Thursday, July 25, 2013

1926 Singer 99 - Part 4 - Putting it Back Together - OR, Better Late than Never

With all of the disassembly and cleaning now finished, it's time for my favorite part of restoring this old sewing machines - putting it back together and making it sew like it should. If all goes well, this 1926 Singer 99 should sew as well, or better than the day it was made.

I begin my reassembly in the opposite order that I take things apart. And I often refer back to my 'before' photos, to double check myself as I go along. I also refer back to any notes I took during the tear down - the position of concentric screws or nuts; position of the hook in relation to the needle, etc. These things give me a good starting point when it comes to properly timing the machine.

In the case of this Singer 99, I begin the reassembly by replacing the Feed Forked Connection and Stitch Regulator assembly in the pillar of the machine. As I mentioned in Part 2, the working space inside the pillar is very small on a 3/4-sized machine. Patience here is a must; it is very easy to become frustrated when parts don't stay in place while you are trying to secure them down. Magnetic tools help in this aspect, thought they can also be a hindrance if the magnet is too strong, such as sticking to the machine head instead of the part you are working on.

Feed Forked Connection, Stitch Regulator Screw and assembly.
The Connection Roller is already back in place here on the
Connection arm.
Before re-inserting the parts, I like to make certain everything is well oiled. I use TriFlow Oil to do this, and I especially saturate the Feed Forked Connection Roller. This roller or 'wheel' glides back and forth along the guide that controls the stitch length while sewing. Once it begins to gum up, it makes adjusting the regulator knob a beast in the future. Make note that this is one of those spots that should be oiled regularly. Once the assembly is back in place on the machine head, I like to oil the Regulator Screw threads with TriFlow as well, and I will turn the Regulator in its full range of motion multiple times to make certain it operates freely and smoothly.

Next comes the bottom-end of the machine. It is straight forward if you follow your 'before' photographs. Having so few parts, and being simplistic in their operation are the just a few of the reasons that I like these vintage machines. Less moving parts equal less parts to wear out and break. When replacing the Rocker Cones on the Feed Rock Shaft, I like to tighten them snugly, and then back off about 1/8th a turn so the mechanism moves freely. I snug fit the lock nuts, and make final adjustments once all the pieces to the machine are back in place.

Replace with "After" photo; show adjusting screw for feed dog forward/back.
With the Feed Rock Shaft and the Oscillating Hook Pitman (hook drive arm) back in place, it's time to concentrate on reassebling the Hook Assembly. Before putting the hook and feed assembly back together, be certain to oil the rollers on both the Feed Bar and Feed Raising Bar that I pointed out here and here. Coating them in TriFlow until they turn smoothly and freely will keep them operation smoothly. Once the moving parts are back in place, it should look like this:

I put the hook back into position, and try to place it as close to the proper position as possible. At this point, it is merely guesswork, as I have not yet re-installed the needle-bar which is needed to gauge proper placement of the hook. For a much more detailed look and instructions as to how the lower hook area goes back together, I would recommend you visit the Tools for Self Reliance website (TFSR). They are an incredible resource for refurbishing vintage machines.

With the lower bobbin area parts back in the proper place (but not yet properly timed), I begin the reassembly of the needle-bar area. Just like the other parts, I backtrack and replace in the reverse order that I removed the parts.
The bare needle-bar area. Here, I've already
replaced the Tension Disc Lever and its
retaining pin.

When all the parts are back in place, it should look like this:
Everything is clean, back in its proper place,
and ready to set the timing.
Now, we're ready to time the machine. Most Singer 99 machines have either one of two timing gauges built into the needle-bar area; the first was seen here on the 99k. The second gauge involves a bushing with a finger pointing upward, and two marks on the needle-bar connecting stud. This particular Singer 99 had neither, so I had to 'play it by sight'. And again, for a much better description, I will refer you to the TFSR website on complete timing instructions. Once I set the timing (following the TFSR instructions), I thread up the machine and turn it over by hand, to visually see that the hook does indeed catch the upper thread loop as it should. If it looks correct, I'll continue on with the re-build. (Quick tip - a larger spoked handwheel from another 99, 66, 127 or 128 works great to easily operate the machine while it is still under construction.)
The bobbin area cleaned, in place, and almost ready to sew.
Re-attach the feed dogs with the needle plate in place. You'll need to use the plate to see how far to adjust that concentric crew on the Feed Rocker Arm I mentioned earlier.You want the feed dogs to rise just behind their opening in the plate, and lower at about the same distance from the rear opening, without touching the needle plate fore or aft. If it does touch, you'll need to adjust it so that it does not, otherwise it will cause a feed binding and can cause unnecessary damage to the feed dogs and needle plate as well.
The leading edge of the feed dogs should rise just inside
their needle plate opening.
With the feed dogs set front to back, it's now time to set their height. The top most point of the feed dog teeth should be about 3/64ths of an inch (or about 0.005") above the needle place when at their highest extension. I find that having a feeler gauge is very helpful here.

Now that the feed dogs are in their proper position, and the machine is properly timed, all that is left to do is reattach the faceplate, bobbin winder mechanism and the handwheel. Sit the machine either in its stand or case and make a few test stitches. You may need to adjust either the top, bobbin, or both tensions. I like to test the bobbin tension by gently tugging on the thread, so that if flows freely with just minor resistance. This allows me to have a greater flexibility in tension adjustment should I need it down the road. On this Singer 99, there is no numbered dial for the upper tension, so I start out very loose, and adjust until the stitch looks correct to me. After some adjustments to both tensions, time to stitch away!

Once the tensions are set, the rebuild or refurbishment of the mechanics is complete! All we have left to do now is tackle the electrics. The electrics include the motor, the motor controller and the light. On this particular machine, the motor controller is actually operated by a knee bar, and not a foot controller, but their operation is very much the same (provided you are using an original Singer controller for your machine). I'll cover the electrics in the final post on this Singer 99.

*Edit - this machine has since been sold while this post was sitting in my 'draft' folder. BUT, I have acquired another Singer 99 which is in need of rewiring. It's kneebar controller is missing, so I will convert it to a traditional foot controller and I will cover the wiring aspect with the refurbishment of that machine.


Reading In Bed said...

I am so excited to find this post. I just bought my first old Singer, and the only thing that seems to be off is the timing. I can't wait to try your instructions. Thank you for posting!

Bjørnar Lingjerde said...

Hi Scott
I enjoyed your post on refurbishing this singer machine as I am currently doing the same job, but I have one question.
How do you know where to fasten the presser bar clamp that holds the timing gauge bracket? Is there a way to know how high up or down the bar to set it?
I cannot start timing the machine before this is done.

Thanbks in advance :)


Scott said...

Hi Bjornar,
I believe the above link in this post has the information you are needing. If not, let me know and I'll see if I can walk you through it. Cheers!


Kelley Poulos said...

I am fixing up a Singer 66 and am hoping this series of posts will help. You wouldn't happen to be working on a pre-1920 66, would you? Right now, removing the presser foot bar is vexing me.

Ruth R said...

I recently bought a 99 on Craigslist, and I really appreciate your instructions for refurbishing it! However, I can't find the instructions for rewiring it. Am I overlooking them? I haven't rewired a machine yet, and I'm a little nervous about it. Thanks!

45blur said...

Great series! I am glad I stumbled upon it. I am working on a 99 "portable" - a 1926. I am in the process of getting it to function and had to mess up the timing to clean it enough to get it to turn over. Now it turns fairly smoothly but I can't figure out the timing. It has NO timing marks or timing pointer. You mentioned your machine didn't have timing marks in one of your posts but did not follow up on how to do the timing with no timing marks. Can you help me on this?

Kathi Ernst said...

I have a 66 with the knee bar controller as shown on your original photos with the two black tube like plugs. I need to rewire them, how do they come apart to get to the wire connections?
Thank you