Singer 15-90 Restoration: Part 1

I have recently been given a 1948 Singer 15-90 Sewing Machine (original post here) and being the information hog that I am have been researching the 15-90’s for hours on end. It is pretty fascinating stuff, but I have had problems finding info on the 15-90 specifically. Apparently they’re identical to the earlier 15-89’s but electric and identical to the latter model 15-91 but with a different motor. What I really need is the original instruction manual, which would give concrete particulars on things like the motor not to mention threading and notions. Singer’s website has a free manual download for almost every machine they made, unfortunately they don’t have mine. Everywhere else I’ve looked lists the 15-90 under the 15-89 manual, main problem of course is the 15-89 wasn’t electric. Oh well I suppose I will eventually break down and buy one-off eBay.

As far as getting it running goes, I’ve dismantled the shuttle completely and cleaned all the rust off the components.

I also discovered that the bobbin that was inside the machine is the wrong kind (it’s a 66 but the machine needs a 15). So far it looks like the motor is the only thing wrong. The wheel turns fine, and moves the needle up and down without hitting the bobbin case. I think the mechanical parts will just need to be cleaned and oiled. The motor is another story, I will be taking it apart next. If it turns out to be un-fixable I might convert the machine to a hand-crank instead of messing with a replacement motor.

For anyone else looking for info on the 15-90’s I recommend the 15-89 or 15-91 manual which has the same threading as the 15-90 and can be downloaded free off I also recommend the Vintage Singer Group Handbook which has great general info on cleaning, restoring etc. you can get it by joining the yahoo group Vintage Singers. It’s a total pain to join their group, but apparently that’s vintage sewing machine forum protocol, I am in the middle of jumping through hoops to join I understand wanting to maintain a solid community but come on do you really need to force members to write an introductory post before they are allowed to even read other threads? Do ya?

UPDATE: I have finished restoring my Singer here are the links to the other posts:

Part 2: Assessment, light bulb tutorial, and electrical diagram

Part 3: Disassembly of machine, cleaning, reassembly

Part 4: Tensioner reassembly

Part 5: Fixing the electrical components

Part 6: Last adjustments and replacements

UPDATE: How to Clean & Restore Vintage Singer Sewing Machines the eBook is now available in the Zounds Shop! Save and print all of the information you need to fix your machine! 

More to Read!


  1. Ila says:

    Teresa, I just bought a 15-90 yesterday, and would love a copy! Mine came with only the machine and table, no attachments and no manual. Thanks in advance!

  2. I would love a copy. I have a 15-88, 15-89 manual and a 66-18 manual that I think is the wrong one as I think I need a 66-16 not real sure still trying to positively identify this machine it could also be a 201-2 from what I have learned so far. I am new to this and can’t wait to learn everything I can about vintage singers I have 3 as of now.
    Thanks Cheryl

  3. Teresa says:

    Sorry! I just noticed these posts. I will make a copy and get back to you all. Love this machine by the way. $12 and works like a charm.

  4. George Bower says:

    I am having trouble taking my motor apart to replace the wiring going inside the motor on the 15-90. I got the motor off fine, but, can’t break the motor apart. Any suggestions????

    • It is really difficult to get the motor itself apart, it’s also probably stuck together with grim. Go slowly and make sure you have already removed all the screws. Both sides will eventually slide away from the middle piece (the one with the label on it.) Good luck!

  5. Roberta says:

    Hi Teresa, I just purchased a ‘new’ vintage singer sewing machine and the manual I need is the 15-90. Would you be willing to send a copy to my email? I would really appreciate it. I have already cleaned and painted the table. Taken apart and rewired the electrical. I got it apart but I have to search to find out how to put it back together! That is when I found this blog. Now after some major cleaning all I need is a new belt and I am all set!!

  6. Dyann Cox says:

    I got my machine today and I found this site while trying to figure out why my machine has a belt and all of the talk was for a direct drive/potted motor….I figured out I have a 15-90 not a 15-91. I too am looking for a manual and any information I can find on this machine. I am late to the party but wondered if I could also have a copy of the manual for the 15-90. I would be willing to pay for it. So far I have learned a lot by reading about your restoration. I too am wanting to tackle a restoration and really appreciate that you have documented what you have done and have shared the information. Thank you so much for all of the time you have put in sharing your personal experience, it is truly invaluable!

    • zoundsdesigns says:

      I used kerosene to loosen all the rust on my machine and then polished and re-oiled all parts. Good luck with your machine!!

  7. BJ Hollenbeck says:

    My mom’s 15-90 has been sitting under a pile of books for years, awaiting my attention. I’m so excited to have found your blog!

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