonic cleaning.

You will see why this is important. Look closely at the parts and pieces I have laid out for cleaning. You will notice that there is old oil varnish (coffee colored) on all of the parts. This varnish is also present INSIDE the bearing surfaces that are in contact and rotate out of sight in the assembled sewing mechanism. This is really important, even though this varnish build up does not affect the smooth turning of the mechanisms, the effect of this varnish cannot be detected except by comparison of “before” and “after”… but its there! This is the difference in the time it takes to “recondition” a machine, rather than cleaning and “servicing” a machine. I can clean and oil a machine to look like new, but the varnish is still in the bearing surfaces where it will remain unseen.

The following shows the same parts after ultrasonic cleaning.

Notice that all varnish is removed. These parts are submerged in WD-40 and allowed to soak. This displaces all water. Each of the pieces are wiped by hand to remove excess WD-40 and are ready for assembly.

While all this is taking place, the body of the machine will be meticulously cleaned, polished, and buffed by hand. Even though the protective shellac is in great condition, there is dirt hiding that isn’t readily seen on the finish. Deep cleaning reveals this.

You can see by the dirt on the cotton ball, there is some dirt that can be removed. This machine was clean and looked great after deep cleaning.

The motor is the next component to recondition. This will involve disassembly, cleaning, armature polishing, wick replacement, and brush reconditioning. The wires on this machine are flexible, free of cracks, and will be reused. This is unusual and retains the vintage “look” of these wires that cannot be duplicated with new wiring.

The motor is cleaned, lubricated, and reassembled.

The parts are reassembled, lubricated, and adjusted for proper clearances and specifications.

The machine turns with much less effort and is smooth as silk. This will result in more efficient piercing at the needle.

Following the cleaning, polishing, and hand buffing, the finished machine looks great and is in excellent “near mint” condition. Only the smallest scratches in the finish can be readily seen and you need to get pretty close to see them… I call this a “1 foot machine”… stand a foot away, and you would think it was new.

Here is the finished product…

If you are considering the purchase of a “reconditioned” sewing machine, ask what that included. To us, reconditioning means only one thing… There are only two times in this machines history where it has been so clean, or operated so smoothly. The first time was when it was new, and the second time is now. Yes, it is expensive, but lowest price does not mean best value, The finished condition, effort in cleaning to achieve that condition, and the tear own and reconditioning of one of these vintage black Singer sewing machines is what you are paying for.

Thanks for looking! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, and please visit our Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/pungoliving, to see our restored fine high quality sewing machines.

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.

2 thoughts on “Restoration of a Vintage Singer Model 99K-31

  1. Enjoyed seeing restoring a 99k, my question is, the ight there is a round magnifying glass cover, on my light , how is that installed? What holds it in place.

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    1. Hello Alice,

      The lens has tabs on it’s rim. There are slots in the housing that match the tabs on the lens. There is a thin spring washer behind the lens. The lens is removed by pressing in on the lens, then turn the lens until the tabs line up with the slots (press and turn). The lens will pop out.

      Sounds easy? Well, it is generally a pain in the neck because there is a lot of friction generated by the spring washer, and it is hard to get a grip on the lens. It is made much easier by removing the light fixture from the machine so you can hold it securely. a drop of sewing machine oil in the slots will help lubricate the lens so it slides easier against the washer.

      I hope this helps!
      Lee

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