Treadle and Hand crank Singers

I am a bit of a history nut.  I particularly love the history of everyday life, what people wore and ate and how they made things. So, it’s no surprise that I love treadle sewing machines.  The above machine ( when you discuss a machine without a table it is called a head, by the way) came to me as I picked through a large trash pile at the side of the road.  I am an unrepentant trash picker, freecycle user, thrift shopper, and so forth, and I think it builds my kid’s character to have a mom who will jump unhesitatingly into a dumpster after a find.

So, this darling machine, born sometime in 1903 ( you can date Singer sewing machines at their website) was alone a filthy at the side of the road, and of course I took it home.  It’s model is, I believe, a 66, which means it has a round drop in bobbin, just like today’s machines.  If you have or find a machine, and would like to make it usable, the web site Treadleon.net is a wealth of information.I made the base from directions there, painted, because I am a lousy carpenter, and as they say, a little putty and a little paint makes a carpenter what she ain’t. It is a marvelous feeling to have something mechanical that can be completely restored to working with a bottle of sewing machine oil,a screw driver some toothpicks, and a rag.

I had initially wanted to convert this machine into a hand crank.  The hand crank mechanisms are still made, which is reasonable when you consider a lot of the world still has no or little electricity. The mechanism for hand cranking is meant to go on a casted in motor mount on the pillar of the machine.  Here we see that I not only don’t have a motor mount, I have a casting hole where I would want to drill in to attach a mechanism.

However, I have a hardware store nearby, and so I made a substitute.  The main disadvantage is that there are no gears, so each crank makes one stitch or so.  However, my 9 years old just sewed a part of a border for me, so I am more than satisfied.

Here is the Singer 28 in a parlour cabinet. When the machine is down, the doors hide the treadle. This machine is so pretty, and also a rescue from a junk store where they thought it was broken, because they didn’t see the small button in the trim on the right that one pushes to push the machine back down.  This one has a vibrating shuttle, which is a bullet shaped mechanism and a long skinny bobbin.

I haven’t done anything to the cabinet yet but wiped it down with Howard’s Finish Restorer.  Like most treadles, it has a mark from a potted plant on the top from the obligatory fern of the 1970’s.

Posted by PicasaI can’t convert this one to a hand crank, either, as it has the same casting hole. But it treadles nicely. So i am happy with it, too.
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7 responses »

  1. Oh what beauties you have!!! So glad you saved that poor little LOTUS 66 from the trash!! I just can't imagine anyone throwing away something like that…it's mind boggling! Love the Pheasant decal in the gorgeous parlor cabinet too!!

  2. I love your machines! How sad that someone was just pitching that lotus 66! The decoration is so pretty. Hm. If you have a casting hole where you need to put a boss, could you bridge the hole with something on the inside and the outside, with a screw through them, so they clamp the metal as you tighten the crank? I really want a treadle–I have one but it uses an obscure needle so is less than useful.

  3. Rene, if by "obscure needle" you mean a round-shank needle, I have just done serious research to find them for my 1930's Kenbar hand-crank. Search Embroidery sewing needles – commercial embroidery machines use round-shank needles!

  4. Both machines are beauties! I like your clever solution for a hand-crank.Your decals on your Singer 127 are in excellent shape. Enjoy sewing with your vintage finds!

  5. Hey, could you give me more details on how you added the knob to the spoked wheel on the Singer 66 to make a hand crank? I picked up a White Rotary head last weekend, and they usually can't be converted to hand cranks. This just might work, if I can just remember to turn the wheel the other direction from my Singers.

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