Thursday, April 3, 2014

Iron Lady, Day Three: Comparisons

Tuesday afternoon I had a chance to spend a couple hours working on cleaning the machine head.  I've put together the before/after pictures as best I could.  I would like to think I'm a better artist than I am a photographer since I didn't match up my before/after shots very well.
The face-plate on the machine is very pretty.  I could have scrubbed some more, but figured I had gotten the worst of it off.  At least the screw heads are clean.
I didn't get as much of the old, dry and caked oil off the tension disks as some other areas, but they are clean on the inside.  I think it looks much better, though.
I was really surprised to see how much nicer the decals look in the after picture.  Sure shined up that cover plate, but the decals are really showing now.
I didn't get all of the rust off of the hand-wheel, but I managed to get most of it.  Such a pretty little thing, isn't she?
I didn't get every bit off the underside, but I did spend some time cleaning up the worst of it.  I was really lucky to find a machine where everything moved, so I'm not going to complain about a little dried oil that doesn't affect operation.
This picture is a little weird, since I took one from each side of the machine.  I'm just happy I didn't damage the decals in my cleaning.  This is the decal in the center of the machine bed.
I realized, after some cleaning, that I had read the serial number incorrectly.  It doesn't change her age or place of birth, but it is nice to know I have the right number written down in my records.
I thought this one of the stitch-length adjustment screw and the bobbin winder was the most dramatic.  Surface rust removed and everything oiled up.  I am overly excited about seeing a bobbin wound on this machine.  Silly, but I'm still excited.

All that remains is to set her back in the cabinet, attach the belt and do some test sewing.  Since I moved every adjustment screw all the way out and all the way in while cleaning and oiling, I'm sure it will take me a little while to get her stitching predictably.

My references for this project include:

The Treadle Lady
Etsy Shop:

Our Handmade Home

Granny Miller:  A Journal of Agrarian Life & Skills

A-1 Sewing Machine Specialists
Singer No. 66 Manual:

I am not an expert at refinishing.  I am not an expert and sewing machine care or maintenance.  I am a quilter, sewer and sewing machine enthusiast.  My goal is a working treadle sewing machine.


  1. Have you tried WD40 as a cleaner? It is fish oil based and it does clean. I was sceptical, but it does work

    1. Everything I have read says not to use WD-40. It will remove the decals and may damage the machine finish. It also is only a water displacing compound, and does not leave behind lubrication. For cleaning I've been using gentle pressure and light machine oil that you use to oil the machine along with a penetrating fluid that also lubricates.

  2. Thanks for the mention Becca 😊

    Your machine looks like she is cleaning up nicely. I'm like you, I just wanted my sewing machine to sew again.

    Ann @ Our Handmade Home

    P.S. WD40 does work well but don't let it near the decals as it strips the colouring off (I learned the hard way)

  3. It looks so clean! You can definitely tell that you put in some very hard work to get her back in shape. Beautiful! -Brittany


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