Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Clean and Oil a Serger

I'm finishing up some Christmas gifts for the Littles.  Every child needs a warm, cozy blanket to snuggle up with, and I wanted to send a little snuggle love their way.  

I use my vintage Singer sewing machines for 95% of my projects, but since these snuggle blankets are made from fleece fabric, a serger would be the way to go.  My Babylock Imagine serger was a purchase I made when I was sewing cloth diapers for the soon-to-be 13 year old, and it has served me very well.  

It's also been sitting in my sewing room for about a year, totally unused!  I decided to give her a good cleaning and oiling before I started my project.  To be totally honest, I have NEVER oiled my serger!!  I've also never taken her to be serviced, since the only work she's ever needed was to replace the upper knife.  Why 'fix' what isn't broke??  But, she was beginning to make some clackity clank noises, though.  I decided to give her a good cleaning and oiling before she had a nervous breakdown from neglect. 

First, I checked the manual for the oiling directions.  It says to oil the machine, but it doesn't give directions or diagrams for how to do it.  Hmm.  It says to have it professionally serviced.  It's a MECHANICAL MACHINE.  There are no electronic parts to worry about accidentally frying, so I decided to do the 'service' myself.  I take care of my vintage machines, so I just applied the same basic knowledge to cleaning and oiling my serger.  (I am not a professional service person.  This information is supplied for your own use at your own risk.  yada yada!)

Here's what you'll need:
vacuum cleaner with a set of fine attachments for cleaning computers
small paintbrush with splayed bristles (for cleaning out the dust) ** That little tiny brush that came with the machine is pointless.  Get a 1 inch cheapo boar bristle brush from the hardware store, or one of the metal handled glue brushes with plastic bristles.  You can even use a kid's watercolor paintbrush for smaller spaces. Splay out the bristles a bit, and you're golden!)
sewing machine oil with a tiny tip applicator
sewing machine lubricant (I use Singer brand lubricant in a tube)
cotton swabs
work light (I use a clamp-on desk lamp)
screwdrivers - phillips and slotted  
soft towel to lay your machine on
small container to hold any screws or small pieces that are removed

Safety first! Unplug your machine.  Remove the presser foot and needle(s)

You'll need access to the area beneath the presser foot.  Some machines have a removable side cover.  My machine has two drop-down doors at the front.  I opened these and then vacuumed out as much as I could.  I used the paintbrush to pull out lint that the vacuum nozzle didn't reach.

Then I removed the thread holder (two screws) and turned the machine on its back.  I removed the feet (4 more screws) and this allowed me to take off the bottom tray of the machine.  I now had access to the 'innards' of the machine.  I vacuumed and poked at the lint with the paintbrush until every trace of lint had been removed.

Then I checked to see what parts had oil or lubricant on them.  Not many!  There were two areas that had lubricant on them, and no places that had oil that I could see.  I put a half a drop of oil on the jointed surfaces, just like I would on a sewing machine.  Any place where metal contacts metal should be oiled.  I knew that there HAD been oil on these, there were drops of old oil on the inside of the tray.  Then I put a small dab of lubricant on the end of a toothpick and lubed the two races that already had lube on them.  I cleaned off the excess with a cotton swab, and closed everything back up.

I replaced the needle and presser foot, and plugged her back in.  Then I tried her out.  No more noisy clanking!!  Yay!!!  Now she runs smoothly and quietly.  Cuddle blankets are finished.  Wish someone would give me a few drops of oil....maybe I'd run a little quieter, too!