Sunday, April 17, 2016

Paint Along 5: Sand Before Painting

hey there, good to be back.  have you all been on the edge of your seats waiting for the next installment?  sure you have.

Here's the Singer 99 I will be painting, with all the easily removable bits removed, and all nice and clean (free of grease and oil).

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.

It has been a LONG time since the last time I gave my usual disclaimer:  I am no expert.  I am a person who likes to mess around with vintage sewing machines.  My current craze is to experiment with painting and decorating machines.  I have painted a couple of machines with hammered Rustoleum and found it to be relatively easy and very forgiving (if you follow the directions on the can EXACTLY).  I am no expert.  Yes, I know I said that already.  I can't say it too many times.  Grab a beat up old machine (hopefully in good operating condition) and join in the fun.

Just don't get uptight if something goes horribly wrong.  Every old machine has a unique life history and every surface of every machine is different.  What works for one machine may not work on another.  End of disclaimer.

This machine is for a little girl named Nellie, and will be painted pink and/or purple and possibly have sparkles.  I won't know for sure until I start experimenting.  And all of that will be reported here of course.

Remove loose or flaking stuff

A good surface for painting is one with NO oil, grease or dirt on it.  And one that has NO loose material getting ready to flake off.  We took care of the oil, grease, and dirt in the last post.  Now we have to get rid of the loose stuff.

What we DO NOT want to do is sand everything off down to the bare metal.  Bare metal is another painting technique for another day.  A day AFTER I feel I have mastered it.  I have tried it and now I know what else I need to learn before I try it again.

Two most likely candidates for loose stuff are a flaking clear coat or loose paint.  The surface may have chipped paint also, but the missing chips by themselves are not a problem.  Scrape over them with a metal tool like a screwdriver--does it feel like more will come off?  Take it off.  No?  Leave it alone.

And here is where our machines will begin to diverge.  There is a big difference between an 1880s machine with a baked on black japanned finish with decals and covered by something like shellac (out of my depth here, feel free to chime in if you know more than I do), and a 1950s machine with a clear coat made of modern (and very tough) materials (and chime in again, ditto).

If you do have a "late" vintage machine with a tough-as-nails clear coat, I have no idea if the hammered Rustoleum will adhere or not.  Let us know if you try it.

The shellac-y clear coat on the old machines disintegrates over time.  When you scrubbed the dirt off of your machine, did you notice tiny golden amber flakes coming off the machine?  That is the clear coat.  So much of that may have come off with the cleaning process.

So how bad is your problem?  If the only problem is flaking clear coat, a good scrub with steel wool followed up by a light sanding might do the job.


I use 220 grit sandpaper to scuff up the surface of this machine in preparation for painting.  The clear coat was not loose or flaking.

As I said above I have already painted a couple of machines with hammered Rustoleum.  BUT those were much older machines where the clear coat was gone, the decals were mostly gone and even some paint was worn away.  This machine is different.  See how sanding resulted in a brown dust?  That is old and discolored "clear" coat, folks.  Not dirt, the machine was thoroughly clean.

The purpose of sanding is only to scuff up the surface so that the paint will have little tiny grooves to flow into and grab onto, therefore adhering better.  I did NOT make the slightest attempt to do anything more than this.  I did not sand off all the clear coat.  I did not sand down the edges of the numerous chips in the original paint job.  (I did make sure that there were no loose flakes around those chips).  The Rustoleum method is the EASY method because the textured surface will hide small irregularities.  So no further surface preparation is needed.

I think.

BUT when I paint this, I will be applying paint to a scuffed up clear coat.  It won't be the same as the earlier paint jobs.  How well will Rustoleum work over clear coat?  How well will it hold up long term?


Every machine is a new adventure.

Time to get rid of that dust.  First I wipe off most of it with a dry microfiber cloth.

then I splash some Rustoleum Wax & Tar Remover on a clean corner of that same cloth and wipe off the remainder of the dust.

As always, I mention brand names only to be helpful.  This one was recommended at my auto parts store, apparently it leaves no residue.  Other products probably work just as well.  Nobody pays me to endorse anything.

Sanding Metal Parts

In the last paint-along post I talked about getting the metal parts clean and shiny.  I found a few more things that needed attention as I sanded the paint job.  The working area at the needle end of the machine gets oiled frequently (or should) and after 50 years or so can get quite gunked up.

The metal parts at the needle end of the machine, sanding in progress.

A very fine grit sandpaper may be what you need to finish cleaning up the metal bits.  Some dried oil "varnish" may have stubbornly resisted your attacks with alcohol and a toothbrush.  Rust is impervious to alcohol, sandpaper is the only way to go with that.

Start with 1000 grit because this will leave the metal the smoothest.  If you have rust that is not coming off with the 1000 grit, you can use 400 grit (or anything in between obviously.  1000 and 400 are just what I have on hand).  the larger particles will scrub off the rust, but they will also leave a fine patina of scratches.  you have been warned.  personally it looks fine to me.

The bar that controls pressure on the presser foot comes out easily for cleaning.

And looks much better after a little sanding, don't you think?

And after I had all the sandpaper put away I remembered that the hand wheel and bobbin winder also needed to be sanded.  I had sanded the hand crank earlier.

The bobbin winder dis-assembled itself while I was cleaning it.  I would have preferred to photograph it as I took it apart.  But all of a sudden there it was in pieces in my hands.  Shouldn't be hard to figure out though.

80% of any paint job is the preparation.  Think we are done with that now?  LOL.  See you next time!