The Sewing Place

Featherweights for Dummies

Acorn

Featherweights for Dummies
« on: December 28, 2017, 12:14:49 PM »
Well, she's here.   :D 

I have been prodding and poking here, ferreting around in her innards and generally trying to get to know her.  She seems to be remarkably clean - almost no fluff anywhere, just one little loop around one of the rods inside the face plate.

I am being vey cautious and checking everything I can before even plugging here in, so I have oiled all the bits the manual tells me to.  I have also checked the grease tubes on the motor, and they appear to have little or no grease in them.  So my first question is where to find 'Singer Motor Lubricant', because the manual tells me bad things will happen if I use anything else.

I have found this on Ebay, which is presumably the right stuff, but has a frightening postage charge

Or there's this, which also comes from the US, but the shipping seems so low that I'm afraid they would be sending it by pigeon.

 :[
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

Acorn

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 12:28:19 PM »
I have just been reading that petroleum jelly is better than the new formulations of Singer grease anyway.  What's the feeling about that on here?   :o
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

LeilaMay

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 12:29:59 PM »
I'd think about this - despite the P&P from USA

https://singer-featherweight.com/products/motor-gear-lubricant?variant=18303537283

I'd watch the video too if you want to know a bit more about lubricants (!) - no I wouldn't use pet jelly as motor lubricant.
Singers - 28K, 66K, 99K, 201K - all manual. Singers 221K (2 of 'em), 319K and 401G - electric. Bernina 730 Record, Elna Grasshopper, Husqvana 5220, Grain chainstitch toy machine, most of a Guhl & Harbeck chain stitch machine called Lyra. That's all!  :)

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Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2017, 14:53:14 PM »
Petroleum jelly is fine, it's been tested and up for discussion many times the last two years. The original Singer grease was a saponified grease that leaked just enough oil to reach the bearings and a washer as the motor heated up during use. This was once the most common type grease, but these days you have to search for it and it comes in large bucket size containers.

Everything we get in small tubes or containers these days are synthetic greases, they are solid and don't melt even at high temperatures, and doesn't have any "wicking" ability. These motors were made for the old type grease. A few tests have shown pertrolum jelly works fine and the Featherweight shop is the only one who has taken the bother to have a suitable grease specially made (or packaged) for consumers. Many syntetic greases will work very well on the bearings but you have to take the motor appart and grease the ends of the motor axle each time, not apply it through the wick holes.

A slightly risky trick is one drop of oil down the grease wicks, this will hopefully work its' way down to the ends of the motor axle and brass bearings. Don't over do it, and only a single drop, maximum a second drop a day or three later. Don't apply any more oil the next +6 months either, it's easy to get this advice wrong and keep adding a drop with the rest of the machine with out checking the inners of the motor. The later Singer motors had a tiny (!) hole for the motor bearings and a type of wadding to contain it. It was suppose to be oiled now and then, but I cannot remember how often. If I remember correctly my beige 201 has this type of motor, and I think some of the later Featherweights might too.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 15:01:43 PM by arrow »

Acorn

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 14:34:01 PM »
I'm quoting Morgan from the thread where I asked advice before buying my Featherweight,

Check that the pieces are present including bobbin case and at least one bobbin. 
Make sure that there's no rust around the bobbin case.

Insert a needle and turning the fly wheel by hand see if it makes a stitch.  You will feel whether the action is smooth or stiff.  It may need a little lubrication.

If the action is smooth the next step is a quick visual check for any bare or disconnected wires.
If the action is stiff, it's better to deal with that before running it with the power.

Plug the machine into a surge protector extension lead and make sure the power is switched off at the power point.

Turn the switch on the machine then step away from the machine and turn on the power at the plug.  No bangs or whiffs of burning smells is good. :D

If the machine suddenly starts running on it's own, the issue will probably be a failed capacitor.  It's fixable and not a deal breaker.

The machine sits there quietly, say hello ('tis always a good idea to be polite just in case  ;) ), and then using the pedal do some test stitching. Move the stitch length lever up and down.

We did all of the above (you would be really proud of us!) and rewired the mains plug which had exposed wires, a 13 amp fuse and a screw missing (we put in a 3 amp fuse). 

She stitched beautifully, smoothly and quietly using the flywheel.  I patted her gently and then plugged her in and stood well back.  All was quiet.   She did an exemplary row of stitching for me, again smoothly and quietly.  I adjusted the tension slightly and did a second row - again, beautiful. 

Then she set off by herself, emitted a little (very little) puff of smoke and blew her fuse.   :o

This seems like a textbook case of capacitor failure.  What do I do now?   :\
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

Acorn

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2018, 14:51:15 PM »
PS  Is that silvery thing in this photo the capacitor?

I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

LeilaMay

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2018, 15:46:45 PM »
Honestly, if you know nothing about the electrics, you should take it to be properly sorted by a qualified electrician. I do my own here because Mr is very well versed with electrics but I wouldn't otherwise.

Good luck

Singers - 28K, 66K, 99K, 201K - all manual. Singers 221K (2 of 'em), 319K and 401G - electric. Bernina 730 Record, Elna Grasshopper, Husqvana 5220, Grain chainstitch toy machine, most of a Guhl & Harbeck chain stitch machine called Lyra. That's all!  :)

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Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2018, 19:13:06 PM »
It is, it doesn't belong to the chain of mechanical part, and I assume the wire enters the cylinder shaped part? A sewing machine is simple enough to check, wiring from plugs to motor and to light must be in good shape. Any capacitors are usually easy to detect, and there aren't much else than plugs and main parts on a sewing machine. Remove the capacitor, sort out the wiring (replace the length of it or use a terminal block (white plastic thing you cut to number of wires) to rejoin them. I had one of these in a pedal once, and in connection with the three prong plug on another machine. It's usually not a big deal, sometimes all you need is to remove it and wiring remains intact.

LeilaMay

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2018, 19:33:48 PM »
My Oh says if the capacitor IN THE MACHINE is gone, then this has a part to play in protecting the motor (he got all techy electric at that point) and is not the same as using a pedal without a capacitor.

Maybe others will give another opinion, but I wouldn't take one out of a machine a not replace it.
Singers - 28K, 66K, 99K, 201K - all manual. Singers 221K (2 of 'em), 319K and 401G - electric. Bernina 730 Record, Elna Grasshopper, Husqvana 5220, Grain chainstitch toy machine, most of a Guhl & Harbeck chain stitch machine called Lyra. That's all!  :)

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Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2018, 21:57:37 PM »
A capasitor in a Featherweight generally has to be the basic kind and the same function as in the pedal? The featherweight has a some internal wiring because of the plug and embedded light, and it can easily be placed under the drip pan. I dare claim this because there are no form of electronic parts in the old straight stitchers. That said, I am not an electrician, just an amateur, I don't know everything, but I have read up on the subject. The common place is next to the three prong (or two prong) plug fo the mains wire or in the pedal. All in all I still think it's there to protect against signal interference in other electrical appliances not the motor. The motor in a Featherweight is a bit smaller but very much the same as the standard belt driven Singer motor. You can always replace the capasitor with a new one.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 21:59:10 PM by arrow »

Barnyard

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2018, 22:36:56 PM »
I have come across 3 types of capacitors in 221k's The main culprit is the best known one within the foot pedal and the easiest to fix. The only reason this was fitted was to eradicate interference with radio and TV broadcasts and is no longer required.The second is the large one within the base of the machine. This was used was primarily fitted as a way to even out poor electicity supplies and is rated 110-230v thus universal. The third set can be found in the motor, one on the positive and one on the negative side of the windings, once again these were fitted to avoid interference.

I have rewired many an old Singer and is in fact one of the many things I undertake before passing it on to a new owner. Old rotted cable,bodge job repairs and whole machines that were live with 230 volts and would give you a nasty blast, I have had them all!
If you are unsure at all, don't plug it in. I never ever plug an old machine into the mains before I visually inspect the cable both internal and from the foot control to the mains and back to the machine. I made the mistake once. Never again!!  :S :S :S

If any of you need advice on sorting the electrics on these vintage machines then please just ask.

Barny

Happy new year BTW!!

Acorn

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2018, 23:03:45 PM »

If any of you need advice on sorting the electrics on these vintage machines then please just ask.

Barny

Happy new year BTW!!

Happy New Year to you too - and it's funny you should say that!

I have removed the capacitor - the large one within the base.  I disconnected it properly from the three pin connector and cut the fourth, green wire, which is now blanked off.  I did inspect the wiring before doing anything, and it appears to be good - apart from the capacitor, of course - I suspect that it has, at some point, been rewired.

The good news is that the machine is running beautifully - smooth, quiet, lovely.  The bad news is that when the machine is running the light goes off, and only comes back on when the machine stops sewing.  I knew this was a possibility, and I understand that it is caused by the fact that there is now no capacitor to smooth out the supply of current to the motor and the light.

Presumably the only solution is to put in a new capacitor - but I can't get one like the one I've removed.  Those that are offered as replacements are very different, and I have no idea how I would wire one of them in - or whether they really are suitable.

I would LOVE some advice!   :D
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

Barnyard

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2018, 23:27:17 PM »
The light going off is a simple miss wire. Be that pedal or machine side. It could be both or either. Look at 99k wiring on youtube. It has nothing to do with the capacitor removal though. I will have a scan of my notes tomorrow and give you the correct macine side wiring placements.

Barny
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 23:31:05 PM by Barnyard »

Acorn

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2018, 08:48:07 AM »
Thank you so much Barny.

After removing the capacitor wires there were four wires going into the 3 pin connector - one red, two black and one yellow.  I put them all back in the same places - and the connector was beautifully labelled with the colours anyway.  I wonder whether something else got loosened with all the movement.

The connector was infuriating because it uses split nuts - that's all I can think of to call them - round nuts with a groove for a screwdriver and the bolt coming through the middle so you can't get a normal screwdriver in.  Mr Acorn made me a screwdriver bit to fit, using a normal bit and a file - it looks like this (which we couldn't find to buy anywhere):



I couldn't find any pictures of other machines with these connectors online!



I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

Barnyard

Re: Featherweights for Dummies
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2018, 17:34:53 PM »
Hi Acorn. The slotted brass connectors are a right pain in the bum to remove on the machine side. Why Singer chose this option is a mystery? Anyhow. One question, has the pedal/mains side been rewired? Does the cable look quite new? The only reason I ask is that I have seen machines reverse wired. Whilst this doesnt really make any difference to the machine running it does pose a challenge in diagnosing. The correct wiring for 221k is, and this is looking at the machine with the from the rear (take the bottom cove off): Left to right 3 pin arrangement far left being pin 1. Motor  pins 1 and 2 (doesnt matter if these are either way round), Lamp, pins 1 and 3.

Hope this helps!!

Barny