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Restore Along Part 3: More Disassembly
by The Featherweight Shop

Singer Featherweight 221

Thanks for joining us in Part 3 of Tulip's Restore Along!  For those of you who are just joining us, this Featherweight (endearingly named Tulip) is in the process of a full restoration.  Julia and her husband, Mark, found and rescued Tulip in a small antique shop in Kentucky and began the journey to restore her. We are lucky enough to join in on the fun and follow along on Julia's adventure. You can catch up on her story with the first two Restore Along blog posts below:

Restore Along Part 1: The Introduction of Julia and Tulip

Restore Along Part 2: Stripping Down Tulip

After Julia and Mark picked up Tulip in Kentucky, they researched her birthday and found out she was 65 years old! (Tulip came home with Julia and Mark in May of 2019.)

Singer Featherweight 221 serial number
Tulip from Kentucky ~ AL694961 serial number gives a commission date of April 22, 1954. To learn more about Singer Featherweight "Birthdate" charts, click here.

In this third section of the Restore Along, Julia is focusing on preparation, soaking, and detail work.  Because much of today's work was relegated to soaking (and waiting while soaking) , this post will feel a bit shorter than the others. 

Julia's go-to soaking solution is sewing machine oil(Please make a note of the difference between sewing machine oil and other oils such as 3-in-1 oil or WD-40. You can learn more about correct sewing machine maintenance oils to use here.)

Singer Featherweight oil bottle empty from The Featherweight Shop

Sewing machine oil in a bottle with directive long spout ~ learn more about the appropriate uses for it here.

Tulip's Rocker Arm Shaft before removal

Tulip's Rocker Arm Shaft before removal.  The shaft ends are always visible on both ends of the machine.

*Featherweight Shop Note:  We have seen many rocker arm shaft ends painted over (like painting a window shut) by those who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of a Singer Featherweight.  While total disassembly will yield a far better restorative finish, it should still only be reserved for those who are very experienced with proper Featherweight mechanics.  Julia has worked on her own Featherweights for a long, long time and is taking this process slowly.  She has sought wisdom from skilled Featherweight Technicians and knows what she is getting into as she takes this step-by-step.  

In other words, total disassembly is not advised for the average Featherweight owner.  Featherweights that are improperly dismantled and reassembled have ensuing mechanical issues that affect the functional balance of the machine as well as proper stitch formation.  Moreover, if the machine has been repainted in areas that originally were not painted (for mechanical or servicing reasons), it only compounds the problems for any advanced Featherweight maintenance repair required.  The paint just chips away in trying to fix the machine! BE VERY CAREFUL!

On that note, for professional repainters or those who do not want to take the risk of dismantling the entire machine, skillfully taping over the rocker arm shaft ends before painting is an option.  This will help to maintain mechanical originality and integrity.

Singer Featherweight at The Featherweight Shop

Julia was able to tap out the feed dog rocker arms.

Connecting link to feed dog arm

This is the connecting link to the feed dog arm.  These two pieces are not screwed together at all.

remove two set screws on the left side of the rocker arm shafts

Julia forgot to remove two set screws on the left side of the rocker arm shafts before trying to tap out the bushings! 

"Swedging" out a rocker arm shaft bushing after removing the four screws.
"Swedging" out a rocker arm shaft bushing after removing the four screws. 
EDIT: Julia learned from her husband that the word “swedging” is actually flaring the end of a piece of metal with a swedge, but she still likes the term. To her it’s swedging with a swedge..  like hammering with a hammer..;)   She wanted to clarify, though, to make the correct use of the word known.

Julia also indicated that she attempted using non-pumice Gojo on a few small areas under the machine to try and remove old oil, but she was not impressed with the results. 


A 9/16" wrench was used to remove the retaining nut on the toggle switch

A 9/16" wrench was used to remove the retaining nut on the toggle switch.  Be very careful when removing the original bakelite thumb nut that covers the toggle switch, however.  Being of vintage bakelite they can become quite brittle and break easily. 

toggle switch on Singer Featherweight

Toggle Switch

Bobbin Winder Parts

Bobbin Winder parts
Tulip's bobbin winder (above) and bobbin winder tension bracket were also removed.  

Toggle Switch location on Singer Featherweight

Toggle switch and bobbin winder tension bracket location

Julia is still puzzled over the bite taken out of her machine base.

Julia is still puzzled by the missing piece out of the base of her machine (back under the motor area), but it will forever add to the character and fun mystery to Tulip the Featherweight.

Singer Featherweight badge rivets

Saving for another day... Julia is not looking forward to getting these badge rivets out!

Featherweight end of day 3

Featherweight end of day 3

Way to go, Julia, and thank you for sharing all of your photos and journaled information.

Next: Part 4 ~ Preparing to Separate the Hull