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Oct 17, 2011

You're not going to believe it.

OK, so get this.

Remember how the reason I bought that Viking 6020 (see above), which arrived damaged, was because my self-lubricating Viking 3240 had completely seized up and wasn't worth putting a dime into, since I'd bought it cheap on eBay two years ago and it was very beat up to start with?

Well, reader Valerie left a comment last week that must have planted a seed in my brain, because after the debacle of the arrival of the 6020 in a flimsy box that wouldn't be suitable for anything heavier than a pair of running shoes, and wrapped in ratty old plastic (you can read the post describing this nightmare here), I had an Aha moment.

Valerie wrote:

A while back I had a sewing machine repair guy over to fix my newly acquired pre-loved New Home - with lots of solvent - and he told me that not needing to oil machines was a myth and that you can oil and maintain any machine - regardless of brand.

Like I said, this must have made an (unconscious) impression, because yesterday, on a whim, I was looking at a bottle of WD-40, which states that it "frees sticky mechanisms," and I thought, why not give it a try?  I always get WD-40 confused with Tri-Flow.  Correct me if I'm wrong: WD-40 breaks down grease but does not lubricate.  Tri-Flow lubricates.  Of course, sewing machine oil can do a little of both.

Anyway, you can guess where this is leading.  I managed to pry the plastic back off my Viking 3240, giving me access to most of the gears, and I sprayed away.

Not even ten minutes later -- Eureka! -- my machine was running more smoothly than ever before!

I threaded the needle and started stitching.  It did everything it was supposed to do.

Why didn't I try this earlier?  I guess I just assumed "self-lubricating" meant can't be cleaned or oiled yourself.  Thank you, Valerie!

It's still a beat up old machine, of course, but it's my beat up old machine and it works.  One of the best things about it is that it can wind any sort of bobbin -- Viking, Class 15, Class 66 -- they all fit.  I have wound hundreds of bobbins on it for just this reason.  And you don't have to unlock the handwheel to disengage the needle -- it disengages the needle automatically when you stick an empty bobbin on.

Now, of course, there's still the drama of the damaged 6020, which should be resolved in the next few days.  Later today I'm supposed to get my Kenmore 158.1040 and then, later, my new Featherweight.  Wait -- did I mention the new Featherweight?  It was part of the grieving process for my 6020.  Oh, well!

A special thank you to everyone who took a stab at writing my blog over the weekend.  You're all winners in my book and you provided me and Michael with some good laughs.

Happy Monday, everybody -- May you have a sewing drama-free week.


  1. Congrats on pulling through! Now that you've got it going -- go back, wipe out all the WD40 you can get to, and then re-lubricate with Tri-Flow. You'll be very glad you did.

  2. Here's the rules: if it's supposed to move and it doesn't, use WD-40. If it moves and it's not supposed to, use duct tape. Everything else, a big hammer will do it. (My son, who is in auto technician school, explained this to me.)

  3. Great daily blog...with comments!

  4. Seconding Richard's advice! WD-40 is a water displacer not a lubricant!

  5. I agree with Richard. WD40 can be bad on machines if it's not wiped off and oiled. I have a Singer 15 that I think had the entire underside sprayed with it and a lot of it. I had it freed at one point but it locked up on me again. So, it sits. Glad you got your machine working again!

  6. I love a happy ending. While I'm glad the WD40 got things moving, count me in Richard's camp. 3-in-ONE multi-purpose oil has kept my 1950's machine going and going.

  7. I guess pretty much anyone could be considered drama-free compared to that. I think I need to get over my fear of gears and levers and learn a bit about machine maintenance.
    Question: did you have to clean the WD40 off of everything after you sprayed? Seems like it would get on thread going through the machine.

  8. Hi Peter. Glad I could be of help. Maybe ask Rain what the next step should be in regard to the WD40.
    I'm glad your machine is working again!

  9. Wow I'm so intimidated by opening the guts and messing with my machine I would NEVER do what you did!! I paid too much $$ for my Bernina to takes chance. I'm glad it turned out well...

  10. WD-40 leaves a residue that will make the machine freeze up again. When I was a film editor, the equipment maintenance person used WD-40 to quiet the power film rewind. Within two days, it was slow again and squealing worse than ever!

    My preference for loosening up a frozen machine is Liquid Wrench or PB Blaster. The latter has a noxious odor so use in well-ventilated areas to avoid headaches.

    Then, oil with Tri-flow if you have it, or sewing machine oil. I like Hoppe's No. 9 Gun Oil, myself.

  11. I just removed a lot of rust off the bottom of my Singer 128 with WD-40 (then lubed with sewing machine oil.) For what it does, it's a great product. I'm so glad you figured this out and got it working. By the way, my best friend went to a yard sale this weekend (in Coarsegold, CA) and picked up a trapezoid spinet Singer 40 cabinet (for a Singer 301) for $10-- in good shape, just needs refinishing. Yea!!!

  12. Yeah! But if you say yourself that WD40 merely breaks down sticky residue and is not a lubricant, then it seems to me that a heavy bout of lubrication is in order, to prevent a repeat of this disaster.

  13. Hi Peter,

    Did I hear you say something about downsizing the number of sewing machines you own? At least, you are not pining for a kindle fire, when you have a perfectly good kindle and android tablet and ipad, like, ahem, some I could mention. :-)

    Also, featherweights are very cool, according to me.


  14. Glad you got it going! And I'm glad to learn something about oiling machines, too. Glad I haven't put WD-40 on my old Bernina, yet. I oil whatever I can reach without opening it up. But Now I'll give it a whirl.

  15. Peter has stumbled upon one of my most dearly-held principles: When something is new and expensive and wonderful, follow the instructions - especially while you're within warranty. But when something is old and depreciated down to nearly nothing and maybe not even fully supported by its manufacturer any more, you can do whatever works.

    I love Singer Athena and Touch-Tronic machines, which were early electronic machines. They were nearly science-fiction when new, and heartstoppingly expensive - $1500 without so much as a carrying case. Then, you had to take them to a Singer dealer and pay what they asked - who knew what was going on inside them besides those Singer-trained repairmen? Now, I blithely get into mine all the time - their once sci-fi tech is pretty mainstream these days, and the machines are worth next to nothing anyway, since Singer no longer supports the electronics. Under those circumstances, you can't do a whole lot of harm, and you can do an awful lot of good cleaning and lubing.

  16. Great post, and excellent pictures, Peter. You have such a great way of relaying your passion in your blog. Glad to see someone else who takes so much pride in their sewing and sewing machine. Thanks for the help!


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