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Steve and I were sat chatting one evening and we decided to embark on an interesting project – a Bernina 730 Record Full Nut & Bolt Restoration .
One of our basements is full of old Berninas including some of the legendary Bernina 730 Records. One of the best made and most beautiful sewing machines there has ever been. They were sat in the darkness, perhaps reminiscing about their glory days – when they sewed all the time and made outfits for new babies and growing families and dresses for proms and balls and dances, but now – now their glory days are long gone. Or are they…are they.
We came up with the idea, over a small glass of beer, that what we should do was to strip down one of our Bernina 730’s and completely restore it. We would repaint it and add brand new electrics and replace or make any parts that were worn out.
I should point out that my brother Steve has some form in this area. Some 36-37 years ago a lady appeared in our store of the time. Unfortunately she had suffered a fire in her home and her beloved Bernina 730 had been badly burned. Her insurance company had paid for a new machine so she gave us her old 730 to do with as we saw fit. I think I remember she bought a new Bernina 930.
Dad brought the 730 home to show us and Steve decided he would repaint it. Again, he went through the process of rubbing down the damaged paintwork until he reached the metal underneath. We still have that 730 and I’ve just popped down to the cellar to take this photo. He chose red – as you can see.
First, Steve stripped and then painted a 730 using an aerosol paint. He rubbed down the surface wto remove the old paintwork using wet & dry paper. Then he built up the base layers with primer, rubbing down the paint after each coat. Then he added the final colour coats of paint in a lime green.
We weren’t happy. The paintwork was too thin and easily marked – not good enough. So then we went back to basics. When dad was a younger man he used to rebuild hundreds of old Singers for various sewing machine dealers around the Manchester area. Part of his process included stove enamelling the bodies of the machines. I still remember him doing it and when he’d finished, each machine would have a tough, black, crinkle-finish.
We found a local firm where a man offered a stove enamelling service. They also sand-blast whatever you send them to completely remove the worn out paintwork.
We stripped the 730 down to just the bare body and took it over to the place and we chose a colour from the various tins of paint sat on a shelf. The man said, I’ll phone you when it’s ready and don’t you start phoning and pestering me. I’ll phone you when it’s ready. We liked him – a lot.
A week later the phone rang and it was the man. It’s ready, he said. Steve drove over and collected the newly dressed 730. The man had sand-blasted away all the old paint (we’ll get a photo next time) and then applied the two-pack paint process before the final ‘bake’. He brought the 730 back to the workshop and phoned me – it looks fantastic, he told me. Wait ’till you see it, tomorrow. Tomorrow came and after ‘opening up’ I walked straight into the workshop to look at our newly dressed Bernina 730. Steve was right. It looked fantastic.
So now we will rebuild our Bernina 730. Before re-assembly all parts will be fully cleaned and tested. Any parts found to be worn out or damaged will be replaced with new or refurbished replacements. We may well make one or two parts using Dads Super 7 lathe.
First job after taking the photos you see above was to cover the 730 in a barrier wax to better protect the surface as we rebuild the machine. The two-pack paint and stove enamel process produces a tough and durable finish, but even so. We want to protect our baby.
The parts have been separated and are packed and ready for a deep cleaning process. All these parts will be closely inspected for damage or excessive wear and tear.
Next step was to fit a new pattern cam lubricating/cleaning sponge. The original one was very worn and very dirty from years of use.
Going forward Steve and I will complete this project and then test the 730 thoroughly. Then, if all goes well, we will offer you the chance to order one of our fully refurbished Bernina 730 Records and you will choose your own colour. So far Pink and Hot Pink seem to be a big favourite. We should be able to offer this service to customers in the UK, Europe, US, South Africa and Australia.
We will wait until the project is complete before we decide on firm prices. It won’t be cheap, though. We will put a lot of time and effort into each machine in our workshop to make sure they are just about perfect.
I will add further information as the rebuild progresses. Watch this space…
(1st February 2018 – Alan Bamber).