Monday, February 20, 2012

The Singer 12 "New Family"

Singer 12 "New Family" Handcrank 1884
A new member of the sewing machine family came to live with us recently.  It is one I have long been interested in, the Singer 12.  It is also called "the New Family" machine.  This particular one was made in 1884.  So tiny, so beautiful despite the condition.  This was a sad case.  Here is what it was like when I got it.

Rusted and frozen.
The machine was very well used and then left where water got to it from what I can tell.  The rust was and is quite bad.  Because of that, the machine has large areas where the paint is gone and some parts that are irreparably damaged.  The good news is that it's complete.  It even has it's bobbin.  Singer 12's are not super rare but still not common enough for parts to be easy to find.  That means I will have to make due with what is here.  Thank goodness for Evaporust.  It has cleaned up many small parts already.  
The slide plates are in poor shape with one not removable.  I was able to get one free so as to be able to get the bobbin and shuttle in order. The shuttle moves side to side!
Horizontal orientation for the shuttle.
 This is one area that is quite different than any other Singer I have - the bobbin tension is set by weaving the thread though little holes in the shuttle.  It's a bit complicated and I am still figuring it all out.
Bobbin and Shuttle.  Note the holes and spring in the shuttle.

People who like these old machines will eventually come across this issue at one time or another.  Old iron is heavy and fragile.  That's a terrible combination.  This Singer 12 had a broken piece that made it unstable.  I resorted to this method, and it worked perfectly.  It was glued with JB Weld. 
Repaired with JB Weld

I found a Singer 12 needle set and new rubber winder tire.  If you find you need one, the rubber tire for the winder is the same size as the ones for the Singer 29-4.  That is a fairly easy to find part.  I am still searching for a good source for needles but Ebay does have them.
Cleaning was slow and there was a lot of debris inside.  Dirty!  For this process I used Gojo non-pumice and cotton balls.  Later I used sewing machine oil.

After some cleaning.
The Singer 12 has a system for setting in the needle that can be a problem.  You must set the needle by sight, not by setting it in a slot.  It is not too hard, just takes some attention.  The needles go in with the groove and eye facing you.  Here is a photo of the placement.
Needle placement.  Note the tiny part at the top of the clamp.
Now to the sewing. Would this even work?  It was not looking good.  It took a while to get it right as this machine is so different that the model 27.   Even putting it together after cleaning was a little tense.  Thankfully I did take photos of where everything was before I removed the parts so as to put it back correctly.  So many issues!  

The tension discs are not in good shape from rust and also a problem with the thread take up or check spring caused all the mess.  What about the crazy shuttle thread winding?  Add to it the needle placement adjustments through trial and error.  Eventually I did get it to make a decent stitch.

There will be more work to come.  There is hope.  This little machine deserves to be useful again and I'll see to it that it is.