Wednesday, June 18, 2014

NC TOGA 2014

I'm still dithering about the decals on the painted Singer 27, so while you are waiting for that let me tell you about the great time we had at the recent NC TOGA (Treadle On Gathering and Academy).  Here's what this TOGA is all about.

First, no one wears togas.  Too bad really, that would add to the fun.

It is a geekfest for those of us who love people-powered sewing machines:  treadles and hand cranks.

photo from Facebook
We meet once a year at Smyrna United Methodist Church, which is nominally in Monroe NC, but really is out in the country.  Lovely country.  We stay at the Best Western Motel or nearby Quality Inn in Monroe.

It's a swap meet.  I sold six sewing machines and didn't buy any.  For me this is a huge win, because I really need to thin the herd.  I did bring one home, but more about that later.

It's a chance to admire other people's sewing machines.  One large room is devoted to sewing, and a few people volunteer to teach a simple technique or project.  I now badly crave a mocha and dark beige Singer 201 natural born hand crank.    You can see the object of my desire to the extreme left front of the photo, which does not do it justice.

The sanctuary is draped in quilts, all made (at least partially) on people powered machines.

We swap quilt blocks, also made on people powered machines.  Here you see my friend Linda and her adorable daughter Naomi working on Naomi's blocks.  I have Linda's permission to show photos of Naomi.

There are optional side trips.  I skipped the trip to Mary Jo's fabric store this year because I went there with my guild in March and my wallet has not recovered yet!

But I did go to Harry Berzak's private museum of antique sewing machines.  Hundreds and hundreds of sewing machines.  This is just one row of them in one room.  There were three or four rooms.  I was drunk with sewing machine lust after a while which is why I don't know if it was three or four rooms,  or maybe even more.

The lion is a sewing machine.  Yes, it really is.  Naomi and I both liked this one a lot.

Lots of toy sewing machines also.  Lots. And lots.  This is just a sample.

Mr. Berzak was a charming host.

This machine is one of his recent acquisitions, and it was originally covered in grime with no hint of the mosaic of mother of pearl beneath.

I could go on and on and on.  But time to get back to the TOGA.

We finish up with a raffle of sewing related stuff donated by the attendees.

Raffle table
Naomi helped Susan Mullis, hostess for this annual event, draw the raffle tickets.  Thanks, Susan, for all of your efforts.  

I took a child sized ironing board and spent a couple of days trying to give it to Linda for her little girls.  She claimed that she had no room for it so I donated it to the raffle.  Then Linda gave Naomi some raffle tickets.  Guess who won the ironing board?  Mwahahaha.

I put a $1 ticket in the bag for a sewing machine and won it.  It's a beige 15 clone with a dis-assembled tensioner.  I don't think many people wanted it.  I'm not really sure why I did, but if I can't get the tensioner back together I'm sure it has more than $1 worth of parts on it.

The best parts of the TOGA: the people of course.  I had a lovely time earlier in the week with another formerly imaginary friend (but forgot to ask permission to mention her name).  Then Linda arrived and I also got to hang out with her and her friends.

And Naomi.  The best part of all was hanging out with Naomi.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Painting the Naked Singer 27

Updated on July 30, 2014 to include the prices of the products used
The last post covered the process of stripping all of the old paint off of a Singer 27.  Here it is naked and prepped for painting.

Just like any other painting job, most of the time is spent in preparation.  Many hours of prep but the actual painting only takes a few minutes.

Citra Strip to remove the paint, one quart is $12 and will do 2 or 3 machines.

Blue painters tape, $5, and you will have most of the roll left over

I did some looking online to see what the products and options were, then headed to my local Auto Zone store to talk to an actual human being.  And wow, did I luck out.  The manager restores vintage motorcycles, and also used to work for NASCAR.  He spent half an hour with me answering all of my questions and giving me detailed advice.

I told him that I had stripped a sewing machine down to bare cast iron and I wanted to paint it with something wild and super sparkly, from a spray can.  Real auto painters have spray guns, of course.

I'm going to share his advice with you and give you links to the products.  As always, and sadly, no one pays me to do this.  All of these links take you to Auto Zone because I am grateful for the manager's advice.  But you can buy these products in other places too.

Apparently you have to be careful about what type of paint you put on top and what underneath.  Here's the deal:  enamel does not breathe.  Lacquer does.  This means that you can put lacquer paints on top of enamel paints (the original japanned finish on the old black machines is a type of enamel), but you CANNOT put enamel on top of lacquer. Not if you want it to stay on, that is.  If lacquer is underneath enamel, it will develop air bubbles and pop the enamel off.

Actually he called the modern lacquer "fake" to distinguish it from vintage lacquer.  Gotta love talking to another vintage buff.

Start with a self-etching primer.  He told me that this eats its way into the metal to bond with it, so you don't have to sand before applying the primer.  (I had already sanded at the end of the stripping phase just to be sure I got all the gunk off).

Link to the self-etching primer.  $7 and it would probably do 2-3 machines.

It's a muddy greenish brown, matte.  but none of that matters because it is just the bottom coat.

Not really a different color than above.  Just photo-enhanced to show details.

There is a video online about painting a Singer 201, and that person uses body filler to get the surface smooth.  I skipped that step because it looked pretty good to me.  UNTIL I got the primer on, then every imperfection leaped out at me.  If I were doing this again I would definitely NOT skip the body filler.  Learning this stuff is all part of the process.  I attacked the worst of the imperfections with an aluminum oxide bit on my Dremel and then primed those spots again.

Then you sand to get the surface very smooth.  He recommended 400 grit wet sandpaper to start with, followed up with 1000 grit wet.  He spoke again about the level of perfection required for NASCAR race cars.  I skipped the 1000 grit step and that worked out just fine.  One reason it worked out OK is that the sparkly paint I used has a texture to it.  If I were doing a glossy finish I would probably go with the 1000 grit.

I asked him about using a tack cloth and he said he does not bother.  Instead he wipes down with this product, which will remove the grit and any oil on the machine that has come from your hands.

Link to Rust-Oleum Wax & Tar Remover  $7.50 and it should last me for a couple of years.

He had three colors of super sparkly paint, blue, red and silver.  (An online search shows that it is also made in green and copper colors.)  He told me that to get it the sparkliest, I should use silver first and then follow with the color ( I chose the blue).

Link to Dupli-Color Metal Specks, silver.  $12 and I did not use the whole can.  If I were doing it again I would use flat silver for the base coat rather than the sparkly silver.  This would save some money.

There are a few tricks to spray painting.  I love spray painting so I have had plenty of practice.

  • Tip #1:  Many light coats, don't even THINK about covering it completely the first time.  Read the can about re-coat times.  
  • Tip #2:  Spray across the piece but start before the piece and end after it.  To make that clearer, and based on the photo below, start spraying about where the paint can is and finish about where the right hand side of the photo is.

There is no way a photo can capture the extreme sparkliness of this machine.

Oh.  My.  Gosh.   It is flat out gorgeous.  I was sorely tempted to stop with this color.  For one thing, the decals will be printed on clear waterslide decal "paper" and the silver would show the colors the most accurately.  In fact I paused here for quite a long time while I looked for just the right images.  I had to find those first before deciding whether to leave it silver or proceed with the blue.  More about image selection and decal creation in the next post.

In the end, I went with the blue.  What pushed me over the edge was the fact that this is a learning project.  I need to know how the blue color will show through the decals.

Link to Dupli-Color Metal Specks, Ocean Blue.  $12 and although there is some left over I have no way of knowing if it would be enough to do another machine.

I asked him if it was necessary to sand between the coats of paint.  His opinion:  if you are painting a NASCAR race car, then yes.  Maybe several coats with sanding in between.  For this project, he said it would not be necessary.

Amost finished.  One more coat after this one.

That was his advice, but the sparkles in this particular type of paint fly off into the air and land on the machine (it is a truly magical effect in the bright sunlight).  I did lightly wet sand with 400 grit before the final coat, and then wiped it down with the wax & tar remover shown above.

5 sheets of 400 grit wet or dry sandpaper, $8.  I only used one sheet for this, and another one in shining up the metal parts.

What looks like dandruff in the photo are actually tiny metallic sparkles.
I think I am in love.  If you have been thinking about doing something like this, let me tell you that it is really, really easy.  Not quick, not cheap, but easy.  You do have to be comfortable with taking off and replacing the handwheel, bobbin winder and tensioner.  Everything else a ten-year-old could do.  A ten-year-old with terrible parents who let them play with toxic chemicals, that is.  And the chemicals are really not that bad.  Mr. Auto Zone Manager did stress the need for a face mask (the cheap disposable paper kind) and gloves.  I did use the gloves when I was stripping off the paint.

After painting I will apply the decals.  The final step is a clear coat and here is where you have to be careful to get a lacquer clear coat instead of an enamel clear coat.  He warned me that this goes on cloudy, but assured me that it dries clear.

Link to Rust-Oleum Acrylic Lacquer Clear Coat.  $6, I did not use the whole can but don't really know how much is left over.

I asked him if it was necessary to sand between and after the clear coats.  His opinion:  if you are painting a NASCAR race car, then yes.  Again, several coats with sanding in between.  For this project, then no.

He did recommend doing something at the end.  I don't remember exactly what he said but it sounded like TR3.  He was not familiar with that exact product (Auto Zone does not carry it) but said it sounded like what he was recommending, which is a type of polish with a VERY fine grit to it, fine as in talcum powder fine.   I never thought of TR-3 that way, but it makes sense.   So I will finish up with that as I usually do,

Link to Blue Magic TR3 Auto Resin Glaze.  $10 and one can will last for many machines.

The next post in this saga will cover the creation and application of the decals.  I explained the whole process when I was working on Shield Maiden. The decals on this machine will be in color, but the products and processes will be the same.

It will probably be about two weeks before you see the final finished product, decals and all.  Please try to restrain your excitement until then!

Two weeks!  ha ha ha ha ha.  I'm still puttering with it almost two months later.

Total expenditure so far is about $80, but I have lots of products left over for the future.  This is my major hobby so this stuff will get used in the future.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Stripping the Paint from a Singer 27

Every once in a while it is a good idea for me to remind my readers of what an expert I am NOT.

This is just a hobby and I do things just for fun.  Curiosity is fun, experimenting is fun.  Blogging is fun.  None of this makes me an expert.

There was a thread on one of the boards a while back about do it yourself decals.  I got curious, experimented, and Shield Maiden was born.  Or rather, had a facelift.

But I was still curious.  I want to paint sewing machines in other pretty colors.  I want to make beautiful colored decals.  And I want to experiment with black decals on black machines, with a bit of gold paint peaking out from underneath to mimic gold decals.

This particular project was originally intended to be black-on-black with gold underneath.   It began with a 1900 Singer 27 Sphinx, 25% of the decals silvered and another 25% completely gone.  I was going to just lightly sand off the old decals, touch up the paint chips and then proceed to the decals.   But the whole project took an unexpected turn.

First I spent hours cleaning the dratted thing.

This is a horribly messy smelly job.  After 114 years the layers of dirt and grime are always impressive.  If you have nicotine sensitivity this is not a job for you.  Here in the North Carolina tobacco was the backbone of the economy for most of those years, and people took pride in it and considered it their civic responsibility to smoke cigarettes.  Think I am kidding?  Think again.

Are all antique machines and treadles in Wisconsin coated in nicotine?  I really would like to know.

THE CLEANING METHOD DESCRIBED HERE DESTROY DECALS.  But since I was trying to take it down to the black paint anyway, that didn't matter.

I used Tuff Stuff, a spray on foam cleaner.  It sprays on as white foam, begins to melt and drip, and turns brown as it picks up dirt.

I scrub with an old toothbrush and then wipe a layer of dirt away.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. And then probably repeat some more.

 I do this in a metal pan and all the melted Tuff Stuff collects in the bottom and reeks of nicotine.  Lovely job, not for the fainthearted.

I usually only use Tuff Stuff on the underneath side of sewing machines, and take care to keep it off the decals.  It does a really great job of removing many decades of dirt and sewing machine oil.

So, I got it all clean and then started sanding off the old decals.

Whoops.  Here's where again I point out to you my lack of expertise.

I had recently sanded decals off of a black Singer 301 and replaced them.  That worked very well.  This didn't.   This machine was much older and had that thick japanned painted surface which was much softer.  I got down to bits of bare metal peeking though in just a few strokes.

Total change of plan.  I WAS going to just sand off the decals, touch up the paint chips with a black Sharpie paint marker and take it from there.  Not going to work.  The new plan: take all of the paint off.

This means that all of the hours I spent cleaning and toothbrush-scrubbing with the Tuff Stuff were wasted, btw.  But I also spent them catching up on Dr. Who, so not totally wasted.  That River Song---what a woman!

So I got out the Citra Solv.  My friend and fellow treadle addict Myra recommended it to me for furniture, and I used it recently to take the old finish off of a couple of cabinets.  It smells nice and makes some non-toxic claims, at the same time recommending that you wear chemical resistant gloves to apply it.  I used the thin medical latex gloves and had to keep replacing them as the fingers blew out.

You paint it on and then wait while it works--anywhere from an hour to 24 hours.  I let it sit overnight on the first pass.

I used a vintage trowel from my grandfather's tool box to scrape of the paint.  Two flat sides and a point, all useful.  Gooped it up again, scraped some more, then used a wire brush shaped kind of like a toothbrush.  More Dr. Who.  Now I know who River Song really is.  Wowzer.

And if the Tuff Stuff treatment was messy, removing the paint was horrendously messy.  In a kind of fun way.  There is also the added thrill of doing something that you just KNOW that some people will disapprove of.  There are flame wars going on over on Facebook over just this kind of thing.  I keep out of them.

After the final clean up to get all of the gunk off, I also sanded the surface with the 220 grit dry sandpaper.  It felt smooth to the touch after that.

Last step before the painting process is to tape over all of the openings.

The tiny holes are filled in with the stems from a wooden q-tip, wrapped with painters tape until they are the right size.  BTW,  they kept falling out and I had to be careful to replace them before each spray of paint.  You don't want paint in the screw threads!

The holes for the cabinet posts were larger, and some folded up pipe cleaners worked to block those openings.

Having gone to all this time and trouble to get the machine naked, there was NO WAY I was going to paint this puppy boring black.  Time to experiment with automotive spray paint in a jazzy color.  Out the window goes the original plan to recreate gold decals on a black machine.  I'll do that later though.  This year appears to be the year of painting experiments.

All of these experiments with stripping, painting, decals, clear coat have an ultimate goal.  I've got a Featherweight that is crying out for new paint job and I don't want to spend $500 and send it off to be painted.  I think $500 is a TOTALLY reasonable charge, btw, when you consider the labor involved.  For me the fun is in the experimenting.

Stay tuned for the next thrilling installment!