Sunday, December 29, 2013

A broken light socket

        The light bulbs socket of a Featherweight is made of Bakelite and as such it can be broken. There are many who struggle with removing a light bulb from the machine. Some manage to complicate the light bulb replacement project by forcing the issue. Sometimes even picking the machine up can place your lifting hands fingertips on the glass of the bulb and this can break the bulb as the machine is lifted, and the socket gets itself broken when they use the chain saw to try and remove what’s left.
        I personally have never done this.                                   Never.
        Removing the metal base left behind by a broken light bulb can be a problem and lead to the socket being broken and in need of replacement. The socket within the lamp assembly can be replaced or the entire lamp assembly can be replaced as an assembly. Elsewhere within this manual I tell of how to remove the light assembly as a whole and replace it. To just replace the socket within is simple enough if you follow the steps I’ll run through with you. The trick is finding a replacement socket. eBay can help. It is somewhat easier to replace the socket within the lamp assembly than it is to remove and replace the entire lamp assembly from the machine, wires and all.
        As I intimated, finding a socket might be the trick. Purchasing the entire lamp assembly on eBay is one way to get a socket. It’s the ease of installation that makes replacing the socket attractive compared to replacing the lamp assembly as a whole. If you fish around on eBay for a while you will find lamp assemblies on auction that are not going to sell for much because they look like snits. The black painted shade portion could be in sad condition but the socket that is protected within it is probably OK. Search for the auction and when found ask the seller if the socket is in one piece. On the auction page there is a section for asking the seller a question. I have on occasion seen just the socket for auction as well.
        If you choose to replace just the socket, begin this way. Remove the light bulb. Turning the machine upside down so you can see the light bulb will help a lot. Wearing a rubber glove can give you a better grip on the bulb. Set the machine right side up as if you were going to sew on it once the bulb is out. Look under the near edge of the lamp shade to see the screw that secures the lamp shade to the body of the machine, about half way between left and right on the shade. Remove that screw and roll/pull the lamp shade out from the body of the machine toward you. Roll it out more than pulling as the assembly will not pull out very much. The lamp assembly will be held up (supported) by the wire to the lamp that is shrouded in a lead tube. You will bend this lead tube covering the wire and this is OK. This lead tube covered wire works well as a third hand but don’t horse the shade around mush. At the right end of the shade assembly there is a part of the shade that extended into the side of the machine through a hole provided for it. The portion that rolled out with the shade has a slot that the lead shrouded wire is secured into by a set-screw. The set-screw is on the top and perpendicular to the wire. Loosen this set screw about four full turns. At the right end of the lamp shade there is a small screw centered in the end of the lamp assembly. Remove that small screw and the lamp shade can be slid off of the lamp socket sliding the metal shade to the right in relation to the socket. There is a black felt washer/pad that is sandwiched between the socket and the lamp shade with the small screw we just removed through its center. Retain the felt washer and we’ll use it later on reassembly. To make life easy I use a touch of rubber cement to secure the felt pad into place within the shade so I don’t fight with it while trying to reassemble things. Somehow holding the felt washer in place, aligning the socket and getting the screw through all this makes the hassle of gluing the washer in place look pretty much worth doing.
        Now the socket that is still secured to the wire is exposed so the socket can be worked on. There are two small screws securing a cap at the closed end of the socket. You guessed it, remove them and the cap lifts off. You can then see how the wires enter the socket and spread into a “Y” within slots that guide the wires to the electrical contacts for the light bulb. It might look like “what do we do now” but the next step is easy. The wires are soldered to the contacts under this cap but we do not have to remove the wires from the contacts. Without cranking the open end of the socket around too much, look within the open end of the socket and note the two electrical (metal) contacts you can see within. Go scrounge around the house and find a wood pencil with an eraser on it, or the like. Reach the eraser end of the pencil into the socket’s open end and push firmly on the contacts and they will push out of the cap end of the socket and the body of the broken socket can be taken away.
        To continue with the replacement of the socket I suggest you wash the new socket with soap and water. With these replacement parts ready to receive their electrical components just align the wires and their funny telescoping contacts with the holes in the end of the socket and gently push the telescoping electrical contacts into the holes from the outside end of the socket. The wires of course fall into the “Y” shaped slot for them and the cover is secured with its two screws. None of these screws require that they be tongue bitingly tight. Snug, but not hard.
        The rest of the project goes back together in the reverse order of having removed them. If you didn’t glue the felt washer inside the shade assembly make sure it gets back in there where it belongs. Slide the lampshade to the left over the socket, install and tighten the small screw centered with the end of the shade that secures the socket into the shade. Now tighten the set-screw into the lead shrouded wire, again not hard, and roll the lampshade back into the body of the machine. Install the screw that secures the lampshade to the machine and installing the light bulb is next. Gently turn to the right to install.
        One last thing; remove the drip pan from the bottom of the machine and look inside for the lead shrouded wire as it comes down through the arm and makes a turn toward the electrical receptacle where its wires terminate. When we were working outside the machine we pulled on and manipulated the shrouded wire somewhat. The object of the lead shroud was to make it so the wires within could be pushed away from the gears in the bottom of the machine. Is the lead shrouded wire still clear of the gears? If not; reach in with a finger and push the wire shroud out of harm’s way.
ends of the individual strands of the wire. Then with a soldering iron apply solder to the eyelet you have fabricated so the solder penetrates the wire strands and makes for a firm eyelet.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

If your machine justs runs on while you wind a bobbin

I can't resist it! 

    A gentleman wrote to say his Featherweight just keeps runnin'-on when he tries to wind a bobbin. I suggested he take the hand wheel off and clean the bore and the bushing it turns on, with 220 grit wet and dry sand paper and oil.  He did and the machine still didn't behave. So I suggested;
     I think you will find that if you take the motor drive belt off it will take no effort at all to turn the hand wheel on your machine compared to a machine that doesn't have "the problem". I suspect your machine is so well "broken-in" that all of the parts are working in perfect concert with each other therefore there is no resistance to the machines being turned and however slight the tug of a well oiled hand wheel there isn't enough internal resistance prevent the machine from "running-on". Your machine probably runs fast compared to some Featherweights.

     To induce a little internal resistance to the machine's turning I suggest this. Gain access to the underside of your machine and locate the set-screws that secure the bushings for the lower high speed shaft. The bushings and their set-screws are in the "aluminum blocks" cast into the base of the machine that support the bushings. These two blocks have the oil holes drilled through their side to oil these bushings. I'll pick on the bushing at the hand wheel end of the machine that has the lower high speed shaft's gear next to it. The other end of the shaft has a block with a bushing in it also. In both blocks is a set-screw pointing out the bottom of the machine. But for now we pick on the bushing in the block at the hand wheel end.
    What I am suggesting is that you induce a little resistance into the free turning of the machine by over-tightening the set-screw near the gear to the point that we deform the bushing a tiny amount. I have done this several times and it has worked well. Before you do anything, take the motor belt off of the machine and turn the hand wheel a whole bunch and remember the effort needed. Get use to the feel of how much or how little effort is required to turn the machine without the motor connected. Get/find/steal a good quality screw-driver that fits the set-screw quite well and tighten the set screw more/excessively. If you detect/feel that the screw has tightened a tiny bit, check to see if you can feel an added resistance to the machines turning. If by chance there is a bunch more resistance, back off on the set-screw a bit and things will go back to normaler. Keep it up until you feel some resistance or until it appears this might not be getting what you wanted and you fear it is getting to be a bit much. Lets try something else.
Plan "B", if the above didn't work;
    Remove the set-screw near the gear completely. Using a "nail set" punch (or something of the kind) reach down to the bottom of the hole touching the bushing (which is the bottom of the set-screw's hole) with the end of punch and tap it with a hammer. Feel for resistance to turning again. If the resistance to turning hasn't increased, tap it again just a little more firmly, and again until you do get some resistance, testing between each progressively heaver tap. Baby steps. At no time should you let yourself get impatient to get things done and clobber the punch hard. Just a little harder each time until it works, replace the set-screw and go off telling your self that you'll never tell anybody what you just did to your Featherweight. Especially that I said to.
    I have done this before also, and it does work.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

If you need a thread tension guage and want to keep your money.....

    Thread tension gauges are expensive, so I'd thought I'd share a simple project with you that works very well and can save you a lot compared to buying one if you can find one.  
    If you are looking for one to use, make your own, but this will not be a small pocket sized portable, but it works with almost any machine. And it isn't huge.
    Make a small wood "base" of say 3X10X3/4 inch (approx). It might not seem like a "base" yet, but it will. Drill a small hole (about 1/16th of an inch) 1/4 of an inch in from one of the base's long sides and centered from left to right. The hole should be perpendicular to this base while it lays flat on a work surface.This long edge with a hole drilled vertically has become the back edge of the gauge.
    Make a "back panel" five inches wide by eight inches tall of something like "foam-core" or thin plywood. This back board should be glued to the base's back edge, vertically, with the 1/16th inch hole centered left to right with the backboard. A piece of heavy white paper is glued to the inside surface of the "L" if needed and will serve as a surface to mark on using a pencil later on.
    You need a piece of music wire (from a hobby shop) of about .045 thousandths of an inch diameter and seven inches long. Bend a little (tiny) loop or hook (curly-Q) into one end, this will become the top of the wire when finally set in place. Glue the plain end of the wire into the hole you've drilled and let the glue cure/dry.
    To use: Get a bobbin case that is known to be "set" properly. form a loop in the 3 inch tail of thread coming from the bobbin case and catch the thread loop in the loop/hook at the top end of the wire. Pull gently, the wire begins to bend and keep pulling until the bobbin just starts to turn within the bobbin case. At that point note how far the wire bent and mark on the back board (a little tick mark) how far the wire bent until the bobbin within the bobbin case just began to turn. Make your mark toward the top of the wire. Then let things relax. Release the thread from the hook you formed in the wire and with a finger tip pushing from the top of the wire bend the wire over to the Mark you made on the backboard. Then press the wire against the backboard, holding it there from the hooked end of the wire and use the wire as an edge to draw a more distinct slightly curved line. Try the bobbin case from several machines if you can, all from machines that are behaving themselves. You'll notice the marks start falling within an average zone or range. Were you to measure this "average" it will come out at about 2.6 Grams. It's a primitive little gauge that will cost about fifty cents to make and take an hour to make. It is every bit as accurate as the $189.00 big name machine gauges and can be just as fancy as you want it to be if you want to embellish it.
    To use the tool, form a loop in the thread coming from your bobbin case and as above pull on the thread, holding the bobbin case to do so. Note when the bobbin begins to turn and if it is to one side of the line you have made, or the other, you will need to adjust the bobbin case accordingly. If the bobbin begins to turn before the wire reaches the line, tighten the adjustment screw of the bobbin case. If you are pulling beyond the mark and the bobbin case is not turning, loosen up the adjustment screw a little at a time. 
    Once you see what I'm up to with these words you can work-out your own design improvements and it will work fine. I told you .045 diameter wire, but it can be a little larger in diameter or smaller but I would not suggest a big departure. It's just how much it bends when pulled on, consistently, that matters. But don't go real heavy or thin just because you had a problem finding some rational sized wire.
    And please use music wire from a hobby shop as it is good spring steel and not like coat hanger wire that bends and stays bent.
    If when using your gauge you come quite close to the line....that's good enough. This is a very sensitive gauge and close is good enough.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Removing the light switch from a Featherweight for replacement or paintin of the machine

I've had several emails lately, asking how to remove the light switch from a Featherweight so I thought I'd bring that subject to you today. The reasons for these people wanting to remove the switch replacing the switch were a simple failure of the switch (as in "it don't do nothin'") to a broken off toggle. If you need to know all about this, here it is. It is a great subject for those moments at a wedding reception where small talk fails and you want to impress people. If you are painting your machine you will also want to remove the switch. The drip pan will need to be removed from the bottom of the machine. The electrical receptacle/plug needs to be removed to gain access to the wire that goes to the light switch. The electrical receptacle has one screw holding it in place. There are three electrical posts inside the opening of the receptacle and the screw securing the receptacle is directly above the center post of the three, by about an inch. Remove the screw. The receptacle will only pulls out about an inch and to loosen the wire from the switch, roll the receptacle onto its open face so it's back side is up. There are three thumb-nuts on the back side of the receptacle. Just beside the thumb-nuts is a number that identifies the threaded electrical post by number, Remove the thumb nut at post number 3 and take the two wires off of the threaded post. Use the tip of a pair of pliers to loosen the thumb nut if need be and then finish by finger. The switch is held in place by by two nuts or at least should be. One is a black plastic decorative cap that doesn't hold anything in place. this plastic cap rests on top of a steel hex-nut that lays right on the painted surface of the machine's deck. The black plastic decorative nut is removed by hand and don't use pliers or the like as the cap is somewhat delicate. The risk in removing the steel hex nut under the cap in the stack-up is the chance that you might scratch the paint of your machine with the tool you use. The So many of these tools that can be used to remove this nut get scratched in use on the family car and such. The wrench you use has to laid the flat side of its jaw on the painted surface to loosen the hex nut. I take my tools for this use (a six inch adjustable wrench or 9/16ths open end wrench) and lay the flat side of the wrench, the jaw portion, on a piece of sand paper of about 120 grit and all this laying on a hard flat surface and rub it in until the side of the wrench is smooth and "toothless". Remove the hex-nut and the switch can now be poked down through the hole in the base of the machine. Not quite done yet. There is another wire that attaches to the switch with a screw into the side of the switch. Remove that screw and set it aside. The switch is free now to remove. Attached to the switch will be a wire that is soldered to a terminal of the switch, it goes away with the switch as a unit. There is a heavy black piece of rigid paper that serves as an insulator so nothing within the machine's base can touch the switch's wires and short things out. It's a pain, but put the paper piece back in when the time comes. Reverse the process to put things back together. The screw threads for the hex nut and plastic cap should have a little oil used on them and do not tighten either one very much. The hex nut will/can scratch the paint under it and the black plastic cap can break. Apply a little oil to the threads of the switch before the hex or plastic cap are screwed on.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A machine that runs on while you wind a bobbin and.....

If the "stop motion" knob located in the center of the hand wheel is loosened the entire Featherweight sewing machine should not keep running when you wind a bobbin, just the hand wheel. We have "stopped the motion". Should have at least. If not the cure is to remove the hand wheel and clean the hole (bore) of the hand wheel, oil it well and reassemble the hand wheel. This only takes about ten minutes. We begins by removing the hand wheel. Get a washcloth and fold it twice, into quarters. lay it on your base extension and lift the extension all the way up as if putting the machine back into machine's case and then tilt the machine forward until the machine is resting on the folded up base extension and the hand wheel pointing to the ceiling. Toward the edge of the stop motion wheel (knob) is a small screw. Loosen it by three full turns and the stop motion wheel can be unscrewed completely (lefty loosey, righty tighty). There is an odd washer that can be seen now that the knob is out of the way. It fits on the exposed end of the shaft that the hand wheel spins on. The washer has three tabs spaced evenly around its outside edge and two bent tabs on the inside of the washer's hole that fit the slot in the end of the shaft. Leave the washer on the shaft until you get a felt tipped pen or something you can scratch steel with. We need to make a mark from one side of the hole in the shaft out across one side of the washer. The washer we are speaking of has to go back onto the shaft the same way it came off of the shaft. When you put it back on make sure the mark is up and we will know the correct side of the washer is up and align the marks across the end of the shaft and the side of the washer and we will know the washer is "clocked" properly as well. Felt tipped pens work well but the mark will go away after awhile. I prefer something that will mark (scratch)the steel of the washer for keeps. Remove the washer and pull up on the hand wheel. Notice: I did not tell you to remove the motor belt. The hand wheel will pull off the end of the shaft with the belt left on and you will not have to adjust the motor drive belt's tension if you don't have to loosen the motor and remove the belt. Get hold of the hand wheel and pull. If it just moves a little, slap it back down and pull up smartly again. Repeat if necessary. It will really will come off. Ultimately we are about cleaning the hole (bore) through the center of the hand wheel and oiling it well. Oh, and putting it all back together. There are two simple ways to clean the bore of the hand wheel. Steel wool or fine sand paper. With four ought (0000) steel wool I pull off a one inch ball of the steel wool and pull it thinner and larger, pulling at the edges, without tearing the little pad. Ladies, I suggest you put on a rubber glove on your "using hand" and everybody cap the end of a correct sized finger needed so you can push the pad into the bore of the hand wheel and twist your finger like you do with the wash cloth in your ears on Saturday night bath-time. Don't dab at it, honestly clean the hole out. Change sides of the hand wheel and work from the other side as well. The bore of the hand wheel is one of the most neglected places on our machines and it frequently is dry of oil and it cruds-up preventing the hand wheel from turning freely. The other approach is to roll a piece of wet and dry sandpaper about two inches wide and six long into a tube rolled around a finger that allows the sandpapered wrapped finger fit the bore. 220 wet and dry sandpaper (used wet) works well. Either way you do this you will end up with a dirty finger and that shows we are cleaning crud out of the hole. Keep working until you are not finding any more crud to get your finger dirty with. Clean the bore of dust and such caused by your efforts and put some oil in the hole/bore. Put a little oil on the exposed end of the shaft and put the hand wheel on the shaft without the motor belt and give it a spin by hand. The hand wheel should turn very freely. If that is the case remove the hand wheel again and loop the motor belt around it and put the hand wheel back onto the shaft. Install the washer with the mark up and aligned with the mark on the shaft and install the stop motion knob. Turn the little screw in that is out there on the edge of the stop motion knob. Not tight, just there. It might take a second for your machine to buy into the idea its clean again. Loosen the stop motion knob and run the machine electrically. Give the machine a little while to break-in again. If the machine is thinking about not turning with the stop motion knob loose, run the machine and hold the thread take-up lever to stop the machine yet let just the hand wheel spin for a bit.