Sunday, September 30, 2018

Treadle Madness

I get these crazy calls from people wanting to know if I would like/take their family treadle sewing machine. The answer is usually "NO" but I made an exception when friends from church said after their move into a house they couldn't fit this item in. Since they would deliver it I figured I could find a way to sell it for them. They want the proceeds to go back to our church but that also means I'm willing to donate my time: I'm up to 3 hours already and it is not done yet. But I'm having fun so here's what it did and does look like:
Treadle base before cleaning, missing drawer knob.
Singer 66 Red Eye before cleaning

Singer 66 Red Eye before cleaning, obviously!
These photos don't give it justice but take it from me, it had been stored in a garage for many years. As I started to clean with Go-Jo, a new method I saw demonstrated at the TOGA ten days ago, it was in good shape with decals somewhat intact, no pin rash from a rag tied around the arm, nothing broken and all parts represented. Even though I have way too much to do, including mowing the lawn, I just can't resist looking at it and seeing how much work is ahead of me.
Metal parts with rust
Before the day is over I have used Howard's Restore-a-Finish on the top exposed parts of the wood. It doesn't get much better but I know it is not worth stripping down. After it dries I go ahead and use Howard's Feed & Wax over all of the wood parts and it does start to glow a bit. Inside of the head I can see there are some very dirty and possibly some rust on parts so I go ahead and clean up with sewing machine oil and give it a nice oiling. Things move but not too enthusiastically so more parts come off to find the bobbin case like this:
How many years of compacted lint?
Even with a big clean-up job it still wasn't moving too fast and I know these machines should move with a touch of your finger. I get out the spray can of TriFlow and give the underneath parts and behind the round plate on the backside of the head a spray and leave it overnight. In the morning it was moving much smoother so I attached the original belt (just needed a new hole cut for the cleat) and she moved like the wind.

Now I'm down to the metal parts and the bobbin winder. That bobbin winder looked good from the front but I know it's a mess deep inside so I need to give it some serious time with cotton swabs, sewing machine oil, and metal polish. It's really looking good:
Cleaned up bobbin winder and replaced Singer nameplate
It was missing the Singer nameplate but I had an extra that I glued into place. Sorry that isn't too authentic but it worked! More cleaning, buffing, and just keeping at it comes down to this:
Singer 66 Red Eye ready to go back in her treadle stand

Singer 66 Red Eye backside (replaced plate with a different one)

Much better
And now for the stitching: things weren't going too well. Taking the whole tension mechanism apart showed it had been put together wrong and there were missing parts. Digging in my jungle of parts I found what I needed and with some tweaking of the bobbin tension it now sews like this:
Singer 66 Red Eye after adjusting tensions
A nice clean bobbin area didn't hurt so compare to the photo above to see how it is now glowing:
Clean, clean, clean bobbin case
And how did the cabinet turn out? Meah. It's not horrible because there are no chips in the veneer but it's not great either:
Classic 5 drawer cabinet for a Singer treadle
Since these are a dime a dozen I'm trying to talk myself out of stripping down the top for a really nice finish. I hope I can resist! It does work well as it is and is fine when set up, just not much of a display piece. That's where the stripping of the old finish comes in. Let's see how long I can hold out but it will also depend on the weather since we had our first hard frost last night. Days to work out in the garage are numbered and I have 2 more projects to finish up first besides the craft fair items that still are not ready! It will get done, it will get done, all in due time.


scrappy101 said...

I just got a singer 66, I see yours is a back clamp, as is mine. I was working on cleaning and wanted to ask a few questions please. 1.can I use the GoJo over the decals, 2. any details on working with the tension, links I can seek out. Not getting the balance and do not know how to adjust for the bobbin tension.

Thanks , enjoy your Blog. Love the vintage machines, hubby said I can't save them all.

Karen Dubay said...

I would advise not to use GoJo on the decals but to clean around them. If there is a break in the shellac the GoJo will get in there and can turn the gold to silver. For the tension assembly, I like the article from My Sewing Machine Obsession about How to service and clean a Singer 66..tension assembly at
Tell hubby you are not going to save them all, just the ones in your local. Good luck!