I finally got around to servicing my new-to-me treadle sewing machine I had gotten last fall. I had been dragging my feet for a while because I was afraid of tackling the project and potentially breaking something.
I didn’t know anything about antique sewing machines and didn’t know anyone who does. So, I kind of felt like I was at a dead end. Luckily there is a site that was able to help me out. Treadle On is a site dedicated to antique sewing machines and everything you could ever want to know about certain models, how to clean them, how to identify them and they even have a forum to check for your specific questions.You should definitely check them out! LOADS of information on the site and I don’t think I read a single thing that didn’t help me.
The Cleaning Your Machine Page was exactly what I needed to start my process of servicing the treadle. I read through the instructions about a gazillion times then got my hands dirty.
|First time out of the cabinet!|
My weapons of choice were Liquid Wrench, paper towels, Q-tips, a rag, and tweezers. I do want to point out that you want to do this in a well ventilated area. I did not and I had to stop and take breaks because of the fumes. I also smelled and looked like a mechanic by the end! My hands, arms, face and hair were all dirty from the decades of dust and lint she’s been carrying around!
Basically, you take her apart and scrub her down with Liquid Wrench until she works. 🙂
|Underbelly! The mechanism is so interesting|
|Thread jams, dust bunnies and lint balls, oh my!|
There was a lot of clearing thread jams, dust bunnies and lint balls. Again, very dirty business. The thread jam in the above picture is kind of interesting. The machine must have not been used since then, because this thread jam bound up everything AND there’s a bobbin with the same thread in one of the drawers of the cabinet. I would have loved to know who this belonged to and when it was last used, etc
|This is what she looks like without the head below!|
|Naked and dirty 😦|
|All oiled up and ready to go!|
Other than the cabinet cleaning, the above was the dirtiest part of the machine and didn’t work very smoothly. Liquid Wrench did the trick and she makes not a sound!
This was the tin plate before I cleaned it, I just thought the oil stain on the back was cool.
One thing I found interesting was the condition of the decals. On the side that everyone sees, i.e. the side that faces upward when stored in a closed cabinet, the decals are dull and faded. The cast iron weathered and crackely, certainly weathered. But the back of her, the side that faces down, the one that no one sees unless she’s set up in the middle of a room, is beautiful.
|This is the back of the machine|
|Versus the front of the machine|
There is a stark difference between the two. I thought it was kinda sad since I would like my machine to be all brilliant and stirking, but I’m not of the type to restore it back to its original state. I prefer to leave it as is, for more historical reasons, rather than to change it and possibly ruin it simply because it doesn’t look “new”. The decals themselves are pretty fragile and with too much rubbing they can scratch right off. I think she looks pretty good at 100 years old and plan to keep her this way.
|This was the first wipe of the inside.
Words cannot describe…
|This is the inside of the cabinet after I had first wiped about a fourth
of the inside.
The next and grossest part of the process was the cabinet. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned that sucker and really, she’s still not clean. I did, however, manage to wipe out a ton of dust. A ridiculous amount of dust. Now, do you know what dust is??? If you do not, let me enlighten you:
So, basically I was wiping, inhaling, scrubbing and dispersing in the air, decades and decades of skin cells, fibers, whatever else and had it all over me. Bleeeeehhhhhhhhhh. I am so glad that part is over with!
|A belt with the infamous Staple.|
Finally, all I had to do was put the belt on the machine and start treadling! I was so excited to have the girl up and running…But first… a funny story on the belt…. though I have no pictures to share of my terrible plight, the amount of stress and “WHY DID I DO THAT?!?!!?” had because of this belt was stupid. Simply. Stupid. I had bought the belt off ebay right after I bought the machine. I read the instructions it came with numerous times, read the TreadleOn page on Installing a Treadle Belt and thought I understood the warning: Do not lose the staple. Well, in my haste of trying to get it done, I managed to lose the staple. Devin and I searched the house and our front steps (I was hammering holes in the leather out there) for the long gone staple and it was nowhere. I ended up making due with the only finishing nail in the entire house, that we could find. It worked out okay, but that wee staple cost me 1.5 hours and quite a few grey hairs.
|A clean and serviced treadle! Hooray me!|
But anywho, after an afternoon/evening’s worth of work, she glides really wonderfully and smooth. With just a few minutes practice I’ve been able to ease between backwards and forwards and can control my speed within reason. I’ve not tried any crazy curves or any of the attachments yet but soon I hope to try them and figure out what they do!
I also want to give a quick shout out to the people at TreadleOn because without them, I would not have been able to do this! Thanks for all your time spent putting such great information online for people like me to use! The information was invaluable and I learned so very much! Thanks again!!!!!