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Featherweight 221 Paint Restoration



   Select images above for larger picture

Before we begin, I would like to state that we here at sew2go do not offer refinished Featherweights in our sales section. This restoration was undertaken simply as a guide for the many inquiries I receive monthly on this subject.

I think you'll agree that there is quite a difference between the "before" and "after" images above. This AD Featherweight was a disaster. When I received this machine it was seized, rusted and the paint was literally falling off. This machine had obviously been left outside or in a very damp location...perfect candidate for this type of restoration.

I'm not going to get too far into the mechanical restoration here. As I mentioned earlier, this machine was seized and required a good soaking of WD-40 and some gentle persuasion before it would begin to move. Once I had everything moving, I continued to apply WD-40 to all the mechanical parts and eventually, the machine freed up beautifully. I cleaned all the WD-40 off and applied a good dousing of sewing machine oil and lube to bevel gears.

The plated parts luckily were all in pretty good shape excpt for the hook and bobbin assembly. I didn't think I could save these parts and quite by accident, I discovered that by removing the entire assembly and liberally brushing on paint stripper, the results were astounding. After repeating this a few times and cleaning with a brass brush, amazingly these parts cleaned up nicely enough that I managed to save them and reinstalled them on the machine. Anyway, let's get on with the paint restoration.

Parts to remove..

spool pin & plate
bed cushions
bottom cover
body plug
light housing
light switch
extension bed
hook assembly
brass medallion
needle plate
upper tension
b/w bed guide

What you should be left with is something like this. When I removed the brass medallion on the front of the vertical post, I simply ground off the brass pin heads and will replace these pins with brass nails I purchased at a home supply store. Here is another look at this head before we begin to strip.

Next, I taped off all the plated parts left remaining on head, thread guides, needle and presser foot bar and then stuffed any opening I didn't want to contaminate with any foreign material.

With my first Featherweight restoration, I didn't strip the entire japan finish, I only sanded and repainted. While this worked fine ,I wasn't able to achieve the desired finish I had hoped for. It was suggested to me at that time that I maybe should have used a chemical stripper such as "Poly Strippa" so when this restoration presented itself I decided to give it a try, results can be seen in the next few images. Begin with image 1 and then move through images which will show you the entire stripping process ending with the head completely stripped in image 6.

head 1

head 2

head 3

head 4

head 5

head 6

Remember all the parts you removed in the first step? Now it's time to strip these. Have a look at these parts completely stripped, you'll also notice I didn't tape off the plated ring around the handwheel or the spool pin, the "Poly Strippa" actually helped in removing the rust and cleaned up these plated areas quite well.

Here is a good shot of everything taped off and ready for paint.

You'd never know this was the same head. I used automotive high gloss black lacquer and applied 2 coats lightly sanding between coats with 600 grit fine sandpaper. This shot gives you another angle and also shows the paint can. Final coat of paint, I'm happy with results.

I'm now ready to apply the decals. I reattach the fold-up extension bed and lightly sand with 600 sandpaper. The decals now available for this type of restoration are inexpensive and very high quality. Just like the decals used in model making these Featherweight decals are true waterslide and require you only trim to fit, soak in water to activate glue, slide from backing paper and apply. I like to lay the decals out on head before I attach. Decals installed in all of about 20 minutes, really anyone can do this.

I let machine sit overnight so decals have a chance to dry out, and then I lightly sand the entire head again with 600 grit sandpaper. You have to remember that we are now sanding this sewing machine head with decals that remain unprotected, I'm very careful sanding in and around decals but I do sand the decals very lightly so the clearcoat adheres well. I repeat this process of spraying the entire head with clearcoat lacquer 3 times sanding lightly between each coat. Here is the end result showing the head before I reassemble all the parts I removed. By the way all the parts such as light housing, handwheel, motor, spool pin plate, and so on were also clearcoated 3 times using the exact same process as described earlier with head.

I'm really please with the end results, this machine looks like new, all that's left to do is install the brass medallion.

Decals sets are available $29.95 USD plus postage.
-Early design (most common in North America) also available for the "AD" Featherweight with the long front bed decal.
-Prism design (found on the 221K & 222K Freearm)

This entire process can easily be achieved in a weekend. Total cost for material is less then $50.00 and I assure you when you've completed your Featherweight paint restoration, your machine will be the envy of the class.

Thank you very much for visiting our Featherweight Restoration Project. We would like to exchange links with you, please contact with your webpage URL for consideration.


by Bob Bannen, former owner of sew2go


Invention of the Sewing Machine ~ Canadian Sewing Machine Manufacturers
Sewing Machine Values ~ Singer Dates ~ Willcox & Gibbs Dates ~ Needle Threading
Shuttle Identification ~ Common Problems ~ Why Make Quilts? ~ Sewing With Children
Packing a Sewing Machine ~ Paint a Featherweight ~ Favorites and Links


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