Part 3 of 3 - Featherweight Light Wiring, Troubleshooting a Flickering Light
Featherweight Light Wiring Tutorial Series - Part 3 of 3
In Part 2 of the Light Wiring Series, we examined the light wires and followed a step-by-step process for repair. Today, in our final installment of the Light Wiring Series, we will discuss the causes as well as how to fix a faulty or flickering light bulb on a Singer Featherweight.
Remember, this series is only for Singer Featherweight 221 machines manufactured in the US from 1933 to 1957 and for 221 Featherweight machines manufactured in the UK from 1947 to about 1951.
Tools Needed or Recommended:
- Safety Glasses
- Wera Safety Maintenance Screwdriver or Set of 4
- Magnetic Dish for Screws and Parts
- Nail File or sandpaper
- Light Socket and Wiring Replacement
- Toggle Light Switch with Lead
- Lamp Shade (or Light Housing)
- Lamp Shade Screw
- LED Bulb
Wearing gloves will keep any oils and residue off your hands and safety glasses help to prevent any flecks from entering the eyes. As the screws and small parts are removed, be sure to keep them stored in a safekeeping container. The Featherweight Magnetic Dish works perfectly for this (and it matches the machine, too)!
There are a few things to check as to what might be causing a flickering light bulb as it sits in the Singer Featherweight 221 light socket.
1. Faulty Wiring in the Toggle Light Switch
- This was covered in Part 1 and Part 2 of the Light Wiring Series Tutorials. Because it is one of the most common reasons for a flickering light, we want to address it one more time. If you have not already done so, please review the steps in the previous two tutorials to examine the light wiring to rule out any frays, cracked sheaths, broken wires or missing contacts.
- It is also possible that the light switch is faulty, but this is uncommon. However, if the light switch wiring is broken, appears burned or otherwise damaged, then original replacement toggle switches can be purchased here. (Note: Vintage original inventory fluctuates regularly, so if it shows as out of stock, feel free to sign up for the in-stock notification to be notified when more stock arrives or contact us directly to inquire.)
2. Light Bulb is Burned Out (or close to burning out)
- If the light does not work at all, the most common reason is that the light bulb itself is burned out and just needs replaced. An incandescent light bulb is available here, but be aware that just like the original light bulb on a Singer Featherweight, these bulbs get extremely hot to the touch (they can cause burns!) and are not as energy or illuminary efficient as the more modern LED bulb replacement.
- We do recommend the Bright White LED bulb (it is our most requested light bulb). It is the most efficient, won't get hot enough to burn and illumines the sewing surface fabulously. LED bulbs are also available in a Warm Light. Be sure to select the right voltage for your machine - either 110 volt or 220 volt (more information on the LED bulb description).
NOTE: It is important to know that not all sewing machine and especially Featherweight LED light bulbs are the same. Ours are not generic, but rather they are designed specifically for the Singer Featherweight 221 and 222 (although, they do work in other vintage Singers), they are considerably brighter with the Lumens and diode output and they are designed to work in all light sockets, including those for the white Featherweight. Follow this tutorial to learn more about the LED bulb differences.
3. Loose Light Bulb
- A loose light bulb is a common complaint, so be sure to check that the bulb is properly seated in the light socket. Some sockets require a firm push and turn clockwise, about an 1/8th of a turn, to get the light bulb securely in place. (Again, see note above about using generic sewing machine LED bulbs... this may very well be the cause of a bulb not being securely positioned).
- Also, placing the machine on end, handwheel side down, can allow gravity and a downward motion to get the bulb properly inserted. Click here for a demonstration.
- If the bulb is properly seated and it is still flickering and loose, then wrapping the base of the bulb with black electrical tape can add just enough extra layer for a more stable light bulb position.
4. Socket Troubleshooting
- The light bulb and the socket have to work together to allow the light to illuminate properly. With the light wiring removed from the socket, notice the two contact points on the light bulb that get pressed up against two internal pins. These socket pins have tiny springs inside, so they press firmly against the light bulb contacts, completing the circuit for light illumination. Light bulb contacts should be clean and easily press against the socket pins. If the pins are worn or weakened over time, they can become loose inside their base.
- Cleaning the contact points on the light bulb with a soft clean towel may also help with a better electrical connection. Or, if the contact points are too high, file them down a little bit with a nail file or small piece of sandpaper. If the contact points are too low, then a tiny amount of solder can be added to give more resistance against the socket pins, ultimately giving a more secure placement in the socket.
- If the actual socket is cracked or broken, or if the internal socket pins are broken, worn or too loose, then the light socket and wiring should be replaced. Replacement sockets and wiring can be purchased here.
NOTE: Replacement light sockets and wiring are not suited for white or tan featherweights, 221Ks after about 1950 or 222 Free-arm Featherweights. If there are light socket issues with one of these style Singer Featherweight machines, contact us for an original socket replacement.
If you have any additional troubleshooting questions, feel free to contact us here for more inquiries.