I used sewing machine oil and cotton wool balls to clean and polish the black japanning and gold decals. Just a little oil gently lifts the muck and imparts a little shine and I am careful not to rub the decals too hard. The general condition of the finish is really quite good. One or two chips on the leading edge of the machine bed but nothing I won't be happy to live with.
Sweet Bird of youth. Sorry about the camera shake I am still learning.
I use the same technique on the bright metal. The throat and slide plates are as new but the rim of the balance wheel is less than perfect.
Underneath wasn't too mucky but bone-dry. When was the last time this one saw oil? I took the throat and face plates off and cleaned the feed dogs and presser and needle bars with an old toothbrush.
At this point, clean but not yet oiled, the machine turned freely but did not resemble the the smooth, quiet running, machines other sewers have described on their blogs. I am new to Singer 15s so I wasn't sure what to expect. My 201k whispers along the seams and hems but this 15 clattered. I have read comparisons of the 201 with a Rolls Royce. If my 201 is a Rolls then this 15 is a Model T Ford.
Now I love sewing machine oil. It's like Doctor Good for machines. When I oil a bone dry machine like this one I feel like I am working a little miracle. I go right over the machine from slide plate to hand crank and from spool pin to shuttle looking for any points at which metal bears against metal and apply no more than a drop or two of oil. Then I have the pleasure of:
"run[ning] the machine rapidly for a few moments (with the presser foot up) to work the oil into the bearings"
That's one of my favourite bits. Listening to the machine becoming quieter and actually feeling it become smoother in operation. In a matter of seconds the clattering is more like clicking and hey presto this sewing machine is running like a sewing machine. The 15 is not as quiet as the 201. I don't think I would expect it to be. The design of the 201 is about 50 years younger than that of the original 15 after all. I would say that this machine is now maybe just a shade quieter than my 28k. Any 15 aficionados who can confirm this as a sign of good health please drop me a line.
By the way anyone thinking of recommissioning a neglected machine should make this excellent video by Lizzie Lenard compulsory viewing. One can learn a lot from that wise lady!