Monday, June 6, 2011

Meet Ms. Rusty

Ms. Rusty is my 1940 Singer 201 Sewing machine that I found on Craigslist.  She came in an original No. 40 Singer cabinet and had been stored in a garage near the ocean for the last 10 years.  Thanks to extended exposure the lovely salt air, she has quite a bit of surface rust, and her Japanned finish is flaking off in several areas.  Her motor turns over but the needle and sewing gear does not move at all.  As a result, I have decided to do a complete “ground-up” restoration on this lovely old lady. 
Since I have never attempted such a feat, I think it is best to chronicle every step of the disassembly so I have at least some hope of getting her back together again.  Putting it in blog form will hopefully serve several purposes – keep me organized, allow me a place to vent (other than to my hubby), and perhaps share the knowledge I gain with others foolish enough to fully disassemble a vintage sewing machine (ha!).
Here are some before photos of Ms. Rusty. 

You will notice that I’ve already taken her out of her cabinet and removed the light.  I’ll go over those details in a future post.
Front 2 - Before

Isn't this scroll work beautiful?   Head left side - before

See all the paint flaking off the back?  There is rust underneath almost the entire Singer logo.
Head back - before Top right view from back - before

The decals on the bed are in near perfect condition. Fortunately, I found some replacement water-slide decals of the exact same design that I can use after refinishing the head, which will be completely stripped to the bare metal.Top View - Before


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your progress and information with us...I have several 201s and 15-91s that need complete overhauls and with your concise directions and exceptionally clear photos I am confident that I can follow along....I am so glad that your blog was recommended to me....

  2. Thank you for your kind comment Rubyd and I'm glad you find by blog useful! Please feel free to let me know if there is anything I can do to improve it :)

  3. This blog is amazing! I have a treadle Singer from the 1920s my grandmother owned - and I'm terrified to touch it. I want to sew on it, but I've been unable to maintenance it. It's sat in my sewing room for 20 years. I'm determined to open it up and fiddle with it now. You have given me confidence.

  4. I found you on Rain's site, where I learned to remove the bobbin case. (The bobbin case was easy; it's that retaining ring that's the very devil!) While I am not planning a bare-metal-up restoration on the 201, I do have a couple of machines that I lovingly refer to as boat anchors that might warrant it. I will read each and every entry to learn from your successes and not-so-successes, as well. Thank you for sharing this ride!

  5. I'm interested in what happens next!!

  6. Just want to say you are fabulous for documenting this process. Just got a 15-91 that's really in pretty good shape, but still want to clean it up some more!

  7. I'm a latecomer to this blog. It's fabulous, and I'm hooked. Just so you know that there is still an audience out here for it!