Featherweight Fanatics Archives

October 1995

Sunday, October 1 - Saturday, October 7

Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 22:48:12 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: FW Book, machines, etc.

I'm also looking for information on ordering the Featherweight book by 
Nancy Johnson Srebro.  Haven't seen it in any bookstores or quilt shops 
in this area.

Today, I discovered several interesting machines in an antique mall.  One 
was an ivory (white?) featherweight in a green case, priced at $415.  It 
looked quite "used and dirty" but probably could be cleaned up and oiled.  
I didn't ask to sew on it since the price was too steep for me.  The 
other machine was a Singer portable, 99K, for $95.  Is this a reasonable 
price for this model?

The last machine was a black Singer (serial number beginning AH) in a 
cabinet for $72.00  It looked in good condition and had a new belt.  I 
thought a long time about that one but then decided against it since I 
already have three machines, including a black Featherweight, and I'm 
really looking for another Featherweight.  However, I do know the way 
back to the antique mall if I have a panic attack!  Oh, and I did find a 
very old hand-crank Singer for $35.00!  

Mary Jane
Date: Sun, 01 Oct 1995 02:24:56
Subject: WANTED FW

Oh so desperate...I want a 
Featherweight.  I had one tears ago 
and it was stolen during a move across 
country in our Military days.


Barbara B
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 04:15:57 -0400
Subject: Re: Books, etc...

Hi folks,

I have 2 books on antique machines that Susan and the group might be
interested in. 

One is called Antique American Sewing Machines by James Slaten. Lots of info
and pictures, published by Singer Dealer Museum, 3400 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA

The other is The Sewing Machine: It's Invention and Development by Grace
Rogers Cooper. Tons of info and wonderful pictures, published by Smithsonian
Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Does anyone know if the International Sewing Machine Collectors is on the
internet? And there's a toy sewing machine collectors group too. I believe
they have a newsletter but I don't know where to write.

This is a wonderful Digest and altho I've only recieved it for 2 days, I'm
really enjoying it. I have 4 FW's, 2 black, 1 white &1 green. My '48 is used
for all my piecing and and for making all my quilted dresses. It's a gem!

I keep finding FW's for others so I can play with them for a day or so before
they're claimed and taken to their new homes. I sure wish I could find some
inexpensive ones. Around here they are very pricey.

I also have about 25 other antique machines, some treadles altho I prefer
hand cranks. They're all over the house!

Back to work now,

Gretchen M
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 22:57:48 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Bobbin Winding

Well, well, well!  You know that rusty ole FW I rescued?  It is home from 
the shop and it sews real good.  Its ID starts with AL which tells me it 
may be a 1955 model.  

According to my 80 yr ole Singer repair man, about 50 of these models were
recalled by Singer.  The bobbin housings were manufactured in Canada and
the specs were a bit off, causing the thread to wound around the bobbin
and get all tangled up.  

Back in '57, before the recall, two of these models were given to Larry
for fixing.  It took him awhile but he eventually tracked down the cause
and found a solution by doing a little grinding here and a little grinding
there.  Now that he knew what had to be done, he told the Singer District
Manager to give the machines to him to correct the problem, but the recall
was official and all these models were returned to Singer. 

Except....Yep, you guessed it.  I got one of those.  When I cleaned the
rust from the bobbin shuttle, I had to remove some old tangled thread.  At
the time, I thought how odd that the owner didn't bother to remove the
thread.  Now I know why. >BG<  I think Larry must be the only Singer 
repair man in the U.S. who knows how to correct this little problem.  He 
also feels that the machine was hardly used because of it.  Now that it's 
all fixed, I have a back-up to my '38.  And even though it was hardly 
used, it sure looks like it has been to war and back.

In running it through its paces to learn its idiosyncracies, I found that
the needle goes up and down when winding the bobbin.  Holding the stop
motion screw during the winding process stops the needle action.  For
those who have this happening, let us know if this works for you. 

The advice from Mr. Pickens in using an itsy bit of baby oil to shiny up 
our babies is the same advice my Singer man gave me.  He said the finish 
is not enamel paint; it's a varnish finish, and a little oil will 
preserve it.


Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 10:28:38 -0500
Subject: Bobbin Winding problems

Hi All!
Bobbin Winding Problems:
>The only problem I am having is in winding the bobbin.  I can loosen the
>knob on the wheel, bu the needle is still goes up and down when I am winding
>the bobbin.

My Dad, Dale Pickens had the following to say:  "The trouble is in the
belt.  The belt is too thick in one place where it joins--most likely.  If
you purchase a new belt (the 17 1/2 inch size) then this should take care
of this problem."

If you cannot find a belt, then give my Dad a call and you can purchase one
from him.  Dad has most all of the accessories that go with a
featherweight, original manuals, and current has about 70 FW's, of all
varieties and vintages!  His number is (405) 765-6125.

Gail P
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 09:49:35 -0800
Subject: Singer sewing machines

I posted this message originally on Thursday, 9/28, but I quess it didn't
make it through the dark mysterious passages of the internet, so will try

Hello from Livermore, California where it is a nice day (in the 70's).  I
am enjoying this list a great deal.  I am a quilter and also collector of
antique sewing machines, I have about 35 in my collection - about a dozen
treadles. The wife (an avid quilter) and I have several Featherweights and

I teach a class on the care and maintenance of Featherweights and have seen
lots of machines.  I taught a class at the Nebraska State Quilt convention
last year and saw 25 machines in one day.  This gives me an opportunity to
see all the different models and condition of lots of machines.  The
condition varies from like new to the dirtiest smelliest things you can
imagine.  One machine reeked of cigarette smoke so bad it would turn your
stomach.  All the machines would work and sew just fine after cleaning and

A few comments on care and lubrication:  Featherweights should be cleaned
and oiled on a regular basis, especially if used frequently.  The bobbin
race should be oiled daily, ONE DROP is sufficient.  Singer says oil the
machine daily if used continuously.  I don't imagine that many of us use
the machine continuously, but there are a lot of quilter's that piece 8 or
more hours a day.  If you use the machine that much, oil it a least once a
week, otherwise, once a month or when
you hear more noise than normal.  You can tell a dry machine (needs oiling)
by its
clatter.  Just use a drop or two in each oil hole, more just collects dust
and makes a mess.  Use the Singer book on the Model 221 as a quide on where
to oil. If you don't have a book, buy the book "FEATHERWEIGHT 221 The
Perfect Portable" by Nancy Johnson-Srebro.  It has a reprint of the singer
info in the back.  Use Singer machine oil or a good quality sewing machine
oil.  Do not use 3-in-one oil or WD-40 as a lubricant. These products can
be used to clean a dirty machine initially, remove gum or rust, but must
followed with a good quality oil for lubrication.  Purchase an oiler, if
you can find one.  Using the container the oil comes in is difficult since
the spout is usually only about an inch long.  I found and excellent oiler
at the White sewing machine dealer.  It is a plastic bottle with a 3" brass
tube for a spout.  The spout  retracts into the bottle when not in use.
You can get the oil where it belongs with this oiler.

 Use only SINGER LUBRICANT to lubricate the bevel gears and the motor.
SINGER lubricant is a non-flowing lubricant that will stay on the gears and
it will not dry out. I have cleaned old machines where someone has used
white grease or some other grease that has dried and caked so badly it had
to scraped off.  You can image how long this can take.  SINGER lubricant
can be purchased at most fabric stores, it comes in a 1/2 oz tube and is
called just SINGER LUBRICANT, Singer item #2129.  The reason one should use
Singer lubricant on the motor and not oil, oil can run onto the commutator
and cause sparking of the brushes and will shorten the life of the motor.
The lubricant, being non-flowing will stay on the bearings where it
belongs.  The motor and the bevel gears should be lubed at least once a
year and more often if the machine is used daily.  For those of you that
have a 221K made in Scotland, you won't find any bevel gears to lub.  It
has a toothed belt between the upper and lower shaft.  Belts run dry, do
not lub or oil the belt.

The 221K made in Scotland has a couple of major and some minor differences
from the black featherweights.  It has a toothed belt that drives the lower
shaft instead of a vertical shaft and bevel gears, and the folding cloth
plate is shorter than the black one.  The motor is slightly higher
amperage, hence more powerful, and the foot control/pwr cord does not
unplug. Of course they come in different colors.  I have one thats white in
a green case.  It's not pure white and I suppose one could say it has a
slight green color.  These machines seem to be built to the same quality as
the black ones.  The one's I have encountered sew about the same as the
black machines.  They sound different because of the belt drive between
shafts.  There is a lot of difference between black FW's in the way they
sound and sew.  In my classes, I have the students run their machines wide
open, one at a time, so everyone can hear the difference between machines.
There is quite difference sometimes between machines.  Some run faster than
others and some a lot quieter.  The speed is dependent on the type of belt,
tension of the belt, and condition of the motor.

About the needle bar going up and down while winding a bobbin.  On some
machines, the clutch (knob on wheel) will not release fully.  One of mine
is this way, so I just put my finger on top the looper arm.  This prevents
it from going up and down during bobbin winding.  Having the needle go up
and down during bobbin winding doesn't hurt any thing as long as the foot
is up.  Having the foot down with no cloth present means the feed dogs are
grinding on the bottom of the foot, metal to metal, which is not good!

I have several Singer 301A's.  For those of you who do not know about this
excellent machine, here's the low down.  The 301A is sort of a full size
Featherweight.  It uses the same bobbin and hook mechanism as the FW and
has a folding cloth plate just like the FW.  Since it is full size it
weighs about 5 lbs more than a FW, 15-16 lbs and has a folding handle built
into the top of the arm.  Compare this with standard cast iron Singer or
one of the new machines on the market - most weigh about 25-30lbs.  It has
a gear driven more powerful motor - you can't stop this baby.  It is a
slant needle and the feed dogs can be retracted.  The slant needle sews
just like a straight needle, there's no difference in the stitch forming
mechanism.  The reason Singer went to a slant needle was to get the needle
forward of the arm for better visability.  This is an advantage when doing
free hand machine quilting where you need to watch the needle position at
all times.  I have a black 301A that's a portable, it came in a carring
case.  It has a full size folding cloth table.  I have a brown one that
came in a cabinet and the folding cloth table is smaller, everything else
is the same.  Also have a brown and cream two-tone cabinet model.

I will write later on antiques, especially Singer models 66 and 99.

Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 08:26:09 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Singer Lubricant

>>In the manual, it talks about refilling the motor lubricant holes.  I do
>>not have any motor lubricant.  Does Singer still make it?  What is
>>everyone doing instead? 

>I too was baffled by the reference to greasing the FW motor in the reprinted
>manual in N J-S's book so I did a little checking on the matter.  The grease
>is no longer manufactured by Singer.  My local sewing man told me the Singer
>Motor Grease was Lithium Grease, (that stiff black grease they smear on your
= = = = = = = = snip = = = = = 

Margaret, thanks for sharing your research with us.  A tube of Singer
Lubricant costs about $2.25.  It is in a red and white 1/2 oz. tube with
the words "SINGER Lubricant".  I bought mine at Woolworth's.  This is a
fairly common item wherever Singer products are displayed.  

To be fair to N. J-S, she was addressing the 2 grease tubes and not the
motor itself.  The location of the grease tubes are illustrated on page 70
of her book.  On page 34, she states that the motor brushes must be kept
bone dry for proper operation and, like the original handbook, recommends
only SINGER motor lubricant be used in the tubes.  Boy, as much as I would
like to see the innards of the motor housing, I would not dare break the

I have one of the original green tubes of motor lubricant.  Squeezed some 
of it out, and the lubricant isn't stiff black grease.  It's clear.  My 
Singer man told me that if I sew a lot, fill the 2 tubes once a year.  He 
also recommended using the Singer Lubricant and showed me the same red &
white tube.  He also recommended that I should run my machines at least 
once a month for about 15 minutes.  

All these sewing machine techs give us varying information...some very
contrary to what we read or hear, resulting in added confusion to our
already confused minds re: the mechanics of our babies and, especially so,
when we are not mechanically inclined.  

This is the reason why I find FWFanatics a valuable source of information. 
It is convenient to use each other as sounding boards.  It is the only way
we ladies can filter the information process.  Our goal is to know what
makes our machines sing instead of chug-a-lug. 

My Singer source of information, Larry, is 80 years old, still makes house
calls on old Singers, and for the most part, old black Singers have
supported him and his family ever since he returned from WWII.  

Margaret's findings are right on the money re: >NEVER EVER EVER lube the
motor<.  These men were referring to INSIDE the motor where the brushes
are.  The oiling points are areas where moving parts articulate.  If you
track the wells or oiling points, you'll find that each one is directly
above a moving part. 

In the motor housing, to remain dry and free from contaminants, the
brushes are designed to be as far away as possible from the bearings.  The
bearings are housed in such a way to prevent lubricant from leaking into
the brush area.  These bearings are moving parts and therefore must remain
lubricated.  We do this via the motor grease tubes. 

N. J-S warns not to squirt WD-40 through these tubes.  The pressure from 
the squirt may cause the WD-40 spray to reach inside the brush area.  
Ladies, we don't want that to happen.  So, do not use WD-40 in the motor 
lubricant tubes.  BTW, WD-40 is a solvent, not a lubricant.

The gears of our FWs or any of the old sewing machines are lathe-machined
to precision fit.  If they are not lubricated and allowed to run dry, the
gears create filings and residue which will eventually grind down and lose
their precision fit.  That's the beauty of our machines--precision fit.

Our new top of the line machines may do lots and lots more than our FWs,
but they have plastic gears.  If we keep our FWs well oiled and well used,
they'll last longer than our lifetime and your kid's lifetime and who
knows...maybe your great grandkids. 

I hope this gives you a clearer vision of what the a.c. motor's all about. 
Sure learning a lot about things mechanical ever since a featherweight has
entered my life. 

Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 16:46:14 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/30/95

I have seen the Toy and Miniature Sewing Machines book (a friend of mine owns
it) and think it's great. It has wonderful pictures, a price guide and even
includes mention of our Featherweights (NOT A TOY). I think the book about
Antique American Sewing Machines sounds great and I may try ordering it. The
info provided by Gordon about the history of machines was wonderful and I'd
love to hear more. I bought a Spartan portable (if you can call cast iron
portable) at an antique show yesterday and would like to know something about
it. It has a drop in bobbin and says made in Great Britain (although the
motor says made in Canada). Probably paid more than I should have, but I
never can resist an antique Singer. Sue M.
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 19:55:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Correction on Motor Grease

DH says Lithium Grease is not the black grease, but rather a white grease.
 He says it is disfavored as it collects dirt.  Just want to correct this
error I made before someone else catches it, and again note NOT to grease
your FW motor.
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 20:47:04 -0400
Subject: Misc. Machines

Gordy,  WOW!!!  You sure know your stuff about machines.  I loved reading
your message!!  I do have a question for you though.  I have a hand-crank
machine that has "R.H. Macy &Co.", with a red star above the name, written
on the face.  On the bobbin winding mechanism I found the name SIMANCO,
though.  Do you think Singer made this machine for R.H. Macy &Co.. ?   I
would love any info that you have.

I found a tan Singer Sewhandy (excellent condition! and complete with box,
manual and screwdriver) this weekend!  The manual said 1953.  Yippeee!!!!! 

Also, in a previous post, someone said that Singer did not make motor
lubricant anymore.  I bought a tube from a nearby Singer dealer a few months
ago when I bought my Featherweight.  I lubed the motor as instructed by the
book.  Now I'm not sure if I should be doing this again.  Yikes!!!!  I waited
so long to get my FW, I don't want to mess it up.

Thanks for all the input from this group!  I really enjoy it!
Date: Sun, 01 Oct 1995 18:53:07 MST
Subject: Anything happening 

Hi all...justgot back from vacation...came home to my new featherweight...what
a joy it is....anyway, just wanted to check and see if anything is going on
as there was some confusion about who was going to do the fw thing...and if
anyone is interested, I know where there is an absolutely mint 1938 FW in
Montana...told the owner of the store that I wasn't interested but that I
would mention it on the net...he wants $425 for it but might be talked down...
Sandra M
Date: Sun, 01 Oct 1995 22:08:39 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/30/95

Hi all!  What fun to read about all the different machines -- Gordy, you are
a fount of information!  I bought a 1924 Singer treadle a few months ago for
$50.  Scrollwork is mint and now that I have a belt and have taken the
cabinet down to its original cherry finish -- it purrs and is gorgeous.

Shortly after that, I found a White Rotary electric at a house sale that I
bought for $10.  Not quite as pretty as the Singer, but it sews...or at
least WOULD sew if I could get the thread to take-up when I put the needle
down.  The bobbin is an odd one: it's round, but it hangs vertically -- to
the left of the needle, underneath.   After a zillion phone calls, I finally
tracked down White in Ohio and they sent me a manual for this 1924 machine
-- and I followed the instructions in threading the bobbin thingie.
 HOwever, the thread just won't catch and come up through the little hole
between the feed dogs.  I have a feeling there might be a part missing, but
don't know quite what to do with it or how to figure it out.  HELP!

Anyone have this problem?  Anybody out there familiar with the White Rotary
and this particular bobbin that can help?  Suggestions?

Thanks -- 
Rayna G
Date:     Mon, 2 Oct 95 9:45:28 EDT
Subject:  Old Kenmore Machine

I am not sure this is the right place to send this question but you have such
a collective wealth of knowledge I thought that I would try.  You can respond
to me directly if you like.  

What is the value of an old blue/gray metal Kenmore that looks like it is in 
a 1950's wood cabnet.  I don't know the serial number but the all the attach-
ments and manual were there.  The pressure foot(s) had a "U" shape connection 
and the foot slipped on, then you screw it tight.  I have seen this same kind of
attachment connection on White machines.  Does anyone know the approximate age?
And where to get more information.  I was thinking of buying it.  Also it was
electric with a knee peddle.

Thanks inadvance.
Date:         Mon, 02 Oct 95 12:54:30 EDT
Subject:      FW book

The address for Silver Start Publishing that is inside my book is:

 RR 4, Box 413                       Featherweight 221
 Tunkhannock, PA 18657               The Perfect Portable

Mine cost $5.95 several years ago when I purchased it from a vendor at a
quilt show. AQS doesn't list it on their publication list. Since Nancy
Johnson-Srebro lives in Tunkhannock, PA, that might be her home address.
If you can't find it elsewhere, might be worth a try.  Madeline H
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 10:12:28 -0700
Subject: when is an antique an antique

Gordy J writes,
> Most collectors of antique sewing machines say a machine must be 100 yrs
> old to be classed as an antique.

I like the US Customs definition.  An interesting object becomes an interest-
ing object on which you must pay duty when it is 82 1/2 years old or older.
I can just see the Senators and Congressmen dickering over that one, can't
you?  ;-)

Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 07:31:32 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Just to say...

THANKS to Sue for making this connection possible.  Gordy, your postings
are the best!  Keep them coming!  A single FW question or concern echoes
the same somewhere else.  Responses are helpful and the "talk stories"?  
What can I say?  They make my day.

^_^  CiCi
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 15:15:45 -0800
Subject: Re: Featherweight class

Hi Jo Ann
My next class is Sunday, November 5, 1995, 12 noon to 4PM, at Going to
Pieces in Pleasanton.  The class title is Maintaining your Featherweight,
cost is $20.
Going to Pieces is the fabric store in the Mission Plaza shopping center,
1989F Santa Rita Rd, Pleasanton, CA 94566  Ph: 510-462-9340.  Call and sign
up, the class is not full.  Hope to see you there.

Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 18:12:18 -0400
Subject: Ooops!!!

I've realized that an earlier post might cause a little confusion.  I had
told about a Singer Sewhandy that I had found this weekend.  Actually it is a
toy machine... the Singer Sewhandy Model 20.  

But, while I'm writing, I'll tell you about the other machines I received
today!!!!  Again, these are toys... I got a Singer Sewhandy Model 20 in it's
own little carrying case (soooooooo cute!), a red KAYanEE, and a blue KAYanEE
(thanks Shelley).    Yep, today was a good day!!!

Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 22:51:06 -0400
Subject: "Loose Threads"

Just received my November 1995 issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, and
quickly checked out one of my favorite columns "Loose Threads"  written by
Helen Kelley of Minneapolis, MN.  Her column this time, pages 60 &61, is
titled "Feathering My Nest" and tells about her beloved (you guessed it!)
 Singer Featherweight sewing machine!
Always enjoy her column, but this one especially!               Happy
Piecing!   Karan
Subject: 2 unrelated FW questions
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 15:22:19 -0500 (CDT)   

I have 2 questions that maybe someone can answer:

1.	Has anyone heard a figure about how many Featherweights
	Singer manufactured?

2.	Does anyone know what happened to the company that was
	advertising Featherweight carrying bags in quilters'
	magazines?  I have often thought of buying one to keep
	the case in better condition.

Also, has anyone come across advertising for the Featherweight?  I
have seen small ads in old magazines, but I would really like a
full-page ad to frame.

Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 13:31:00 -0800
Subject: White Rotary sewing machines

Hello Rayna

The machine you have, if all there and assembled correctly, is a fine old
machine and should sew very well.  I have a couple 20's vintage White
machines.  One of mine is the black crackle finish with a beautiful design
cast into the head.  When I use some light oil to clean the black crackle
finish it is very pretty.  Without a manual to show how to thread the
machine, it's very difficult to figure it out, but you say you have the
manual.  The bobbin case on mine has the thread tension mechanism sticking
up about 1/8 inch above the case where the thread goes between the tension
plates.  Your manual should show the thread route.

You mention the bobbin being odd since it hangs vertically, to the left of
the needle.  Do you own a Singer Featherweight 221?  This bobbin
configuration is the same as the Featherweight with one important
difference.  The White needle threads from left to right, while the
Featherweight needle threads from right to left.  Another important thing -
the needle must be installed correctly.  The manual will tell you how to
install the needle.  For the White Rotary machine the needle should be
installed with the flat on the top of needle to the right.

Rule of thumb:  When installing the needle, examine the needle and you will
find a long groove on one side (opposite the flat).  Always thread the
needle from the long groove side.  Hence install the needle so that this
groove is on the proper side.

Whether you thread a machine from right to left, left to right, or front to
back is not intuitive,  you must have the proper manual to show the correct
threading direction.  If the needle is installed incorrectly, the machine
will probably sew, but poorly.  If the machine is threaded backwards, it
most likely will not sew at all.

The White Rotary has a removeable shuttle, (the round hook mechanism that
the bobbin case resides in). To remove it, there is a latch that releases a
plate in front of the shuttle.  Once the plate is removed the shuttle will
fall out.  This is removeable so that one can easily clean and remove
jammed threads.  The shuttle can only be reinstalled one way and the plate
snaps into place when properly installed.

If the machine is properly threaded, the bobbin is properly installed and
threaded, and there is indeed a shuttle present, then the machine should
pick up the  bobbin thread and sew properly.

Some history about the White Sewing Machine Co. (from a White Co. brochure)
In 1858 22 year old Thomas H. White started manufacuring sewing machines.
In 1866, he began producing machines in Cleveland, Ohio.  The machines were
called New England machines and sold for $10.  This machine was 6" high and
9" long. In 1876 the White Sewing Machine Co. was incorporated.  In 1900
White introduced its first true rotary machine.  At the same time, the
White company was manufacturing other products, such as, the White Steam
Car, bicycles, roller skates, phonographs, kerosine lamps, automatic
lathes, and screw machines.  In the 1920's White introduced the electric
model and they purchased the Domestic Sewing Machine Co. from Sears Roebuck
and Co.  They later contracted to supply Sears with 20% of all the machines
White produced for the next 12 years. I have funky old Sears(Kenmore)
machine that was manufactured by White.  Its brown crackle finish and is
torpedo shaped.  Sort of Art Deco - picked it up at a thrift shop.  In 1986
White was taken over by the Electrolux Co. of Sweden  and soon joined
forces with Husqvarna Sewing Machine Co., a division of Electrolux.  The
company is still located in Cleveland and is still selling sewing machines
under the White brand.

Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 16:33:30 +1000
Subject: New featherweights??!!??

Somebody mentioned that Singer would be making NEW featherweights? Can this
be true? Please please tell me its so - I don't think I'm EVER going to
find one here ...  although my dad is getting me my great grandmother's
treadle singer, which I'm longing to try
Somebody please put me out of my misery and tell me I may be able to get a
new featherweight someday soon.....

Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 07:24:02 -0400
Subject: Dating machines

I've been reading a book written by an old Singer salesman and it provides
some dates I thought others might find interesting:
  late 1800's - model 15 (oscillating bobbin, later used in Japanese models)
  1900 - model 66 (first top loading bobbin, later used in Touch &Sew
  1915 - model 101 (sold for $250, first true electric, but not successful)
  1920's - model 99(66 was top seller, but too heavy for portable so made 3/4
  1933 - model 221(premiered at Chicago World's Fair)
  1935 - model 201 (full rotary, gear drive machine with horizontal bobbin)
  1952 - model 301 (first slant needle machine)
  1960 - Touch &Sew series
Other interesting facts: in the late 1940's there was a big strike at the
U.S. Singer plant, so most machines made at this time were manufactured in
Canada or Clydebank, Scotland. This is when European and Japanese zigzag
models began to be introduced to the U.S.. Hope some of this info is of
interest to some of you - I find the facts about the history of machines to
be just fascinating. Sue M.
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 08:52:00 -0400
Subject: a treadle

Dear Friends  Wow!  Just started gettng this List and its sooo nice!  I
recently purchased my first Featherweight thru the help of QuiltNet from the
lady in upstate New York.  This one was made in 1954 and she sews like a
dream.  My puzzlement is as follows - My grandmother gave me a Singer in the
seventh grade - 1954 - but my husband traded it away when he bought me a new
one for my birthday in 1970.  Now I can't remember if it was a Featherweight
or not.  It definitely looked a lot like this one and when I sat down all my
memory bells were going off but I'm just not sure.  My question is - it
definitely had that MARVELOUS buttonholer attachment that comes in the green
box and makes the best buttonholes in the whole world.  (Remember the
clicking noise it made as it worked its way around the template!?) Was this
attachment only made for Featherweights?
    I love to hear there are other nuts out there besides myself.  I also
have recently purchased a Singer treadle in beautiful condition.  The
original bill of sale with it says it was sold in 1926 for $102.  She made
monthly payments of $3 for two years to pay the balance!  It runs like a
dream.  I paid $75 for it at a yard sale and I know it was too much but it
has all its attachments and the original booklet.  Would that $102 equal
$1000 today?  Quite an investment!  I also have another old Singer treadle
which is a nightmare. It has what I call the "rocket" or "shuttle" bobbin and
I have never been able to get it to work.  I thought three old Singers was
excessive but I see I'm not alone!  Henrietta 
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 11:36:14 -0800
Subject: Featherweight 221

Just a note about Featherweights and belts.  Some machines run faster than
others and this can be partly attributed to the belt.  The belt uses some
of the motor energy.  The trick is to minimize this energy.  Energy is used
bending the belt around the pulleys, especially the small diameter motor
pulley.  The tighter the belt tension, the more energy comsumed.  Ok, so
just adjust the belt tension to be as loose as possible and not slip.
Slipping is not good!  Another consideration, is the belt itself.  The
original belts are black rubber, Singer part no. 194144 or 194144-001.  The
numbers are printed on the back side of the belt, but old belts will have
them worn off by the bobbin winder. These belts are OK but hard to find
anymore.  The replacement belt is Singer part no. 194144-007 or 194144-701.
These belts are also black rubber, but are heavier (thicker in cross
section) and are not as desirable because they comsume more energy.  The
best belt, for two reasons, is the Bando 1712.  This is a plastic toothed
belt, tan or pinkish in color.  It is more flexable than the rubber belts
and also has a higher coefficient of friction, thus you can run it with
less tension and it won't slip.  I have found the Bando belt labled 1712
and also a simular looking belt with the number 1712L 194144.  You will
need to go to a sewing machine repairman or Singer dealer to find belts.

Another benifit of the Bando belt - the bobbin winder will work better.
The bobbin winder runs off the back side of the motor belt and if you have
an old belt, chances are, it is hard and slick on the back side and does
turn the bobbin winder wheel without pushing down while winding a bobbin.

To adjust or replace the belt, loosen the motor screw just one turn or so,
don't remove it all the way, then the motor will slide up and down on it's
dovetail mount.  Sometimes you'll need to rock the motor back and forth, to
get it to slide up or down.  The screw is located just to the right of the
machine column looking from the front.  You'll need a fairly large
screwdriver, preferably, with a long blade because some gorilla has
probably tightened it last time.

Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 17:29:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/2/95

Hi all!
	Just thought I'd tell you about a "Maquina de Coser "Singer" 
Para Familia 221-1 Electrica Portatil" my  Dh and I purchased recently.
This is apparently Spanish (or is it Portuguese?)for portable sewing
machine. This Featherweight is an AJ Anniversary model that was originally 
shipped to Brazil by Singer to be sold. Because of this, Singer stamped 
"M.R." in gold below the medallion and on the light by the word Singer.
This stands for something like Marcus Registradis (sorry, I know no Spanish,
and I am sure this is very misspelled) which means trademark. The manual is in 
Spanish (Portuguese?) and even though I can't read a word of it, it is very 
interesting. It is about twice the size of a standard manual at 4"x10" 
and 114 pages long. One thing that is interesting is that the machine 
shown in the pictures is an early model with scroll end plate. Singer was 
always very careful to change their manual to reflect changes in the 
machines. The manual is dated 1947 and the machine is 1951, so I find 
this very odd. 

The manual also shows how to practice sewing on a piece of paper and a 
shows a picture of a "see-thru" machine to label the inner workings. It 
also shows accessories that are not shown in my other manuals, such as a 
piece of metal that attaches to a pair of scissors to guide parallel cuts for 
bindings, part #121309 which is a feeddog cover which fits better than 
the one that comes with buttonholers, a darning foot and hoop that is 
unlike the one that came with freearms, and a sock darning contraption that 
is really weird - you roll the sock up, put this thing inside, and use a 
circular spring to hold it taut. There is also a foot that is as large as 
the ruffler that makes decorative holes in the fabric as you go along. 
The manual then uses eight pages to show every single part and part 
number in a Featherweight.

Unfortunately, none of these odd items came with the machine, but now 
that I know they exist, I will know to look for them. Also, Dale Pickens 
says that there was a foot available for rugmaking.

May your Featherweights hum happily,
Krisi S
Date: Tue, 03 Oct 95 15:48:23 -0700
Subject: 1954 FW QUESTION--Black Paint Border

FWFANs, one and all!

Itís another happy day in the life of a FWFAN--found a really 
early one, "born" 3/35.  Sheís had a pretty soft life, by the 
looks of her--not too much hard work over the years. (Isnít this 
pursuit of FWs a lot of fun...if approached with a joyful 

I do have a question I hope one of the FWFANs can help me with.  
What does the black paint border that outlines the brass Singer 
nameplate on the 1954 models mean, if anything?  I know the blue 
border on the 1950 model was indicative of the centennial year, 
but what might the black band mean?  I donít know if itís just 
for decoration or something more meaningful. Singer Customer 
Service didnít know, when I asked them.

Thanks again, everyone, and happy collecting and sewing on our 
little babes.

Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 19:07:30 -0400
Subject: Singer 99K

A friend of mine has a lovely Singer 99K Serial Number EK439108 that her DH
found at a sale for $7.50.
It is not as small as a FW but is still kind of cute.
She could not get it to sew at all until she threaded the needle from left to
right. Does anyone know if this is the correct way to thread one of these? Do
the English machines run this way? If not, any suggestions as to how to get
the machine to work when threaded from right to left will be greatly
Thank you,
Nancy C
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 20:23:05 -0400
Subject: FW Mailing list

Please add me to your mailing list.  I have a FW and a Sewhandy given to me
for Christmas 1957.  I'm its only owner.  I'd like to know where I can get it
reliably repaired.  The needle doesn't go all the way down, so it doesn't
catch the hook deep enough to make the chain stitch.
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 06:38:42 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/2/95

Thought some of you would enjoy reading the following from the book I have by
the Singer salesman:
 " The machine weighed only 11 pounds, yet performed like a factory-type
machine. It became one of the most popular machines ever offered the American
housewife.  The 221 used all attachments, although a buttonholer created some
strain. The full-rotary mechanism was quiet, efficient, and almost
vibrationless.  The machine could be placed in the special carrying case and
stored in a closet or room without taking a lot of precious space.  Salesmen
liked the machine because it was easy to handle, or carry, for demonstration
purposes.  The machine was a favorite with college girls.  Singer 221 sales
always increased when a new term started.  Unlike previous portable machines,
the basic concept of the 221 was a self-contained unit.  Before the last
machines at the start of WWII, the common way to close a 221 sale was "throw
in the case the machine came in because this is the last 221 until after the
war."  There are many women who "bought the last Featherweight portable
before the war", and could prove it, because the salesman gave her the case."
  I also found information in this book about the Davis machine someone was
asking about.  It seems they produced machines for Sears for most of the
early 1900's. This was when Singer, White or Wheeler and Wilson machines sold
for $40-$75 while a full-size machine in a drop head treadle stand, sold for
$11.25 plus freight from Sears. Later White got the Sears account and after
losing the mail order account, Davis went out of business.
  This book is full of fascinating info - if anyone has any questions it
might answer, please ask. Sue M.
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 10:36:57 -0400
Subject: Light Problem

I just found this list.  It seems to be a fountain of information.  I would
like to ask about a problem I am having with my light.

My serial number starts with AE dating my machine at 1936. A first I thought
the bulb had just burnt out.  When I went to replace it the old one shattered
and I had to remove it very carefully.  I replaced it with a new bulb which
doesn't always want to make contact.

I questioned my local machine dealer.  He said that the machine was quite old
and it might not be easy to replace the wiring for the light since parts
might not be available.  Has anyone else had this problem.

Thanks in advance.      Pam T
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 10:28:37 -0700
Subject: new FW's from Singer

Singer is indeed making new machines it calls Featherweights.  However, this
is not a cause for rejoicing.  My Singer man, who is saddled with the task
of selling them, says they're complete junk and refuses to dignify them with
the name.
Singer called the original Featherweights "Portable Family Machines", and it
was we happy users who nicknamed them FW's.  Now Singer is trying to capital-
ize on our affection for the old machines and con us into thinking that what
they're calling FW's are anything like our babies.  Don't let them get away
with it!

Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 14:00:34 -0400
Subject: Re:  Office Mom's question

According to my singer man, the reason the needle doesn't go down far enough
to catch the bobbin thread, is that there is thread build up under the throat
plate and around the hook mechanism.  I believe this is also covered in Nancy
Johnson Srebro's book.  I had this problem with one of my machines and didn't
know what it was at the time so had the repair man fix it.  It should be
fairly easy to fix.
Finally got around to calling Singer regarding the dates on my
featherweights.  The white one I bought for my daughter #EV935015 was called
a model 328 by the lady on the phone even though it is a featherweight.  It
was made 5/13/64 in Clydebank, Scotland.  I thought the white ones were only
made from 1968-1970.  The black machine I just sold is AG812731 which
according to info from Nancy JS's book should be a 1941 model.  Singer says
it was made 9-16-46.  The black fw I just bought last week is an AK793498 and
I thought is was a 1951 model but it was made on 8/22/50.
I still have to call about the two machines at home.  It is hard to get
through to them during the day unless you call in the early morning.  Also
she told me that they will only check two serial numbers at a time now by
phone, but will do more if you write to them.
Thanks all for my daily fw fix!!!
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 1995 13:00:05 -0500
Subject: Great Idea!

Wow! What a great idea! I would like to subscribe. I bought a FW a year ago,
without a manual and this will help immensely! I don't even know how to wind a
bobbin, therefore I haven't used her since the thread in the bobbin ran out. I
am going to call to find out her birthday and give her a name--I had a great
aunt who did some quilting--so maybe I'll call her Naomi.  

Another area from this service that was helpful was the many hints for
removing odors from the case. My FW is in great shape and does not have any
odors, however I recently purchased a used saxophone for my daughter that has
a terrible odor--I will try many of these hints for that sax.  Anyway, I am
Date: Wed,  4 Oct 95 08:21:49 PDT
Subject: RE: FW's

I have recently acquired 3 fws.  It was perhaps "luck".  I had ben looking and 
just made 
mention of it in the quilt shop i work in when one of the other ladies I work 
with said "I have 
one (AF) i will sell you".  Well needless to say I said yes.  It was there all 
the time I only had 
to open my mouth.   The 1938 came with the green box which I had didn't think to 
about until I started to read about them in the digest.  About a month later the 
other second one 
was going to be sold in a garage sale but I got it first.. (AE).  It had some 
paint splatters (small) 
but I cleaned it up.  and it looks great.  I was also surprised when the man I 
bought it from 
came into the shop and told me he had forgotten to give me some attachments.  He 
gave me 6 
attachments with boxes and books..  I was lucky he could have tossed them.  
Would you 
believe I bought this FW on Friday and found the third one (AL) on Saturday.  I 
told my 
husband I have to get that night (10:00pm).   I did.  He is a great guy.  
Anyway,  someone was 
 told me to beware of buying 1930's FW's.  She said that the Singer dealer told 
her that the 
machines or motors  were faulty on some of them.  Can someone shed some light on 
This is fun and I like reading everyones stories, ideas, and hints.  I have 
learned a lot.
karen t.
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 11:15:54 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/3/95

Karen Nantz was asking if anybody knew of the FW carrying cases....Well, I
just bought one manufactured by C &L Enterprises.  It's a padded nylon case
with a double zipper.  It also has a zippered front pocket for foot pedal,
book, etc., plus heavy duty handles and a detachable padded shoulder strap.
 It comes in red and black, costs $55 plus $5 shipping/handling.  I really
like mine and would highly recommend it.  Their address and phone number is
as follows:

   C &L Enterprises
   P.O. Box 289
   Quincy, IL  62306
   Phone: (217) 222-8910
   Fax:    (217) 222-6053

Hope this helps!
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 15:11:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Sue M's Singer book

Sue, in your recent posting about dates of various Singer models, you 
said that you had found the info in 'a book written by an old Singer 
salesman'. Can you supply any other details about this book? i.e. title, 
authour, date, publisher, where you found it etc. It sounds fasinating. 
Has anyone else seen this book or any others that detail the history of 

Ted H
Date: 04 Oct 95 17:55:58 EDT
Subject: questions

Hello Fans,
    I took a long drive today to see a lil white one and have some questions.
This one came in a green case.Actually the machine seemed tinged green.
There was no emblem in the oval area that looked like the Singer emblem
The face plate was plain, not even striated, just white.  The number was an
E9......  series(Great Britian).Do these things sound normal for a white one?

I had problems finding a good top tension. Played with the tension, oiled it.
Improved the top tension, but ended up getting a skipped bobbin stitch about
every 15 stitches or so.  Put in a new needle that the owner had for her
Bernina.  Do the FW's take a special needle? 

Still searching,
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 15:27:31 -0800
Subject: SIMANCO

To Judy

It was the Smithsonian book that stated that Singer never sold a machine
without the Singer name on it.  Perhaps the name "R. H. Macy &Co." was
placed on the machine after it left Singer's factory and was not
authorized. Then again, the machine may have been an exact copy of a Singer
machine and had a part replaced with a Singer part.  After Singer's patents
ran out, many manufacturers copied their machines.  If the part had SIMANCO
stamped on it, it is most likely a genuine Singer part.  I doubt if anyone
would conterfit parts to that extent.

The Smithsonian book lists Macy under sewing machine names and gives Davis
as the manufacture of machines with that name.

Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 15:27:23 -0800
Subject: Threading sewing machines

To Nancy

The Singer model 99K does indeed thread from left to right, unlike the
Featherweight 221, which threads from right to left.  Why is that?, you
ask.  As I mentioned in an earlier posting,  the direction you thread the
needle is not intuitive, but is dictated by the mechanical construction of
the machine.  You need the instruction manual for that particular machine
to be sure of the correct threading procedure.  For the mechanically minded
or simply curious, here is a simple explanation to determine the correct
direction by examining the stitch forming mechanism.

This explanation is for a lock stitch machine that has two threads forming
the stitches.  The upper thread supplied from a spool and going through the
needle eye, I will call the needle thread.  The lower thread is supplied
from a bobbin.   In order to form the stitch, the bobbin case (containing
the bobbin), is passed through a loop formed in the needle thread. This is
the case for the old oscillating shuttle machines with the bullet shaped
shuttle. In the modern rotary hook machines and the oscillating hook
machines, such as the Singer models 66 and 99, the needle thread loop is
actually pulled around the bobbin case with the aid the of the hook.  This
action causes the two threads to be interlocked, hence the term lock
stitch.  How is this possible?   The bobbin case is free floating and is
just sitting in the shuttle, with enough clearance around it for the needle
thread to pass between the case and shuttle.

  Now for the tricky part!

Let's look at the needle action.  The needle goes down through the cloth
pulling the needle thread with it. As the needle starts back up, after
reaching the bottom of the stroke, a small loop is formed in the needle
thread.  Now is when the pointy thing must come by and either go through
the loop (bullet shaped oscillating shuttle), or catch the loop (rotary or
oscillating hook), and pull the loop around the bobbin case.  Pretty
simple!  In either case, the needle thread has passed around the bobbin and
interlocked the two threads.  You can see, timing is critical.  The point
must pass by the needle at just the right time in order to pick up the
needle thread loop.

Now if you examine the machine closely, while turning the hand wheel in the
proper direction,  you can watch this action and see the point of the hook
or shuttle pass by the needle when the needle is just starting back up.
You may have to remove the throat plate (the plate the needle goes
through), to see this. Now you can see which side of the needle the point
passes by.  This is the exit side, or the side of the needle the thread
comes out of when you thread it.  So now you if you understood any of this,
you can determine which direction the needle must be threaded.

In the case of the model 99K, you must remove the throat plate in order to
see this action.  The models 66 and 99 are oscillating hook machines.  The
hook is circular and oscillates back and forth and does not rotate through
360 degrees like the true rotary hook machines.  You wll notice that the
plane of rotation of the hook is horizonal for the 99K, while the plane of
rotation for the the rotary hook on a FW 221 is vertical.  Either way works
fine, it's just necessary that the point of the hook pass closely by the
needle at the proper time.  Enuf said!

Again, I want to emphasize the importance of getting the proper manual for
your machine.  This way there will be no question about how to thread it
and you will also have instructions how to properly clean and lubricate it.
It's also a good idea not to do any disassembly that will effect machine
timing, unless you are a qualified sewing machine repairperson.  I have
encountered two FW221's in my classes that were out of time.

BTW, I was in a thrift shop a while back looking for sewing machines
(imagine that), and found this little black beauty that said Bel Air on it.
I thought it looked kinda familiar, then I realized it was an exact copy
of a Singer 99K.  It was in beautiful condition, looked as if it had never
been used. It was called a Bel Air Bantam and was manufactured in 1950. So
I had to have it and when I picked it up to,much to my suprise, it hardly
weighed anything.  It is an aluminum 99K, weighs about the same as a FW221.
It has a blue imitation alligator case that weighs as much as the machine.

Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 18:37:12 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/3/95

I borrowed a wonderful book from the library on repairing various old singer
machines, and the model 66 (and it's later 3/4 size 99) is included. You DO
thread this machine from left to right, mayber because of the horizontal
bobbin. Any other questions? Sue M.
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 09:33:10 -0400 (EDT)

> 2.	Does anyone know what happened to the company that was
> 	advertising Featherweight carrying bags in quilters'
> 	magazines?  I have often thought of buying one to keep
> 	the case in better condition.

My local Singer repairman has softsided bags with a pocket on the 
outside. I'm sure most others do too.

> I do have a question I hope one of the FWFANs can help me with.  
> What does the black paint border that outlines the brass Singer 
> nameplate on the 1954 models mean, if anything?  I know the blue 
> border on the 1950 model was indicative of the centennial year, 
> but what might the black band mean?  

This was just a style change. The early machines had all brass 
medallions, then they had the anniversary medallion, then the black band 
medallion, then the black band medallion plus model number piece below, 
then black band medallion with large red "S" and model number below, then 
finally gold colored paper sticker with red "S". And probably others
I don't know about yet!

May your Featherweights all hum happily,
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 1995 11:55:02 EST
Subject: I FOUND ONE!!!!

I found a fw at a garage sale and can't decide whether or not I should buy it. 
It looks old and well used, no oil can, no manual, one of the latches on the
case is broken; has the tray, the foot pedal is brown (could it be a
replacement?).  The lady is asking $250 so I asked her to come down to $200
because of the above and she came down to $230.  I decided to wait until Sat
and see if it is still there.  BUT....  do you think I should run right out and
buy it before Saturday????

Thanks for any help you gave give me in making up my mind.

				Jo R
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 13:20:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Soft Case

Someone was asking where to get the soft case made for FWs.  I found an ad
in the current QNM.  The price is $55 plus $5 s &h.  The address is:
			Jean S. Lyle
			P.O. Box 289
			Quincy, IL  62306

Phone is 217-222-8910.

Seems you could make one yourself if you were so inclined.  Saying that, I
had better get busy and make a bag for my foot control.

Also to Shelley - I have the sister to the white one you bought for your
daughter.  Made the same date.  Singer insists it is a 328K.  Mine says
221K on the right side.  Does yours?  Documentation says that 50,000 were
made. If I remember right, it means on that day but that seems like a lot,
doesn't it.  I wrote to Nancy about it.  Maybe she will be able to tell us
about it.  Big Mystery.  Sure looks and sews like a FW.  Mine weighs less
than 11 lbs.  

Wish Nancy was on the net.  If she got this great newsletter, she would be
a big help to us and she would find out about all these anomalys we come

Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 08:39:19 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Stitch forming mechanism

Hi everyone!

Gordy, you did it again!  Great detailed stitch forming description!  I 
had hoped you traveled around the Seattle area giving FW classes.  :(

Karen T. ...oh boy!  Heaven sent and our gain if that rumor
about '30s machines being defective is believed.  Alas, this will never
happen.  My '38 runs ever so sweetly.  In the quiet of night (a true
test), its soft whir blends companionably with the pervading hush.

Now about the stitch forming mechanism!!  "Sometimes" I'm a dunce.  On my
FW, after the thread goes around the tension part, it then travels to a
metal guide before entering the hole of that up-and-down 'thingie'.  About
this metal guide--I don't see it in the '50s models (don't know about

Anyways, I bypassed the metal guide and the thread went directly into the
'thingie', etc, etc.  In sewing the first few stitches, the thread snapped
and snagged in the bobbin.  Removed the snag (I thought) and realized what
caused it.  O.K.  Include the metal guide in the rethreading process. 
Sew..snapped again. 

As N. J-S suggested, I investigated and removed the stitch forming
mechanism.  Yep...an itsy bit of thread caused jam #2.  Next problem: 
Sweatin' and frustrated, I could not replace the mechanism and didn't want
to force the issue.  Next day, the pfaff guy who serviced my old Riccar
showed me how to replace it.  Duhhhhh!  It's easy when the sewing plate is
removed.  N. J-S's book fails to include this big tip.  However, she did
say where the position finger on the bobbin case should be before securing
it with the retainer.  So I learned yet another procedure.  Since I'm 
learning from readin' and askin', if it ain't in the book, I face a 
wall.  Gratefully, the techs who service my machines are very approachable 
and helpful.

The varying histories of all these old machines are fascinating.  Thanks 
all.  And some of you are darn right lucky in your FW safaris.

Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 14:11:11 -0700
Subject: new fw!!!

hiya to my fellow fw fans... just want to start off by saying that i've
really been enjoying reading all your posts about fw's. now i'm really
getting the bug to start collecting more...

just bought my white fw today, don't know what year, though. singer
customer service was closed by the time i got around to calling. she
now joins my black fw (born 10/03/33)... now to go look for more!!!

Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 19:29:03 -0400
Subject: re:  Toy Singer

Today I saw a cute toy Singer at an Antique shop.  Its palm sized cast iron,
and has a pedistal base.  It's hand cranked (which is a big circle gear).
 This turns a smaller fixed gear on the machine which drives a shaft on a
spring which drives the needle and feed dogs.  I really liked it, but they
wanted $85 and I couldn't chew her down past $75.  Is this an appropriate
price or is this high?
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 19:54:35 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/4/95

Dear FWF:

Since I found this list last week, (I'm the person with the question about
the Davis sewing machine), I've decided that I REALLY want a featherweight.
 How about some tips on where you've found yours?  Thanks!   JILL
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 22:17:17 -0300
Subject: Mailing List

Please add my name to your wonderful mailing list. My Featherweight is an "EH"
and I have just learned that it was made in Scotland thanks to your list. I hope
that you will get some Canadian quilters joining the list. I bought my
machine from a neighbors yard sale for $20 complete with all the
attachments, book,
thread and a sterling silver pickle fork!! Eight of ten quilters in my
quilting bee have a FW.
Thanks for doing the list.
Barbara R
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 01:35:02 -0400
Subject: Carrying Cases

I just got back from spending the day at PIQF including 4 straight hours of
"white-gloving"I was disappointed to only see 3 or 4 featherweights for sale.
None of them were very exciting and the least expensive was $450.  There were
2 tables for sale, both with metal legs , priced at 400+  incredible.  only
one of the machines was scroll faced.  But the intereesting thing that I did
find was the "About case.  It's a pack cloth padded case with full zipper
designed to open like a bakery cake box so that you dont have to lift the
machine up to get it out of the box.  It is also sized so that if you have an
older case, it too will fit inside the carrier.  My AG machine case fits, but
my AM case does not.  The carrier also has a belt inside to hold your
featherweight securely if you do not have a case.  The carrier has 2 pockets
suitable for books, but not for the foot pedal, but thats no problem,because
with the extension folded up in the normal carrying position, there is room
to put the footpedal safely on the base of the carrier.  It also has a
shoulder strap as well as handles.  I liked it so much that I bought one even
though my cases are in good condition.  I figure that when i travel I can use
the extra protection for my treasure and I know that the shoulder strap will
come in handy. 
Now, after that glowing review, believe it or not, I am not related to the
manufacturer. I just thought that this was a great product that you might
like to know about.  The carriers come in 3 colors, NAVY, PURPLE AND BLACK,
and cost 56.00           the 800# is    441-9168.              Please
remember that it will not fit the AM and later cases, but if you have a
machine with no case, this just might be the solution for you.       Lynda
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 01:35:04 -0400
Subject: "Extension protection"

Some time ago I noticed that when I folded the extension of some machines up,
 the extension would hit the screw that holds the faceplate on.  I did not
care for this.  So when I next bought costume jewlery ( I buy mine at the
disney store, but then thats where I buy my clothes too)  I noticed that the
earings were on apiece of plastic faced with velvet that was self adhesive.
 I peeled some off, cut a circle and put it on the screw.  Instant
protection.   I've found the velvet in several different colors, but if you
come across a piece of gray, its hardly noticable.
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 19:15:37 +1200
Subject: 66s and 99s

Hi all,

Wow!  I just love reading this each day.  Thank you Gordy, for all this
wonderful information.  I took the plunge yesterday - and lined up my
machines - for cleaning and oiling.  I wouldn't dare confess how long I have
had some of these machines and never oiled them but they sure do sound
different with a little TLC!!!

Could anyone help me find manuals for the 66 and 99?  Even photocopies would
be good.  My 221 did come with a manual.

Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 08:19:04 -0500
Subject: broken thread

Has anyone had success freeing stuck and broken threads from behind their
stitch forming mechanism as described in Nancy J-Ss book?  I have become
quite adept at general maintenance, but I cannot get the bobbin case to
come out after I have removed that teeny tiny screw in the 5 o'clock
position.  I was letting my 10 year old  friend/neighbor sew on my #1 fw
yesterday, and she got a thread stuck real good.  Do I need to WD-40 this
area perhaps?  Any and all clues/hints are Welcome!  Thanks Very Much--
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 08:31:55 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/4/95

I have two wonderful books on sewing  machines - one is the history and the
other is a repair manual for various models. The only problem is they're not
mine, I only borrowed them from the library and I have grave doubts that I
would ever be able to find them for sale. The historical one is called
Sincere's History of the Sewing Machine, published by Sincere Press, P.O.Box
10422, Phoenix, AZ 85016, c.1970. It isn't only about Singer machines,
unfortunately, but has a lot about them because one of the authors was a
Singer salesman from 1933 until after WWII. It's really interesting to hear
his comments about the introduction of European and Japaneses machines in the
U.S. at that time. He basically says the European models offered Zigzags at
the same price as straight stitch American machines and the Japanese sold
their machines for half the price of domestic ones.The introduction strongly
recommends the Smithsonian publication " The Invention of the Sewing Machine"
by Grace Cooper - is this the one you refer to , Gordy?  
  The other book on repairs is called Sincere's Sewing Machine Service Book,
same publisher, c.1968. This has really detailed information about all kinds
of machines from the long shuttle, class 15, class 66, even zigzag machines.
It has the machines broken down by parts and a lot of the info is pretty
technical, but helpful. 
  Hope this info helps some of you. If you have anything you'd like me to
look up in either book, just let me know (at least for the next month while I
have them). Sue M.
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 08:19:05 -0400

You'll never believe the story my mother told me!  Just recently in the
past month, a cousin of mine noticed a sewing machine sitting in the back
of a pick up truck.  These people were loading junk into the truck to take
to the dump.  My cousin questioned them about the machine and was told "it
doesn't work.  You can have it if you have."  The machine apparently had
also sat under the trailer for three months waiting to go.  My cousin took
this wonderful machine home to my aunt, who looked it over.  Guess What?!
The machine is a black featherweight and the only thing wrong with it - it
was threaded wrong and they used the wrong bobbin.  My aunt cleaned it up
and it is running like a charm.  My mother had the opportunity to see the
FW this week and noticed a seal with "Centennial 1851-1951".  My aunt
hadn't realized that she had gotten ahold of a centennial.  I was truly
amazed that anyone would want to just throw a sewing machine away just
because it didn't work.  Apparently they didn't try to take it anywhere to
be fixed.  Oh well, their loss, my aunt's gain.

Cindy O
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 11:35:45 -0400
Subject: Re:  Toy Singer


I think $75 is a good price (if it's in good shape of course).  I've paid
more for mine, all from antique dealers.  I think you will only pay less if
you stumble across one at a yard sale/flea market.  This is only my opinion
and experience!  :-)

Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 14:48:51 -0400
Subject: light problem on fw

Regarding Pam's problem with the light on her featherweight.
I had the loose light problem on one of my fw's last winter.  The light just
wouldn't stay on as it should.  I was in Montreal visiting a friend and doing
some quilting with him and showed the problem to his Dad.  His Dad said that
the light bulb was not making good contact in the socket.  He got out his
soldering kit and put a drop of solder on the end of the bulb and screwed it
back in the machine.  It has worked fine ever since.  I recently had the same
problem with a machine and the Singer Man did the same thing.  Put some
solder on the bulb to build up the contact point.
Hope this helps
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 12:44:09 -0800
Subject: FW's and other Singers

Didn't get  this posted yesterday, spent the day at the Pacific
International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA with my Wife.  This is one
of the biggest and best of the quilt shows.  Lots and lots of beautiful
quilts.  The "best of show" was won by a lady I know, who teaches at the
same quilt shop I do.  Her prize is a new Bernina of her choice and some
While I was there, I ran accross another case for Featherweights. This
looks like a well made case, it has soft padded sides, and a stiff bottom
with lots of pockets for accessories.  Comes in Navy, purple, and black and
P. O. BOX 2294
I also bought an oval Singer oil can for my FW.

Mary Jane
>Can you give me any details about the vibrating shuttle--pros and cons?
>I really liked this particular machine, in spite of the knee press.
Our Singer model 15-91 is an oscillating shuttle (Singer terminology).  In
the previous posting, I mistakedly called it a vibrating shuttle.  This is
a machine my Wife's mother purchased in 1931 and used all her life.  This
is an excellent machine and sews very well.  The motor housing is cast onto
the back of the head and is direct drive, no belt.  This machine does have
a reverse stitch.  There are other model 15's without the built in motor.

Webster defines shuttle as "the sliding thread holder in a sewing machine;
hence any of various rotary, vibrating, or oscillating, devices used for
the same purpose".
I have a Singer advertising card printed about 1910 that shows a treadle
machine that Singer calls their "Embossed Cabinet Table". It is pictured
with a Singer No. 66 head.  and goes on to say "Your choice of the
following on this table"

Singer No. 66-1  Oscillating Hook
Singer No. 15-30 Oscillating Shuttle
Singer No. 9w-7  Rotary Hook  - This is a Wheeler and Wilson No. 9
Singer No 27.4   Vibrating Shuttle

As you can see, Singer produced four types of stitch forming mechanisms and
gave the customer a choice.  Today, all machines are rotary hook.
Only the fourth choice is not rotary in motion.  The vibrating shuttle,
moves back and forth in a long arc.  This is the machine with the bullet
shaped bobbin holder and the long bobbin and the pointed end of the bobbin
holder picks up the needle thread loop to form the lock stitch.  The other
three all have a hook on the periphery of a circular device to pick up the

Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 15:39:44 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: FW Purchase??

I just found you on the Net yesterday and am so glad to have someone to 
turn to for expert advice.  I've wanted a FW for some time but havn't 
started seriously scouting until ---yesterday ! Reading all your messages 
was positively inspirational.  I started phoning and have located several 
FW. Most are in the $ 300-350 range(good comdition , serviced,w/ case, 
some attachments)--But, these are all AL's--I understand there is some 
question surrounding this 1938 model year.  There is of course another 
one that is in Mint condition(also serviced, w case in excellent 
shape,original instruction book, many attachments)  1953  But the price 
is $550.  OUCH!
     Here is my question--Since I assume the cosmetic condition is 
effected by normal use,if I in fact take the plunge and buy the Mint 
condition FW, will it remain in Mint condition.  How easily does the gold 
come off ?  Thanks for any advice you might have.  As you can imagine 
living so near the Houston Quilt Festival has the disadvantage of driving 
up the prices of FW.  All the dealers locally know they can sell all the 
FW they have at top dollar at Festival.  I'm so envious of those of you 
who have found one for $ 50.I shouldn't complain though, living close to 
Festival is Wonderful!
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 20:28:56 -0400
Subject: featherweights

I have heard a lot about FW machines.  Who made them and what to they look
like?  Where are they usually found.  Any info would be appreciated!
Marie C
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 20:42:56 EST
Subject: I GOT ONE!

I finally bit the bullet and bought a featherweight.  The one I wrote abut
yesterday had sold and the woman said, "But I have another one at home" so I
went to her home at 7:30 this MORNING before I left town and bought it.  The
case is altogether, the machine looks newer and she said it was made late 40s
or early 50.  I"ll have to look it up and find out exactly when it was made.

I'm SO excited.
				Jo R
Date: Fri,  6 Oct 95 18:58:05 PDT
Subject: RE: FW Fanatics Digest 10/2/95

I called Singer on the dates of my machines with the numbers I gave she stated 
that the AL  was 1951.  The AF was 1941 and a Model 15 (sure has Featherweight 
features to me).... and the AE is a 1938.  Are the letters in the book out of 
sync with the numbers.  I know Nancy stated that some machines were sitting in 
the warehouse. so does that mean they were made and then when they were sent out 
they were given a number??? 
 I tried to find out who to talk to especially when they said my one FW was a 
Model 15.  (could they mean 15-91?  I have a book on a 15-91 and this machine is 
no way that).  With that FW I received my little black box and the green box of 
attachments.  Anyway... the lady who gave me my Singer machine info told me if I 
had any questions or wanted to find out about the model or what I really had to 
contact a man in CA. (he has a Singer museum and has written a book.)   Has 
anyone ever heard of this man in CA. and his museum?  His name is Jim Slayton.   
When I spoke with him I explained to him what had happened at Singer and he said 
to send him pictures etc. and he would tell me what I have.  

And 21.95 for his book  if I wanted other iformation.  He was not really helpful 
and quite abrupt.  Maybe he doesn't like talking on the phone.  
So now I am completely lost...  I am new to having or getting info on the FW's.  
karen t
Date: Fri,  6 Oct 95 19:18:27 PDT
Subject: RE: FW Fanatics Digest 10/4/95

I forgot.... My friend also purchased a FW.  Her FW has a EF number is black and 
made in Scotland.  She says the machine was bought in Canada.  Now the Singer 
people say that no black FW's were made in Scotland they were all made in NJ.  
So now she's puzzled.  
Does anyone know about the E series FW's.  Thanks again.  karen t. 
Date: Sat, 7 Oct 1995 13:16:25 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/6/95

In a message dated 95-10-07 11:34:17 EDT, Karen T. wrote:
>  Now the Singer 
>people say that no black FW's were made in Scotland they were all made in
>So now she's puzzled.  
>Does anyone know about the E series FW's.  Thanks again

Well, I have a black E series 221K, and have always heard that the "K" meant
that it came from Scotland.  ?  

Date: Sat, 7 Oct 1995 11:01:35 -1000 (HST)
Subject: re: Extension Protection

Thanks all for description and recommendations of various carrying cases 
seen at quilt shows.  It really helps to know what's out there.  I often 
don't trust advertisements so critique from cyber pals is appreciated.

Lynda says:

>Some time ago I noticed that when I folded the extension of some machines
>up, the extension would hit the screw that holds the faceplate on.  I did
>not care for this.  So when I next bought costume jewlery ( I buy mine at
>the disney store, but then thats where I buy my clothes too) I noticed
>that the earings were on apiece of plastic faced with velvet that was self
>adhesive.  I peeled some off, cut a circle and put it on the screw. 
>Instant protection...

Good idea Lynda.  Another suggestion for extension protection.  I usually
store my FW with the presser bar down and a folded fabric between the foot
and feed dog.  The folded fabric extends past the screw.  When the bed
extension is lifted up, the folded fabric cushions the screw from direct 
contact with the bed extension.

Date: Sat, 7 Oct 1995 17:43:38 -0400
Subject: Spartan Brand sewing machine

I picked up a Spartan brand Singer sewing machine at an estate sale the other
day and was wondering if there was any value to this machine.  It has a
number l92K on the thread length adjustment plate ;if this indicates the
model I don't know.  It was made between '59 and'63 in Gr. Britain and sold
for 49.00 to 69.00 dollars.  That's about all I know.  Would appreciate any
further information and $ value on this machine.  Thanks    Jan M
Date: Sat, 7 Oct 1995 20:03:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/6/95

> I forgot.... My friend also purchased a FW.  Her FW has a EF number is black
> and made in Scotland.  She says the machine was bought in Canada.  Now the
> Singer people say that no black FW's were made in Scotland they were all 
> made in NJ.  So now she's puzzled. Does anyone know about the E series
> FW's.  Thanks again.  karen t. 

Karen , I have had three black 221's that say right on them "Made in 
Great Britain". I also have two black freearm 222's that say the same 
thing. The serial numbers begin with EJ, ES, EP, and EL. Maybe the 
particular person she spoke with at Singer was misinformed. According to 
the date list Lynda posted, the EF would have been made in 1949 in 
Clydebank, Scotland. 

By the way, does anyone have the address we can write to for Singer to 
find out the birthdates? I have become very discouraged at being on hold 
forever with the 800 number, and have too many serial number to do over 
the phone anyway. Thanks, Krisi 
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 19:53:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/6/95

I had a REALLY depressing day yesterdy: went to 2 house sales and was told I
had just missed a FW at each one: are you ready? One was $20 and one was $40.
Arrrggggh!  However -- on the bright side, yesterday I retrieved my mom's old
sewing machine from my ex-SIL (to whom I had given it when I bought my used
1963 Touch'n'sew in the mid '70's).  The machine, which I learned to sew on,
is a WAVERLY (Gordy....??? any info on the Waverly?) with lovely scrollwork
and a bullet-shaped bobbin thingie.   I picked up with it tonight where I
had left off 22 years ago and it sews a beautiful straight stitch.  It's
noisy, though, so I think it needs some oiling.  

Any advice?

Also -- Gordy -- on the White Rotary; it was threaded properly
(left-to-right through the needle), but I'm not sure there is a complete
thread tension mechanism sticking up above the case.  There's a little thing
sticking up but the thread doesn't really stay between the two "fingers".  
Also, what is a shuttle and how can I tell whether there is one? 

One more thing: I found a Singer 66 that seems to be 1950's vintage in a
blond wood case at a thrift shop for $35 or $40.  It certainly doesn't look
like a portable.  If I buy it and my husband threatens to commit me, what is
the going resale rate for these things?  Anybody know?

TIA -- I LOVE this group!

Rayna G
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 20:49:22 -0500
Subject: treadle machine identification

	Hi again everyone.  I honestly did not expect my previous words regarding
a treadle in my future to be so prophetic...but here it is, one week before
my 41st birthday, and I am now the proud owner of a Franklin treadle
machine.  This is the only identifying feature that I (and dh) have been
able to find.  And we Have Searched!  (It's almost like playing Myst).  So
if anyone out there can elighten me as to what I have I would be your Best
Friend.  (my eldest daughter likes to use that one on me when she wants

	Many thanks to CiCi for responding to my fw broken thread question...I'm
going to work on that problem ASAP.    

Date: Sat, 7 Oct 1995 21:35:42 -0400
Subject: re:  About Case

This case was described in todays (10/6) digest, and is the case I chose to
replace my FW case cause the bottom was falling out.  I really like it.  I
had the opportunity to compare it to Jean Lyle's case while at the Lancaster
show and felt that it was a better case because of its heavier construction
and padded sides.  While a very nice case, Mr. Lyle's seemed more like a
square bowling bag with only one layer of material on the sides.  They were
approximately the same money, so I chose the About case.  I've been very
pleased with it.  Just remember NOT to put your little tray in it on top of
the machine.  

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