A broken light socket

Posted by Dave McCallum on Dec 29th 2013

The light bulbs socket of a Featherweight is made of Bakelite and as such, it can be broken. There are many who struggle with removing a light bulb from the machine. Some manage to complicate the light bulb replacement project by forcing the issue. Sometimes even picking the machine up can place your lifting hand’s fingertips on the glass of the bulb and this can break the bulb as the machine is lifted, and the socket gets itself broken when they use the chainsaw to try and remove what’s left.

I personally have never done this…..Never.

Removing the metal base left behind by a broken light bulb can be a problem and lead to the socket being broken and in need of replacement. The socket within the lamp assembly can be replaced or the entire lamp assembly can be replaced as an assembly. Elsewhere within this manual, I tell of how to remove the light assembly as a whole and replace it. To just replace the socket within is simple enough if you follow the steps I’ll run through with you. The trick is finding a replacement socket. eBay can help. It is somewhat easier to replace the socket within the lamp assembly than it is to remove and replace the entire lamp assembly from the machine, wires and all.

As I intimated, finding a socket might be the trick. Purchasing the entire lamp assembly on eBay is one way to get a socket. It’s the ease of installation that makes replacing the socket attractive compared to replacing the lamp assembly as a whole. If you fish around on eBay for a while you will find lamp assemblies on an auction that are not going to sell for much because they look like snits. The black painted shade portion could be in sad condition but the socket that is protected within it is probably OK. Search for the auction and when found ask the seller if the socket is in one piece. On the auction page, there is a section for asking the seller a question. I have on occasion seen just the socket for auction as well.

If you choose to replace just the socket, begin this way. Remove the light bulb. Turning the machine upside down so you can see the light bulb will help a lot. Wearing a rubber glove can give you a better grip on the bulb. Set the machine right side up as if you were going to sew on it once the bulb is out. Look under the rear edge of the lampshade to see the screw that secures the lampshade to the body of the machine, about halfway between the left and right on the shade. Remove that screw and roll/pull the lampshade out from the body of the machine toward you. Roll it out more than pulling as the assembly will not pull out very much. The lamp assembly will be held up (supported) by the wire to the lamp that is shrouded in a lead tube. You will bend this
lead tube covering the wire and this is OK. This lead tube covered wire works well as a third hand but don’t horse the shade around mush. At the right end of the shade assembly, there is a part of the shade that extended into the side of the machine through a hole provided for it. The portion that rolled out with the shade has a slot that the lead shrouded wire is secured into by a set-screw. The set-screw is on the top and perpendicular to the wire. Loosen this set screw about four full turns. At the right end of the lampshade, there is a small screw centered at the end of the lamp assembly. Remove that small screw and the lampshade can be slid off of the lamp socket sliding the metal shade to the right in relation to the socket. There is a black felt washer/pad that
is sandwiched between the socket and the lampshade with the small screw we just removed through its center. Retain the felt washer and we’ll use it later for reassembly. To make life easy I use a touch of rubber cement to secure the felt pad into place within the shade so I don’t fight with it while trying to reassemble things. Somehow holding the felt washer in place, aligning the socket and getting the screw through all this makes the hassle of gluing the washer in place look pretty much worth doing.

Now the socket that is still secured to the wire is exposed so the socket can be worked on. There are two small screws securing a cap at the closed end of the socket. You guessed it, remove them and the cap lifts off. You can then see how the wires enter the socket and spread into a “Y” within slots that guide the wires to the electrical contacts for the light bulb. It might look like “what do we do now” but the next step is easy. The wires are soldered to the contacts under this cap but we do not have to remove the wires from the contacts. Without cranking the open end of the socket around too much, look within the open end of the socket and note the two electrical (metal) contacts you can see within. Go scrounge around the house and find a wood pencil with an eraser on it, or the like. Reach the eraser end of the pencil into the socket’s open end and push firmly on the contacts and they will push out of the cap end of the socket and the body of the broken socket can be taken away.

To continue with the replacement of the socket I suggest you wash the new socket with soap and water. With these replacement parts ready to receive their electrical components just align the wires and their funny telescoping contacts with the holes in the end of the socket and gently push the telescoping electrical contacts into the holes from the outside end of the socket. The wires, of course, fall into the “Y” shaped slot for them and the cover is secured with its two screws. None of these screws require that they be tongue bitingly tight. Snug, but not hard.

The rest of the project goes back together in the reverse order of having removed them. If you didn’t glue the felt washer inside the shade assembly make sure it gets back in there where it belongs. Slide the lampshade to the left over the socket, install and tighten the small screw centered with the end of the shade that secures the socket into the shade. Now tighten the set-screw into the lead shrouded wire, again not hard, and roll the lampshade back into the body of the machine. Install the screw that secures the lampshade to the machine and installing the light bulb is next. Gently turn to the right to install.

One last thing; remove the drip pan from the bottom of the machine and look inside for the lead shrouded wire as it comes down through the arm and makes a turn toward the electrical receptacle where its wires terminate. When we were working on one machine we pulled on and manipulated the shrouded wire somewhat. The object of the lead shroud was to make it so the wires within could be pushed away from the gears in the bottom of the machine. Is the lead shrouded wire still clear of the gears? If not; reach in with a finger and push the wire shroud out of harm’s way. ends of the individual strands of the wire. Then with a soldering iron apply solder to the eyelet you have fabricated so the solder penetrates the wire strands and makes for a firm eyelet.

Source: Dave’s Blog