Singer 201, rescued from decades of neglect in a damp garage!
1. It was only $25
2. I wanted to see if I could bring it back to life
3. Even if I couldn't restore it, working on it would be good practice and/or a good source of parts
4. It had the lovely scrolled plates!
This was the most challenging machine I have worked on so far. It had apparently passed many years of disuse in a rotting, mildewed case in a garage and was now was completely seized up; the motor ran but nothing moved. The presser bar lever was stuck down and would not budge. Just like a person, this machine wasn't "dead" as long as it's heart was beating - meaning that the motor worked. But that is ALL that worked. This machine was basically paralyzed by rust and lack of use.
(It always amuses me when the ads say that a machine "has hardly ever been used". That is not necessarily a good thing.)
Anyway, I brought him home, got out my screwdrivers, and within an hour I had this:
Then I broke into the motor like this:
The first thing I did was insulate those bare wires like this:
DISCLAIMER: Yes, I know this isn't how you're "supposed" to do it. Yes, I know you're supposed to solder brand new wiring into the motor. But electrical and soldering skills are simply not in my bag of tricks and I don't want to go there. I used shrink tube wiring insulation and then wrapped tape around the seams. Although this isn't the definitive way to deal with the wiring, it is the method that is within my skill set and the wiring is surely better off being insulated this way than by being hacked up and soldered by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. (I don't expect anyone else to do it this way based on the way I do it, this is my own "make-do" method.)
So moving along, I turned my attention to coaxing life out of this seized up machine. Down here nothing was moving:
This is a process I've done a few times now and it involves oil and elbow grease. Maybe I used too much oil, but again this is my method and it works for me. I oil the usual suspects and then oil every joint, crack and place that moves. Turn the wheel. Turn it and turn it and turn it and turn it....watch what is happening...where does it seem to be stuck? Where is it trying to break through? It only takes one "stuck" spot to stop the entire operation. It also takes patience and the mind of a lunatic to spend the better part of two hours trying to find out where a rusty 70 year old sewing machine is hung up. But then there is that moment when it all breaks free and TA-DA you have a running machine. I love that moment!
Here is the deal with these machines: it is unlikely that anything in the works is actually "broken," and if it is, then it is mostly likely beyond my ability (or even my desire) to fix it. I'm not a sewing machine mechanic - or any kind of mechanic, for that matter. I just do whatever seems to work. These machines are a dime a dozen, so a truly inoperable one is destined to become a parts donor. Since these are inexpensive machines to play around on, its a learning experience with not much to lose if I'm not successful.
Then there was the presser bar lever stuck down. I got to have some fun in here working with that
But yes, I got it moving and now it works perfectly. I had to work the pressure adjustment knob loose with a vise grip (it was turned all the way down and stuck tight), then I rubbed oil all around that spring until it finally "let go" and moved.
After surgery, I "stitched him up" again. That is the fun part, putting it all back together. Putting together the tension assembly, reassembling feed dogs and bobbin hook, hooking up the wires to the pin block after crimping on new contacts (actually I hate that part) Moment of truth, it all runs like a top.
It sounds a little noisier than usual because of vibration from the table it's sitting on. But 24 hours ago this was a sad, non-working machine that somebody just wanted to get rid of. This machine still has cosmetic issues due to the clear coat eroding and leaving ugly patches, so it looks like a machine with leprosy. But it is now ready for a new home where someone will just want to sew with him rather than enter it in a beauty contest. Its back on Craigslist....we'll see what happens....
UPDATE: Less than 48 hours on Craigslist and sold! Glad I was able to re-home this machine to someone who can really use it. :)