Saturday, April 22, 2017

Singer 99 conversion to hand crank, bobbin winder option.

I won a nice little Singer 99 in the raffle at the NC TOGA last June.  Afterwards Maria told me that she had donated it.  Thanks, Maria!

She had obviously spent some time cleaning it up and there was very little left for me to do.  It needed a new bobbin cover slide plate, and I had one in the stash.

Note:  I wrote a tutorial for hand crank conversion back in 2012 so take a look if you want more details about the process.

screwdriver points to location of missing screw

It also needed an attachment screw for the bobbin winder.  But this proved to be a blessing in disguise.

One of the problems of converting machines to hand crank status is whether the bobbin winder will work once the conversion is finished.

You have to replace the original solid hand wheel on the 99 and the 185 with a spoked wheel.  The hand crank has a finger that fits into the space between the spokes.

The spoked wheel is a different diameter than the solid wheel and this leaves the bobbin winder dangling in mid-air with no place to land.  But with this screw missing you can just push the winder into position to make contact with the spoked hand wheel.

I didn't invent this, btw.  I am sure I read this somewhere, probably on TreadleOn, possibly from Maria!  But I had forgotten about it until I started playing around with this machine.

Beautiful nose plate and nice and clean inside the nose.  "Nose" is what I call it because I never remember what it is really supposed to be called.

Nice and clean underneath.

Ditto for the bobbin area. There is a bit of rust (not nearly as bad as the photo shows) but everything turns freely.  It just needed a replacement bit of felt tucked into that little spring on the side.  Oil goes on the felt, and then a thin film of oil is continuously added to the bobbin race as it races around the track.

The original felt inside the little spring thingy was a red wool felt.  You can cut a piece the right size off of a red spool pin felt and use that.  The spool pin felts I have bought from are wool.  If you get them elsewhere I can't promise their wool-ness.

It is easier than you might think to dis- and re-assemble the bobbin area of the Singer 99 and its big sister the 66.  I found thorough directions with photos at the Tools for Self Reliance website.
They cover all aspects of refurbishing the 99, 16, 15 and 201.  The vintage sewing machine world is in a blind panic now because they have taken the directions off of their website.  Apparently there is a way to travel back in time (internet-wise) to retrieve them.  I have them downloaded fortunately.  People have been writing to them asking them to restore the directions.  So far no go though.

This is the Singer 99 that eventually became Nellie's pink machine.  I can never get enough pictures of it, how about you?

I probably started writing this post a year ago or more!  The machine has long been finished and delivered to little Nellie.  But the info about the bobbin winder "adjustment" is important and the fix is so easy that I knew I really had to get this posted eventually.  So here it is.

Enjoy the advent of Spring (or Fall if you are in the southern hemisphere.  Or the rainy season if you are in the tropics and waiting for it).


  1. I have a bad habit of never checking to see if the bobbin winder will still work, after I've cleaned and converted the machines. I use a sidewinder bobbin winder on all my round bobbin machines (even if the bobbin winder works). The few machines that I've sold, I've told them to check, and how to wind a bobbin on another machine. Most of those I've sold haven't been 'used' just bought for decoration, sadly.

  2. Did you know that in the UK 185s came as handcranks with an unspoked wheel.
    (Or as spell check puts it...handcart with unspoken wheel.) I saw one in an auction a few weeks ago but really who needs a 185k in ugly brown?

    1. My ddil and I both have natural born 99k handcrafts but they both have spoked wheels and are just so cute.

  3. That is good info, thanks for sharing!

  4. That's interesting that you had a problem with the bobbin winder. That 99K I picked up at my TOGA I converted to a handcrank for that little 12yr old at church. It took some fiddling adjusting the bobbin winder (because the nut on the back of the heart wasn't staying tight) but once I got that nut to cooperate it worked fine. Now I wish I had it in front of me to compare notes.

  5. So much old memories with this machine, remember the days when my aunt use to stitch dresses. Thank you for refreshing old memories...


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