The Purpose and Timeline of the Featherweight Light Switch
The Featherweight's light switch changed slightly throughout the years in both placement and style, but it's one purpose never changed - turning the light off and on. Most new machines have an actual power switch on them, but the Featherweight's switch only operates the light. You will find that the motor will run and the machine will stitch even when the light switch is off.
Below is a short timeline showing the variations in the light switch:
#1 The Standard, Black, Rounded, Bed-Mount Switch - in use from 1933-1957 in the USA and 1947-1951 in the UK.
This switch is by far the most common - used on all Featherweights made in the USA, and the early Featherweights made in the UK. The large production numbers of these switches makes finding a replacement relatively easy. Often the decorative Bakelite nut is missing, but we now have replacements at this link.
This switch has been seen on some White Featherweight 221K7 machines on very rare occasions.
#2 The Light-Housing Mounted Switch - in use from 1951-1961 in the UK
Singer's second Featherweight light switch first appeared on 221K Featherweights in 1951. It was used on all black 221K machines through the end of production in 1961, and all 222K machines. While the location of this switch seems convenient, replacing it can be very tedious, as it involves disassembling the entire light housing assembly.
Singer never did change the 221K mold to remove the hole where the 'Bed-Mount' switch would be, so they just covered it with a plug.
#3 The Standard Bed-Mount Switch reappears in 1961, but in a different color!
Singer didn't continue the use of the 'Light-Housing' switch after the production of the black Featherweight machines. The Tan 221J and 221K machines saw the reintroduction of the 'Bed-Mount' toggle switch painted in a matching tan color.
#4 The Turning Bed-Mount Switch - in use on most 221K7 White Featherweights
The most common switch used on the White Featherweight machines spins like most lamp switches to turn the light off and on. This light switch is unique because it is held in place with little prongs instead of a nut that threads on the the switch.
#5 The Small Bed-Mount Switch - in use on many 220v 221K7 White Featherweights
The fifth light switch Singer used is similar to the first one, but it is shaped slightly different. It is most often seen on White Featherweight machines that would have been sold in Europe and the UK.
It is a safe practice to keep the Featherweight disconnected from power when the machine isn't in use. Remember that the light switch only operates the light, so the machine must be completely unplugged to be truly disconnected.
Light switches, like many electrical devices, can wear out over time. We do have replacement original toggle switches here.