What Lurks Inside – After Complete Reconditioning of a Vintage Sewing Machine

When reconditioning a singer vintage sewing machine I believe it is most important to completely disassemble all parts that rotate inside of bushings or other parts. This means all of the assemblies in the sewing machine head and under the sewing bed.

I do this because if you look at any sewing machine of this vintage, you will see that many of the assemblies have a coffee colored film on them. This is old oil varnish that has built up over many years. It is not particularly detrimental to a sewing machine, its affects are not readily apparent when you use the machine because it is a slow and imperceptible process. It’s kind of like my eyesight… over the years it ain’t as good as it used to be… So it is with oil varnish.

The problem with this oil varnish is that it is not only on the outside of the parts of an assembly. It is in them as well. It is on the bearing and rubbing surfaces that you can’t see or get to until it is taken apart. Here is a picture to show you what I mean…


Removing the varnish on the inside of the parts will result in a machine that runs as smoothly as it did when it was new.

That in itself is a good reason for disassembly and is the reason to do it… but there is another reason… lurking deep within… and only observable after cleaning…

The black gunk on the end of the magnet tip shown was left in the cleaning solution after ultrasonic cleaning… Look again, it is sticking to a magnet. What does this mean? Well, it means that the gunk is steel particles worn from parts in the machine over a lifetime. It’s not noticeable and it is perfectly normal, I see it on every machine we recondition… but it is better off gone.

Another good reason to completely disassemble for cleaning.

Don’t you agree?

Tell me 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.

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