Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Special Order

At my three sale Sunday, I met Sharon who is the new owner of a Kenmore 16 that I so love. She was enthralled by my sewing machines set up in the living room (that we think are terrible and look to get out of there) but noticed my Singer 99 hand crank. We talked about it and she wanted to know if I had any others but I didn't, saving the one on display for my grandkids. But Sharon was insistent and said if I ever had another one she would be interested and I gave her a ball park figure for one and she didn't balk so the wheels in my head started to turn. The problem with the 3/4 sized sewing machines is finding a portable base they need if you are going to make them into a hand crank. I have only had a few and have kept two for myself but I went out to see what I could find for Sharon. I had a very nice Singer 99 in pristine shape that could be make into a HC, even had a spoked hand wheel that is so necessary for the mechanism to be functional. I checked out having a new box made from a guy on Etsy but the 3/4 sized boxes, even unfinished, are +$54. They are very, very nice and I know what goes into making one since I worked with my son-in-law Eric to make one in September 2013. But I needed a cheaper plan for Sharon. Here's what I found on Craigslist:

Singer 99 up for a cleaning
She was really dirty and the case was in rough shape but none of this is impossible. I took off the motor and all of the electric, including the light. Here's what I found when I opened her up:
Under the side plate on left

Bobbin area with needle plate removed
Lots and lots of dust and packed lint from sewing projects. There was no rust so it was just removing the bobbin case and putting everything I could into the ultrasonic/electronic cleaner, cleaning with metal cleaner, oiling, wiping down the rest with sewing machine oil, and reassembly. Would it even work? I installed the spoked wheel and hand crank from my own Singer 99 and gave her a test drive. No go. Plies of thread nests on the bobbin side. I kept checking my threading, even getting out an online manual, but I couldn't figure it out. Took some of my own advice and replaced the needle, again, used better thread, and started over. Perfect!

I called Sharon to see if she really was interested, and she was, so we discussed pristine shape cost versus a little wear and she was fine with the machine I was working on since it was for herself. I still have the bentwood case to work on but here it is after gluing the base:
Singer 99 back in the base, still unfinished

Bentwood case in rough shape

I think this might turn out pretty nice after some sanding on the base, stain, and something to finish it with. Not as sure about the top but I have restored at least two others and did not strip off the finish but used a restoration product. On one of the blogs I read that these were mass produced so no need to treat like they are fine furniture. That helped me get over the fright of working with something this old. The sewing machine serial number is AB422273, dating from December 21, 1926, so she's an old gal but really in fine shape. I think Sharon is going to be surprised and please. Stay tuned!

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