Steel spool pins for Singer 411G

The new-to-me Singer 411G came with spool pins in a horrible state. One was broken, the other one was sitting askew. A quick web search reveals that each pin consists of four parts – the actual pin, a rubber spacer, a plastic washer, and a spring nut. Replacing it requires removing the plate with the information on decorative stitches. The best description of the process and a list of alternative solutions can be found on this page. If you want to keep your machine close to original condition, then you can stop reading my article right now, and head over to the above link. I dislike the idea of replacing the bad design with the same bad design; I wanted steel spool pins.


Making copper tipped chuck retention bolts

Steel bolts with a blob of copper brazed to the tips.

My wood lathe has no allowance to lock the chuck on the spindle, and yet that is a very useful feature, which gives you, for example, the ability to sand in reverse rotation. The spindle is threaded all the way to the shoulder. My chuck is a OneWay Stronghold, and its spindle adapter has two M8 threaded holes for securing it on a spindle with grub screws. The problem is that steel grub screws would damage the threaded spindle when tightened.

I thought I would make copper-tipped steel bolts that could be adequately tightened without the danger of damaging the spindle thread. I already had some M8 socket head bolts, and figured that I could TIG braze a piece of copper on their tips. I found it impossible to do because the copper piece melts before the silicon bronze filler. Copper’s melting point is just 1080°C, while ERCUSi filler melts at around 1800°C.

Then I tried a different approach, and it worked very well. I first “tinned” the tip of the screw using the silicon bronze filler, and then, while maintaining the silicon bronze puddle, switched the filler to copper wire (I used gauge 12 single strand electrical wire). The copper flowed very nicely into the silicon bronze puddle, and I was able to build up a big blob of copper on the tip of the bolt this way.

I used 30A DC Pulse setting, with 33 pps, 33% on time, 33% background, as recommended by Jody Collier. I held the bolt in vise grips and built a dam around with aluminum foil, to keep the shielding gas around the piece.

Bolt held in visegrips with an Argon dam around it.

I threaded a nut around the bolt before brazing the tip on, so that it would be easier to grind the blob down, knowing that it does not impede the threading.

I am quite pleased with the results. I wonder how long it will take for the copper tips to be worn off. Building the copper up again should be fairly easy, when the do wear off.