WIP Wednesday

My current work in progress isn’t sewing, or knitting, or anything like that. It’s this baby:


This machine is a Sears Kenmore 158.14101 that I bought last night from Craigslist for $25. It was filthy. So filthy that after 3 hours of cleaning and lubing, it’s still filthy. I think it was stored in a garage for quite a while, because of the unidentified film of grime covering every remotely exposed part and 90% of the inner workings.

I was very nervous about paying even $25 for this machine, since it was so stiff that I could barely turn the hand advance when I first looked at it. The inner workings looked as though they had been oiled and at least basically taken care of during their life, but the motor could barely turn anything; the fastest speed it could go, pedal mashed to floor, was a stitch about every 2 or 3 seconds. It simply creeped. But it started to loosen up even with a few hand cranks, it looked and smelled like a well-oiled machine, and I took a gamble.

Then I had nightmares all night long about taking steel wool to corroded parts and sanding away until they were nothing, leaving me with a heap of misshapen metal that wasn’t ever going to sew again. But when I woke up and put some (okay, a whole lot of) oil on all the oil points, cranking the whole time, it started to loosen up.

I cleaned the entire exterior three times because the rags were still coming away filthy on cleaning #2. I brushed away bunches of lint, cobwebs, and chunks of congealed oil and fuzz and who knows what from the upper workings. I disassembled the entire bobbin compartment, presser foot, foot plate, and feed dog assembly in order to get out all the dust and unidentified grossness. I decimated my cotton swab supply.


And then I put it back together. Now, it runs at a respectable speed, although the hand advance still has a mysterious squeak, the bobbin winder doesn’t work, and the feed dogs are stuck in the up position. I suspect I have more cleaning, lubing, and adjusting in my future, but I’m actually looking forward to it. It can sew a straight seam or zig zag with aplomb, and I’m very happy.


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