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Singer 201-2 Sewing Machine Motor Re-Wire & Rebuild

Thursday, January 31, 2013
(ABOVE PICTURE IS AFTER SHE'D BEEN MADE OVER)

I picked up an old Singer 201 sewing machine from the thrift store.  The serial number dates it back to 1940.  It came in a beautiful wood cabinet.  The machine had probably 40 years worth of dust and grime on the outside and was full of cobwebs (I wish I had taken a picture).  The machine didn't have any of the original accessories or manual and I knew right off that all the wiring would need to be replaced.  I bought it of course.  I brought it home and spent 5 hours taking things apart to start to clean it.  Once I pulled off the motor I saw that the wires to the motor were brittle and wire was exposed.
Not only is electrical/motor stuff intimidating to me - but loosing any of the screws or small pieces would be a disaster.  I decided to call my local machine shop.  He said it would be $75 to clean and re-wire the motor and that he honestly didn't want to do it because it's such a pain and he was so backed up.  I guess that meant I'd need to do it myself!

Upon research I found a blog where the guy gives detailed pictures/explanations on how to demount the motor, take it all apart, solder new wiring in, put it back together and grease it up.  It's a huge (and dirty) process.  I went to 4 stores trying to get all the right things and boy was it a challenge!  I came back home with some 18 guage wire, terminals, heat shrink tubing, rubbing alcohol and swabs.  I still needed a solder iron, 60/40 solder, grease wicks (I've never heard of them before either), grease, syringe applicators for grease, rubber grommet and carbon brushes for motor.  Waiting for everything to arrive was painful - I am so impatient!

Here's some picture of the process to give you an idea (from the guy's blog):
Demounting the handwheel and motor from the machine.

Take out some greasy parts (including 'the worm' in the picture) and clean everything up.

Pull out the insides of the 'grease pots' and clean up.

The wires along the bottom coming out of the right side are the ones that need to be replace.

So here's what I did:
 Cut off the original motor wires and braided new wire on.

I soldered the top one first.  By this point I was shaking so bad I had to take a break and relax.  I practiced a few times but had never soldered before this project and was so nervous about doing something wrong and ruining everything.

 Next I put heat shrink tubing over the soldered areas.

 I did an underwriters knot, put heat shrink tubing over both wires and put it through the hole exiting the motor (notice the nice new rubber grommet the wires are going through).

 Next I put the 'worm' back on the armature shaft and screwed it back in place - it was tricky!

 I cut new grease wicks to put in.  See how nasty the old ones are!

 Put the wicks on the old springs.

 Put the wicks back into the grease pots with clips.

Covered the wicks with new Singer Lubricant and put the caps back on.  At this point I also put in some new carbon brushes.

Screwed the motor back into place and added some Singer lubricant to the 'worm'.  I thought I put too much so I wiped some off after this picture.

 I cut the motor wires to length and stripped off the ends.

 I crimped terminals on the ends.

 Heat shrunk some tubing over the ends.

 Screwed the motor wires back onto the terminal.

 Put the hand wheel back on. Replaced the bobbin winder tire.

 Adjusted the tire so it had perfect tension on the hand wheel when engaged.

Opened up the bobbin assembly and cleaned it out really well.  This only shows half off the grime that was there before I took the picture!

 Put everything back together - see how clean!  I adjusted the bobbin tension so it was perfect and added the new needle plate with the numbered guides.

The upper tension assembly was way off and the spring wasn't in the right place so I took it apart and cleaned all the parts.

 I adjusted the main rod so it was perfectly horizontal.

Put it all back together and fixed the tension so it was just perfect!

 Here's the original cords to the machine.  I took those off...

...replaced the cords with new ones.

The rubber feet on the bottom of the pedal were missing and I replaced them with new ones (not shown).

 I used the best oil and grease for the machine.  Singer lubricant for the motor grease pots, Tri-flow grease for the other gears and Tri-flow oil for all the metal-to-metal joints.

I replaced the original presser foot with a new one because the bottom was rough and rusted.  I got new bobbins, needles, light bulb and spool felt pads.  It stitches beautifully!


Here's a before and after video clip of the machine running.  The difference is crazy!

 Here's the cabinet it came in (not it's original).  I replaced the old wood knobs with some crystal knobs.

 The right side flips up and has a little accessory tray and cubby.

 The left cubby lid has an interesting hinge that pushes the lid down when the top is opened.

 When you open the top the machine automatically pops up and the front folds in to make room for your legs.





 I bought the machine for $15 and spent $90 on parts and tools.  You really can't beat $105 for a sewing machine that will last you forever!  Now I'm cruising Craigslist for more old Singers to make-over!  It was fun!!
20 comments on "Singer 201-2 Sewing Machine Motor Re-Wire & Rebuild"
  1. Only you could do something like that. You're amazing Dani!

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  2. You are a brave girl. Good luck with the soldering. I am impressed.

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  3. So awesome, miss smarty pants! Good job on the rebuild- cute cabinet too, love the glass knobs.

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  4. Wow!! You go!! I'm looking for a 201, thank you so much for the great pics. I'm going to refer back here when and if I find my 201,, Amie

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    1. Amie, I check Craigslist almost daily and once in a while come across 201's. I try to buy mine for $50 or less because I re-sell them to make a profit. If you're buying one for yourself, paying $200 for a machine in good condition with the box of accessories is a great investment! Even if you have to change the power cords and clean out the motor.. good deal! Changing the power cords are easy.. if you want more info I'm happy to help.

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  5. Great job, photos and explanation of your experience! Can you share where you found the replacement items such as the wicks and wiring? Thank you!

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    1. Yes, I sell them on eBay! http://www.ebay.com/itm/321503075089?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

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  6. What was the blog you mentioned in the 3rd paragraph about re-building a motor? I have a different singer motor and the wires are broken off right down to the coil.

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    1. Hi Rich! It's the "Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog".. Just Google it with "re-wire tutorial" and you'll find it!

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  7. I just found your blog. Purchased a Singer 15-91 yesterday and it has the potted motor like this machine. It totally has to be rewired but already having fun cleaning it up. I will refer back to here when i get the nerve to start the rewire. Hehe

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    1. You'll get hooked fixing machines up after seeing how much better your 15-91 will run - watch out! :) It's nerve wracking doing the re-wire for your first time (mostly cutting off the old wires and soldering the new ones, but in the re-wire kits I sell there's enough wire/solder for you to practice a few times. It really is easier than you'd think! Good luck!!

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  8. Wow... what a difference. I have a 201 in need of a redo as well. I've had an electrical friend help me wire the pedal and plugs, but need to do the motor next. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Oh..thanks so much for this site. I'm going have to rebuild my 15-91 potter motor and you have given me some confidence in trying it.

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    1. You're welcome! Feel free to email me with any questions you have during the process! Twirlybirdbaby@gmail.com

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  10. Dear Dani, I'm amazed and impressed and motivated to take on my Singer potted motor. You mention you sell re-wire kits. Where can I purchase one? Thank you.

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    1. Hi Eileen! I sell the kits on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kit-for-re-wiring-motor-on-Singer-15-91-and-201-2-Sewing-Machines-Potted-Motor/322206397296

      Let me know if you have any questions during the process!

      Thanks!
      Dani

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  11. I am SO impressed that you did this. I've inherited my Grandma's machine and was going to get a professional to look at it. Now you've inspired me to do it myself. Thank you!

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    1. Becky, you'll have a good time doing it.. it's so rewarding! Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions!

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  12. Dani, you don't have a video of the whole tutorial of rewiring it do you? I've just sent mine to have it rewired and serviced, but the 2nd time using it the foot petal wires came out. I felt that the machine didn't perform as I've read and heard it should. It sounded smooth and had a beautiful stitch, but didn't feel as "strong" as I felt it should. I'd really like to do this myself because I'm a firm believer that if you want something done right then do it yourself. I looked for 5 months for a 201 and found a 201-2 two hours away. I paid them to bring it to me. I wanted it just that bad. lol. Now I could cry a river. :(

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    1. Hi Cindy! I'm sorry but I don't have a video - I have thought about it though! I'm just not into videos because I don't like to see or hear myself talk, ha!! It is rather an easy process if you follow the steps on the vssmb.blogspot.com (http://vssmb.blogspot.com/2012/01/complete-how-to-re-wire-potted-motor.html). I've done a dozen+ re-wires and it's amazing how easy it is (my first time I was sweating bullets and so anxious I thought I would pass out). It is really easy.. just practice soldering a little with scrap wires and get comfortable with it. Cutting the original wires that lead to the motor is the most stressful part because there's no turning back but once you cut them you simply solder new ones on! :) 201's are great machines. I've owned/worked on so many different models and this is the best household model hands down. I'm sorry that you're having a problem with yours! It's true- you'll care more about your machine than anyone else and will do the best job you can. I wonder why the pedal wires came out??... that's very odd. If you're interested, you can take the motor off and ship it to me and I can re-wire/grease it up and it's a pinch to attach it back to your machine and hook the wires onto the terminal. You can also send the pedal too and I can either fix the current wires or add new cords (double-lead) which I add to all my machines' pedals. Feel free to message me at twirlybirdbaby@gmail.com. I do these motor re-wires + pedal re-wires for $150 and that includes me shipping it back to you.

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