Jan 31, 2014

If You Want to Organize Your Closet....

...You're going to have to paint it first.

Looks like cold weather or rain is in the forecast for the next while, so Freddie's cabinet restoration is going on the back burner til the weather improves. 

Since it isn't nice enough to be outside, I'm stuck in the house as I have been for most of the winter.  It's is forcing me to deal with all the little things inside that drive me crazy.  

Things like our closet under the stairs.  
Harry Potter would be mortified.

This is the spot where we keep our games, extra blankets and tuck things out of site when we are in a hurry to clean up.  It really should look worse, but because it has been so cold, the kids have taken all the blankets out.  

I wonder if I'm the only one whose children insist on wearing a blanket as they shuffle around the house in the morning, even though they own perfectly good robes, then shed said blankets as they head off to school always about 5 steps from the back door. 

But I digress.  
So my hideous closet is causing me grief.  And this is where it turns into a "If You Take a Mouse to School" kind of project.

It goes something like this:

If you decide to clean out your closet, you're going to need to take everything out first.

Once everything is out, your going to see how bad the flat builder beige paint looks.   (flat paint=person with no kids used to live here)

When you see how bad the flat builder beige paint looks, your going to need to repaint it.

So you'll go to the garage to find some left over paint you can use.

While you're in the garage, you'll notice how messy it is, so messy in fact that you can't find your paint or the paint roller.

So you'll straighten things up a bit. While your straightening, you'll find the paint, and a roller, but realize you have no roller cover.

So you'll have to go the hardware store to get some.

While your at the hardware store, you'll look for more coat hooks to put in the closet, but they'll be to expensive, so you'll think about using knobs and decide you can find cuter ones at the craft store.

So, you'll go the craft store on the other side of town.

As you look through  craft store you'll find the perfect knobs, but they won't be the right color, so you'll go look at paint.  

While your looking at paint, you'll see some that's pink.

The pink paint will remind you Valentine's is coming up soon.

Remembering Valentine's will make you want to do something fun with the kids.

To do something fun with the kids, you'll need some craft supplies.

As you look through the crafts supplies, you'll notice the plastic storage bins in the next aisle.

Seeing the plastic storage bins will remind you that you want to organize the closet.

And if you want to organize the closet, your going to have to paint it first.

Jan 29, 2014

1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 9 - Freddie gets Microdermabrasion

 Poor Freddie.
Her youthful complexion is gone, 
replaced by:

Fine lines  

rough crepe-like skin, 

odd spots here and there, 
and a general lackluster appearance.

Lucky for her, I can reverse some of the damage.

Before I get into the how, let me be clear about the why.  

I want to make Freddie a functional machine again. I see some dainty and delicate fabrics in her future.  So, functional equals a clean, smooth finish.  I also want to stabilize her finish, which has been compromised, to protect what is left of her decals and prevent further damage.       

Step 1:  The Gentle Approach
  • Start by gently wiping off the loose dirt with a dry cloth.
  • Apply Liquid Wrench, or sewing machine oil, let it set and gently wipe off, be very careful around the decals. I tried olive oil for this, as well it seemed to work as good if not better than the other oils.  

In the pictures above, you can see the results.  The darker sections have been oil cleaned.  If your machine looks good after this, STOP.

In Freddie's case, she is looking cleaner, but there is more work to do. From the beginning, there was something weird about Freddie's finish.  Some places, have crazing, others are rough like sandpaper, and then there are those grey spots.  After some research, I feel pretty certain the hot, humid summers, that Freddie spent stored in an attic, cause the original shellac to fail resulting in the problems I see.

 I'm not an expert, the following is the process I used on Freddie.  I stumbled on this by accident when some metal polish got onto one of the rough painted parts.  It worked for me, but may not work for you.  I guarantee that the materials used have the potential to permanently ruin your machine's finish.  Always try restoration methods on a hidden spot first.  Mixing household chemicals can be dangerous.  Please use common sense, wear gloves, work in a well ventilated area, and proceed with caution at your own risk.

Step 2:  The Much Harsher Approach   
  • Avoiding the decals, apply metal polish (I used Brasso) to a small area of the machine about  3" x 3".
Brasso contains ammonia and alcohol, both of which will soften, dissolve, and remove shellac.  Ammonia will also remove the gold color from your decals leaving them looking silver or white.
  •  Gently, rub in a circular motion with the pads of your fingers adding a few drops of oil to reduce the friction and keep the metal polish "wet".  The polish will turn brown as it lifts the old darkened varnish and embedded dirt. 

  • Wipe off with a soft cloth.

  • Add a few drops of oil or liquid wrench and wipe again to remove any gritty residue.  

  • Move to the next section and repeat. 

I used a q-tip and did this very carefully with a light hand on the worse of the decals.  Freddie's decals were already half silver when I got her so, I'm not too worried about keeping them perfectly gold.  Lucky for me things turned out fine.

  • When finished do a final wipe down with a damp cloth to be certain all grit is removed, then wipe dry. 

What's Actually Happening?

From what I know of shellac and the polish I used, the ammonia and alcohol in the polish are softening the shellac, and the grit is breaking it up, effectively removing most if not all of the damaged shellac.  

The polish smooths out the roughest areas.  It may take more than one application.

In the end, Freddie's rough spots are much smoother, but her lines remain.  She is also more lackluster in parts where the shellac was removed. So on to Step 3.

Step 3:  Bringing Back the Shine

it is excellent at telling you how to deal with that damaged shellac finish once you have it clean.   

On the bed, where cleaning wasn't as aggressive, I still had some of the original shellac and followed the instructions from the site above.  In other places, I had no choice but to add a new layer of shellac.  

WOW!  She sure is shiny!  

And if you are after that super shiny showroom finish, then I guess you could stop here.

But as I see it a super shiny finish combined with signs of obvious wear, like chipped paint and missing decals looks funny and screams I just put a fresh coat of shellac on this old machine.

It reminds me of a story that my Museum Practices professor told us about his first restoration project.   It was a very old gun.  It came to him filthy, grungy, and in pretty bad shape.  He worked diligently and cleaned that gun til it sparkled like new money.  He was very proud of his work until he showed it to his supervisor who pointed out that he had committed one of the great sins in museum restoration.  By making it so clean and shiny, he had removed the patina and with it some of the value.  Instead of looking like a well cared for old piece with the natural patina of age, it looked like a replica.  He never forgot his mistake. 

At this point, Freddie doesn't look like a replica, but she does look like a restoration job taken a step too far.  To remedy that, we go to step 4.

Step 4: Changing the Shine to a Glow.
  • First, make sure to give any shellac a day to really dry well.  
  • The using super fine 0000 Steel wool go over the surface avoiding the decals.  The goal here is to soften the shine, and smooth out any accidental ridges or drips in the shellac.  Wipe it clean.
  • Next, add 3 very thin layers of shellac.  Let that dry overnight.
  • Then, go back with 0000 steel wool again, only this time go over the whole machine being very gentle with the decals.  Wipe clean. This should make the surface appear satiny.
  • You can stop at this point, or you can add a coat of high quality paste wax and buff well for a lovely glow.  BTW, all 3 pictures above were taken with a flash. 
I still have to put a few parts back on, but I think Freddie Mae, the woman, would approve.

I just found a this post by Miriam over on The Quilting Board.  Great post, with lots of pictures.  It shows another way, not using metal polish,  to deal with damaged shellac.  
Wish I saw this sooner. 

Coming in Spring
(or once the weather warms up)

Refinishing Freddie's Cabinet and Treadle 

Jan 27, 2014

1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 8 - All the King's Horses....

....and all the King's Men, 
These are Freddie's Parts, Freddie's CLEAN parts. 

Look at all those nice, clean, shiny, silvery parts. 

Yep, that's a lot of parts.   

Where does that piece go again?

That was me after I got everything shiny.
  In fact, one of the pieces in the picture up there is  put together wrong. 

I took lots of pictures as I was taking things apart planning for this moment, and they helped.  But, there were still a few things I was hazy on.  That's when I went over to Clair's post on how to reassemble all the bottom stuff  to refresh my memory of where things go.  Sadly, knowing where a part goes and being able to get it back where it goes are two different things.

Do you remember those parts I struggle to remove in Pt.7, the ones that control the stitch length? 

Well, guess what?

They're even harder to get back in.  
The process you use to get things out is a lot trickier in reverse, and gravity is not on your side. You have to hold the little thing-a-ma-jigger in place with one hand while maneuvering the feed dog crank back up inside the pillar and into the perfect position onto the drive shaft with the other hand. Then with a third hand rotate the thing-a-ma-jigger to engage the feed dog crank and use your fourth hand to screw it all into place. 

It took me numerous tries and about 45 minutes to do this the first time. 

Did you catch that? 
 "the first time" 

Funny thing, the screw that goes with the stitch length stuff looks an awful lot like the screw that holds the Hook Ring Shaft on.  I found this out after reassembling everything save one screw, and that one screw was too short to go where I needed it to.  

Turns out I used that screw to attach the stitch length thing-a-ma-jigger to the machine.  So I had to switch them, and let me just say, without all the dirt and oil to help things stick together the thing-a-ma-jigger falls out pretty easy.  Thirty minutes later, I got it back together the right way. 

With everything cleaned and oiled Freddie looks and runs like new.

Up Next:  

Jan 24, 2014

1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 7 - Removing and Cleaning theStitch Length Regulator and Such

also known as:
What the heck was I thinking?

If you've taken your machine apart this far, and you're not a professional, you need to ask yourself: 

"Just what kind of a glutton for punishment am I?"

Then, congratulations are in order, because you are either really lucky or really patient.

Removing and Cleaning the Stitch Length Regulator and Feed Dog Crank is on the menu today.  I don't recommend it.  It's a bit like plumbing, working in tight spaces with fiddly things which have potentially devastating effects if done wrong.

I couldn't find a tutorial on this one.  In fact, I couldn't even find a good illustration, so I will attempt a tutorial with tips I picked up along the way.  If you know of another tutorial or have any suggestions on my process, especially if you've got a better way, please comment below.

Let's start with an anatomy lesson.

A.  Hook Ring Crank
B.  Feed Dog Crank
C.  Stitch Length Regulator
D.  Thing-a-ma-jigger
E.  Rotating Drive Shaft

Today I'm taking out B, C, and D.  I want to get out A and E as well, but some screws just can't be unscrewed, So I'll do my best to clean them in place. 

Next, lets try to understand how they fit together.  
See "D" up there?  I can't find the official name of this part, so I call it a thing-a ma-jigger, or the bane of my existence for the better part of a day, or just plain EVIL incarnate.  Cleaned up and out of the machine it and it's friends look like this:

 By screwing the Stitch Length Regulator "C" in and out, it changes the position of the Feed Dog Crank in the Pillar, which affects the movement of the feed dog and that determines your stitch length.  Screw all the way in for the longest stitch, and all the way out for the shortest.

"So what's the big deal?" you might be asking. 

I suppose if you can somehow remove or even loosen "E" and "A" first, it's not so big a deal.  But  I couldn't get "E" or "A" out.  It's tight in that pillar, and "B", "C", and "D" fit together something like a Chinese finger trap.  Maybe some more pictures will help.  
I love lots of pictures in a post. Pictures of myself, not so much.

    There are 3 access holes in the pillar:  

      Side (beneath the balance wheel)

      Back (remove the decorative cover) and

      • To remove the Feed Dog Crank, "B", you first need to remove Screw "F". 
      • Next, is the tricky part.  "D", "C" and "B"  fit together in such a way that they almost lock themselves together even without the screw.  This is especially true with some old gunky oil helping them stick together. 
      • The trick I used is to tilt the machine on it's side (support it with rolled up towels), and gently rotate the top of "D" forward, (or maybe it was backward) using the circular grove as a pivot so that the channel disengages the roller (cylindrical knob) of "B".  
      • You will have to play with the position of "C" screwing it in  or out to find the sweet spot that lets you do this, and you may need to lift or jiggle "B" a bit.  
      • Once disengaged, "B" should come out easily, then just slip "D" off the knob of "C" if it doesn't fall out on its own.
      • Unscrew "C" and your done.

       Sounds easy enough, but it's one of those things you just have to hold your mouth right to do.  Good Luck!

      Next up:

      Jan 22, 2014

      1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 6 - Cleaning the Underside

      Once again, no step by step instructions from me today.  But I do have some great links for those out there who have their own machine to restore. 

      Like this one from Tools for Self Reliance.  

      Seems like a pretty neat organization, so check them out if you have the time, and definitely check out their sewing machine manual if you have a singer 66 or 99.  You won't regret this free fountain of knowledge.  

      The first picture I have for you shows everything underneath before.  The bobbin case and hook still in place. 
       (I know that's Greek to you non sewing types, but I promise I'll get a nice labeled diagram done some day.)

      Last post, I removed the bobbin case and hook, and had to do a bit of unscrewing and taking off underneath parts to get them out.  My Sewing Machine Obsession has a good tutorial on how to do that here.

      But the quick version is:
      1. Look before you touch.
      2. Unscrew this screw.
      3. Lift out the feed dog ( that thing in my hand)
      4. Unscrew this screw,
      5. and this one,
      6. and this one,
      7. and this one.
      8. Remove the now loose parts. (I'm holding the linkage arm with another part still stuck onto it)You can also see the linkage arm in #6 the screwdriver in the background is pointing to it.  I'm telling you this cause I just learned the name.  Whoo hooo! 
      9. Place them neatly aside for cleaning.
      Caveat: I just want to say I don't recommend removing half of the stuff above, or any of the stuff below on a machine that is relatively clean, where all the joints move freely.

      Sadly, Freddie is not such a machine YET.  To help guide any poor souls out there who are clueless like me and are really need to clean everything, I give you the following advice:

      Go check out Clair's post at The Errant Pear, then come back and see how I tweaked her tip to get that miserable expletive of another expletive big screw out. 

      This was THE moment that tested my resolve.  That screw wouldn't budge.  I soaked it in liquid wrench, waited, and tried again.  
      Nope, wouldn't move.  
      So I poured on more liquid wrench, waited some more, nearly gave up, found Clair's post and decided to follow her lead and use my own "power of persuasion" (a wrench).  

      It still wouldn't budge! 

      In a last ditch effort, I tried a 2 pronged attack, using a screw driver and a wrench and turning both at the same time.  

      Hallelujah It worked!
      I could hear the sewing machine angels singing. 

      After that, there were just a few more screws to remove before cleaning could begin.

      FYI, the screw driver wrench combo works great for getting out stubborn pivots (above middle) hold the wrench still, and turn the driver to loosen.

      Next up:

      What the heck was I thinking?

      Jan 20, 2014

      1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 5 - Removing and Cleaning the Bobbin Case

      For this post, I'm not going to show a step by step dissasembly because there are already some fabulous tutorials out there on the process like this one from Elizabeth at My Sewing Machine Obsession.

      Nope, instead I'm going to focus on the before and after.   Let's start with these before pictures, one with natural light, and the other with a flash.  I love how the flash highlights the dirt.
      To clean the bobbin case, everything has to come out.  That is no easy feat since dried oil and lint seem to be the original recipe for super glue.  I knew I was in for it when I saw this as I started to loosen the first screw.

      Yuck!  That's kind of icky.
      However, it's going to be really satisfying to clean and it gives me some insight into Freddie Mae, the original that is.

      For example, I know she took excellent care of this machine until it went into storage.  Sure, it's obvious that the lint wasn't cleaned out the last time the machine was used, but there isn't a huge build up either.  Probably just a few sewing projects since the last cleaning. 

       I can also tell that she kept the machine well oiled, which was far more important than getting every spec of lint out back in the day.  That oil preserved the machine and kept rust at bay over all these years.  The only downside is that countless summers spent in an attic baked the lint and oil into cement. 

      However, perseverance, the right tools and Liquid Wrench will always win in the end and I did manage to get all the parts out with only a few minor hiccups.

      And these are the parts before and after cleaning.

      I love it when a part I think is painted turns out to just be dirty.  

      Next up:

      Jan 17, 2014

      1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 4 - Removing and Cleaning the Bobbin Winder and Belt Cover

      With the Clutch Knob and Balance/Hand Wheel  still off, I figure I should take care of the other removable parts nearby like the:

      Belt Cover - Covers the top portion of the belt.

      Bobbin Winder - Should have a rubber wheel which when set against the turning balance wheel, winds the bobbin.  Freddie's wheel is long gone, probably rotted away. Note to self: order parts. 

      Removing the Belt Cover

      • The bobbin winder is attached to the belt cover and the belt cover has to come off the machine to get the bobbin winder off.

      • Begin by removing the screw that holds the belt cover to the shaft.

      • Then just lift it off.  Yep!  That's plenty dirty.

      • In the last picture, you can see that this part of the machine is also suffering from issues with the black paint.


      Breaking it Down
      • Remove the 2 screws holding the Belt cover to the Bobbin Winder."thar be springs in some of them there screwy ma-giger thingies" Take your time and  be careful.  You don't want to loose those springs, and you need to pay attention to how they go back in and where they engage the other parts. 

      • For example, there are 3 holes for the spring in picture 1 to start in, the screw driver points to the location that mine started in.

      • Picture 2  bobbin winder is disassembled. 

      • Picture 3 is the back side of the disc thingy with it's screw and washer.  I had to soak it with liquid wrench to get it off.  Note to self: Learn sewing machine part names.

      Want to hear a dirty joke?  

      Freddie once had some dirty parts.

      What to hear a clean joke?  

      They got cleaned.

      Now that the parts are clean, do you remember how you took them apart so you can put it all back together?


      Then it's a good thing Claire over at the Errant Pear has a great tutorial on how to put your bobbin winder back together.

      Next Up:

      Jan 15, 2014

      1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 3 - Removing and Cleaning the Balance Wheel

      Now that Freddie has had a face lift, it's time to turn my attention to the other end of the machine.  Here we find the: 

      Balance/Hand Wheel - Large black spoked wheel which can be turned by hand, belt, or motor to raise and lower the needle bar.

      Stop Motion Clamp Screw/Clutch Knob - Smaller silver wheel set inside the hand wheel, used to disengage the needle bar from the balance wheel when winding a bobbin so the needle bar won't move. 

      Removing the Stop Motion Clamp Screw/Clutch Knob

      To Remove the Stop Motion Screw/Clutch Knob
      • First, loosen the screw on the Clutch Knob.  You don't have to remove it completely.  
      • Next, unscrew the clutch knob to remove it.  Ewwww!  Lots of dirt. 
      • There is a oddly shaped washer behind the Clutch knob.  You can see it still on the shaft in image 2, and detached in image 3.  Pay attention to it's position as you remove it.  If you install it incorrectly, after cleaning you'll kick yourself.  
      • However, if you've already messed it up.  You can find details on how to reassemble everything so your clutch actually works, and understand how it works by checking out this fabulous entry on the "Old Singer Sewing Machine Blog."

      To clean the metal parts, I used a metal polish.  I let it set to dissolve the old oil, then wiped away the grime and polished with a cotton rag. Above, I tried to cleaned half the clutch knob, but unintentionally cleaned the "dirty side" a little bit.  In the Before and After below you can see just how dirty that clutch knob was.  If I was truly obsessive, I would have gone at it with the polish again. 

      To Remove the Balance/Hand Wheel

      • Gently Pull.  On Freddie Mae, that didn't work. 
      • If a gently tug doesn't work, liberally apply liquid wrench, WD-40 or something similar, and let it set.  Just be sure to keep it away from the decals for now.
      • Wait a bit and try again.  If it'll turn, but won't pull off, just work it back and forth until it does.
      • Once the wheel is off, clean the shaft and wipe away any residue.

      To clean the Hand Wheel, I used metal polish, but was very careful on the painted areas. 

      Jan 13, 2014

      1927 Singer Model 66 Restoration Pt. 2 - Cleaning the Face Plate and Beyond

      Freddie Mae Gets a Face Lift!

      Remember how I got an 1927 Singer Model 66 I for Christmas?

      Well, it's time to start cleaning the old girl up, and of course I've got to start with her face.  Since I first laid eyes on her, that intricately designed face plate has been calling my name , begging me to release it from all that dirt.

      So I did.  
      I also took off the back plate and gave it a good polish.  What a difference a good clean and polish can make!

      With the face plate off, it's a perfect time to tackle the moving parts behind. They may not look that bad in this picture, but trust me, there is a fine layer of dried on oil on almost every part.

      After taking off the Thread Regulator and Pressure Bar, I removed the Thread Tension Assembly for cleaning.  You can see the crud better in this picture.  

      All the metal bits above and below should be shiny silver.  The yellow/brown color is from dried sewing machine oil and filth.  Luckily, the metal polish dissolves it easily.

      The picture below shows the pressure bar position bracket set screw.  It also shows the state of the finish.  That isn't pix-elation of the picture, that is the texture of the finish highlighted by the flash.  

      At this point, I've already wiped the surface down with oil to remove any loose dirt.  When Freddie Mae was new, she would have had a nice smooth shiny black finish.  Over the years, something happened to make it rough like a fine sand paper.  

      I suspect this is either a layer of crud and machine oil that has built up, or this is a result of the machine being kept in less than perfect conditions causing the varnish to fail/craze/become rough and sand papery.  There are places with obvious crazing, and I know she was in storage for a while so I'm leaning toward the later explanation.  

      If this roughness is the varnish, then I'm in a pickle, because if the varnish flakes or chips off, the pretty decals go with it.  I'll have to do a bit of research to see what I can do about this.  

      In the meantime, I'll clean what I can.  Hmm.. might have to go back and do a bit more work on the needle bar.  

      Still, after taking out all the  easily removable parts, cleaning them and putting her back together, Freddie Mae is looking much better inside and out.  Her former beauty is starting to show again.

      Coming Soon!
      Part 3 cleaning the bobbin winder assembly and balance wheel

      Got an old Machine you want to know more about, or possibly refurbish yourself?
      Check out these links that have been a huge help to me.

      http://www.treadleon.net/ -All about treadles.
      http://www.ismacs.net -International Sewing Machine Collectors Society
      http://www.mysingerstory.com/ - Look up your singer by model number and find when it was manufactured.