Restoration of a Vintage 1925 Singer Model 15-30 “Tiffany” Sewing Machine

This restoration is for a beautiful Singer sewing machine. Made in 1925, this Singer model 15 is a jewel. The “Tiffany” decals, also referred to as “Gingerbread” decals, are in excellent condition. Sure, there are a few places that could use some attention, but these will be addressed in the restoration. Everything about this machine is beautiful… cosmetically, it looked great on arrival… dirty but with an excellent finish There is some loss on the nickel plating and some surface corrosion on the hand wheel and bobbin winder assembly, but this is not uncommon for the age of this machine, nor is it a distraction from the machine. I will attempt to preserve the patina of this plating and after a detailed restoration, it will look great. Mechanically, the machine turns smoothly. I think that this was a treadle machine it’s whole life. There is no motor, and there is no light and it does not appear that there ever was. These “upgrades” will be made with a vintage motor and light. After restoration, it will be as close to “as new” as possible. I am looking forward to making the most out of this machine, and no detail will be omitted to make it so. Here is the condition of the machine before restoration.

The condition of the mechanical sewing mechanisms are as expected for a machine this age. There is a considerable amount of oil varnish that will need to be removed to allow the smoothest operation possible. Disassembly will allow all of these parts to be restored to like new condition. Here is the sewing mechanisms before disassembly.

I love the construction of this vintage machine. When manufactured in 1925, every part is built to last seemingly forever. All of the castings and parts are thick, heavy, and from my opinion, overbuilt.

These parts are removed and laid out for cleaning…

Mechanical cleaning is very straight forward. The parts are ultrasonically cleaned and then wire brushed until they are restored to shiny and as new condition. The hook shaft, presser foot shaft, and the needle bar are polished glass smooth.

The tension mechanism is disassembled and cleaned…

The bobbin winder assembly is also disassembled and cleaned…

The bobbin case is disassembled and cleaned…

The machine did not have a motor when I got it. I decided to restore and add a vintage Singer motor to the machine. The motor I chose is a Singer B.R.8S 0.5 amp motor. This is the motor found on many vintage Singer 15’s and is perfectly compatible to this model 15. The motor is disassembled and restored. I have posted a complete step-by-step instruction on the restoration of this motor titled “A Tutorial – Restoring a Vintage Singer Grease Wick Sewing Machine Motor”. For the purpose of this blog, I show the steps, albeit with less detail, in the photos below.

The armature shaft and commutator is polished and the motor is reassembled. The motor is run in to seat everything back in, and it runs smooth and powerfully.

Like the motor, this machine did not have a light. A vintage light was sourced to compliment the machine. Unfortunately, it is dull and the Singer logo decal is faded beyond cleaning. To address this, the fixture is painted and the logo is restored with gold paint. The shroud is repainted with a custom mix lamp black paint. The border of the decal is blocked out. Then, using a very fine tip artist brush and a 20X microscope, the lettering is filled in. The original borders of the letters serve as the border for the paint. Following this, the shroud is sprayed with shellac to protect the new paint.

Prior to reassembly, the cosmetic condition of the machine is addressed. Aside from a few nicks in the decals, the machine is in great condition. It is deep cleaned prior to the decal repairs. There is so much going on with these decals, they are intricate and they grace all of the areas of the machine one could think to put a decal… the biggest problem here is the beauty of the decal is obscured by generations of dirt and old oil. For a machine with such intricate decals and fine finish, care must be taken and hours of detailed cleaning reveals the best and most beautiful results. Some pictures before…

The machine is meticulously cleaned to bring out the amazing multi-color of the decals and the deep black japanned finish. After cleaning, Areas where the decals are nicked are repaired and any paint chips are color matched…

Now the shiny bits and plated parts are cleaned and polished…

The machine is reassembled and adjusted… and that’s it! An already beautiful machine is restored to excellent condition… both cosmetically and mechanically. It has been upgraded with a vintage motor and light, and it just doesn’t get any better than this!

The machine after restoration has it’s original finish in excellent condition… and it sews like it must have when it was new… only now it is motorized and you can see what you are doing! Here is the final result of many hours of detailed work…

Honestly, this Singer Model 15 is in the best condition I have ever seen with this ornamentation, and I would feel lucky to find another to compare.

If you like what you see please visit our Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/pungoliving, and see this Singer Model 15 and all of our other restored fine quality vintage sewing machines. If you have any questions, please contact Lee at Pungoliving@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading and 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.

4 thoughts on “Restoration of a Vintage 1925 Singer Model 15-30 “Tiffany” Sewing Machine

    1. Depending on the parts you need to replace you may have success. Some parts are very hard to find and you may have some luck on Ebay with someone who is parting out a machine…

      What parts do you need? I may be able to lead you in the right direction.

      Hope this helps!
      Lee

      Like

  1. Thanks so much for this post. I was walking my dog one day and found an old sewing machine table that was beat-to-shit and being discarded for trash. Inside was an old singer. I took just the machine home, because the table was collapsing, and based on my research it is an 15-30 with Tiffany decals. The decals are in pretty awful shape as is the gloss finish, but the bobbin, hook, dogs all are free and clear.

    I am wondering; do you have a recommendation for a service manual? I want to take the machine apart and clean it, but I want to make sure I can put it back together and reset the timing.

    Thanks so much!

    -J

    Like

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