Sunday, June 26, 2011

Motor Gear Cleaning and Reassembly

In this post I tackle the ugly job of removing all the nasty, 60+ year old grease gumming up the works in Ms. Rusty’s motor. 
I need to point out that this step really should have been done prior to all the wiring and motor disassembly that I did, but hey, I never claimed to be a professional!  However, because I did this step out of order there were a few precautions that I took, including:  protecting the new wiring from any grease/oil since that can cause premature deterioration, protecting the inside of the motor from any grease/oil since that can cause smoking, deterioration, and all kinds of other problems.
Ok – here we go! I first removed the grease caps which are located at the bottom of the gear case.
Grease caps
I also then removed worm gear by simply lifting it out carefully with a pair of bent nose pliers (recall that the armature was previously removed from the motor).
Gear Removed
Then came the nasty job of cleaning the gear area and grease wick area.  This was done with the use of paper towels, Q-tips, toothpicks, and very small amounts of solvent (only when necessary).  The fruits of my labor can be seen below.
Gear area after cleaningafter cleaning
I then tried to replace the worm gear, but without all the grease it fell to the bottom and wouldn’t stay put.  So I then tried to put the armature in a bit and then use that to guide the worm gear.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful in replace armature, as it felt like something was in the way. 
At this point I felt absolutely stupid because after all this cleaning I had forgotten about the grease wicks, which of course with their springs, were in the way of the armature. 
(Now, if I were really clever and wanted you to think I was a genius I would have re-written this post and re-arranged these pictures to make you think that everything had gone according to plan.  However, life never goes according to plan and I am not a genius.  So I’m going to blog everything just the way it happens – for better or for worse!  Who knows, maybe some of you are reading this blog hoping nothing goes well much like some people watch an accident waiting to happen, or love American Idol tryouts just to watch the bad singers, and if so, I’d hate to disappoint you!  Anyway, I digress…)
Here are photos of one of the grease wicks in it’s tubes (also notice the brush tube to the left) and a picture of both grease wicks after removal from the tubes.
grease wick and brush tubegrease wicks
Surprise, surprise, the armature slide right in after grease wicks removed Smile 
reassembled armature  Worm gear replaced  reassembled gear
The adjusters manual tells you to make sure that the “flat” part of the armature shaft can engage one of the two set screws.  The position of the “flat” part of the shaft is indicated by the “flat” at the cover end of the shaft.
Cleaned commutator   Motor without caps
At this point everything has been cleaned and/or repaired on the motor except for the motor cover.  That has bubbled and pitted paint due to rust and will need to be bead blasted and powder coated (or stripped and painted), but I’m putting it back on for now just to protect the coil and wires on the armature.  Isn’t it pretty?
Cleaned, repaired and reassembled motor   cleaned, repaired and reassembled motor (back)


  1. Just want to say thanks! I just found your blog this week and love reading it. I'm new to all this so its great to "watch" you go through the process. Mistakes and all! Keep it up!!!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Nanette! I had a heck of a time with the feed rocker bars last night so you'll get to enjoy another one of my mistakes very soon :)

  3. Proud owner of a Singer 15-91 which I have had since 1974 (it cost $29 in the wooden round-topped carrying case with the original tool kit!). I have added to the accessories and switched from the portable case to a wooden cabinet. I know the machine was made in 1951 but I don't know when the cabinet is from. It is kind of Art Deco or Art Moderne with curved fronts on the drawers. Thanks for your helpful articles and all the pictures that make it that much easier to know what you're talking about! I could use some help with adjusting the bobbin winder, but at least it still works with a little coaxing.

  4. Hi, how one remove the felt wicks on 201k external motors BRK or BAK?
    Thank you for the Blog.