Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Singer 99-31

In January I purchased a 1956 Singer 99-31 as a backup and travel machine.  It was in working condition, although it needed a new belt and needle.  And some TLC.  I planned to give it some attention after I finished the Key West quilt.

Well... guess what?  Last week my sewing machine started to make a terrible clacking noise.  One of the feed dog gears started to shred (again) and a loose rod banged with every stitch.  It stitched, and the loose mechanism didn't appear to be causing any harm, but it was too noisy to  continue.  So off to the shop it went.

I have no choice but to play with my new toy. 

The seller had told me it had been cleaned and refurbished, which I could see online from the new cords and plugs.  What they failed to say until I came to pick it up was that it sat in their basement for 15 years after it was serviced.  The box was full of cobwebs, the wood looked like it had water damage.  The case was stunning (not in a good way) - the original covering had been stripped off and you gotta love the corner bracket repair job.  The wood is old and very dry, but the construction seems solid.  It was ugly, but at least I knew the top of the case wasn't going to pull off!  That little machine weighs a ton.

Effective, ugly braces; strange inside clip; water damaged bottom

I brought cloth and thread to make sure the machine ran before I bought it.  It took a little work to figure out how to thread it, and the belt was so rotted it had a hard time turning the wheel.  The machine was shiny and appeared rust-free.  It stitched well, it was quiet.  The problems seemed easy to fix and the rest was in good working order, so I brought it home.

The 99 came with all the attachments (more than I will ever use), extra bobbins and the instruction booklet.  As I cleaned out the case I found two extra screws (a concern).  One was the tiny tension control on the bobbin.  I am so glad to have found that!  The other, I discovered, holds the machine to the hinge pegs in the case.  Mystery solved.

The outside bottom of the case had been stripped down to bare wood.  I have sanded that and am in the process of applying a few layers of varnish.  Already that's a huge improvement.

I've pondered what to do with the top of the case.  I have to do something - it's so sad looking.  I could probably peel off what's left of the inside contact paper and glue in new paper or fabric.  The inside clip is a puzzle.  I suspect it's supposed to hold the foot pedal, but the current foot pedal is too large to snap in, and nothing else with the machine fits.

As for the outside, between the brackets and the old glue, I can't sand and varnish it.  I decided to quilt a cover.  I'm digging through my stash for some muted colors and dreaming what kind of pattern would look nice.  Given my regular machine is in the shop for another week or two, how appropriate is it that I'll use the 99 to sew its new cover?

Sharing with Freemotion by the River's Linky Tuesday.


  1. if it's any thing like my feather weight you will love it

  2. I've never had a vintage machine 'though I would love one. I suppose if the machine itself is in good working order with all the attachments that's the main thing. Such a shame about the case though. The machine looks lovely.

  3. It looks beautiful and you will love how well the vintage machines sew!!


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