Dec 22, 2010
Friends, I know I lose a great many of you when I talk about vintage sewing machines. Eyes glaze over, minds wander, thumbs twiddle. We live in the time of Twitter and attention spans are short.
Hence I pepper my blog entries with video clips, movie memorabilia, and references to yesteryear's exciting stars of tomorrow Troy Donahue, Connie Stevens, and Keir Dullea -- something even knitters (and there are some) can enjoy.
And yet rarely has the topic of sewing machines been as dynamic and fertile here at MPB. So much to tell!
First of all, I have a surprise for you -- close your eyes -- OK, now open them!
I picked up this little straight stitch walking foot at the informative website, Sew-Classic. Jenny sells all kinds of useful parts and accessories for vintage sewing machines there, and she has written at great length about some of my favorite Singer models, including the 15-91.
So yesterday I am reading her 15-91 review, and she starts discussing wiring problems common to old 15-91 machines. I'm like, OK, let's see if my 15-91 also has any of these potentially dangerous problems. I know there's visible cracking on the wire leading to the light and I know that every once in a while the wire leading to the outlet needs to be moved two inches this way or that way before the machine turns on -- highly suggestive of a short -- but only once in a while! I unscrew the three-prong terminal on the machine that the power cord plugs into to inspect the condition of the wires (connecting pedal, motor, and lamp) and almost immediately pieces of brittle wire insulation crack off. This is not good.
Friends, I have decided that one of my first projects in the new year will be to rewire my 15-91. I don't like shocks of any kind and I can't take risks with my life, not when I have a blog to write. I may even learn to solder.
But let's get to the topic at hand: treadles.
Yesterday, despite debilitating back pain and with much assistance from Michael since I can't lift 35 lbs. right now, I replaced my Singer 66 treadle machine with the new vintage 15-90 that arrived on Monday. It took about ten minutes.
Just one screw released the motor, another screw, the lamp.
I then removed the clutch release wheel and the clutch control washer (I'm learning so many new words.).
This is what you see.
Next I slid the hand wheel off and then the belt.
Now the machine looks like this.
Next we removed the machine from its wooden base by unscrewing the hinge screws on the inside base of the machine and sliding the machine off the hinges. We did the same to the Singer 66 in the treadle table (first removing the hand wheel to free the leather treadle belt).
We placed the Singer 66 in the wooden base that the 15-90 had formerly occupied. (I've ordered a shorter -- 13 3/4" -- belt through Sew-Classic so I can attach the motor to the 66; that's next.)
We placed the 15-90 in the treadle table and attached the leather belt. No belt adjustment necessary!
Beautiful stitches, no electricity needed, and I can regulate stitch length as well as reverse stitch the modern (circa 1949) way.
Friends, nothing is perfect in life but this comes close. I am a happy man albeit one currently prone to lower back spasms.
For those still with us who have an interest in such things, much (much) better instructions for performing this treadle conversion can be found at the Treadleon.net website, here. It's an invaluable resource for treadlers and those who love them.
Now who can teach me to solder?
Indulgent readers, we're nearly out of time. I am so happy I can share my obsessions with you. Michael and I, Freddy and Willy, and the surviving cast members of Madame X all wish you the happiest of happy holiday seasons. I'll be back on the morrow, not to worry.
And what of you? Drowning in a sea of wrapping paper, homemade toddler pajamas, and tote bags?
(Pass the Kleenex as Lana and Keir reduce us to wet noodles.)