Singer 29-4

Singer 29-4 Patch Machine

The day finally came for an honest effort to get my 1909 Vintage 29-4 Singer Patch machine, or shoe/ boot repair sewing machine to work, this thing has set here for some 4-5 years now and wouldn’t sew 5 stitches without missing one. I purchased this form a Cobbler (shoe repair, Harley Paraphernalia semester, and heavy on the ster) anyway I had stopped there for some leather shoe laces and it was sitting next to the front door, for grins and giggles I asked if it was for sale seeing that I was looking for just that model sewing machine. The fellow said yes I have been thinking of selling it, I asked how much and he said I would have to think about that for a while so I came back 3 days later and took it home for much less than expected, new copies run $1800 and up and used machines run $600 and up. I had aspirations of doing things that I never had capabilities of doing, projects and ideas that run around in my head that need to be done to clear my mind. To expand a little, I get bored with things very easily, this would explain the numerous hobbies I have, there is great satisfaction in working at something with no prior knowledge and accomplishing it, I am asked all the time what, how, when, where did you do that, so is the reason for this site, if you want an explanation I put it on here.

Well I finally found out why it went so cheep, everything is wore out but it is a machine and machines can be fixed, the only problem is I have no prior knowledge of  how to fix it without something to compare it to. So began the 3 day vigil of dismantle and put it back together, trial and error to find out what makes it tick and then, low and behold one thing made a difference. As they say the light came on, after finding one thing that made a difference the rest was down hill and by the end of day 3 I had a machine that worked. It does help the have equipment to make parts, parts for this machine are available but at a price, I’m not sure if the new machines available today that were copied from this original Singer have parts that would interchange so I will make my own.

At this time most of my fixes are not permanent, I intend to redo most of them when I have are right materials for machining and take the time to do the proper machine set-ups to repair the years of wear. One would ask why just do temporary fixes and not permanent, to answerer that is if I knew what was the right fix at the time it would have been permanent but I do not want to do something that cannot be undone if it doesn’t work.

Paint removed shows loss of decals

A sad feature of this machine is that it had been painted, covering that wonderful old industrial art, the original gold decals, what a shame. In removing the old paint it takes the original decals with it so I quit at this point, I plan to do something to replace the decals and bring it back to its industrial artistic look, and if pictures of the original decals can be found they can be reproduced on my computer. If anyone knows where I can find this artwork please contact me thru this site, my searches have turned up nothing so far. Thanks

Aux. Table

The thread spool and guide are temporary also, these were fixes to test function and make sure things feed properly. The auxiliary table is made of Baltic Birch plywood, I’m not sure if it is what was available originally but is as close as I could get looking at a picture of one, that so far has worked admirably. At the point that this machine gets restored to its original look I will post the follow up pictures for now this is as good as it gets.

Leather Stock Boot

The first sewing after my temporary fixes, the leather stock protector used to keep solvents off the stock when cleaning a rifle, a friend had asked to have one made slightly different and longer than previous ones I’ve made. This is just one of many projects I have in mind, more to follow as time permits……..Thanks for looking

May 2012

It is approximately 2 years since posting the first article on my Singer 29-4; some changes have been made since then. To begin I had many problems, skipping stitches, worn machine parts and trying to repair things without a manual on just what to do, it was a lot of trial and error but it eventually all worked out and all the temporary fixes were made permanent.

The needle bar driving lever where the piston connects was worn out so I machined it oversize and bushed that. The foot bar revolving joint complete was bent, this item is no longer made so I straightened it and tightened up the bushing joint, stoned all surfaces, it seems to work as it should. (I may not have all the proper terms for the machine parts but it is as close as I am able to tell) The needle cam bar follower is worn badly; I could not find a replacement at the time so I turned it 90 degrees to an unworn portion of the cam which corrected the stroke. The shuttle, rack and shuttle carrier pinion have a considerable amount of slop, these parts I did not look for but rather carefully shimmed the rack for a closer fit, not correct but the timing seems to be ok for now. After all this it has only skipped a stitch twice, not sure why but I can live with that. All in all it works very well considering its age and the general amount of wear it has so as time goes on and I find replacement parts it will only get better. The thread holder and arm was replaced with a different unit to hold the larger spool of thread.

I originally set it up with the thread size it was designed for which is #69 or so I am told by my sources for parts and info at that time. I suppose that the #69 thread is good for garment, chaps and the like but doing harness work or gun leather and belts I really wanted something larger. I found another company called horsenharness.com, among there parts list is stated that size #138 is the largest thread that can be used on this machine. I called and spoke with the sales lady and she stated that this is all the owner uses; they sell the thread, needles and everything that works for this machine using this thread. I ordered the thread, needles, a troubleshooting DVD and 6 extra bobbins, after setting it up with this large thread I found that the needle was just too big for my application. Among my assortment of needles I dropped the needle size form 23 to a 20 and everything fell into place. So the combination to make this machine to sew with size 138 thread is as follows,

#138 bonded nylon 66 pre-lubricated thread on top, #69 bonded nylon 66 pre-lubricated thread for the bobbins (this has to be used as stated or it will not work), a Schmetz SY3355/ DPx17/135×17 size 20 needle and it will sew like a dream.. Before I switched thread size I had made several projects using the #69 thread, I had no problem sewing ½ inch material; the only thing that bothered me was the thread size looked to small for the project. Last but not least I ordered the DVD is very useful and highly recommend its purchase especially if you do not have a manual or parts breakdown, it is all on this DVD.

The auxiliary table that I made just sits on the machine without anything to hold it tight so I got tired of it moving and made two brackets and use a Velcro strap to secure it in place. My intent is to make some sort of an adjustable guide that is fixed on the table for sewing straight lines on long pieces such as the $3000 machines have but that will come later. Since posting pictures of my machine I have had many inquires on my auxiliary table as to how it is made so I took a picture of the bottom to show just how it attaches to the machine, the Velcro strap makes it rock solid.

Aux Table

After 5 years of looking at the ugly blue that someone painted this machine I finally had to remove the rest of it, just a little touch-up with some black lacquer makes it a little more pleasing. At some point in the future it will get some gold accents on the name plates.

The blue paint is gone!

September 2012

This is probably my last update to this page; I did a search on eBay for some decals to dress up this machine and to my surprise I found some. At $20 the sheet came with enough decals so if I messed up I could try again and for the price there is no way I could replicate them myself. For the machine base I used some acrylic gold paint then finished with some clear lacquer, the decals had to be top-coated with clear lacquer also so they wouldn’t rub off. There is one thing I haven’t addressed and that is the drive belt, I had one on it and removed it, seems that I am not coordinated enough to keep it running in the same direction. At some point it would be nice to have both hands free to control the work so I will have to work on my coordination……..

January 2014,

With the popularity of this page I cannot ignore doing an up-date of some things that have been done since 2012. This will be brief for I really haven’t done much with the machine this past year except finish some of the planned additions.

First: as can be seen in the following pictures I have completed my drawer that was missing when I purchased it; the slides were there but no drawer. I need some place to house accessories as not to be out of reach when needed.

Second: was the tool holder on the side, the main reason was for holding the threading rod for it was too long to fit into the drawer plus it will hold a screwdriver and whatever else that would not fit in a drawer.

And third: was the treadle belt, something that I had difficulty operating and still do but as one can see it is on and ready for action. I was contacted by a reader (Matthew in the comment section December 2013) that had a tip on up-grading the belt to a spring drive belt. My order to McMaster-Carr was in the process so I added these two more items for my up-grade…….see Matthew’s comment for info and Part #’s. At this time I haven’t spent much time with the treadle but what time I have it works very well, as any new info or tips come in I will post or direct you to them.

 

Spring Belt and connectors

Spring Belt and connectors

 

Installing Spring Belt

Installing Spring Belt

 

New Drawer, Tool Holder and Spring Belt

New Drawer, Tool Holder and Spring Belt

 

Latest Pic of My Machine

Latest Pic of My Machine

Thanks for looking……..

Have fun………

Rick

Link for Decals………….http://www.keelersales.com/servlet/Detail?no=793

 

 

 

40 thoughts on “Singer 29-4

  1. Dear Sir,

    I own a 29-2 Singer. When I found it in a damp basement, it had seized. Because I am a sculptor and a lover of machinery, I was bound and determined to get it working again. What a joy. The only work I did not do myself was the replacement of some small gears, which eliminated its “skips”.

    It is lovely to see images of your machine, and I don’t think the two-color look is all that bad. Somebody painted it badly, the way some old tractors are painted. Perhaps it adds character.

    I just wanted to say that I am grateful to see an image of your table attachment. I have NEVER seen a picture or drawing of one. Perhaps now I will make one for my own machine. I runs very well through felt, boot leather, rubber, and will probably stitch plywood.

    Nice Blog! Cheers.

    Christopher, Brooklyn NYC

    • Hi Christopher! This is the first time I’ve seen the number “29-2″ typed by somebody other than me.

      I have a recently-acquired 29-2 and would like to share experiences if you agree. The Singer records show that my serial number was manufactured in 1895. Originally it was in stiff, non-working condition, stored outdoors. But the application of WD-40 suddenly freed something up, and it began to turn nicely.

      I’m a retired person with an interest in woodworking and leathercraft though up till now my leather work has been entirely manual.

      Keith in Davis, CA

  2. That’s gorgeous! I just saw one for sale, was not familiar with that class of machines before as I mostly do quilting, but I immediately started to visualize all kinds of possiblities of what I could sew with it. And it’s interesting to me to feel this admiration and longing for 100 year old technology, brings up all kinds of thoughts about the kind of world we live in now.
    Congratulations on restoring it and putting it to use! I also think the two-tone look is attractive. And, to the previous commenter, I found some old user manuals online that show the same kind of table attachment that was included with the machine.

  3. Hi, wanted to compliment you on your restoration job. I recently picked up a 29k4 patching machine. I’ve found manuals and parts for it but am looking for some hints on how to restore it. At this point the bobbin holder seems to be jammed and will not completely rotate. Any suggestions you could provide would be extremely helpful. Thank you.

    Al

    • http://www.pilgrimshoemachine.com/
      I would contact the company above, order or request one of their catalogs which has good picture breakdowns of the 29-4 and from that you can order parts. They have been very hlpful since I have had my machine and I have ordered parts thru them, anything can be fixed or made to repair your machine, it is just figuring out what is wrong or worn.

      Rick

    • I got same machine. Totally jammed up n wouldn’t even rotate one full turn I’m certain it’s not recommended but I did it cuz I was told my machine was garbage. Took to pressure was. Degreaser entire machine. Pressure washed it good. Then. Let it semi dry n soaked machine in penetrating oil immediately. Hit the wheel it turned immediately. It works fine. After it dried I hit it again w singer oil couple times n works great. Can’t balance stitch lengths tho. Any ideas anyone.

      • The bobbin tension is the least refined of any machine I have ever seen, so I played with it a long time to get mine working. most people never adjust bobbin tension on their machines because the machines are so forgiving.
        take the spring off of the bobbin case clean and polish all of the paths that the bobbin thread goes thru. adjustment is an 1/8th of a turn at a time! yes it really is an adjustment screw, good luck!

    • I would bet that the rack & pinion are out of position. if they were ever taken apart they are tricky to get correct, fortunately there are very few positions that work. after you get it to turn all the way then you must get the timing correct; that is the hook passes by the needle on the way up, maybe another tooth left or right.

      • Are you sure you have the thread thru the bobbin correctly? The thread comes up from the bottom, under the tension spring and thru the little hole.
        It can’t get out of timing unless someone messed with it so it’s probably ok, but if you took anything apart that’s where you should start rechecking.
        The needles are online or at an industrial machine supplier. (Bob in Toledo)
        I would not start with the waxed thread, it will just add to the variables that you can’t control. Start with a medium or heavy modern polyester thread that slides thru the needle easily and get more confident before you go old school. By the way, you can do a lot of leather practice (and final) with a standard needle; don’t let the needle stop your experimenting. Tom

  4. i just got yhe same machine. only painted John Deere green. they did put decals back on. can not get the bobbin to rotate happy sewing

  5. Thanks for the photos and info. I recently bought a 29K on Craigslist and am in the middle of refurbishing it. If you are still looking for decals, they are available for the 29K, which wouldn’t be much different, if any, from the 29-4, on Ebay. Also I have found that Toledo Industrial (866-362-7397) has lots of parts and is much more reasonable than http://www.singer29-4.com.

  6. Great job my bose gave me a 29a short base I’m working on restoring it. It was in a barn for 40 years rusted up and missing parts, But with looking at your machine it can be done, Wish me luck

  7. Rick,
    I have (2) Singer Sewing Machines.
    Model 29-4 Mfg. April 1922 & a 29-K Mfg. 1920.
    The 29-4 came from a closed up Shoe Mfg.
    The 29-K was my Dad’s who started up his Shoe Repair Store in 1947.
    I worked with my Dad in my teenage years and only my Dad and I sewed on it.
    It is in the same shape as when it was then.
    After My Dad passed away I inherited it. I used it make cowboy chaps gun holsters for my kids and nephews. Haven’t used it for some time the kids are now in their 50s.

  8. Hi my name is Elliott Price and I am twelve years old, and I just recently purchased a singer 29-4 for 35$ at a trade store in Wedowee alabama. the only thing
    that does not work on it is the bobbin winder. I was wondering if you could possibly tell me where I may be able to find a table for mine to go on.
    .

    • Hi Elliott,
      Congrats on your find! I do not know of any source for an auxiliary to fit the 29-4 Singer. The one I have I made from a small picture I found, trial and error method to get something to work.

      Good luck…

      Rick

      • I would bet that the rack & pinion are out of position. if they were ever taken apart they are tricky to get correct, fortunately there are very few positions that work. after you get it to turn all the way then you must get the timing correct; that is the hook passes by the needle on the way up, maybe another tooth left or right.

  9. I have an electric bernina machine and a 29k I find I don’t use the singer that much because the lack of a flat area and the bulk of the horse blankets makes getting all the layers lined up difficult. I also found these old machines have to be like a soldiers gun. You need to learn to take it apart and reassemble it in the dark. Those are the down side, the bright side is that when well threaded, and with a good well placed needle these babies will sew through anything that will fit under the foot.
    I have a love hate relationship with my machine. The table plans you show will help my husband avoid a lot if trial and error.
    Thank you

  10. That was a very good read thank you for keeping this up to date. I’m about to purchase one for leather work (hand sewn all my items so far so it will be a nice alternate). also your thread and needle type mention was very helpfull. will be looking at getting that DVD!

    atb,
    Ian

  11. Rick, Funny, we sound similar due to our capabilities. I just lucked out with a 29-4 . Nice job. I completely disassembled mine yesterday and re-assembled. I too have a blog here and will be posting pics over the next couple of days. I’m a leather guy formerly ship builder, pressure vessel, trains, union pipe fitter etc tig welder…..

  12. What a transformation! How lovely does your machine look now? We have a 29k in need of love and attention. It has been unused for 30+ years and is badly greased up. It stitches
    in fits and starts, but the worst problem is getting the top ‘pressure’ correct to sew leather without stretching the top piece, causing a ruching effect..not pretty. Any suggestions would be welcome. Many thanks, Celia.

  13. HI Rick, I’ve been looking into the Singer 29-4, and I came across your blog site. Very impressed with how you persisted in making your machine work. Also I think it’s great that you’ve shared your story and opened an avenue for many interested parties to comment and share. The reason I began searching for history on the 29-4 is because I have one; absolutely beautiful, sitting as a show piece in the dining area. I live in an old New England town, and my boy friend works for the Town. Someone dropped this well kept machine off at his workplace, and he saw great potential in it. Unfortunately, it has become just a piece of furniture. We have had no time or motivation to figure out how to use it! If you would like to see pictures I’ve taken of it, please feel free to email me! I would love to find someone who has the same passion you do, and put it in their hands!

    • Thanks Tracie;
      This all started from a want, I was looking for some economical machine to sew leather for personal use. I originally purchased this machine for $200 and when I got it home it didn’t work so I began playing with it to find out what makes it tick. I spent my working life making precision machines run or work properly so it all began………
      I did this blog on a dare from my daughter who was in college at the time, she also needed a site and with this it is all history…I am not a writer and my grammar is poor, spell-check most time doesn’t know what I am trying to spell either but I plug on……….
      The 29-4 was one of my first articles, at the time I had no idea what impact it would have and as of today it is in the top 2 most visited pages on my site! Who would have thought, I sure didn’t………..I have spoke with cobblers who put this machine under power and most have converted them back to the treadle to which I am going to work with this winter.
      Thanks for the comment, I am sure someone will be interested when the read your comment…If you wish send a pic and I will post it, I would love to see the original beautiful art work these machine had!

      Rick

      • Hi Rick – I too have a 29-4 that I picked up out in Adamstown Pennsylvania. When I got it it was locked up and rusted enough in what used to be smooth polished metal places to tell me it had not been used in a long time. Even the needle was a solid sheen of rust. I got it loose with time and patience and a good amount of machine oil and WD-40 and some bearing grease. So far it has worked quite well with no missed stitches or thread feeding problems. I was afraid it would be as your was due to its age and possibly just plain worn out. Either way the reason I am writing is that I saw a belt conversion on Youtube a couple of years back that lets you go from leather to a wound steel spring for drive. I converted my Model 66 treadle machine and it has worked flawlessly for 2 years. I would tell you of my conversion for the 29-4 but I have not done it yet, I just received the spring drive belt in the mail last night and that is this weekends project. I wanted to share with you and all the others using treadle machines the name and address of the company that supplies them and the part numbers.
        McMaster-Carr
        609-689-3000
        609-259-3575 (fax)
        nj.sales@mcmaster.com

        1 6178K32 Carbon Steel Connectors for 1/4″ OD, Coil Spring Round Belting, Packs of 5

        1 6178K22 Coil Spring Round Belting, 1/4″ OD, 10′ Length, Carbon Steel
        Hope this helps someone\anyone as much as it helped me!

      • Thanks Matthew!!

        I have been contemplating on just what to do about a belt; I had a leather belt but couldn’t get it to work well so I took it off. Most of my work so far has been doing one stitch at a time so I really haven’t needed to use the treadle.
        I wish to thank you very much for sharing this information with me and all of those that visit my site; I am still amazed at the popularity of this machine for it is the most visited page on my site.
        I have been working on an adjustable roller guide for the 29-4 to allow one to stitch in a straight line, mainly for long straight stitches on belt borders. This will be added on to the auxiliary table or clamp to the arm, not sure just yet but will post when finished.

        A funny note is that I have been compiling an order for McMaster – Carr for some other projects but haven’t sent it in yet so those parts will be added.

        Thanks Again

        Rick

  14. My wife is a quilter and I restore and repair old and new machines out of love and necessity. The 29-4 is my favorite and the one I get to use. I can’t imagine using one with a motor. Some were even hand powered with a knob. The treadle on the slow speed setting is more than fast enough.

    I just replaced the check lever spring and that did help my bird nesting problem. I also took the presser foot bat out and repeened the tension release bar to the top and that seems to have worked. I was prepared to drill it out and put a stud in there, but that does not seem necessary. As far as the check lever goes, I am thinking along the lines of two springs and an adjustable knob to change the tension that the lever will apply to the thread. I don’t know what the thread pitch on the check lever screw is and I don’t want to have to try and make one as they are very small.

    Peter

  15. I’m currently looking for this type of sewing machine, and have found a couple of 29-4s here and there, some older than others, as well as a foreign made machine of similar type. The new machine is actually much less expensive, but I’m attracted to the old machines, still have and use my grandmother’s Singer, and love it. As I’m looking at these machines though, for most of what I do I’d like the hand wheel in the front, but most of the ones I’m seeing available right now have the flywheel on the right side end of the machine. I noticed there is a plate on these machines where the front hand wheel would be located if it had one. Would it be possible t put one there on these models that don’t have one? Thought I’d ask that question here since you all seem to have taken them apart and understand the inner workings, so far all I’ve seen is photos.

    • Hi Daris;
      I could not answer your question but I will post your comment on my site and someone may respond tht knows. The machine you are talking/ looking for is the Singer 29K71, this machine has the wheel on the front. You may want to call Pilgrim Shoe and Sewing Machine Co in Quincy MA, 1-800-343-2202, they should be able to give you that information.

      Regards

      Rick

  16. Hi Rick – an update to the 29-4, I made a flat work table for it out of some old teak I was given and have it functional though I would make a wider base like yours. I just ran out of nice wood! Also I have not put on the spring cable yet but came up with a temp fix that has worked quite well. I use nylon rope, melting the ends at the same time and then pushing them together to cool. When the rope stretches, you cut out the melted part and do it again and eventually you get to the point where the stretch has worked it’s way out and you are left with a working nylon drive belt. I cut and remelted mine 3 times and it is doing fine. I am still going to install the steel drive belt/spring but this fix has done fine for the time until I take it apart in the summer and finish the stand unit clean up and make it a drawer. I fixed my fraying Carhartt work coat cuffs with a leather lining using the 29-4 and it was a breeze. I just have to learn to sew a bit better with heavier material. I am used to my Model 66 Treadle and it is a toy compared to this 29-4. Big learning curve for me! Thanks again for you photos and information. All helped me get mine working and save a lot of time in making a table that works. Sincerely, Matthew Erwin
    PS. – Rick I sent you a few photos of mine and the work I did with it to your email.

  17. I have a 29-4 singer patcher machine for sale if anyone is interested. My father in law ran a small shoe repair shop until he passed away last Spring at the age of 100 !!! and yes he was still in his shop. I worked with him for over 25 years. I am now employed at a fitness center at a local Comm. College and although I still put in a few hrs. a week at the shop my wife would like to sell the house and shop/equipment. The shop is in front of the small home they lived in. The stitcher has not been used in a few years, was not locking the stitch I believe but does run and looks exceptionally well visually!! I also have a landis line finisher from the 30s that I still use everyday and a Landis sole sticther.

    • I may be interested in the equipment. I have made my life as a shoe maker/cobbler and I also repair and collect the machines.
      feel free to email me.I currently have three sets.

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