Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tuesday's Top Tip - Cleaning a Rusty Bobbin

This was the only spare bobbin I had the other day when I needed to fill up with thread.  Old machines often come with bobbins that have been holding thread for years.  The thread absorbs moisture and the rust is revealed when the thread comes off.

It was time to get busy with the metal polish, which is best applied with strong cotton string or crochet cotton.  Loop one end of the string around the back of your chair or anything else that happens to be handy, twist the string into a single strand and put on a splodge of metal polish.

Next, twist the cotton once round the bobbin.  If you are cleaning a long bobbin, use the same method, but it is harder to keep a good grip on it.  It will go flying across the room at least once.

Then hold the string taut, hold on tight to the bobbin and run it up and down so that the metal polish is rubbed on with the string.  It's a vigorous job.  All the rust will rub off, the string will turn black and fray and you will end up with a very hot thumb and forefinger from the heat generated by the friction.

Here is the same bobbin, still discoloured and blemished, but free of rust and with a distinct shine to it.  I found that the manufacturer's badge was lurking under the rust, with the clearly discernible word "Japan" .

I used Peek Metal Polish which I buy from the hardware shop down the road and which can be bought online direct from the manufacturers through their website.   It is the only metal polish I use on sewing machines, and my brother in law has been converted to it after I gave him a tube of it so he could clean up a copper kettle.


  1. you are an amazing source of info on these gorgeous machines.
    maybe save your burned finger???? by using an awl (or something metal-ish) through the center of the bobbin as you move it back and forth?? but you might need a third hand then...not sure.... i'm only visualizing from my computer screen..

    1. Glad to be of help, Eva!

      There's no point putting an awl through the hole in the bobbin, because then it would spin like a wheel on an axle - the bobbin needs to be held still.

      Love, Muv

  2. I inherited my great grandmother's Singer Featherweight 221K. It was unopened in it's travel case for at least 20 years. It came with 2 bobbins... both with thread and very rusty. I needed to use them as I have no replacements. Thank you for the cleaning tip!

    1. Great to hear that you will be using your great grandmother's machine. Glad to be of help!



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