'60 Singer 185KThe 185/99 Sewing Light
eBay seller claimed he cleaned it. Riiiiight...
Inside of the plastic base was disgusting... As these plastic bases tend to do, this one has
some damage. Note bolts added at right to hold machine, and the broken plastic spool pin.
Somewhat cleaned up.
Bottom view before cleaning. Note old belt.
Bottom view after cleaning. Tapped hole in middle left of bed is for the bolt that holds the base on.
Needed to clean under the hand-wheel.
Faceplate removed. Lots to oil in here!
Faceplate installed. Not all had the nifty chromed corner this one does.
New, but incorrect, belt installed. See text.
Like a miniature automotive V-belt, this is the correct type.
Overall view, all cleaned and oiled up.
This is the correct location for the spool pin, not in the fitting to the right!
Overall view from left end.
Overall view from right end. Note added bolts to support machine.
Bottomside, showing attachment bolt.
Original bobbin winder tire - still soft and pliable with no cracks!
Large hole to the right is to route cords below the bed for installations that require it.
Two small holes look hand drilled. Apparently from the factory as I've seen multiple pix
of this model with identical looking holes. Their purpose remains unknown at this juncture.
Motor was sluggish, time to disassemble...
Dirt inside, but bearings look very good.
Mostly disassembled now.
Commutator a bit dirty...
...So it was burnished with 0000 steel wool.
Brushes were fine.
Cleaned and reassembled motor runs MUCH better.
Sewing on test scrap...
Sews a nice stitch as you'd expect from a Singer of this vintage...
This style light was installed on North American Market 185s and 99s (only).
The rest of the world got this style, as shown on my 99K
End view, with lens installed.
Both the lens, and the bulb can be a challenge to remove. This is greatly
simplified by a bit of duct tape, as shown here. Each one spins right out!
Light bulb in socket, without lens.
Somewhat oddball bulb (top), compared with standard #643. Both 15 watts.
Light shown without its bulb...
Here's how to use a standard #643 in this light - with a base adapter.
Base adapter installed.
Both bulb and base adapter installed.
A better solution, E17 base LED bulb.
Same bulb as used in my TZ-17.
Inside the 185k's double stack carbon pile controller. Yes, that is an asbestos shield to the left!
Closeup of pile installed in housing.
Bottom plate with rubber feet...
Reassembled with rubber feet in their slots.
What I've been able to find out so far:
Friend built a base for it - here the machine is propped up inside so the hinge outlines can be traced.
Hinge outlines traced, divider piece not yet installed
Hinges and divider installed. Note rounded corners, contrast to above.
Putting feet on bottom.
Masking off MDF bottom, hinges removed.
Paint (several coats) drying.
Masking removed, hinges re-installed. Business card and front lip padding also installed.
Overall front view.
Back. Note base color VERY similar to cord color!
End view - note black latch now in place.
Front end view.
Compare to the bottom of the 99K. Exact same casting - but note center boss not
drilled and tapped on this particular 99K as it wasn't intended for a plastic base.
Rust-Oleum "Painter's Touch" Gloss Sage Green, #249094.
The Singer 185 was a rebodied 99, using the same mechanicals and many of the same parts as that long running machine. It was built in Singer's American, Canadian, and Scottish factories - from where this particular example is from, thus called the 185K. The 99 was made for decades, but the 185 was only made for a few years, some say as few as only three. Like the 99, it uses Class 66 bobbins, and a standard 15 X 1 needle
All 185s destined for the North American market were of this two toned green color, while those sold in the UK were a brown and tan color scheme. The worklight as seen here is also peculiar to North American bound machines, other markets received a light similar to the one on my 99K (which I retrofitted to same). This spotlight style, with its glass focusing lens, is noted for being very hot. Adding to the heat issue is the fact that it is totally enclosed, the bulb receives zero ventilation. It uses an oddball bulb that is somewhat difficult (and expensive) to obtain. However, an inexpensive socket adapter enables a standard, easily found, and inexpensive #643 bulb to be used. This type of worklight would also be an excellent candidate for an LED conversion as there is plenty of room in the light's housing, and it would eliminate the heat issue. I have seen some LED lights that are even shaped like the original bulb that may work well!
The original, small plastic base as seen here is not the most common one seen for this model - that style was similar, except in color, to the one supplied with the 192K "Spartan" machine (which was simply a re-badged 99K without a light, otherwise identical) - and occasionally seen on lower market 99s as well. The most common base seen with the 185 (at least in North America) was also plastic, but larger:
Both of these bases are known for crumbling internal supports - as my example shows. However, as this is a standard 3/4 sized Singer, it will fit into a large number of other bases and tables, such as this one:
Most common base for the 185, includes a plastic cover which latches on.
Photo courtesy of The Needlebar.
185K with wooden base. Photo courtesy of Cory Zamora.
This machine would also directly drop into the wooden case I so painstakingly restored for my 99K as well (and vice-versa, for that matter!).
As can be seen from the pix at the top of this page; my machine was very dirty, had an incorrect drive belt that was stretched beyond usefulness, and the plastic (!!) spool pin was broken off. In addition, the stub remaining from the broken spool pin was inserted into the wrong location - which means the machine wasn't properly oiled as one of the main oil holes was blocked by the spool pin. I had to drill the stub out. Then at long last, some oil was put into that hole!
I temporarily replaced the drive belt with another incorrect one - this one was actually a NOS spare inherited from my mother. It was purchased at least 40 years ago for her American Beauty. It came with a bobbin winder tire that was so hardened it literally shattered when dropped - but the belt was fine. However, being the incorrect belt meant that it had to stretch too far (thus would stretch out of shape rapidly), plus it renders the bobbin winder inoperable. The correct belt was ordered and installed.
However, similar to the situation with the "Streamliner", the motor didn't develop very much power and ran slowly and overheated. So I disassembled and cleaned, and shot some oil on the bearings - now the reassembled motor runs like a champ!
As for this machine's bobbin winder tire - I'm flabbergasted that it is apparently the original one! Both the original belt as furnished when this machine was new, and the bobbin winder tire were the pale green color used on the hand-wheel - and have been unavailable in that color for decades. But there it is, and it isn't cracked or hard at all!
It sews, well, just like my 99K - which is hardly a surprise. Very smooth and easy!
As seen above, a friend made a base for it. I had originally asked him to simply cut some wood for me, but he wanted to make the entire base. The location of the divider between the machine and the utility compartment got lost in the translation - so he made the divider, but I emplaced it into its final location. I even had an extra latch left over from the 99K project - this is what keeps the base from opening if the machine is lifted by its arm.
First time using for actual sewing project...
Hemming and sewing together drapery panels.
Like its older sister, the 99K, the 185K sews like a dream!