Monday, July 18, 2016

The Venus Project - Part 2

As Google had failed me, I turned to the collected wisdom of The Quilting Board forum, for help in identifying this mystery machine. My first idea, that it was a Jones Serpentine, was shot down. But one poster said that he guessed that it was a Canadian machine, and that would make perfect sense, considering where I'd found it.

Try as I might, I could not budge the one screw that held on the throat plate, so I started trying to remove some of the rust from the surface, in the hope that perhaps I could at least pry open the bottom half of the plate. I knew steel wool wouldn't hurt stainless steel, and anyway, so I gently rubbed it down with oil. I was pleased when an engraved number was uncovered: 418. Maybe a part number? And above it, very very faint, I thought I could see lightly engraved lettering! With my magnifying light I thought I could make out the name 'PERTH'.

Now that was interesting, because Perth is a town about 50 miles from Ottawa, but it's only 5 miles from where I found the machine! It had been a railway hub back in the late 1800s, so I went online to see if I could find some reference to a sewing machine factory there.

Unbelievably, I found what I was looking for in a scholarly essay from 1980. The Perth Sewing Machine Company, formerly known as J.M. Miller & Co., operated between 1872 and 1875. They produced one machine, the Venus.

And there was the picture of my machine as it had once looked. I couldn't believe my luck! It looks like my machine had been bought locally and never moved away from the area in which it had been built. Considering the short time the factory had been in existence, I believe that the number 418 on the throat plate was not a part number, but a serial number.

Well, this reinforced my determination to somehow rescue this sad, neglected machine.

Unable to make any more progress on the throat plate, I decided to turn my attention to the underside. To my surprise, I found that the screws down there were actually capable of being turned, despite their rusty appearance. The PB Blaster is an excellent product for loosening rusty screws and gears. I was hoping that if I could remove some of the works from the underside of the machine, maybe I could get access to the throat plate from behind, and have more success getting it off.

You can see how much rust there is. I managed to detach a small metal piece, but couldn't extract it because of the other gears. Removing two screws from the top of the bed enabled me to move the entire machinery on the underside, but it's still held on by some hidden screw at the far end where the balance wheel is. I'll find it some day. However, it moved enough that the rusty metal piece that had been rattling around loose fell out. And I could now see a second, smaller piece that had also been part of it, and I fished it out. Imagine my surprise when I saw that what I was holding was the original shuttle, with the tiny bobbin still inside!


This shows the result of an overnight soak in EvapoRust. It definitely removes the rust, but the steel has lost its shine. I've read that rusting brings the iron in the metal to the surface, so even when the rust is removed, this blackness is left behind. Still, a great improvement over its former condition!

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