Monday, August 4, 2014

Painting the Town: part 1

I'm diving in and learning how to repaint sewing machines. I can't help it; I like perfection. Rather than belabor my faults and weaknesses, let's just get into it, shall we? Here's the first candidate:
Singer 66
This little lady was part of a learn-to-rewire project that I wrote about earlier so she's become a real guinea pig (as if she raised her needle and cried out "Me, Me! Pick me!"). If you look closely you can see on the bed of the sewing machine there are carvings right into the paint, something like MN and some numbers. It really spoiled the whole sewing machine. I thought this would be a good one to start out on because I know I'll make mistakes and I don't want to make a mess of a really good sewing machine that I want to repaint:

Pfaff 130
The Pfaff 130 is a great sewing machine but this one has crumbling paint on the bed that has to be repainted. But it's not going to be my experiment. So the Singer 66 will be the first. I read up on it until I think I could repeat the steps in my sleep but it goes like this:

1. Remove anything you don't want to get painted. This includes motor, hand-wheel (in good shape), metal faceplate, bobbin cover, feet, etc. It doesn't need to be completely disassembled because then you have quite a job getting it back together.
2. Mask everything that doesn't get painted. That's a tall order but I stuff paper into large openings and tape everything else.
3. Use chemical stripper as per directions. I like the really bad stuff (Zinsser Strip Fast Power Stripper), no orange kind that you just wash off. As it turns out, this old paint does not want to come off!

Looking a bit naked with paint partially removed
The stripper needs to stay on a long, long time before I can steel wool and scrape the old paint off. I use a variety of old dental tools to get into the small spaces.
4. Use sandpaper to remove what the stripper could not remove. This works really well, maybe because the finish is now softer. At this point I use a sanding bit on a variable speed drill and work on the remaining parts. There seems to be a haze from the chemical stripper so this cuts through everything.
5. Wipe down, let dry, mask again. This time I mask very carefully, especially around the Singer emblem that I do not want to remove. I hope I don't regret that later. I also stuff paper inside of the machine and all around the bobbin area on the bottom plus I tape in place. I don't want any primer to touch that area.
Re-taped and in the painting booth (front)

Re-taped (back)
So here she is in my improvised painting booth of a large sheet of cardboard reshaped into a box with plastic on the top. This was done in the garage with both cars outside. My husband volunteered to drive his out "so you can have more room to work." That was nice of him. So now we are ready for the primer. But I have run out of time and will continue this adventure in the next post. How exciting! It's like an old-fashioned serial story. "Next time on this show we find out if the primer covers all those weird markings. Can she do it? Stay tuned to the next episode with Sewing Machine Mavin!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Came across your blog in my search on how to restore an old singer. Yours is the best I have found so far. Read all 7 parts and now feel a little better in tackling something I have never done before. Read some of your more recent posts and will certainly be back to read more. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Tracy M.