How to Oil Your Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine
Give your Featherweight a "Spa Day!"
This oiling tutorial will teach you every step of oiling your Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine and is geared more towards routine maintenance.
HINT: If you have discovered after opening up your Featherweight that the gear mechanisms are covered with old lubricant, grime, and gunk, and it has been years since the machine was taken care of, then it might be a good idea to start with the cleaning and lubrication video first. Here is a link to our cleaning and lubrication tutorial which will show you how to do just that.
In addition to the video tutorial above, you will find the photographs and oiling points illustrated below as well. Christian, our son, had the idea to utilize a machine that we received as damaged to be a teaching tool to pass on helpful information to others -- not only for our Singer Featherweight Maintenance Workshops but also for you, here. Marking the points in bright orange paint helps them to stand out, making each oiling point more visible, especially those in the shadowed areas.Sew-Retro Sewing Machine Oil only. (Triflow oil being the only exception for those who prefer to use it instead.) Do not use things like 3-in-1 oil or WD-40. Your sewing machine oil needs to be fairly new and not discolored because the older it gets the more it is prone to varnish.
These are some examples of oil that has aged, with the glass bottle below showing how dark the oil has become over time. These old oil containers are certainly collectible and fun to display in your sewing room, but the original oil they contain is not recommended for use today.
After you've downloaded the chart (linked at the beginning of this blog post), the first thing you will want to do to begin oiling is to remove the spool pin coverplate on the top of your machine. Be sure to use an appropriately sized screwdriver to do this, holding your fingers down close to the tip to avoid any chance of the screwdriver slipping off and scratching your Featherweight. If the screw is stuck, or perhaps even stripped, then click here for a helpful trick on how to get your spool pin cover plate off.
As you'll notice on your color-coded diagram, there are six places across the top that need oil. Each oiling point needs just one drop of oil.
The Bobbin Winder will need to be oiled as well. The manual diagram will show two points, but I only like to do this one at the front. Putting a drop of oil in the front oiling hole will help the wheel to turn smoothly as it winds a bobbin. The one at the arm join, however, I prefer to skip so that the arm remains secure and firm. When it's time to wind a bobbin, this firm pressure from the arm will then be enough to keep the bobbin wheel securely spinning against the rubber belt.
HINT: If your bobbin winder is loose and floppy, the cupped washer may just need to be flipped around against the screw head. If your cupped washer is missing, we do carry replacements here.
There is a vertical shaft that runs up through the neck of the machine, and that shaft goes through two bronze bushings at high speed. Those bushings need to be oiled to reduce friction, so it is important to not miss these two back oiling points.
Next, remove the faceplate by unscrewing the faceplate screw and setting both aside.
Give the handwheel a spin so that the take-up lever in its highest position. This will help reach the next several oiling points.
This spot on top of the large screw isn't highlighted in orange because technically you've already oiled this spot when you did it from the top... The manuals show this area being oiled twice, but you really only need to do it once.
The next section to oil is the presser bar area.
These two areas are for the presser bar lifter - the part that raises and lowers the presser foot and the arm that it simultaneously presses against to release the pressure on the tension unit.
Next is the hook assembly area...
You'll notice in your diagram that there is a green dot for the area behind the bobbin case. This means that this spot gets one drop of oil every time you sew or every time you change your bobbin thread. This area has metal against metal at high speeds with quite a lot of friction - you will be preserving your bobbin case assembly if you regularly give this spot one drop. Furthermore, thread fibers and lint are quick to absorb the oil in this area, so it really is important to oil it often.
Now you can remove your drip pan tray to reveal the gears and under-workings of the Singer Featherweight. (The drip pan tray is held on by the one large thumb nut.) Underneath the machine, the horizontal shaft goes through a bronze bushing on each end and needs to be oiled regularly. One drop of oil for every 8 hours of sewing machine use is recommended.
The remaining points of oiling are all points where metal rocks against metal (versus metal spinning against metal in the previous oiling points). These places just need oiled about every six months.
The diagram actually shows two oiling points here (above photo) on each side of that little arm there, but once you oil it in one spot, the oil goes where it really needs to. You can oil both spots, but technically one drop right here is just fine.
This oiling point can either be oiled from underneath as shown here or by removing the throat plate and accessed from the top down...
These last two points are pretty hard to see in the shadows and sometimes get missed, so be sure to oil these, too!
And there you go! You've officially oiled your Singer Featherweight 221, but before you close up shop, be sure to watch the lubrication video tutorial to learn how to lubricate your gears and motor. (Also, not all lubricants are the same -- click here to learn if you truly have a low-melting point motor lubricant.)
One more hint that is very, very important!!!If you have removed your needle/throat plate during the oiling process, you will need to make absolutely, positively sure that when you put it back on that the positioning finger is nested directly between the blocks underneath.
A2 needs to fit in the slot at B2
The White Featherweight is belt-driven rather than gear driven like the black and tan Featherweights are, so there are a few minor differences to note:
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us -- glad to help anytime!