Zorba, Male Belly Dancer

Henna Design '57 Singer 99K Henna Design

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Much larger than my Micro Bell...

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
This 1957 Singer 99K is still significantly smaller than my
White 690.
Unfortunately, the bottom of the case is a bit scuffed up.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Love the almost Victorian badges and escutcheons.
Check out the old, crusty, rotten bobbin winder tire!

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Closer shot of the badges. The "K" was for "Kilbowie".

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
"Made in Great Britain" - Scotland's Kilbowie Singer factory to be exact.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Standard Mercury Electric foot pedal isn't original equipment.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Top view - a better look at that rotten tire, and the missing spool pin.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Backside - light mounting screw and a scratched area where the light used to be.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Motor housing could stand some paint.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Case top - in better condition than the bottom...

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
End view, just after I installed a brand new Singer-made bobbin winder tire!

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Motor badge - "Made in Canada"

Spartan 192 Sewing Machine
The famous Spartan 192K - actually the exact same model as the Singer 99K!
Photo courtesey of Link opens in new window The Needlebar.

What I've been able to find out so far:

When I talked the seller at the antique faire down to $25, I knew I was in trouble. Lugging this thing home, I took stock of what I had - and didn't! Its a straight stitch machine that reverses, but the feed dogs don't drop. Singer actually sold an accessory to cover the feed dogs for freehand work such as we now drop the dogs for, although it is possible to adjust the stitch length lever such that the dogs don't move at all.

It was missing its spool pin, had a completely rotten bobbin winder tire, and a frayed cord to tell the tale of a light that was once there. It was also somewhat dirty with mild rust on the shiny bits, the case bottom badly scuffed with case top not too bad but showing its age.

The good news: Turned freely, good belt, seller claimed "it runs" (although I didn't plug it in until the light was sorted out), main power cord and the non-original foot pedal are in good condition, and the finish is in "good-enough" condition. Mostly needed oiling and cleaning up.

Immediately ordered new bobbin tire, spool pin and a Singer made light.

The 99K was produced in Singer's Kilbowie, Scotland factory in various forms from about 1911 (which makes me wonder if there were any of this model on the Titanic), until 1963 (which was an important and eventful year in my life, even though I was only three years old!). This one represents its last configuration. It was a smaller version of the famous Singer 66K (A 66 or 66K could have been the original machine in my Singer cabinet - although not a 99 or 99K as these were so-called "¾ sized" machines), and is also the exact same machine as the "Spartan" (AKA Model 192K); which was made for the American market (only) by Singer (also at Kilbowie) in an attempt to compete with the Japanese machines of the day. The Spartan had no light, and only came with one presser foot and was housed in a plastic case. To add further confusion, the 99K was also available during the same time period sans light and in a plastic case - an early attempt at "brand management" I suppose.

This one was one of the more "super deluxe" configurations, as it had a nice wooden case (More practical, but not as beautiful as the "bent wood" cases this model, and most other Singers once came in), and a light although the wiring was all "hard wired" without any type of connector on the machine. When I fixed the wiring, I adapted it to the old-style Japanese 2-outlet configuration. With a fresh oiling, it runs like a champ!

Sewing Machine Case
Over-all view of the cabinet, "as it was". I've done enough research to conclude that this was
an aftermarket cabinet - NOT a Singer supplied one. Due to its similarity to Japanese cases of
the period, it may very well be of Japanese origin (Update: Maybe not Japanese - see below).
Probably a dealer supplied accessory.

Sewing Machine Case
Stripping the old paper (that's right, paper) covering off the old cabinet revealed
some interesting facts. The top was made of both the expected plywood, as well as MDF in the
non-load bearing areas. I was a bit surprised to find MDF in a 1950s product - but its
application here makes sense. The cabinet is beautifully made, dovetailed jointwork in the
corners. I had to re-glue one corner, which is why the machine head, still in the un-stripped
base, is sitting on top - a convenient clamping weight! Note new spool pin and felt on top.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine Motor
View of the motor with its end re-lacquered as well as the new SingerLight. I've been told
that this particular SingerLight is an upgrade - the original as supplied on US market machines
was more of a spotlight style that was notorious for getting very hot.

all three sewing machines viewed from above
All three of my machines viewed from the top. The white White, a "full sized" machine, the
"¾ sized" Singer 99K base aligned with the White at their right (handwheel) ends, and
the miniature Bell in the lower right corner.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Stripped base. Turned out the end panels were MDF, which was destroyed removing
the old latch hardware. Also seen clearly here is the ill-fitted intermediate wood
piece with cord slot. Subsequent work with a belt sander rendered it flush with the
rest. The thin wood at the bottom that doesn't really fit at all is a reinforcing
piece to allow screwing an outlet block (such as I subsequently employed) in place.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
New reinforcing piece. I didn't really have to replace it, given its function, plus
the fact that the Tolex would cover it. But as I had the wood on hand anyway...

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
New hardwood, glued and nailed (original nails!) in place. Note square corners.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Tolex for bottom and ends of electric compartment. Note the now rounded corners.
Not seen very well at all here, the intermediate piece is now sanded flush.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Several pieces of Tolex later. The intermediate wooden piece has a patch installed to
fill a slot originally intended to route cords to the electric compartment from machines
with bottom fed cords. As the 99K's cords come off the top, the slot was un-needed.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Applying Tolex to the bottom...

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Nail-in feet for the bottom - similar but more robust than the original.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Finished bottom. Couldn't resist the temptation to glue a business card!

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Inside view of the previously re-covered top.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
New contact paper interior.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Outside view with new handle...

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Paper covered wood spacers/reinforcers where handle attaches.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
So here it is, outlet block mounted in electric compartment, ready to sew!

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Outside view with new latch hardware in place. The whitish "stains" are
glue over-seepage that were removed later (hot, wet towel did the trick!).
Ended up being at least as nice as the genuine Singer case pictured above.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Threaded up.

995k Sewing Machine
Tilted open.

Singer 99K Sewing Machine
Test seam - works great!

As the above pix show, I restored the cabinet to far better than new. It was actually one of my dumber ideas - the cabinet was a generic, no-name affair, NOT a Simanco supplied product. Getting the old paper removed (held on with what seemed to be a vegetable-based glue), coupled with removing the old latches practically destroyed the cabinet - I had to replace some of the MDF with wood, re-radius the corners, sand down the top of the base, etc, etc, etc. A huge amount of work for a cabinet that could have been replaced with a new one for $30 or less - it cost $100 for the supplies alone that it took to restore it.

With that said, it was a fun project. I used a tough, synthetic covering called "Tolex", which is used to cover Rock band amplifiers, speakers, and just about every musical instrument case in existence from Rock guitars to French Horns. Its usually plain black, but I was able to purchase this red/black Python-skin look stuff from a speaker supply house. The new handle (much easier on the hands than the original) and the replacement end latches came from the same source. Glued the Tolex on with hot hide glue which works well, even though some of it over-seeped to the outside and needed cleaning off (not hard).

As I noted above, I at first thought the case was of Japanese origin, due to its similarity to cases I've seen countless Japanese machines in. Now I'm not so sure - while replacing the MDF ends on the base with Poplar - the length, width, and thickness came out to even fractional inches, not some weird measurement that would have been the result of metric measurements being used in Japan. The top measured out similarly into even inches! This in turn leads me to believe that the similar cases seen on various Japanese machines are mostly of US origin also. Certainly, many/most motors on Japanese machines are of U.S. origin, why not the cases?

In the end, I threaded up a brand new class-66 bobbin with black thread, and ran a test seam which came out perfectly. Who knows when the last time this machine actually sewed? Being 53 years old at this writing, it could have sat around un-used for 5 years - or 25! A bit later, I found myself needing to sew some black elastic for a pair of "harem pants", and since the ol' Singer was already sitting there, threaded up with black thread, I sat down at it and gave it its first "real" job. I'm amazed at how smoothly it sews - very impressive!

Subsequently, I took it to a "stitch and bitch" where my dance sisters and myself were sewing together Belly Dance skirts. The 99K did admirably well. It will be returning to the next session when we work on vests and, for the gals, bras.

Sewing Machine

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