Saturday, August 20, 2016

Paint Along 11: Clear Coat

whoo hoo!  Am I proud of the results?  You betcha!  (last name blurred out of photo for privacy)
Just joining us in the paint-along?  You can catch up here.

I took NO photos during the clear coat process, sorry about that.  But I do have critically important information about the products you might choose.

For the zillionth time I will remind you that I am NOT an expert.  I am an experimenter.  I report the results here so that you can avoid the mistakes that I make.  And I usually analyze the mistakes in detail for that reason.

The exception to the "report all mistakes in detail" policy clicks in here: this machine is a gift to a 6 year old girl (her twin brother will get a machine also).  She has been following the photos on the blog and maybe reading the posts too.  So I don't want to point out every tiny problem that arose and spoil her enjoyment of this beautiful machine.  And the problems WERE tiny and the machine IS beautiful.

However.  You knew there was a "however" coming, didn't you?  I tried something different on these machines.  It worked wonderfully on Nellie's machine.  On Clinton's, not so much.  And I do have to tell you about that.

In the past I have used a spray-on clear coat. specifically Rustoleum Acrylic Lacquer Crystal Clear, gloss (image from .  No problems with this, but I am good with a spray can if I do say so myself.   Technique is everything.  Lots of light coats.

But I really prefer brush-on paint.  I like the control.  So this time I used a brush on acrylic lacquer.   I put one coat on Nellie's machine, which had been freshly painted with hammered paint.  Worked great, looked terrific.

I moved on to putting it on Clinton's machine.  There will be future posts on that one.  I took a decent looking black Spartan (Singer model 192, the budget model of the 99) and applied temporary jewelry decals for some dragon-y bling.  Again, more later on all that.  Then I brushed on the acrylic lacquer.  It had some tiny bubbles and a big wrinkly area.  I sanded it off on the bed, reapplied the dragon, and tried again.  Same wrinkly area plus another one.

bubbled bed

I was now officially too terrified to apply a second coat to Nellie's machine.  I considered taking my other black Spartan and starting over, but it wasn't as nice as the first one.  I'm still thinking it over, but for now I think I will just quit while I am behind.  Emily says it is not that bad.

This is the first time I have applied an acrylic lacquer clear coat over an existing finish.  I am guessing that this is the problem.  On another, much older machine, I applied a wipe-on poly to protect the fragile decals, and that worked well.  However the original clear coat on that (I'm assuming shellac) is a different beast than the original clear coat on a 1960 Spartan.  So (never forget the NO EXPERT part) I have no recommendations for anybody about anything if you are working with an existing finish.  There may be more experiments in the future.

 Chime in if you have any experience with this.

Meanwhile, back to the pictures of Nellie's finished machine.

 Tensioner reassembled, easy peasy if you took photos as you disassembled it.  which I did.

Bobbin winder.  Way more complicated to reassemble and I inexplicably did NOT take photos as I disassembled it.  And the Spartan and 66 bobbin winders that I had on hand for comparison are different.  So this took me an hour to figure out, but here it is.

By the way, when you replace the solid hand wheel with a spoked hand wheel, the bobbin winder may no longer engage with the wheel.  The Singer 99 was made for decades and there are different versions of the bobbin winder and I have not seen all of them, but the ones I have seen all have this problem.  There are several "fixes" for this.  Simplest one is to buy a Sidewinder.  As usual no one pays me to recommend products.

image from
I am now the happy owner of not one but TWO Sidewinders (thank you, Heidi!).  One for upstairs sewing in the antique machine museum, aka the living room, and one for the downstairs studio.  I find winding a bobbin on a hand crank machine very tedious.

Another simple fix is to remove the top screw that holds the bobbin winder in place.  This allows you to slide the bobbin winder down to make contact with the hand wheel.  You have to hold it down with one hand while turning the crank with the other hand.  A tiny bit awkward but it works just fine.  (This is the fix I was just telling you about Lynda).

screw removed


The single thing I did not paint pink is the black plastic piece you can see here, which protects the gear inside.  I was certain that the paint would not stay on the plastic.

This concludes the paint-along folks, but is not the end of the posts on painting machines.  Eleanor has sent me more photos of the Husqvarna she is repainting and you will be seeing that.  And I blinged up Clinton's black Spartan in some interesting ways that I am looking forward to sharing with you!


  1. I don't even remember to test bobbin winders when I clean and convert machines. I have 3 sidewinders, and have to use one for my Featherweight, too, since the bobbin winder won't stay engaged on it, either. Nellie's machine turned out great. I'd love to see the dragons on the Spartan when it's done. My Lotus needs a clear coat on the bed decals. I've been wondering what to use there. It's from 1914.

  2. I turned out great, I love the color!!

  3. Hi,
    I have a Blackside 221 that I cleaned the bed on. I was told to use thinned down Simple Green. BIG mistake. Took my center of the bed decal down to no color, and I'm pretty sure it went through some clear coat. I don't plan on selling it or anything, but the dullness in some areas bothers me. I ordered decals from Keeler that are more like stickers, to replace the center one. I thought maybe that would help me not not to notice so much. They don't have to be clear coated. I'm too scared to refinish it. Is there any way to make the dullness go away? I did use carnuba wax, but I still see it. I appreciate your taking the time to read this. Thank you, Pam S.


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