Building Godzilla - A How To

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The Singer 27, before

Have you ever seen a machine (or own one) that looks horrible but runs like a champ? This page will show you how to achieve a Godzilla finish for under $20 and it will be a machine to be proud of!

Now on this build, I chose to have the Blackside finish on the nickel plated parts to save on money and to make it look like it was done in the 40s. But if your plated parts are nice enough you do not have to paint them or you can choose another color for the parts. The materials we will be using in this "How To" will be all over-the-counter products and can be found at any hardware or auto parts store.

Materials needed:

                 1 can of Krylon* brand wrinkle finish paint
                 1 can of Epoxy paint (black for this build)
                 Masking tape
                 Sand Paper various grits 80, 120, 360
                 Brass cleaner
                 Wire Brush (optional but handy)

                 ScotchBrite* pads

Step 1: Disassemble the machine

This is where a digital camera will come in handy; while you are taking the machine apart take a few photos of the area to help you put the parts back in the right places. Also, place the small parts into a baggie so they will not turn up missing. Remove all of the items off of the machine that need to come off ie, Face Plate, Tension Assembly, Hand Wheel, Throat Plate, Slide Plates, Bobbin Winder, etc. basically anything you do not want on it to be able to paint the body of the machine. The Presser Foot lever can be removed but as with my model 27 Singer I had to take the presser foot bar out of the machine to get to it. Now some parts can be left on if you do not choose to paint them you can tape them off but if it was me I would try to remove them it just makes for a better finished product. I chose to leave the Stitch Length Knob on the machine because it would be a bear to take off and put back on in the length of time this build was going to be.

Step 2: Sort out the parts

Now you must decide what you want to paint and not to paint and if you are spraying two colours (or more if you want) you need to separate the parts into their own lots according to finish. With my machine I had the nickel plated parts set aside for the Blackside finish including the Hand Wheel. The Tension Assembly and the Bobbin Winder were in good presentable condition so I left them alone, just used a soft wire brush to clean them up a bit.

Step 3: Preparing the parts for paint

So here you sit with all of these parts in front of you and a machine that looks like it will never run again a day in its life, second guessing yourself thinking "what have I got myself into now". Have no fear it will not be as daunting of a task as one might think it would be.

Lets start out with the little parts first, if you are refinishing the nickel plated parts then start cleaning them up removing the grease and dirt with a wire brush or ScotchBrite pad. If you have any loose plating the wire brush should take it off. If not, you can use the 120 grit sand paper to do that with. Once they are clean, then you need to scuff up the finish so that the paint will adhere, for this you can use 360 grit sand paper. Now you are ready to throw the paint onto the small parts, but before you do that be sure to wipe off any sanding residue and finger prints (you have oil in your skin and it will effect the finish if you leave them on the pieces) with alcohol or mineral spirits. Be sure to do your painting in a well-ventilated area and cover the stuff you (or your spouse) do not want painted with newspaper or plastic sheeting, once you have the go-ahead, start painting the parts by applying the paint according to the manufacturers label.

Step 4: Preparing the machine for paint

Job well done! You now have all of your small parts painted and you can sit back and admire them, knowing that you are well on your way to having a nicely restored sewing machine in your stable.

While your parts glisten in the light you can now turn your attention to the main part of this job, the machine itself. Let's take a close look at it and note where all of your chips and scuffs are. Do you see any loose Japan? Are there any really bad rust spots that might be pitting? If you have some really bad pitting you can use a filler primer to fill the pits, being sure to sand between coats. The way I did my machine was to strip the Japan all off using the 80 grit sand paper. Believe it or not, this is not all that hard and it's a lot easier than using a chemical stripper to do it. You will have a lot of dust so I recommend that you do this outside where it shouldn't matter if it gets everywhere. I used an orbital sander for this stage in the game, but doing it by hand is not all that hard, it just takes a little longer and there will be places you will have to hand sand anyway. I really do not know if Singer took all of the the original finish off before they did the Godzilla finish but the wrinkle paint will camouflage chips and scuffs really well. *Note* Be careful not to sand or scuff the badge on your machine!!!! Taping it off will help protect the Badge during the sanding process.

Okay we have the machine stripped to its bare state or as close as you can get it, now to turn our attention to the Badge thats is on the Pillar. This is where patience and diligent work pays off!! Take the brass cleaner and a soft cloth and start polishing away, it might be helpful to grab an old toothbrush and a cotton swap or two for this also. You can get into the cracks and crevices a lot easier and remember the more you rub the shinier it will be!!

After the Badge is polished up, it's time to wipe off the machine a bit and tape it off. Make sure when you tape the machine off you don't have loose or ragged edges on the tape. You can use a razor blade for this and it will really help you out when taping the badge off. Tape off the openings on the back, front of the arm near the head, Needle Bar area, the areas where the Slide Plate(s) and the Needle Plate resides. Be sure to remember to tape off the shaft where the Hand Wheel sits otherwise you will have to sand the paint off of it to make it fit back on!

Step 5: Painting
Billy's Godzilla.jpg

So how are we doing so far? I think it is looking really good! Are you ready to start putting the Godzilla finish on her? Great! Let's get started!

Now is the time to do a once over before you give it the final wipe down, look and make sure you have everything taped off that needs it. If it is taped off to your liking, then start to wipe the machine down with the mineral spirits or alcohol to remove the sanding residue and finger prints. Go grab your can of wrinkle paint and read the instructions on the back. You have to paint this a little differently than the epoxy that you sprayed earlier. With this paint, you have to put 2 to 3 heavy coats on, and be sure to allow a minimum of 5 or so minutes between coats. Start to mix the paint per the manufacturer's label (you have to swirl the can for two minutes before shaking) and proceed to paint. The wrinkle will not start showing up real good until the second coat, so do not get discouraged if it does not start to wrinkle right off. I shot mine with two coats, both of them really heavy and it turned out pretty close to the factory finish. If possible, try to paint the machine in direct sunlight because this seems to help the drying time and the wrinkle to form. After it has sat for an hour or so, start pulling the tape off of the machine. You will need to let this machine dry for a day or so before you start putting it together, but the paint will be finished wrinkling in a few hours.

Step 6: Assembly

Ahh it's a new day, the birds are singing, and you have the prettiest sewing machine in the neighborhood!!! And the wrinkle is looking just like the Godzilla machines that you have seen in photos. Now it's time to get everything out on the bench and start bolting the little rascal back together. If you have any issues about the Slide Plate(s) or Needle Plate not wanting to fit it's probably because of some paint on the edges of the plates so all you need to do is take a razor blade and very carefully scrape the paint off of the edges.

So how does it look? Feels good knowing that you saved an otherwise worthless machine doesn't it? Now go grab the camera, take some photos, and show the rest of us what you did!!!