Adapting a Singer Featherweight to Hand Crank


While not a people powered machine, almost all of us have a soft spot in our hearts for the Singer Featherweight. There has been much speculation about how to make it people powered. Rick & Suzie actually did it! It is not an easy bolt and screw adaptation, like converting a standard Singer to hand crank, but it worked. Here is the information Rick provided on just what they did. It's of interest, even if you never do it. We exchanged a number of posts and pictures, and I have tried to organize them understandably.

The Captain



Hi Captain,
We had a lot of fun putting this machine together. It's truly portable. If Suzie wishes to sew in the truck on the long rides she can.

Your friends Rick & Suzie

Hi Captain,
On the question of whether the FW is too lite to crank was one of our concerns before we installed it. But to our surprise, it's very stable & does not move around. We used the lite weight aluminum repo hc from Guy Baker. Installing 4 AA batteries in the front left corner under bed didn't hurt anything either.( for the LED light).

Thanks a bunch Rick & Suzie

This is the pic of motor boss. I ruff cut this out of an old aluminum 401 bed I had lying around. But any chunk of machinable aluminum will work. Over all size is 1 3/8" x 1/2" block. It tapers long ways from 1/2" to 1/4". Will scan rough drawings & send them as well. Caution the 5/16" center hole measurement works beautiful on our machine but is drilled through boss and pillar as well. Check it closely because you only get one shot at it. Basically I just took small chunk of aluminum drilled it worked it down with a hack saw & files until it conformed to the pillar & the HC was level.


The boss is hand machined ( with hacksaw & a file) It is bolted to the
pillar with one 5/16" NC & two 6/32" machine screws counter sunk in the
boss. Tapped through the pillar. No welding involved at all. Another little
note I used a small amount of 2 part epoxy putty when I installed the boss
just to seat it well & fill any small voids.

Here is Rick's diagram of the measurements for his modifications:


The wheel was easy. after the boss was on & the HC adjusted I took a piece of brass & conformed it to the hand wheel. something like a small drawer handle. then cut a slot in it for the HC finger. drilled two holes in each end & turned the wheel on edge & drilled & tapped the two holes in the wheel for 6/32 brass screws.
It was much easier building it than trying to describe it.



The HC. minor modifications on this. (supplier Guy Baker) the lite aluminum body one. I re-drilled & adjusted the spring on the finger so it pointed at more of a 90 degree angle to conform to the FW wheel circumference. And to fit in the finger pocket I attached to the wheel. Also enlarged the attachment base hole so it would accommodate the 5/16" national course bolt. I used the 5/16" because I wanted to go through the boss as well as the pillar. At that particular spot the aluminum on the pillar is thick.


Another note on the wheel. Need to put a large O ring in the belt grove so the bobbin winder will work properly


This is where I mounted the battery pack for the LED light. Picked it up at Radio Shack. just placed it out of the way & epoxy puttied it in. Put in a standard little toggle switch & painted it. The LED's where a quad set I robbed from one of my flashlights. The LED was epoxied in the light housing on angle to aim at needle area.
This cover plate was made from again that old 401 aluminum base. just took the original electrical plug & marked around it a little over sized, cut it out , finished it up with file, drilled hole & installed it flush where the plug was. You will need to cut a small spacer or use washers to get it to flush out.



All in all, a very interesting project. Many thanks to Rick & Suzie for their efforts and for sharing it.

The Captain