Sunday, January 24, 2016

Paint Along 4: Shiny Metal

Yes, I did actually fall off the ends of the earth.  but fortunately Zaphod Beeblebrox happened by at that exact moment in his Infinite Improbability Drive spaceship....

OK, so life has totally derailed this project for the moment.  Never fear, though, because I am so used to life doing this that I had a plan from the outset.  tell you about that at the end of this post.

This blog is about vintage sewing machines and anything that happens in my studio.  So I am not going to tell you now what is going on.  But don't envision anything too terrible happening to the denizens and associates of DragonPoodle Studio, because it is just not like that.  I'll probably clear up all the mystery later when it is all over and it won't sound like bitching and moaning whining and complaining.

and now back to the regularly scheduled broadcast

I've created a post titled Paint Along.  How It Works.  Check it out for details of how the paint along will operate.  It is NOT too late to join in and everyone is welcome.

If I'm going to take the time and trouble to paint a machine, I want it to look as good as possible when finished.  That means paying attention to the smallest details of the machine's exterior.  and of course this is personal preference and your choices may be different ones.

Tools you might need

  • rags
  • paper towels
  • alcohol, rubbing or denatured
  • cotton swabs
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • emery boards.  I buy them in a box of 100, not because I am a manicurist but because these are "sandpaper on a stick"
  • metal polish.  I use Mother's but there are others that I have not tried, so I can't tell you which one is "best". 
  • wire brush
  • Dremel tool with a wire brush if you have one


Your vintage machine may have

  • dried up sewing machine oil (or whatever oil was used on it).  It looks like a brown varnish and so, not surprisingly, it is referred to as varnish.  But it is not really varnish.
  • light rust
  • heavier rust and corrosion, a pitted surface

Restoring the shine


Here's the latest addition to the herd, a cute blue toy machine.  The paint is chipped but glossy.  The hand wheel turns the mechanism fairly freely (even before oiling).  The metal parts have some rust as you can see.

Sewmaster, before
and a closer look at the rust situation from the back

This machine is waiting for the full spa treatment, but in the meantime I think it is a good candidate to show the advantages and limitations of steel wool.

The major advantage is that it is the abrasive that is least likely to scratch the metal.  Downside is that is only going to take off a light surface rust.  It will also remove dried sewing machine oil.

The top post has been steel-wooled, and the lower one has not.


Steel wool removed the lightest rust on the surface, but there is additional rust.  It looks like the shiny surface is pitted.  The lower left hand corner has been steel-wooled.

More needs to be done, but it is on the road to recovery.

Emery boards look to me to have a larger grit, but I do use them when sandpaper on a stick is needed.


already discussed on the Nov. 17 post on cleaning.  This is a good time to check all the little metal parts though to see if they are nice and shiny.

Wire Brush, Dremel or Otherwise

Serious corrosion calls for a serious attack.  A wire brush will remove the loose material from the corroded area.  a Dremel tool comes in handy if you have one.  it will still look horrible when you finish this, but we will talk about painting it later.

Metal Polish, the final touch

buy some, read the directions, and use it.  rub on and off with rags basically.  


so the reality is that it will be a couple of months before I get back to painting a Singer 99 pink.  

the good news is that all of the processes have already been covered in earlier blog posts.  So the next post will just link you to all of that information. 

not a perfect solution but then this is not a perfect world.  I have only heard from a few people who are actually doing this now, and I sincerely hope that they are not inconvenienced by the long delay.


  1. This is disturbing. I have been cruising KayAnEee Sew Masters on Ebay for months. How does a machine plug in and stitch without a pedal? Power assisted cranking?

    As ever, thanks for sharing. And kids, remember good ventilation is key to keeping the brain cells in your head. Otherwise, you end up like me.

  2. Cute toy. I have a red one. I've discovered rust erasers in the past week (got them from another onion). They are GREAT! Steel wool works nicely, but, the rust erasers work better for pitting and bad rust.

  3. You can use white vinegar for removing rust. Just dip the whole plate in white vinegar over night and check next day morning. I did an old 1920 singer machine restore and learned few things. Here is my video.

  4. Wow...I had to do a double take on your pictures. First I see a cute, gray poodle behind the machine and then a see a gray wool pad in the next she using her poodle to clean the machine?

    Love your blog..I'm learning a lot!

    1. Thanks, you made my morning. Now wait while I go clean up the coffee I snorted while laughing at your post.

      No poodles were harmed in the production on this blog post.


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