Saturday, May 12, 2012

One More from Skip!

These old sewing machines that we like to collect oftentimes have damage to the finish due to the old shellac or clearcoat finish aging, getting dull, and wearing away.  The pictures here are of my own Singer 201-2.  Skip tells me that the machine got pretty hot at some time or another, causing the "alligator" looking shellac finish on it.  The finish was cracked, separated, flaky and dull.

I will caution you before you use this tutorial to ASK QUESTIONS if you have exposed decals!!  There is no guarantee that the products used in this tutorial will not hurt those decals, nor will Skip or I take responsibility for damages done to decals.  I will tell you that I have used this technique on my own machines with no problems, but being over-enthusiastic when cleaning or rubbing on these machines can cause problems!!  Proceed with caution, and I would suggest that if you are new to these kinds of techniques to test them first on less common, "boat anchor" types of machines before you try it on your great great grandmother's extremely rare antique machine that really doesn't look too bad to begin with! 

I am going to first post the photos of my own machine, a Centennial Singer 201-2.  This machine was a GREAT thrift store find, and cost me a whopping $15.00.  Nothing was with it in the way of attachments, but since those are "a dime a dozen", I didn't care.  Normally, seeing boxes of attachments with a machine will incite me to buy it faster than if it doesn't have attachments...don't ask why, I couldn't tell you and it has nothing to do with this post anyway!   This machine had a finish  that was dull, flaking, and the decals were in danger from exposure.  I couldn't quite follow Skip's tutorial down to the letter, because I first had to add more shellac to the machine to protect the decals.

These photos are of the machine's finish BEFORE I started on it.  I had to, gently as possible, clean the machine of all of the layers of car wax I had applied trying to "fix" the finish, and I had to add shellac first to give me something to work with using Skip's tutorial that I'm going to post in just a minute.  This is the time to be REALLY CAREFUL, and know with a certainty that you are not going to further damage your machine's decals and decorations before you advance to cleaning!!   PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS!!
Here is the same machine after following Skip's instructions; still not perfect, but so much better, and the decals are protected!

Here are Skip's instructions:

Supplies needed: Shellac
Denatured alcohol
Linseed oil (boiled)
Rags (old t-shirts or old tighty whites)

1. Clean the head with your favorite method to remove dirt and grime.
2. Wrap your finger with a couple of layers with the t-shirt.
3. dip finger in alcohol and place a few drops of linseed oil on the finger
4. now start rubbing the bed with light circular motions, add more oil if finger sticks to the finish.

We are now melting the old shellac into a smooth coating trying to eliminate the dull brown spots of old shellac.

5.Now go from left to right in a straight line ligthly lifting the finger and the repeat. you can also go from right to left if you like. Now we are trying to get rid of any swirl marks that were left by the rag.

Stay away of the decals at this time. Cont this tech until you have a smooth finish on the entire head.

When you have a smooth and clear finish on the head(as clear as it will get and you will know)

6. Now go over the the decals with the same method above very lightly.

7. Let this cure for about a day then with new rag on finger dip it in shellac and place a few drops of oil and with a circular motion go over the decals and the head. Cont. dipping finger in shellac and a few drops of linseed oil and do this over the entire head and decals. this is adding more clean shellac to protect the decals and the japan coating. Always ending in the straight line finishing to get rid of the swirl marks made by the rag.

8. Do this until it looks good to you and smooth and shiny. Let cure for a week and then wax if you want. You favorite brand of wax is okay although it is not needed now.

Please note: I recommend you practice this french polish method on an old machine first so you can get the hang of it. Please do not hesitate to ask questions anytime. I am always here to help.


bherloski said...

Thank you! I have a New Home that I'm finally ready to tackle!

bherloski said...

Thank you! I am finally ready to tackle my New Home!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton for stating your opinions. Being a writer, I am always in need of unique and different solutions to think about a topic. I actually uncover fantastic creativity in doing this. Many thanks

Anonymous said...

A very impressive article. Well prepared. Very motivating!! Set off on to way

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This tut will help me a lot. Tonite I have been looking at a Aldens sewing machine. G50140R. I am unable to find
how much it is worth to make an offer to the owner. Can't you help me? Also does it have a made date available. Just getting started with the vintage craze. I have a Red Eye 1910, a 15-90 1949' a 221-1 1948 and then this Aldens Is a high possible. If it's black and
heavy, I want it. It's amazing how I want to have them all. My email. Thank you Charlee.