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I’ve recently acquired an old industrial sewing machine from a relative. It was sitting in storage for around four years and was practically deteriorating until I recovered it from its rusty state.

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The main problem with this machine was that many of the auxiliary parts were missing or broken altogether. Namely,

  • Reverse lever snapped in half
  • Foot pedal missing (controls the clutch motor and sewing machine operation)
  • Sewing thread holder missing
  • Spool winder missing

Other than that, everything was fine. All the internal parts became fully operational after some external shots of WD40 and new sewing machine oil.

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The machine head, which probably weighs around 25 pounds, lies on a heavy sheet of MDF with a melamine top and plastic siding. The old owner drilled a couple of pilot holes on the surface for whatever reason. I filled these holes with some wood putty and sanded it flush.

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Next came the paint job. I bought some spray paint that advertised adhesion to plastic. The closest match to the original color of the melamine was a green-tan mix. I’m quite fond of this color. It’s rather reminiscence of those architectural drafting tables. Quite fitting for a sewing machine. I put on 3 coats and buffed the top layer with some fine steel wool. In the end, it came out smoother than the original melamine. For the sewing machine itself, I wiped the dirt off with a wet towel. There was practically no rust at all. I put some paste waste, just for that new-machine sheen.

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The broken reverse lever was a tough conundrum. I’ve yet to learn how to weld, so anything metal is out of my diy scope. I still try though. I attempted to “solder” the lever back together with a propane torch and some bronze brazing rods. Now of course, this failed. The propane torch didn’t reach a high enough temperature, not even for a red glow on the metal. The brazing rods didn’t adhere, or even melt for that matter. The lever is also made of cast iron, which isn’t weldable under normal circumstances (as far as I know) I ended up going to a professional welder to get it done. Don’t recall if it was MIG or TIG.

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I bought the other missing parts from a sewing machine repair store. In retrospect I could have easily rigged up a dowel system for a faux pedal. I could have turned a plate on the lathe for a thread holder. But alas, I amounted to consumerism due to the pressure from the summer heat. And there’s no shame in that. Really.

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