Thursday, August 18, 2016

100 Years and Counting

It was my privilege to find a one-owner sewing machine that was gently used and treasured according to the fine state I found it in. Whenever I answer Craigslist ads, I never know what I'm going to find. Sometimes it is a gross over-simplification: "Still works" might mean the hand wheel turns but don't plug it in because there are exposed wires. "Hasn't been used in 20 years" sounds dire but for some machines that's not a problem. So when I answered an ad for a Necchi sewing machine I could tell they were desperate to move this thing out of the house. The house was sold and needed to be cleaned out. I offered to come that very day but a delay in answering and my work schedule prevented me from following through but I still could come the next day and wasn't $50 less than the asking price better than leaving it for the new owners (who would put it at the curb)? Deal.
Cabinet 407 The Coronet
As I drive through the quaint older neighborhoods on my way over, wishing I could have afforded to live in one of these homes when I was moving to Minnesota, I drive up to a picturesque older home that looks like it's been well taken care of. The owners son, Joe, takes me inside the garage where I find the Necchi Mira awaits. That's right: she has been waiting for someone to use her again and I have answered that call. She is beautiful, so clean, no chips, in army green coloring that is easy on the eyes. 
Necchi Mira
Then I get the back story that was hoping would be shared with me. The home was built by Joe's father in the early 50's, putting the basement in one year and erecting the frame and next, surely a labor of love. The home had beautiful hardwood floors and arched doorways, a small footprint but with an added breezeway that had been enclosed. His dad died eight years ago and his mother continued to live in their home until last winter when she went to a nursing home at the age of 100. There were industrial sewing machines that got picked up the day before and it seems Joe's dad liked to upholster all kinds of things: car seats, furniture, even the seat on the sewing machine I'm going to buy. He built this house and uses industrial sewing machines for fun? I love hearing this kind of stuff! Such a rich history in this house and now I understand more about the Necchi I'm going to bring home.

It comes apart easily: sewing machine head (heaviest part), table, drawer under seat, seat. Now that it's in four parts, none of it is too heavy to carry down the somewhat steep driveway. So much for the part in the ad that advised to bring two people to load this very heavy item. I think Joe was more than surprised to see me take it apart and carry it away. "Guess you've done this before?" comments always make me smile. Yes, a few hundred times, but this one was easy.
Not only is the chair hidden but the big box for storage is, too
When I get it all unloaded at home, I can go through the accessories that come with it, comparing it to the original manual, and see that everything was there with the exception of the buttonhole chisels and an oil tube. There are drapery hooks so maybe she made their own drapes at one time. Then I find it: a warranty from the Necchi dealership right in St. Paul, dated 1953. Yes, it was a one owner sewing machine in what I believe is a Necchi cabinet, too. What really attracted me, beside the cabinet with the integrated chair, is the attached Wonder Wheel. I haven't been able to purchase one yet but this was my lucky day. Would it still work? Would the rubber tire have hardened or disintegrated? Beside a small amount of dust that is easily whisked away with a Q-tip, everything runs so quietly, smoothly, I can tell it had been carefully tended to. I'm so glad all of the manuals were included because the Wonder Wheel is not at all intuitive. Not only are there cams to be installed but there are rods. Rods? I look through the accessories and, sure enough, there are two long rods and one plate #22 that need to be installed. I read the instructions but there are few pictures and much referring to parts on the two line drawings. I manage to get them all in place and tentatively step on the gas (well, push the knee lever at least). It runs, it runs great, and with a little adjusting of the stitch length it will even do a good job:

Looks like I need to adjust the tensions and use better thread, but I think it is so much fun to watch the Wonder Wheel turning and controlling the stitch width on the outside of the sewing machine. I clean up the marks on the cabinet and it comes out better than expected but I might have to resort to refinishing the top for it to be a really nice piece of furniture. When I move the cabinets around in the garage to make room for the newest Necchi, I see that I have four others that needed to have just the tops refinished. I think I know what I'm going to be doing this weekend!

Now Mira lives in my garage and I will probably put her in the garage sale. Yet, if she doesn't sell, I won't mind bringing her inside to live with me awhile, still sewing after all these years.

On my way home the next day, I try to avoid traffic by snaking through neighborhoods and find myself at a garage sale. And there sits a sewing machine table with a $5 tag on it. For that low of a price it must be only a table and no machine but I lift the lid to find another Necchi Mira, BF model so it's just straight stitch. I tell them I'll take it but does it have a box of attachments? Sure, aren't they in the basement? While the man of the house and I get it all in the back of my vehicle, the box of attachments are found and I drive away happy. They warn me that it might not work but I don't care! When I get a chance to look it over I see it doesn't have brushes in the motor so I scout around to find some and sure enough it works great!
Necchi BF Mira series
I am amazed: two Necchi's just days apart and they both work plus are in decent cabinets/tables. Not much known history on this one but I don't always need a story. Sometimes it just counts to have a working sewing machine.  E Buono, right?   

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