Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pete Olson's sewing machine restoration process. Bringing new life to an old Singer 301.

In this blog post I am going to be showing you the step-by-step process of what I do, when I restore a sewing machine.
 This is a very filthy Singer 301 sewing machine.  When I purchased it, I did not look at what it looks like now, I saw what it could become.
 I saw there was potential in this sewing machine. Even though it had some nasty residue of tape across the back of it. And dirt and grime in every single crevice inside and outside of this filthy little guy.
 The inside was filled with grime and 60 years of old oil and grease.
 So I began the process of stripping it down.
 Taking apart every part that covered the inside in order to really do a deep cleaning.
 After taking off the bottom cover, I saw there was quite a mess of old grease inside.
 I disconnected and removed the motor so I could clean that up on its own.
 Even the light socket was unscrewed so I could do a deep cleaning behind it.
 Next I moved onto disconnecting part of the hook system on it. This machine and the Singer 221 and 222 featherweight have a very small screw as part of their hook mechanism that you do not want to lose.
 I placed the screw along with the hook inside a bag and sealed it.
 I next moved on to replacing the cord with a brand-new one on the control foot. I cleaned and checked out the controller inside and out to make sure everything was working like new.
 Then I moved on to cleaning the inside of the machine from the top. A lot of old grease had to come out of these gears.
 It's a nasty job but I do it all the time.

 Then I proceeded to blow out the dust and dirt from the machine.
 After doing this I cleaned the whole inside of the machine with WD-40. WD-40 is great for getting things loosened up and for deep cleaning the inside of these old all metal machines. But you do not want to leave it in the machine. I always blow it out and make sure it's dry.
 This area was filled with grease and gunk but I got It cleaned.
 Next I moved on to cleaning the adhesive residue off the machine. After cleaning the outside of the machines several times with WD-40. I got out some wonderful adhesive remover..... Peanut butter!
The first thing you do with the peanut butter is get a good spoonful of it and put the spoon in your mouth. This will keep you from wanting to lick your sewing machine later.
 Then you get another spoonful of peanut butter. Ann and I love Jif creamy.
 And put some on your fingers or a paper towel and apply it to your sewing machine.
 In all the areas that have adhesive.
 Then after waiting about an hour you go back to your wonderful smelling sewing machine and you wipe the peanut butter off with a paper towel taking a lot of the adhesive with it. The rest of it comes off with a fingernail.
 Now it's time for cleaning the extra parts and reassembling the sewing machine. This is the gear and hand wheel of the 301 and I go through and clean in between every slot on the gear and clean the rest of the hand wheel up. This one was filthy.
 Then I cleaned the front fold down plate.
 Now it's time to recondition the Tension assembly.  After all these years these can become quite filthy and grooves can form from thread. These weren't too bad but I still like to do this when reconditioning a sewing machine.
 I take the tension discs and I flip them over on their faces and rotate them around in a circular motion on the 150 grit sandpaper.
 This smoothes them out again like new and the thread will pass easily.
 Then I cleaned the rest of the tension assembly every single little part. After cleaning a lot of machines I have learned how these go back together. Although they can be quite different from machine to machine.
 Then after reassembling the clean and sanded tension assembly I reinstall it on the machine.
 I then cleaned the top lid of the machine including all the oil portholes and screw holes. I like to take a paper towel and get down into the tightest spots.
 Then after putting a new bulb in it's time for the light assembly to be cleaned and put back together
 This machine was missing a spool pin these normally come with a metal spring type of pin but one of those was not available so I put a plastic one in that is used on the Slant-o-matic singer sewing machines after the 301.
 Then it's time to clean all the rust and gunk off of the chrome pieces. For this I use turtle wax chrome polisher.
 Now it's time to apply grease to the gears. I put the grease on the gear with my finger on the gear and move the grease around evenly as I rotate the gears.
 The bottom is all cleaned up and oiled and ready to go.
 Now it is time to oil the sides and top of the machine.

 Now the hand wheel and gear are ready to go back in and be lined up with the motor.
 Then grease is applied evenly.
  After reassembly it is time to make some adjustments and sew that perfect 301 stitch. This machine is fast and sews wonderfully.
 My last stage of cleaning the machine is to apply a good coating of baby oil and rub it in with a paper towel.
 These last photos are of the finished and cleaned machine.
 It looks so much better now and runs like new.
 Look at all that shine and reflection.
 I love the beauty of a 301 that has been reconditioned.
 It's like a mirror reflecting the overhang of the roof above it.
 Such a lovely machine.
  A nice shiny black.

If you are in need of Ann's long arm quilting service we would love to be able to help you. Please check out the, Custom freehand long arm quilting page on this blog/website, 


  1. Wow!! It is gorgeous.. you did a fabulous job cleaning that black beauty up. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great job, Pete! The PB gives you energy to keep going through the long haul! Thanks for showing us how it is done, the pictures are great, also. I will get courage one of these days to tackle the hand wheel part, right now I just circle and stare at it muttering. Then give it another squirt of oil! Christy Horton

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