Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Little Ingenuity

After writing about those great Singer bentwood cased sewing machines, I ran across two gems that just needed to be rescued. They were advertised together and the photos were pretty dark and without many details but I took a chance and drove over after work. In an upstairs apartment of a house in St. Paul, the owners were refinishing the attic and came across a Singer 99 in a bentwood case and a Minnesota vibrating shuttle sewing machine that were pretty badly rusted. They were pushed to the side until the house went on the market. In their rush to get the house ready to show they found the antique babes in a corner and now it was time to deal with them. They were pretty sorry looking, especially the Minnesota, but they went into the back of my car anyway.

I got them home and had to clean them up or they were not going to make it very far. While I was on the phone with my sister later that evening I wiped them down and then proceeded to wipe with sewing machine oil. The Singer had already been wiped down to remove surface dirt  but nothing was moving. Sewing machine oil was used to coax the presser foot up and then off, removal of the needle (now stuck in fabric under the foot) but eventually it started to move. It's in poor cosmetic shape but there is hope for a complete recovery:
Singer 99 dated June 1928
The Minnesota was not as happy. It had not been wiped down and there was quite a bit of debris on the bed. Think attic and years of dead bugs. Yup. But even worse were the very rusted parts like the tension mechanism on top and the shuttle slide plates.
Rusty little thing

It also got oiled and cleaned but nothing was moving. I turned it over and then I got another surprise: It was embedded into a plank of sorts, screwed down, and has large rubber cushions on the corners. The motor wasn't too bad either so this one had some kind of conversion from treadle to electric in its history.
What is going on underneath?

After sitting overnight, I looked them over again and this time used a large pair of pliers to remove the handwheel and force the needlebar to budge. It worked and now the oil went to work. I could tap the shuttle covers off with a hammer and screwdriver to find the shuttle and bobbin were in pristine condition. I think with some work on the rust this little Minnesota might actually sew. It seems smaller than my Minnesota S and this one doesn't even have a letter A or B or anything: it's just a Minnesota:
Minnesota (no letter)

What intrigued me about these finds was the bentwood case that was pictured with them. It's in pretty rough shape, too, with one end completely off and both end pieces have peeling  wood laminate. This is not so bad, though since I can clean, glue, and clamp to get it looking good again:
Bentwood case: at least it has a key
I hope to have a good report about these orphans, who huddled together under the eves of this old house, waiting for their hibernation to be over. I'll just have to tell them: it's spring, ladies! Time to get back to work!

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