Change the presser foot rod on a Singer 15k sewing machine
Vintage Singers with low shank side clamp feet remained in production for so long that fancy feet were developed to overcome their limitations. Buttonholers are by far the most useful of these and they are easier to use than modern, computer controlled built in buttonholers. If you don't already own one, check out the selection at www.raindropkites.co.uk
This fix started with a Ruby zig-zag foot. It came from Helen at Raindrop too. I couldn't get it to work properly because the flat bit of my presser foot rod was too short: The zigzag foot wouldn't sit right on my machine
This presser foot rod works fine I started to write a "This item doesn't work as advertised" email to the seller and decided to take a nice clear picture of the problem by using a spare presser foot rod that lurked in my garage. The zig-zag foot sat beautifully on the spare presser rod. Obvious! Swap it for the problem one in my machine.

This was the first serious dismantling operation I inflicted on my machine. I took photos so I had a record of how to put it back together. The web site came much later...

If you have not read the dire warnings on the warnings page, click here to jump through to them before you start work:
You will need:

  • Releasing oils such as Rocket WD40 or GT85
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Spanners that fit well. I've marked the ones that work best for me with ribbons so I know they are special
  • Snipe nose pliers
  • A small nylon brush and cotton buds
  • Kitchen roll
  • Singer oil
  • A magnetic strip to hold bolts etc. This one came off an L plate
  • White lithium grease
  • A digital camera
Tools for cleaning the machine Some extra tools
Faceplate off Take the end plate off the machine and, if the bolts have not been moved for 100 years, squirt penetrating oil everywhere and leave the machine to marinade.
Take a photo of the position of the foot pressure thumb nut. That way, you can check that you have reassembled it correctly at the end. Position of the presser foot nut
Thread chewer Spring off the thread cutter with a screw driver and throw it away because it is almost certainly blunt and prone to chewing your thread. Use sharp scissors instead.
Undo the pressure foot thumb nut. Thus nut is surprisingly long, so undoing it takes a few minutes. The pressure foot sping will lift up through the hole left by the nut.
Finally, undo the bolt on the piece that lifts the foot when you operate the lever at the back. This was the hardest part of the operation because the rod was stuck to this casting with 100 years of accumulated tarry gunge. In the end I resorted to gripping the presser foot rod with a pair of cloth wrapped slip joint pliers and levering the foot lifting cam against the track in the frame casting that it runs along. This was scary at the time and it still scares me because I don't have a handy replacement for this casting in my shed. Rocket WD40 and patience is a better option. Assuming you are lucky like me and free the foot lifting cam instead of breaking it, slide the presser foot rod up and out. Scary technique to loosen the rod
Track the pesky bit moves in This picture shows the track that the foot lifter runs in.
Use kitchen roll to clean the tarry gunge off all the bits you have removed from the machine. All that Rocket WD40 will have dissolved it a bit and things should polish up reasonably. Put the pesky foot lifter back into place with lots of white lithium grease. Foot lifter back in place
Reassembled machine Slide the new, cleaned rod into place and fasten the bolt. A tide mark in the tar will tell you the rod is in the right place. Push the spring back in from the top and tighten the thumb wheel back to the position it started in.
Zigzag foot action When everything is nice, greasy and moving freely if it is supposed to do so, put the front cover plate back on and commence sewing.

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