PLEASE NOTE – THIS PROCESS HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL FOR ME SEVERAL TIMES HOWEVER, RESULTS MAY VARY. USE THIS TUTORIAL AT YOUR OWN RISK.
In an earlier post I showed you how to oil a vintage sewing machine, and I briefly mention “frozen feed dogs”. If your vintage sewing machine has a “frozen feed dogs” lever, meaning you are unable to drop or raise the feed dogs with the feed dog control lever, then this is the post you need to read to fix them.
Your sewing machine may have its feed dogs frozen on the up position and sewing properly but you should also be able to lower the feed dogs to darn, draw, and to make it easier to remove a piece of fabric that may have gotten chewed up by your machine.
Any machine that sits around for any length of time can seize up due to the oil drying out. The freezing of the feed dogs is a sad thing. It means that the poor sewing machine has never been used or has had very little use. Why do people do this?
Sewing machines need to be used. And oiled, and believe it or not, they should also NOT be stored on the floor (even if they are in their case). Try to store your sewing machine off the ground, preferably on a table or shelf.
Moving on to setting the dogs free. You will need the following:
- a hammer
- paper towels or a rag
- PB Blaster (available at auto parts stores) and Tri-Flow [grease (preferred) or liquid - available at bicycle shops]
- a hair dryer for heat
- a little patience
PLEASE DO NOT SUBSTITUTE TRI-FLOW GREASE OR LIQUID FOR THE SPRAY VERSION AS IT IS HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, EXPLOSIVE AND DANGEROUS. USE THIS TUTORIAL AT YOUR OWN RISK.*************
We will be looking at a Kenmore 1560 Free-Arm Zig Zag Sewing Machine for this tutorial.
Since this is a free arm machine, you need to remove the extension table.
This is what the bottom of the machine looks like with the extension table attached.
Next, if your sewing machine has an underside cover plate, you need to remove it by removing the screws holding it in place. Do not forget to unplug your machine.
Here is the underside of the sewing machine after the cover plate is removed. You need to find the feed dog control mechanism on your machine, the location of it for most machines is pretty standard. You should find it somewhere near the bobbin area and it is usually shaped like a bullet on vintage sewing machines.
For this tutorial I am going to call it the bullet and the piece encasing it, the bullet case.
Notice on the next picture how close the feed dog controller is to the bobbin area?
Depending on how stiff this part is, you need to have some patience and do it a little at a time. Applying heat is the key!
Get the PB Blaster and spray a little bit or Tri-Flow (******sewing machine oil should be used only as a last resort and only a drop at a time*****) and add it to the 2 areas that the black arrows are pointing to.
Start with just a bit (1 drop) making sure it seeps into the crevice and on the end of the bullet like part.
Plug in your hair dryer, set it on HOT and heat the entire bullet casing moving the hairdryer from one end of the piece to the other. Make sure to heat it well (caution it can get really hot).
The BLUE arrow is pointing to the long piece of metal that is attached to the bullet piece.
In the next photo, the arrow is pointing to the elbow like piece of metal that pulls and pushes the bullet-like piece when you drop
and raise the feed dogs.
You will need to wrap and hold the elbow with a few paper towels or a rag. If using paper towels, try to make it a bit thick. What you are trying to do here is to wrap that piece because you will be tapping it with the hammer, you should not hit it directly with the hammer.
Now, get your hammer and lightly tap the “wrapped” elbow section in the direction of the bobbin area (see arrows).
Try to lower/raise the feed dogs with the feed dog lever on the machine.
If you are unable to move the lever, repeat the steps above, this will work. I have loosened many feed dogs this way, it just takes a little patience.
Once you have loosened the bullet and it moves freely when you drop or raise the feed dogs lever, add some grease (Tri-Flow) to it as this part needs to be lubricated to continue to work properly.
You may not have this particular sewing machine but many vintage sewing machines have very similar parts and this process
will work for most.
That’s it! Easy right? If not contact me.