Viking 6030 sewing machine rebuild
A very nice lady gave me a Viking 6030 sewing machine (as well as this serger).
It had what is said to be a typical problem for this make and model: the lubricating oil had solidified into a wax- or plastic-like consistency, and the upper main shaft, many of the controls, and other mechanisms were frozen. The only way to repair this is to completely disassemble the machine, clean out the old oil, and reassemble it with new oil. After such a complete rebuild, all of the normal service adjustments must be made.
This post documents the rebuild process with photos and provides documentation. When done, your machine may be able to do this:
I took on this project because I have always wanted to add a sewing machine to my tool collection, because it is related to my hobby of fixing cars, appliances and other machines, and because I knew the sewing machine would be a very complex mechanism and it would be fun to ’solve’ such a puzzle. When it was given to me, I did not expect that its problem would require complete disassembly of the entire machine, but it turned out a welcome challenge.
If you are not mechanically inclined, or are doing this to save money, I do not recommend doing it yourself. Screw slots are easy to strip, even with my life-saving screwdrivers, and removing stuck screws takes both strength and finesse. There are about 350 parts in this machine, and it can be tough to figure out how they fit together. The mechanisms are very complex, and they must be understood to really get them working properly. While researching the machine, I found a highly-rated seller on ebay who periodically makes a listing to perform exactly this procedure for an extremely reasonable $258 + shipping, a great price for a rebuilt example with all the cams and accessories. I have no idea how he can do this quickly enough to make it worth his time, but judging by his consistent 5-star feedback and raving comments, he cuts no corners, and I am very impressed.
If there’s anyone who’s made it this far and still wants to do the job, I would really love a post in the comments section! I wish you good luck, and let me know if you have any questions.
A minimal set of tools is needed. Without this Chapman screwdriver set, which has 12 bits for slotted heads of varying widths and thicknesses that fit any slotted head perfectly, I would have been suffering with stripped slots. Also needed are a standard set of feeler gauges, circlip pliers, and assorted pipe brushes, all available for cheap from Harbor Freight. Others are standard: nut drivers, pliers, a knife, scissors, a metric ruler, flashlights. For cleaning, kerosene seems to be the recommended solvent for the hardened oil; a paint roller pan with the pipe and other brushes and some large blank white paper to place parts to dry complete the kit. For disassembly, have several dozen ziplock bags of various sizes to keep parts organized. Finally, have a digital camera with a macro mode.
Disassembling and cleaning
The service manual (see link below) contains instructions for dismantling some parts. Take plenty of close-up pictures so you can both remember the order of how things were dismantled, as well as how things fit together. As you take things apart, put related parts in ziplock bags. This machine has about 350 parts, and it is very difficult to keep track of all of them, so use small bags for screws, and put those together with the related larger parts into medium bags, and then put those bags into large bags. The more organized you are, the easier this job will be. I did a pretty good job, but came out with this one extra part (I’ll paypal the first person to correctly identify it $5 Update: TWO commenters replied correctly; my mistake not recognizing the first; thanks to both Paul Reynolds and Kenn, enjoy the bounty!), so be organized!
Kerosene can loosen up the hardened grease. It is a good idea to take off the covers and applyto the whole inside liberally, allowing to soak for a couple of days with periodic reapplications. Pay particular attention to the upper and lower shafts, which can freeze in their bushings, and the various gears that are mounted on the shafts.
When cleaning, put kerosene into the paint roller pan, and scrub the parts with brushes. Use pipe brushes to clean all holes. Arrange parts on a big piece of white paper to dry, grouped together as they were in the bags. When the kerosene gets too dirty, pour it in a jar and allow the dirt to settle overnight; pour the kerosene back into the pan, leaving the sediment behind, to use again. Kerosene dries slowly, and the parts will need to sit for at least 24 hours. There should be no traffic in the area so that parts are not disturbed and disappear. When dry, repack into their baggies for assembly.
Disassembly took me about two days, and cleaning another two days. Order is the reverse of assembly, so follow the Assembly gallery pictures backwards.
Pics of the parts drying at the ends of day 1 and day 2. These are all the parts in the machine!
When putting the parts back together, be sure to understand how each part works, and test each part of its motion. This can take quite a bit of time, but will reduce later problems, and when there is a problem, you will be better equipped to diagnose and correct it. Do not rush, take your time. If you get frustrated, take a break and come back later.
After some online research, it seems that the most recommended grease is Tri-Flow lubricant with teflon. Initially, I used the grease, but I believe that it slowed down the fast-spinning parts and bogs down the motor. Since then, I have been told by two experts to use the thin lubricant, at least in the sintered bushings. In general, any two parts that move against each other should be lubricated. Apply lubricant or grease to both contact surfaces. When using grease, after fitting the parts together, if extra grease has not already squeezed out, a small amount can be added to ensure the joint will not starve of grease. Do not overdo it though, since too much grease will just make a mess.
Assembly is detailed in the gallery below. The pictures are annotated.
The pictures in the below gallery follow most of the adjustments in the manual. They are annotated, and may contain hints when the manual is unclear, or requires a tool that us amateurs don’t have.
One adjustment to note is the shuttle cover clearance. The manual calls for a special gauge. The same gauge is used on the flat-bed models, so the clearance must be the same. On the flat-bed models, one of the diagrams shows the gap between the actual shuttle and the back of the shuttle cover as 0.4mm. I found that parts of the rim of the shuttle and the entire back of the shuttle cover are flat, so it is possible to use normal automotive feeler gauges for this adjustment. See the adjustment described in picture 19.15. I have no skipped stitches and the machine doesn’t jam, but it sounds quite loose and makes noise. If anyone measures this gap before disassembling their machine, I’d very much like to know the measured gap.
Documentation and links
Factory service manual Read it!
Chapman screwdriver set Life-(or at least project-)saving screwdrivers
Viking mechanic on ebay My latest idol
Pre-1980 Viking Sewing Machines Yahoo Group run by Bill Holman
For most of this project, I drew from my considerable experience as a shadetree mechanic. I read very little of the service manual before doing this, so my process may have significantly deviated from the manual’s. Please post a comment if I did anything that looks troublesome so I can correct my documentation for the next reader.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for all corrections, comments, and since I can’t imagine there are any others in the world who might be interested in this topic, I appreciate readers just saying hi in the comments.
Before undertaking this project yourself, be sure that you understand the complexity of this task. Don’t hold me accountable for the failure (or even success) of your project!
The Viking guru from ebay, linked above, wrote me these nice comments.
Hi, betelnut. Looks like your leftover washer might be the special one that goes between the long screw that you put in against the long spring, and the piece that moves the cam in and out when you turn the stitch selector knob. Quite a project to undertake without training in all the tricks that lurk in these machines! You must have a very thorough general mechanical knowledge. I had never thought of using regular feeler guages to set the hook cover clearance- could be done if one is fussy enough! The most critical part is the two posts opposite each other must be exactly the same; after that is accomplished, you can adjust the third post while running the machine (with no needle mounted) to get the least noise. Most of the machines I see have the hook-needle clearance set wrong because the last person to work on it assumed the running alignment of the hook is determined by the hook DRIVER- but actually when running it is against the hook COVER. So they set it statically with the hook just missing the needle while resting against the hook driver. The Viking gauge that you put in place of the needle, a thing slightly fatter than a needle, allows you to set the clearance statically so that it comes out right when the machine is running. I don't know how you might do this without the guage except by cut and try. I'll get back to you with another message, I have to go now... Regards, Chris
Second message; NOTE: SEE UPDATE 2 BELOW ABOUT WHY NOT TO USE WD-40:
Not wishing to spend my days standing over a pan of kerosene, I usually clean the hardened grease off parts by physically scraping it off, and wiping and or scrubbing with WD40, then drop them in a closed container of rubbing alcohol. Let dry, the remainder is a powdery white stuff that I clean off with a wire wheel on a bench motor. I poke pieces of WD40 soaked rag through holes and follow with clean rag. There ARE of course more drastic and toxic chemicals to use when things are stuck so bad I can't get them apart with WD40. I don't usually remove the top shaft unless it is stiff turning, as sometimes happens when the machine has been treated by someone just spraying solvent into it- this melts the grease which then spreads into everything and re-hardens into a gluey consistency and makes everything more difficult. I wish I knew more about what various chemicals do to the sintered oil-impregnated main topshaft bearings- I try to stay away from them with chemicals unless absolutely necessary to get it apart. I have seen that some people drill oil holes into the top of the machine, like the early 6000's had, so the user can oil the topshaft bearings; I haven't had to do that yet. I have just made sure the bearings were well oiled with regular sewing machine oil when I reassemble- haven't had any stiffen up again that I know of. For lube when reassembling, I use the liquid Tri-flow (not grease) which Viking recommended at seminars back when they were still concerning themselves with these models. Before they discovered Tri-flow, they recommended reassembling completely dry, no lube at all. (the hardening-grease problem had started showing up on the early 6000's while the later ones were still being sold, and they were of course quite concerned about it) One place I do use a dab of grease, is on the bobbincase spindle, which if left dry will sometimes develop a harmonic vibration of the bobbincase that makes a screeching noise. About to run out of room- 1 more messg.
Thank goodness ebay now lets you reply more than once to a "question". Reviewing my first message, I thought I should make clear, about the needle/hook clearance and hook driver/hook cover clearance- you FIRST have to set the needle in the right place in the needleplate; then set the hook/needle clearance, THEN the hook cover clearance. When you are done, observe the hook/needle clearance while holding the hook OUT against the hook cover; it should be as close as possible without actually touching. If it's not good, you will have to move the hook DRIVER and then re-adjust the hook cover clearance also. (in models after the 6000 series, Viking made all this much simpler. The hook cover screws directly to the casting, so the cover clearance is fixed, no posts; the needle bar frame is moved to adjust hook/needle clearance, and the needle PLATE can be moved slightly front-to-back with an eccentric stud. Well... Much of this may have been no news to you, who seem so very mechanically skilled; but I was so impressed by your adventurous rebuild, I wanted to see if I could offer you something helpful. Regards, Chris
Finally, in answer to some other question I’ve now lost track of:
The hook driver can also be moved in and out by loosening the set screw from the bottom, moving the whole driver/bearing/gear assembly, but then of course you have to reset the gear mesh by moving the meshing bevel. You want just a tiny bit of play so there's no bind. The buttonhole cutting space can be adjusted, it's on page 121 if your book is the same as mine. If your book doesn't have it, I can try to describe it. Dry assembly- refers to the mechanisms moved by the knobs, and the needle movement sideways, the fabric feed, and the gears. The running bearings such as top and bottom shaft bearings do need oil. The later models with "permanantly lubricated" bearings there, and no oil holes, I have sometimes seen stiffened up, but I'm not sure whether the "permanant" oil supply actually ran out, or if it was the result of some chemical contamination, or perhaps just a long period of disuse.
Thanks to Page who left a comment below, I became aware of a Yahoo Group dedicated to pre-1980 Viking sewing machines. The group was founded and is moderated by Bill Holman, a well-known authority on these machines in online sewing machine circles, and who is extremely generous about sharing his knowledge. Because of my mention of WD-40, which unbeknownst to me can kill the Viking sintered bushings, my membership request to the group was rejected, with the following information about why that mention should be (and has been from my own write-up!) removed:
Your blog has been previously brought to my attention, and while I admire your initiative, I am appalled by your suggestion of using WD-40 in these old Vikings. I have been a Viking-Husqvarna technician for almost 50 years, and that stuff is a terrible choice for any of the machines, and the kiss of death for a sintered bushing. Within months of the introduction of the 6030 in 1972, Viking sent out a warning to never use WD-40 in their machines, because it will leave a residue in the pores of the bushings that prevent the oil from exiting, or the bushings from soaking up any additional oil that is externally applied. This is not a matter for discussion. It is a fact, and it should never be used. On other mechanisms, WD-40 dries leaving a sticky residue that has to be washed off. It has contributed to pattern mechanisms and buttonholers locking up, and needle bar frames refusing to swing. WD-40 was designed as a water displacement solvent, and that is all it is good for. It should not be used on anything more precise than a garage door hinge. If precision equipment needs to be freed up, there are many products that will do as good a job as WD-40, without the drawbacks. Even kerosene is safer as a solvent, and CRC 5-56 is excellent. The best possible product is Triflow. It is somewhat of a penetrant, and a great lubricant.
Thanks, Bill! I had to leave the WD-40 references where they were quoted in the first Update section, but hopefully the big warning message pointing to this update will ensure that readers are informed.