And her name shall be......

I've been hunting the used markets for another sewing machine.  No, you're quite right.....  I certainly don't need another machine but need and want are two different animals aren't they.  That's what I thought....  

I like to watch craigslist and ebay for machines as you can find good deals if you're patient.  Usually I only look at local ebay listings because shipping a sewing machine is both risky and really expensive.  However I will have a machine shipped if there is no other way.  I bought a Pfaff 360 months ago on ebay that I never even told you about because it arrived broken from extremely negligent packing.  It looked fine on the outside but the repair guy finally gave up on it after having it for over two months.  He said it would need to be completely broken down and rebuilt costing a small fortune.  I ended up leaving it with him in Alabama to be recycled as scrap metal.
Anyway...  that was a downer story sorry!

Yesterday the stars lined up and I found my newest machine.  The price was staying low due to the overinflated shipping price and it was in Quincy which is about 30 minutes from me.  
I paid $31.89  

Introducing the Singer 99-  (I don't know why the dash but that's just how it is)

I guess a lot of people mistakenly think this is a featherweight because of it's small size.  It is small and cute but it's no lightweight by any means.  It may be the heaviest home machine I own at this point.  What did Singer think people were going to be sewing, bricks?

It's a very pretty straight stitch only machine with reverse.  Apparently some of the earlier 99 series did not have reverse stitch.  It also uses class 66 drop in bobbins which I find to be a bit of a downer.  I know I know, they're supposed to be more convenient but I don't find that to be the case.  The bobbin tension is difficult to adjust and I have yet to figure out how to pull the hook for cleaning on the Rocketeer which is also a drop in bobbin.  See that little bobbin tension screw in the center of above photo on the right?  To get to that you have to angle the screw driver which makes it extremely easy to mess up the slot on the top of the screw.  Unlike a lot of people (you know who you are) I adjust my bobbin tension all the time and this system is a PITA.

Something I really enjoy when purchasing old vintage machines is discovering little things here and there which lead me to wonder about the previous owner.  This machine had a few oddities.  First off the bobbin tension was set so high I could hardly pull the thread out.  I don't know what she was sewing but it must have been all puckered seams with the knots pulled to the back side.  Pool old gal probably couldn't figure out what she was doing wrong.

A note on the inside of the case still holds true today. I even go a step further by setting my presser foot pressure to the lowest setting AND lowering the foot if I don't plan on using a machine for a while.  Unfortunately the pressure foot spring on the 99 had been compressed for too long and needs to be replaced.  I tried to stretch it out and the brittle metal literally exploded into tiny pieces.  Woops!  Hopefully it'll only run me a few dollars.

The light is very pretty on this machine with a glass lens that focuses the light on the machine bed.  A nice touch.

Considering the condition of the cord I'm assuming this is a newer 99 series.  The Bakelite foot controller says 1950 to me but I'll have to have Singer run the serial number to be sure.  It smells like a dusty attic which I enjoy.  The case was not covered with dust and the machine was almost perfectly clean.  I will admit that I did wax it for the photos.....  

You have two options today, the easier to load Picasa slide show for those in a hurry and/or the critically acclaimed animated YouTube slideshow set to music.  Personally I've seen them both about a dozen times...  I highly recommend the second choice because I think it'll make you smile.

Picasa Slide Show:

YouTube Animated Slide Show:

13 comments :: And her name shall be......

  1. You're right, the second choice did make me smile. :-)


  2. Nice slide show. How 'bout naming her princess due to the fussy tension issue. Let us know how she fits in with the herd/flock.

  3. I LOVE these old black machines. I do ALL (ok 95%) of my sewing on a Singer 201 just for the pleasure. What a great price too.

    Personally, I like the drop-in 66, but you're right about the tension screw being hard to get at. Luckily, on a straight stitch machine you don't really have to adjust it once it's set.

  4. Actually I adjust my bobbin tension every time I switch thread weight. If I always used the same thread then you're right, I'd likely leave it alone.

    I think I might do a tension adjustment video/tutorial soon to help explain my reasonings.

  5. Wow! That's a beaut!

  6. Brian-

    Surely there must be a 12-step program you can join for this. The first step, of course, is admitting that you have a problem.

    Repeat after me: "Hi, My name is Brian, and I'm a vintage sewing machine addict."

    If you need a sponsor to report to, I'm there for ya buddy!

    huge briansews fan

    February 27, 2010 at 11:41 PM

  7. Congratulations on a new machine! What a beauty!

    I have had three of these old black Singers: a Centennial 201-2, my grandmother's 15-91 (which I had serviced and gifted to my mother for mother's day), and a 192K which is *very* similar to your 99 here and is called a SPARTAN, which I loved, because I thought of those warriors in their leather underpants, etc. Anyway, all of them sewed wonderfully.

    The only one I still own is my 201-2. Sadly, there seems to be something wrong with the tension spring (that tiny wisp of metal held down by the screw) and I can't fix it. I wonder if the problem is due to all the tension-adjusting of myself and former owner(s)? I need to get it fixed (I only own three machines and this is one) but my local OSMG seems a bit flaky and odd and I haven't found a good one yet.

    There are Singer Yahoo groups you can join - many people there seem to know their stuff. A few of them are terribly arrogant jerks which kind of ruined the experience for me. However, if you find yourself tinkering with this machine a bit, or you end up buying more vintage Singers, it really is a pool of knowledgeable folks.

  8. The YouTube video is like soft core porn...for sewing machines.


    And loved the shine, too.

  9. I have one of these, it was my grandmother's and I sewed on it exclusively for 15 years. It doesn't have reverse, but I got really good at slightly lifting the presser foot and moving the fabric back a bit for my own "reverse". the stitch length adjustment is just a screw. I want to pass it on to my niece that sews, but she said the light gets too hot and she burns her hand... eesh. hopefully, one of these days she'll re-think that.

  10. I have one of these cuties - someone gave it to me (: I cleaned it up and had to get a new pedal for mine too - but your will find parts for Singers ubiquitous and inexpensive. I wonder how you like this compared to your Necchi?

    I have a 15-91, 201 and I don't know why, but 222k I picked up for a steal. The Singer stitches the most beautiful and easiest rolled hem I have EVER seen. It rolls, presses and stitches all at once and it would be worth having for that alone and using the table to put a serger on when you're not using the Singer - but of course I do use mine a little more than that. I still love my modern Pfaff though.

  11. Hi Brian,
    I came across your site, a few months back, looking for some vintage sewing machine oiling info. I too am a vintage machine addict of only 2 years. I have since met a serious fellow addict with literally sixty Singers in her home; you would be amazed! She gave me a vintage 99, and I am working on restoring the cabinet first. I did buy a couple machines from her already though. I have the 99, 15-91, 221 FW, 301, 2-401's, 404, & a couple of "newer" Singers I rarely use. Since I work with Girl Scouts, I can justify my excess collection of beautiful machines. I like the 301 for power, and dropping feed-dog capability. I thought you might like the links to Singers model # reference page for your machine: For others dating their Singer machines start here (the links in red are most specific):
    Also, I read, at a site in the UK, that the 99 didn't get the "reverse" feature until 1949.

  12. Great machine, I found one for $8 and it does stitches great.

  13. Ooh, what a beauty! I just love these cast iron Singer-machenes!! For me it is the "true" sewingmachenes since it is what I learned to sew on as a kid.
    I know you're not in the lookout for more machenes but I can realy recomend the Singer 201K, I'ts basicly the same as the 99- but the bobinthreadtention in adjusted from the top, not from the side.

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