Restoration of a Vintage 1957 Singer Featherweight 222K

The Singer featherweight is one of Singer’s iconic sewing machines and it has a well deserved reputation Diminutive in size and weighing in around 10 pounds, it looks like a toy. In reality, it is a very fine sewing machine and has a full rotating hook and gear driven sewing mechanism. The featherweight is known for it’s beautiful straight stitch. Adding to it’s portability, the front of the sewing bed flips up and the machine fits in a small sewing case. It is great for quilting piecework and any sewing project that does not require much harp space.

There are two styles of featherweights. The model 221 that has a fixed flip up bed, and the 222K that has a removeable flip up bed. Removing the bed reveals a free arm. One other feature that distinguishes the 221 from the 222 is the 222’s ability to drop the feed dogs. The sewing performance is the same, but the complexity of the sewing mechanism is vastly different.

The serial number of this machine is EM957251 and dates it’s manufacture to November 15, 1957. This is a custom restoration for one of my customers who wants to use the machine for sewing classes. On close inspection his 222K is in very good condition. The paint is shiny and free of chips on the edges of the bed. The decals on the front of the bed show some wear, but overall the decals are in very good condition. The machine assemblies look pretty clean and it is obvious to me that it has been well maintained.

Here is the machine before restoration:

The restoration of a featherweight 222 is challenging. There are parts that have to be removed and reassembled in a particular orientation and order. It is easy to run into trouble if not documented and the disassembly approach needs to be carefully thought out. That said, the object of this restoration is to remove as much of the sewing assembly as possible to clean the rotating parts inside and out. This machine has a lot of parts assembled together in a very small space. There are some assemblies that I will not disassemble due to access for fear of compromising my ability to properly reassemble them. The gears are matched and balanced on their shafts. Disturbing them would be a mistake because I could never get them properly rebalanced. I don’t see this as a big problem because all of the parts will be cleaned in place and adjusted. It is actually a lot more time consuming to do it this way, but I know the machine will remain balanced and sew as well as a featherweight should.

So, starting the restoration, all of the parts I can disassemble are removed.

The parts are laid out for cleaning…

As you can see, there is plenty of oil varnish in these parts that needs to be removed. The parts are ultrasonically cleaned and then heated in oil to drive out any water. They are then wire brushed to a bright steel condition.

The needle bar is polished for a glass like finish. The presser foot bar cannot be easily removed so it is polished in place.

The body of the machine is thoroughly cleaned and waxed using a heavy bodied carnauba wax and the chrome plated pieces are polished on a buffing wheel and jewelers rouge. The smaller shiny bits are polished on a small buffing wheel on a dremel tool.

The sewing machine motor on this machine was originally wound for 220 volts for use in the UK. The customer had it rewound for 110 volts. The motor was inspected and found to be in excellent condition… but that was no surprise!

The tension control assembly is disassembled and cleaned…

The only place I found any paint chips was on the rim of the balance wheel. These were repaired with custom mixed matching paint.

The machine is reassembled and adjusted for hook timing, needle bar depth, presser foot height, and feed dog clearance. Following these adjustments, the machine is run to adjust the tension and stitch quality… As expected, it sews great and makes a beautiful stitch.

The machine began the restoration looking good, and it looks great now! Take a look…

That’s it! The restoration of this Singer 222K is complete and it runs smooth as silk. I hope you enjoyed the restoration process as much as I and I look forward to the next!

If you have any questions or comments please contact me at pungoliving@gmail.com and let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Lee

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: