Friday, April 22, 2016

Another waif adopted

Well, it happened again. Another hapless sewing machine managed to wangle its way into the house. I didn't mean this to happen, really, but it did.


I went to an auction near Carleton Place on Wednesday, because I saw by the pictures that there were 2 old treadle machines there. I mentioned in my post about the parlour cabinet that it was missing the spring to work the lift mechanism. I've been checking eBay, but the shipping cost of getting that part would almost amount to what I paid for the whole machine, cabinet and all! So my idea has been to keep my eyes open for a broken down old cabinet with a working spring, buy it for a song and then take the part I need and discard the rest. I figured I could get one of these machines, and that would do the trick.

One machine was very old, but with the traditional oak desk with elaborate open-work iron treadles. Those are often converted into tables, so I figured it would be the popular one. The other one was obviously newer: the treadle was also out in the open, but the iron legs were quite plain and straight, not very pretty at all. The machine was in better condition, but with very modest decals. I thought I'd probably end up having to settle for that one. It didn't bother me so much, because I wasn't intending to keep the machine (another model 15) anyway.

Well, to my surprise, the older machine came up first, and only one lady bid against me, and I ended up getting it! The price was $32.50 Cdn, just over $25 US. The other one got more interest, and went for $50 Cdn! (It was the same lady who got it.)

I talked to her afterwards: she has 8 sewing machines, including 3 treadles! I showed her how to unscrew the tabs that hold the machine in the case, and carry it off on its own. It's better, if you're moving machines, to take them out of the cabinet, because they're not properly supported when you lay the case down, and they can end up flopping around and getting damaged. I noticed her machine was much lighter than mine; must be constructed of aluminum, while mine is steel. It also had a sort of rough texture, rather than the usual smooth black surface; later I discovered that this is called the "Godzilla" finish. The serial number began with "JA", which meant it was built in St. John's, Nfld. I was guessing it might have been built during or just after the war, because of its odd finish. I was surprised that such a newer machine would get more interest, but it was in good condition and probably wouldn't need any work beyond fixing up the wooden cabinet. (It also had a box of attachments with it, but I already have those.)

Mine, on the other hand, was made in 1904. Don't be fooled by the first picture; I rubbed a little sewing machine oil on it along the top of one side to see if the decals would clean up, so it looks a little shiny. THIS is what the rest of it looks like:

Yes, it is rusty. But it still moves. The balance wheel, despite its appearance, turns well. There is some stiffness up around the needle bar, or it might be down in the shuttle area. I can't get the back shuttle plate off, so the problem might be there. I'm going to try to clean it up and see if I can get it looking nice again. There are many tutorials on YouTube, but I found a very useful guide at The Quilting Board, a forum for quilters and sewing machine enthusiasts. I've bought some PB Blaster, which I found at Canadian Tire, and now I've got to get some Evapo-Rust, which they carry at Lee Valley Tools.


The cabinet also needs to be refinished, and I'll use rust converter on the treadle stand once I've cleaned off all the loose grime and rust. This YouTube video gives a good tutorial on how to do it.

So now you see the problem. I can't just take the spring out of this cabinet, because now I want to keep this sewing machine too, and IT will also need the lift mechanism in its cabinet. I guess I'll have to keep searching. But I really must stop buying machines, unless I want to start reselling them.

UPDATE: Well, I did a little searching, and it looks like the Godzilla or "crinkle" finish the other machine had made it rather rare! The spindly decals were typical of that style. Perhaps that's why more people were bidding on it, though I don't think the lady who bought it knew that. The JA serial number dates it from 1924-1936, a bit older than I thought. Just as well it went to someone else, because I didn't care for it, rare or not, and only would have wanted the cabinet part.

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