My latest restoration project is “Ruby,” a Singer 99K model from 1927, serial number Y4432093.
I was so impatient to start working on her that I forgot to take any “Before” photos. So here she is, just being beautiful in the “After” stage.
Ruby came to me in a sadly neglected state. She was very grimy and sticky, the chrome on the bobbin plate and needle plate was badly pitted, and the lid to the accessories compartment was completely rusted out. I believe she probably started her life as a hand-crank machine but later was fitted with an electric motor. The electrical plug end was the old type that fits into a light socket where a bulb normally goes. The flex cord was very frayed and twisted, and I didn’t want to risk a shock, so I removed all the old electrical bits and disposed of them.
In my treasure chest of sewing machine parts, I just happened to have a hand-crank mechanism of the right style and size to fit this machine, so I installed that. I found a replacement accessories compartment lid on eBay, and I used sewing machine oil and a cheap emery board from the grocery store to sand out the pits in the chrome. I took the tension assembly apart and cleaned that, and gave the whole machine a good cleaning and oiling inside and out.
Finally I polished all the enameled surfaces with a non-abrasive auto polish that is recommended for use on Aston Martin and Jaguar cars. I figured, if it’s safe enough for fine motor cars, it ought to be safe for my little sewing machine — but I did test it first on the underside, just to be sure!
This is Ruby’s bentwood case. I was also able to locate a square-ended key to fit the lock, so now she can be stored and moved safely in her case.
Inside the accessories compartment was this large assortment of attachments and feet, including the requisite lethal-looking razor blade! Every vintage machine I’ve ever bought has had a razor blade like that with it. It’s what people used before seam-ripper tools were invented, although my mother always used fine embroidery scissors, and so do I.
With stitch length adjusted and tension fine-tuned, she is now sewing perfectly. I think Ruby’s a keeper!
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