What Singer oil can?
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A big part of owning a sewing machine is maintaining said sewing machine. A well cared for machine can last for years and years, and just looking at some well preserved vintage sewing machines should prove this to you. You need to oil your machine regularly, but what are some sewing machine oil substitutes?
Maintaining a sewing machine is a multi-step process but one of the most important steps is keeping the moving parts well oiled so there is no unwanted friction. Any friction will cause the gears to slowly wear out and eventually bring your machine to a grinding halt.
What kind of oil to use on a sewing machine
Ideally, the best oil to use in your sewing machine is actual sewing machine oil. I mean, there’s really no reason you should not be using it. It’s cheap, and readily available.
The only time I would even consider a sewing machine oil substitute is if I have a sewing emergency and I need to somehow lubricate my sewing machine to get it going. Otherwise, wait for a couple of days till your Amazon Prime order with sewing machine oil gets in, or try to go find it at a local craft store.
Sewing machine oil vs 3 in 1
3 in 1 oil was originally designed as an oil for bicycle chains, after which its use expanded to include general household uses as well.
However, it’s the absolute last thing you want to use in your sewing machine. The solvents that 3 in 1 oil contain will eventually evaporate over time, leaving a sticky, gummy residue that will leave your machine worse off than it was before you oiled it.
The two main kinds of actual sewing machine oils are mineral oils made from petrochemicals and synthetic oils. Petrochemical-based sewing machine oils are white, odourless, and almost watery. This is the kind of stuff you want to use!
Clock oil vs sewing machine oil
3 in 1 oil is a big no-no so what about clock oil? For metal parts in your sewing machine that touch other metal parts, you can get away with using clock oil in an emergency.
The best clock oils are synthetics which are ideal for metal on metal.
- 100% Synthetic oil that will reduce friction between any moving surface.
- Use this to replace petroleum based or spray lubricants.
- Safe to use on plastics and painted surfaces.
- Comes with a 60 day no questions asked return policy. If you are not 100% happy with your purchase I will refund your money.
- Comes with a medical grade 1 1/2 inch long stainless steel needle tip applicator for precision oiling with no mess.
WD-40 on your sewing machine?
Can you use WD-40? PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT use WD-40. The WD in WD-40 stands for water displacement, and it doesn’t really lubricate at all. In fact, in can cause whatever graphite is on the gears to lose its lubricating properties and you’ll be far worse off than you were before you started.
Best substitute for sewing machine oil
The ideal substitute for sewing machine oil is tri-flow oil. This oil is made from petroleum products and contains suspended micro-particles of Teflon(the stuff used in non-stick cookware), which make it a very slippery and lubricating oil.
It can keep gears moving really well, even if they’re under high heat and pressure, and you can use it on metal, wood, plastic, or rubber without any issues.
Actually, tri-flow oil is a great general purpose lubricant to have around the house anyway. It’s a little more expensive than regular sewing machine oil, but if you want something that does multiple jobs, this is what to use.
Plus the bottle comes with a nice, thin applicator tip to get the oil wherever it needs to go.
Before you go about oiling anything in your machine it is best to check the manual. Some manufacturers recommend against using any oil or grease on plastic parts – if your manual says not to oil the plastic, DO NOT OIL it. Plastic can sometimes have an adverse reaction with some chemicals and degrade.
Often, your manufacturer just will not specify what and how to oil in your sewing machine. In this case, it’s probably because they don’t want you to do it yourself but bring it in to a service center. If you’re not mechanically inclined(or no one in your home is either), you should take it to a service center.
If you’re the DIY person and don’t mind getting some elbow grease, you’ll probably be able to find tutorials for taking apart and oiling your model of sewing machine on YouTube.
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Old Style Oil Bottle would use a cork for a stopper
Newer style Singer Oil bottle...note that this one has a screw-on lid.
The Following Compliments of Sharon Reese:
The smaller two oil cans say "Singer" on the front. I've seen a picture of this oil can in Singer's "Short Cuts to Home Sewing" by Mary Brooks Pickens, c. 1928 (p. 15). I have also been told that these will fit in a bracket in the upper portion of many bentwood Singer cases which would date them in the 1920's and 1930's.
The middle oil can is my proof that polite persistence pays off. I found it at a Goodwill in an old Montgomery Ward's sewing machine cabinet. (The SM didn't interest me). I stood in line and asked the supervisor if I could buy it separately. She said it had to go to the back to be priced, so I couldn't. I didn't argue because it was 5 minutes to closing and many people were behind me in line. I decided to try again another day.
A couple of days later, I went again and talked to the same lady. I told her that the oil can didn't go with the SM because it was MW while the oil can was for a Singer (glad she didn't question my logic : )! ). She said it had to be priced separately. I asked for someone to price it. She said the pricing people had left for the day. Went back and forth a little more. She finally turned to end the conversation, and in desperation, I said, "Sorry to have kept pushing, but I'm a collector, and I consider this to be a collectible that's worth something to me. I'm just afraid that someone will buy the machine and toss the can because it's an empty can." It worked!! She said she could understand that, so she grabbed a pricing gun, and we agreed to $4.99. I thanked her several times and left very happy.
This oil can was made in 1956.
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In my opinion there is an enormous amount of myth, misunderstanding, and in some cases mystery surrounded by some type of voodoo. So my objective is to help to clear some of the mystery and shed some light on the myths about oiling our vintage sewing machines as well as our treadle sewing machines.
The first myth to explore is the machine itself. While it is a fascinating mechanical work of art it is also simply a large chunk of metal with moving parts that must move freely for the magic of a stitch to appear. How do we keep the parts moving freely? Well cleaning first of all is very important, but since our topic is oiling, we will just assume the cleaning is already done.
Now for the oil,what kind do we use. Some of you will undoubtedly say SMO (sewing machine oil)and others will say to use only Triflow ( a synthetic blend )and my favorite of all times "I only use exactly what the book says". Obviously the book offered the best technology at the time it was written. but what about the machines whose book calls for oil no longer available. I have some original manuals which call for refined sperm oil,(oil refined from sperm whales).
Well here is how I see it, first of all discipline and diligence are a key factor. Most manuals will tell us to oil daily with use and weekly when the machine is being used lightly. First of all I don't think that there is a wrong oil to use. Any oil that provides a slicker smoother bearing surface is better than no oil at all. Some oils like household 3n1 types or penetrating oil, for instance have a tendency to evaporate and leave behind a sticky film when dry. Bad oil? Not really just more cleaning to do if you let it dry out. Discipline and diligence and never let it dry and it is a perfectly fine oil for your bearings. It's too high maintenance for me but the machine will work just fine. SMO, good choice, it doesn't evaporate as fast but over time it too will leave residue behind and again it is the user's responsibility to perform prompt and proper maintenance.
The next two are so very close to each other they often overlap each other. These are my personal favorites when it comes to a non-synthetic oil. Electric motor oilis one of the best in my opinion,only second to high grade turbine oil. These are found at most hardware or DYI stores in 4-8 ounce bottles. We have noticed that some of the LQSs and LHSs (local hobby shop) are starting to carry them also. They usually have;an extendable tube to reach into harder to get to spots. And cost per ounce are more economical than the small SMO bottles.
Finally we get to the last but not least of our oils, synthetics and synthetic blends. I personally like the synthetic oils. I think they maintain a constant performance at a wider range of temperatures making them a little more user friendly in all climates. That being said I don't believe they are the answer to all prayers. I think if a sewing machine is super clean (no oil build up) like new conditions they are great. But if it is an old or abused sewing machine that is gaining a new lease on life,and needs a very good cleaning inside the bearings then it is my opinion that a synthetic blend works better. I feel like the petroleum part of the blend dissolves the old oil and gunk while the synthetic part helps to lubricate and carry the softened gunk away and eventually after its all softened and gone then switch to a full synthetic oil.
In the end these are my personal opinions. As individuals we have the ability to form an opinion tailored by our own personalities. It's not my goal to influence anyone to do exactly as I do. My goal is provide a little insight that may help others to relax,slow down and enjoy their machines.
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Machine vintage oil can sewing
Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Oil Can, 30¢ - Excellent Condition!
SoldSee similar items$14.99Buy It Now, FREE Shipping, eBay Money Back Guarantee
Seller:ttac7777✉️(914)100%, Location:New Brighton, Pennsylvania, Ships to: US, Item:253741826293Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Oil Can, 30¢ - Excellent Condition!. Vintage Singer Sewing Machine oil can, 30¢. One side of the can reads, "SINGER SEWING MACHINES" "30¢" "Singer sewing machine OIL" "A specially prepared lubricant for household sewing machines" "CONTENTS 4 FL. OZS." "MADE IN U.S.A." "A Trademark of THE SINGER SEWING MFG. CO.". One side of the can reads, "SINGER SEWING MACHINES" "30¢" "Singer sewing machine OIL" "A specially prepared lubricant for household sewing machines" "CONTENTS 4 FL. OZS." "MADE IN U.S.A." "THE SINGER MANUFACTURING CO." "NEW YORK 6, N.Y.". One side of the can reads, "489520". One side of the can reads, "CAUTION: Contains Petroleum Hydrocarbons. If taken internally, call physician. Keep person warm and quiet in well ventilated area. KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN." "REMOVE CAP-PIERCE SPOUT WITH COMMON PIN". I am not a can collector or expert. However, the can seems to be in excellent condition! It still contains a very slight amount of oil. The cap has a small crack. See pictures. Please inspect pictures, and ask any questions BEFORE buying. Non-smoking home. Free shipping! I will ship quickly and securely. Thanks!Condition:Used, All returns accepted:ReturnsNotAccepted
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Vintage Singer Sewing Machines like to be oiled and run smoother if you do this on a regular basis. The rules are you MUST use sewing machine oil (not like my niece suggested, vegetable oil!!!, she has a white featherweight which she got for Christmas from her mum, might have to take if off her is she doesn't behave herself!).
For those who are interested, I have put the Simanco (which stands for Singer Manufacturing Company) part numbers under each style of vintage can.
I first used a new Singer own make bottle but it is a bit messy to use and tricky just to put the one drop in the oiling holes. The handbooks show you where to oil.
So I bought a vintage oil can which drops one drop when you press the bottom. It is tiny, very easy to use but it leaked (cos its old). The spout screws off so that it can be refilled.
Finally got these two shiny ones, these don't leak. One is marked Singer the other isn't.
36569 - Tin Plate oil can with detachable spout for refilling
This design was made for years, the bentwood case on my Singer 28, the fake croc skin case for the 201 and the 201K table all have a special clip for it to sit on.
Then I found this one on eBay, so cute but its empty. The cap screws off but the spout doesn't so can't figure out a way of refilling it
120862 1 1/3 FL OZ Oval Oil can with lead screw cap
There is a clip in the Featherweight carry case which this fits in perfectly.
Found this larger can on eBay which has the added bonus of being nearly full.
120862 - 3 FL OZ Oval Oil with lead screw cap
My Singer 201K in the table came with an oil tube but as it has a clip for the little oil can don't think that this oil tube is original to the machine. The other was in a box of attachments that I got of eBay.
161609 - Oil Tube
Finally, this larger tin. Perhaps it was from a Singer shop, there is a dinky funnel that neatly sits upside down in the top of the can and the lid holds it in place for storage. They probably filled the neat little cans from this one. This is my latest purchase. Couldn't find a Simanco part number for this one.
Quite a little collection going on, might have to stop now but there is one more style to get!
Getting excited over oil cans, not sure if I am right in the head.
Footnote: There is a tube of Lubricant for Electric Motors 161609. This is the original tube from my 1957 Featherweight. This is for using on the electric motor, there are little tubes on the motor that you fill with this. You can buy new lube for your motors but if you have the old stuff, it will still work. If your motor (as in the White Featherweights) doesn't have lube tubes then they don't need it. The handbooks explain where they are. NEVER EVER USE MACHINE OIL ON THE ELECTRIC MOTOR IT WILL BREAK IT.
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I’ve been asked to do some stuff on oiling vintage Singers, so I’d best get started!
In order to oil your old machine, you need three things. You need the right oil. You need a means of getting the right amount of the right oil in the right place. And you need to know how much of this right oil to put where. OK, you also need some kitchen roll, loo roll or whatever to mop up drips of oil which didn’t end up where you wanted them to, so maybe we ought to make that four things.
Let’s start with the oil. Don’t use 3-in-1 oil. You need good quality sewing machine oil, not 3-in-1 oil. Proper sewing machine oil is very thin/runny stuff indeed, and you get it online or from your friendly local sewing shop if you’re fortunate enough to still have one. They won’t sell 3-in-1 oil, which is a Good Thing, because you don’t want 3-in-1 oil. Or olive oil, as was used on the last 66K we bought. Not WD40 either, or anything which might get used on a car, motorbike or boat, like 3-in-1 oil. That is not what you want. Despite what it says on the tin, 3-in-1 oil is not ideal for sewing machines. Far from it. It is evil. If you do use 3-in-1 oil, horrible things will happen to your sewing machine, the birds will stop singing and you’ll never win the lottery.
We buy our nice sewing machine oil by the litre from an industrial sewing machine supplier, but you can get 125ml (I think) bottles of kosher Singer oil online including p&p for much the same price as most shops charge for it (around £4) and that will last you ages.
Incidentally, when your vintage Singer was new, it left the shop complete with either a green tin of Singer oil or a small Singer oilcan …
That’s the smaller of the two sizes of the green Singer sewing machine oil tin, with both sizes of Singer oiler and a standard reel of Gütermann for size comparison. Whatever the size of tin or oiler, it was held in place inside the case or cabinet by one of three types of clip. There was one made of flat spring steel strips which held the green oil tins, and there was a strange-looking black device made from folded sheet steel which held the round oilers. Unfortunately I couldn’t find examples of either type to photograph without moving and opening more machine cases than I could face doing this morning, but here’s the third and most common type of oil can clip …
That one fastens to the case by screws through those two upright loopy bits at the back of it, and if it’s been strained open a bit it will also hold the small green Singer oil tin. Incidentally, one reason why the clips are missing from many old cases is that they can put a nasty old scrape in the finish of your machine if you’re not careful when putting it in the case or taking it out – particularly when they’re on the inside of a bentwood case. However, if your case is missing the oiler/oil tin clip and you want to replace it, as far as I know the only way to tell which type it originally had is to work out which are the holes made by the clip screws. If the hole centres are 30mm apart horizontally, you need the clip shown above. If there’s two holes one above the other, you need the flat spring steel type which takes the green oil tin. Two holes not 30mm apart means you need the black sheet steel queerthing which unfortunately I haven’t got a picture of for you.
OK, back to your brand new bottle of Singer oil. When you take the top off it, you need to cut the tip off the spouty bit, and for that you need a clean cut very close to the top. Cut it too far down and the hole will be too big, your oil will go everywhere and you won’t half grumble. Do that right and you’re in business, although if you’re really keen on maintaining your machine, sooner or later you’re going to want something which gives you better control over how much oil you deposit where. What you will want is called a precision oiler, which you get online or possibly from a fishing tackle shop (they’re used by anglers for oiling their reels, or whatever you call the wossname on the rod that the fishing line is wound on).
Now, I was going to say that we have here, from the left, my large, medium and small oilers, a reel of Sew All, then three common types of period oiler. Then it occurred to me that I could, for the benefit of our militant feminist reader, say that left to right is Mummy, Daddy and Baby oiler. But actually it’s good, better and best oiler, so let’s stick with that. Good oiler is a regular fixture on Ebay.co.uk, and the tiddler’s on Ebay.com. Better oiler took a lot of finding on Google and I’m currently trying to get a few for sale, so hopefully more about that one in due course. In use, better oiler is just as good as best oiler and it’s cheaper, but best oiler’s made just that bit better and I like that.
The red oiler was hiding in the bottom of a cabinet we bought ages ago and would be fine if it didn’t leak, as would the Perfect Pocket Oiler next to it. That also came with a machine but its cap didn’t, and that one’s quite common. You even see it branded Imperial Typewriter Co. The one on the right’s a lovely little thing which we suspect is American, and which would be a delight to use if it didn’t leak like the other vintage ones do.
On thinking about it, you know I said you need three things and we then updated that to four? Well, better make that five because now we’ve done oil and oilers, you also need your instruction book, which we’ll be referring to in part 2 …
PS Don’t use 3-in-1 oil 😉