Question about Sewing Machines

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Sewing machine in loft for 25 years.Electric is there but doesn't turn and only half way manually.Foot bobbin & feeder don't move electrically but they do slightly manually. A drop of oil or a fix?

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  • 86 Answers

I've restored a number of machines that had been stored for years, so, here's the general procedure to do it yourself:
1. get some denatured alcohol and a clean low-lint rag (it will get *dirty* so nothing you're planning to use elsewhere), an old T-shirt is great.
2. get some good quality sewing machine oil.
3. get some basic tools - screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
4. You're going to want to avoid distractions for a while, so find a quiet place to work, this should take 1-2 hours.
5. Take the machine covers off - how to do this varies from one machine to another, but it's usually fairly obvious. Be sure to put screws you take out aside where you won't lose them. Be sure you open up the bottom as well as the top... the bobbin should be removed for this procedure, too.
6. Clean the interior parts you can with the alcohol and rag, being careful not to leave bits of rag in the mechanism.
7. Let it dry as you move on to another area.
8. Lubricate! Oil and more oil *Not* just a drop or two, pour it on pretty heavy... it may even drip out but that's O.K. for now.
9. Once you've oiled pretty much everything you can see (the only thing to avoid is electrical stuff, light bulbs, etc.), move the mechanism by hand at first. It should have loosened up. If not, repeat step 8. Lubricate some more. As you're turning the hand-wheel, you'll see moving parts move, be sure that they're all oiled. It can help to oil as you move as well. It's really hard to use too much oil.
10. Once you've got it turning freely by hand, try it on the electrics. If all works well, proceed to close it up and clean the exterior with the alcohol and cloth. This will also clean up any oil you've spilled or dripped.
11. Sew on a 'test' swatch for a while as you'll probably get oil coming out for the first 10 minutes of sewing time or so.

Posted on Apr 06, 2015

Testimonial: "Thank you everyone. I've got a partial fix. All parts move manually. However, it seems the motor isn't connecting to the mechanics of the machine and there is nothing, only the hum of motor. Electric is there but it's not doing anything, accept the light switch works! Any other thoughts please? Thanks."

  • 10 more comments 
  • Chris
    Chris Apr 06, 2015

    Thank you Carol,

  • Chris
    Chris Apr 06, 2015

    I have oiled in a few 'holes' since my last post and now the wheel turns manually very freely along with the bobbin winder. howeve,when I switch on the electrics there is a humming noise but nothing moves at all now. Could it be the brushes in the motor?

  • R.A. Ellis
    R.A. Ellis Apr 06, 2015

    I've found, in the past, that the motor is trying to move parts but it can't because they are still frozen. Keep applying the oil in all the holes and definitely use the hairdryer. If you see metal parts rubbing on metal, apply a couple drops of oil there too. Patience and persistence. It's taken me as much as several days to get a frozen machine loosened enough to sew. Even the selector knobs and levers can be frozen and this method will work.

  • R.A. Ellis
    R.A. Ellis Apr 06, 2015

    I don't know where you are located, but a bottle of Tri-Flow Synthetic Oil works well on loosening frozen machines. It is a penetrant oil. Once you do get your machine working well again, use a good quality sewing machine oil (not 3-in-1, WD-40, or cooking oil). Then be sure to clean and oil your machine regularly. Mechanical parts do dry out over time. The oil keeps the parts moving freely.

  • Chris
    Chris Apr 07, 2015

    "Thank you everyone. I've got a partial fix. All parts move manually. However, it seems the motor isn't connecting to the mechanics of the machine and there is nothing, only the hum of motor. Electric is there but it's not doing anything, accept the light switch works! Any other thoughts please? Thanks." Blinki 'Testimonial Box' confusing where I'm supposed to type!

  • Carol Sutton
    Carol Sutton Apr 08, 2015

    O.K., there are two possibilities left. First, and cheapest, is that the belt that connects the motor to the machine is not mounted properly, or is old and degraded and needs replacing. This isn't too difficult and needs only a screwdriver to coax the belt off of it's mounts. The second possibility is that the motor is not working. To check this, remove the belt and try to 'operate' the machine. Check to see if the wheel on the motor itself is turning. If not, you need a new motor and that would probably cost almost as much as a new machine. If it turns when you operate the foot (or knee) pedal, replace the belt and that should fix the problem.

  • Chris
    Chris Apr 08, 2015

    Thank you Carol I've checked everything as above and still the motor hums (for want of a better word) but no mechanics running. New mahcine then?

  • Carol Sutton
    Carol Sutton Apr 08, 2015

    Yes, if the little wheel attached to the motor itself doesn't turn, then the motor is likely kaput. Since a new motor for an old machine is pretty expensive, you'll likely want a new one, unless, of course, you want to operate this one by hand (lol). But don't toss it out, look for an offer where you can trade it in on the new one, may save you a few quid.

  • Carol Sutton
    Carol Sutton Apr 08, 2015

    If the shop where you're getting a new one doesn't accept trade-ins, offer it on e-bay or whatever. There are people like me who restore old machines who may have a motor and want to try to save it. Older machines are far better made than the newer ones (since about 1990, they've been using plastic parts internally, ugh!). Anyway, it may be worth a bit to someone even in non-working shape.

  • Chris
    Chris Apr 08, 2015

    That's it Carol. Oh well, things are meant to be as this one is sooo heavy and the hard plastic cover, that has the handle on it only fixes one side. A little blught er it lift. I nice new light one for me :-) I'l see if I can do a part-exchange as you suggested Carol ;-) Thank you everyone. :-)

  • Chris
    Chris Apr 08, 2015

    Our messages crossed. Carol are you saying you want my machine - lol

  • Carol Sutton
    Carol Sutton Apr 08, 2015

    It might be a bit expensive to ship... I'm in the USA,(lol) but I do like to bring new life to old machines. I've got several that I use now that came to me not working. Properly cared for and used regularly, those old machines should work for another generation or two.

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  • Sewing Machines Master
  • 10,028 Answers

If you have the manual, refer to the instructions on oiling your machine. (Recommend using a good quality sewing machine oil.) Since your machine has been in storage a long time, it has most likely dried out and the metal parts are stuck. If you can oil it (use only 1-2 drops oil in each spot), that could very well be the resolution. Once you've oiled, direct hot air from a handheld hairdryer into the internal mechanisms and gently try to move the handwheel. If it is still sticky, try oiling again and then hairdryer. Repeat as needed.

Posted on Apr 06, 2015

Testimonial: "Thank you. Not working. The wheel is now very loose, but nothing moves, electric running through it but still nothing is moving!!"

  • 3 more comments 
  • Chris
    Chris Apr 06, 2015

    Sorry keep putting comments in testimonila box!!!

  • R.A. Ellis
    R.A. Ellis Apr 06, 2015

    Keep working it. It's taken years to be in its current condition and it will take some patience.

  • Chris
    Chris Apr 06, 2015

    Thank you. should I oil again and try and manipulate the moving parts?s

  • R.A. Ellis
    R.A. Ellis Apr 06, 2015

    You can oil again and gently try to move things--don't force it as it may break. If you use the hot air, it will cut speed up the process greatly--probably as much as by half. The hot air also helps to melt some of the dried oil, I usually get the internal mechanism (both top and bobbin area) very warm to the touch. Be careful to not run the hairdryer for a real long time as it may overheat the hairdryer.

  • R.A. Ellis
    R.A. Ellis Apr 06, 2015

    Probably best not to try to run the motor until you can hand manipulate things easily. Wouldn't want to burn up the motor.

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  • Sewing Machines Master
  • 470 Answers

You need to take it in for a maintenance. The money to have it done professionally will be worth it.

Posted on Apr 03, 2015

Testimonial: "Thank you for answering :-) I can get a new machine for £70 that will suit me, so is it worth it?"

  • William Gilbert Apr 03, 2015

    Most shops can give you an estimate on cleaning up and oiling a machine. Most people prefer to buy a new machine because it has a warrenty. This also a chance to find a good shop that will stand behind the new machine they'd sell you.

  • Chris
    Chris Apr 06, 2015

    I'm really sorry I have put a comment in testimonial box and now I think I've voted that yur comment wasn't helpful. Sorry new to this and I've foudn the click boxes a bit confusing. It doesn't take much. Just to clarify. Your comments were very much appreciated and helpful. Thank you.

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