Vintage Sewing Machines
Today, though, even though I hadn’t planned to, I spent a fair amount of time removing the old oil pan drip mat from the Featherweight I purchased online at the end of October 2013.
The reason? I called my OSMG, Jerry, because I had a couple of sewing machines to hand off to him. He’s done so much for me, he’s the first person I thought of when I started clearing out machines from their hiding places. Jerry offered to look at the Featherweight again and I’d removed the pan from the machine to try to get the smell out of it. I wanted to have it ready for when he picked it up, so I spent the time to get it ready.
I replaced the original drip pan mat by tracing the outline of the pan, then refining the pattern so that a single piece of black felt, which I stuck in place with Elmer’s school glue, fit perfectly. If I have to do it again it won’t take so long!
The problem with the Featherweight? I cleaned it up, and purchased a foot controller, but when the pedal is pressed nothing happens. A couple hours after Jerry picked it up, he called to say he’s narrowed the problem down to the switch! He’s found a replacement and I’m hoping it’ll be working by next weekend!
Woo hoo!! I can’t wait!
My customer, Carol, came over yesterday to revisit her thread choices for her quilting projects. She also brought along 3 sewing machines she had been gifted, as she knows I collect vintage sewing machines, and had asked if I’d be interested in taking a look at them.
After we confirmed her thread and batting choices, we took the machines out. One was a Singer Ultralock 14 serger with lots of rust and the area next to the throat plate was missing, so it would be impossible to sew on it without replacing that part. She’s not looking for a rehab project, so we moved on to the next one.
A Singer Touch & Sew 758 was revealed when we removed the protective plastic bag she had used during transport. The Touch & Sew line, especially in the 700 series, doesn’t have a good reputation. The owners had so much trouble sewing with them, even after taking them to the repair shop several times, they got set in the back of a closet, never to be seen again. They weren’t cheap machines, either.
At first glace, it didn’t look too bad, a bit of corrosion on the throat plate, a bit of light rust on the needle bar, but those are easily corrected. I was interested to open the top and take a peek. Once I removed the top, I could see more rust, but really, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Still, I was certain I didn’t want to take on this project!
Carol said she’d plugged it in and tested it out when she got it and it sounded terrible. Well, no machine is going to be happy after sitting in a garage for a long time, and it certainly needed some TLC.
As soon as the cover started to come away from the base, I immediately recognized that we were invading someone’s home. And he was still there. In skeleton form. Graphic images warning: if you want to view the corpse, click on the photo and zoom in to the lower right section of the sewing machine case.
The interior was packed with shredded plastic bags and bits of sparkly yarn from Christmas past. Not surprisingly, we also found that the wiring had been chewed. No wonder this machine sounded terrible! It’s a wonder the whole mess didn’t catch on fire!
I was sure glad I’d put down some newspaper before I opened it up! Gloves were immediately donned, and after I cleaned up the mess, I made sure to use several disinfectant wipes on the table and all of my tools, too!
Carol’s last machine turned out to be a Singer Quantum LE from the early 1990’s. It was in pretty nice shape, although it needs a new power cord. Of course, after the mouse nest, I completely forgot to take photos of the nice machine! Ha!
Carol’s going to take all of them to my OSMG (Old Sewing Machine Guy), Jerry, at Treasure Valley Sew n Vac. He used to work for the Singer Sewing Machine Co, and he specializes in vintage sewing machines. He can use the first two machines for parts, and he’ll service the Singer Quantum LE so Carol can use it for regular sewing while her new embroidery machine is hard at work. Jerry doesn’t work on the computerized parts of a machine, but he said he’s never had to on the Quantum, so I’m confident he’ll get it fixed up and sewing perfectly.
If you’re in the Boise area and have a machine you want serviced, call Jerry, he does a great job. His phone number is 208-870-8148. He’s a vendor at the Idaho Indoor Community Farmer’s Market at 4983 N. Glenwood, which is at the corner of Glenwood and Chinden. Several of the vendors there just moved from the Boise Flea Market at Cole and Barrister. The new venue has a lot more space, some new vendors and a different feel to the place.
I talked to a local woodworker last night who is going to help me fix and refurbish two of the sewing machine cabinets I’ve been storing in the garage. We determined that the wood on the third cabinet is beyond repair.
So, the cabinet for the Anker went home with him to fix the area that needs to support the sewing machine and in the meantime I need to start stripping the veneer off the cabinet for the Davis VF and trying to figure out how it comes apart.
Part of the deal is that I’m going to throw in the Red Eye treadle head and irons that go with it; most of the wood is rotten and can only serve as a pattern for a replacement top. The irons need to be washed, brushed with a wire brush and repainted back to their previous glory, but the treadle action is spot on!
While I haven’t gotten to sew on the Red Eye, which is always my goal, I know it’s a very nice machine; when I bought it I was able to turn the handle by hand to get it to sew and have been excited to get it up and running. Ironically, I thought this one would be the easiest and fastest one to get working. Once he gets the cabinet built, which will take him hours, it will be an awesome piece. Of course I’ll go over it and make sure it’s cleaned, oiled and ready to take on a new project.
The upside is I’ll have two working machines that are high on my priority list, I get to clear out some space in my garage, keeping my husband happier with less clutter, and someone else will get to share this machine. That’s a winning situation all the way around!
I’ve been working with a fellow Onion (that is, a Treadle On member) from Michigan to get a shuttle that will fit the Improved Hackett’s Beauty treadle I bought last summer. We finally found a shuttle and bobbin, and I’m really excited! It turned out that the Eldredge E shuttle was the perfect fit.
I borrowed a treadle belt tool and got the belt installed, but the machine was really noisy, like something wasn’t right. I was pretty sure the clangy sound was coming from the foot pedal, and as I was playing with last weekend, the pedal “fell off” the machine! That wasn’t too surprising, as the bolts that were holding it in were at an angle, instead of holding everything in straight. So, I cleaned up the metal bar underneath the pedal, got some Triflow in there to loosen it up (I’ll add grease later) and put it back together and now only a little clangy noise left!
It was so fun to see that it was actually treadling. However, there was an intermittent rubbing sound and I realized that I’d installed the belt incorrectly; it was winding through one of the supports underneath. I disconnected the belt, re-threaded it, tightened it up and re-connected it, and, no surprise here, the rubbing sound disappeared.
I also made a shuttle cover out of an old credit card, which is pretty nifty, so still need to keep my eye out for a real one.
I also found some help threading it! You can see from this side view that it’s not exactly intuitive! I realized that I’m missing the bobbin winder finger, but I was able to wind a little bit of thread on the bobbin. I’ve had to work on getting the tension right, and it’s making stitches, but they’re not as good as I’d like so I’ll have to continue to work on that.
The next thing I need to address is that the machine doesn’t lift up flush with the rest of the cabinet. I discovered that when I push up on a bar underneath that is connected to the chain in the back it will sit flush, so now I have to figure out if the mechanism simply needs to be tightened, or if the chain needs to be adjusted. I can’t imagine how to adjust the chain!!
I also found a 15×1 needle and got that installed, however, it’s not the size of needle the machine calls for. I was able to make it work by moving the needle down in the needle holder so that the shuttle could catch the thread. That could also affect the stitches so I’ll have to see if I can find a longer needle.
I am SO close to having it all put together!! And I couldn’t have done it without help from my new friend in Michigan. I love the internet!
You know what happens when you have too many machines? You think you’ve told everyone about them all, when you really haven’t!
I got this treadle right before I went on vacation. It’s called The Columbian and was made by the Chicago Sewing Machine Company.
I found trade literature from the Smithsonian website, which I’d seen before but never got further than I have tonight. The former name of the company was Tryber & Sweetland Manufacturing Company, 1879-1882. So I searched on that name which lead me to the SewMuse website:
Tryber and Sweetland became the Chicago Sewing Machine Company in 1875 and then were incorporated from 1882-1902. They made 11 machine models (if you count the numbered models separately):
No’s 1 – 5, 7, 11
Chicago Low Arm Singer
Imperial High Arm
I still haven’t found a manual, reference to any parts, or any other photos of similar machines. If I can’t find an original part I’ll need to get something machined to fit over the shuttle in order to use it.
If any of these machines sound familiar to anyone, and you know of any resources, I’d appreciate that info.
First…..she is DANG heavy!! How do I know? Well, she came with a cabinet. A very nice cabinet. But the previous owners removed the machine from the cabinet in order to facilitate transportation, and now I can’t get her re-mounted back into the cabinet.
See these tiny little pegs in the back slots? They are what I’m supposed to put this machine onto, using the little holes in the back of the machine, and then tighten down the set screws. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, we’ve done that, and every time I rotate the head back into position either the machine moves and pops off the left side post (even after tightening the screw) or the mounting mechanism moves in its natural arc and when it stops, the back of the sewing machine doesn’t lie flush with the table. All the while, either my DH or I are hanging onto the machine to make sure it doesn’t fall and smash someone’s toe!
I’ve posted my dilemma on a couple of online forums, gotten some good information and suggestions, but as you can see, the machine still isn’t mounted. So, if anyone knows how to resolve this, please let me know, I’m at my wits end!
The second thing I learned is that this machine’s needle is “left-homed” . That is, while using a straight stitch, the needle sits at the left side of the throat plate. You can see what I mean on this photo, where the needle is just coming down through the presser foot on the left. Using the edge of the presser foot as a guide, this starts the sewist out with a 3/8” seam allowance. So, this is not the machine for a quilter who uses a 1/4” seam allowance because to do so means the fabric will only ride on one of the feed dogs, which will not feed the fabric through the machine evenly.
She sure sews a nice stitch, though, and I’m looking forward to trying my hand at some other sewing projects that I’ve put off in favor of my traditional quilting projects. Yes, in fact, I think I’ll use her to make the jean quilt I’ve been saving up old jeans for, and get those piles used up and cleared out of my sewing room (and garage)!
This machine not only has the decorative “Top Hat” cam system, it can also do a chain stitch and came with several extra cams, throat plates, bobbins and several feet. There was even a magnetic seam guide! How’s a girl to resist that??
I also made a new friend, Jerry, from Treasure Valley Sew and Vac. He’s got a booth at the Boise Flea Market and repairs and sells sewing machines. As a former Singer service and sales rep, he’s quite knowledgeable, and I spent most of my afternoon soaking up information. I had a blast!
The new one followed me home, of course, but Jerry also made a generous offer to work with me and my Education Outreach team at Boise Basin Quilters to furnish low cost machines to the guild for our workshops. He’s also offered to mentor me in the process. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am!