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Sunday, February 3, 2013

HMTATM?* The Electric Treadle

*How Many Treadles Are Too Many?

I sold my Singer 7-drawer gingerbread-y treadle with a Singer 237 in it, and the recipient wanted sewing lessons--on a treadle.  So the same day I delivered it, I went out and bought another treadle.  It was on CraigsList in the Big City, but was actually here in my little town, population 5,000, two blocks from my house.  It was filthy, and the veneer was not peeling, it was entirely de-laminating.  But for $25 it was perfect for down in the studio, where "eclectic" is probably the kindest thing that can be said about the decor.

The great thing about items that are in truly horrible condition is that you never have to worry about messing them up.  I took a scraper to the veneer and removed as much as possible, and in largish chunks whenever possible. This got about 75% of it off.  A very damp old linen dish towel and a hot iron allowed even more veneer to be scraped off and then a final steam or two took off much of the old glue.  All of this was really fun.  Destructo.

Sadly, no before or during photos.  One can do, or one can photograph and do at half-speed.  Or less.

Then I spent a couple of days gluing and clamping the remaining layers back together.  Then light sanding, then several coats of tung oil.

The wood underneath the top two layers of veneer looks quite nice on display, don't you think?

I removed the veneer from the front edge, where it was in the worst shape, but left it on the inside of the lid, where the fabric will be sliding across.

Singer 237 in its new home

This machine is going to serve the needs of more than one student:  two students who are treadling Singer 237s at home, and another student who bought an electric Japanese zig-zagger from me.  The 237 has a great reputation as both an electric machine and as a treadle.  I need one that is both.

New student Heidi.  Welcome!

The problem solver here is coil spring steel belting, available from McMaster Carr.  It's more expensive than the other treadle belt alternatives (to be discussed in future posts).  But it's stretchy, so it is perfect for this use, where I will be taking the treadle belt on and off of the hand wheel. If you want to do this yourself, its the 5/16" diameter carbon steel belt.  It comes in 10 foot lengths, which is enough for one Singer treadle but not enough for two.  You have to also buy the connectors which screw inside the two open ends of the belt--it's the smaller coil shown below. 

I cut it with giant bolt cutters because giant bolt cutters are the tool I have.  No idea what you should really use.

The coil spring belt is also good if you are treadling a Singer 306, 316, or 319.  They have to be tilted back in order to change the bobbin.  With a spring belt you do not also have to release the belt. 


Returning student Heather treadles a 237 at home also.






Heather's shoes have toes. Just had to show you!

treadle mode with motor belt removed


















I took some of the extra belting and also made a motor belt.  I can switch this machine back and forth from electricity to people power in less than a minute.  Considerably less--a few seconds is all it takes.  And an electric light on a treadle is always a nice touch.

motor mode with treadle belt dropped down.  yes, the metal motor belt is noisy.

I know nothing about motors.  Some day I will learn.  Not today.  I have heard that the stretchy rubber motor belts are bad for motors, but I don't know why.  So maybe this is bad also.  But since it is used at most for a fraction of an hour a week, I'm not too worried about it.  This machine is strictly for student use.  I do my own treadling upstairs in "Studio North", aka the living room.




















Since students are coming every week, I plan to leave the machine up, not tucked away in the cabinet.  The studio is also the guest room, and this treadle is also the bedside table, so the only time I will put the machine away is when someone is planning to sleep in that bed.  So the machine needs a cover.  And in an amazing twist of fate I spotted this magazine rack across the room at a charity shop and was immediately drawn to it.  At first I did not know why.  Can you read upside down?


By the time I got this close I knew what it was and scooped it up.  Two other women openly lusted after it and told me so before I got to the check out. A little reverse carpentry, and voila:  returned to its original function, albeit in a less elegant setting.


So, a real pastiche, an ancient and decrepit Singer straight leg treadle stripped of much of its veneer and glued back together, holding a Singer 237 zigzagger with dual motor and treadle capability, crowned with an absolutely gorgeous New Home coffin top from an even earlier era.

I call this the electric treadle, and this is not its first incarnation as an electric treadle.  It came with a treadle-pedal-as-motor-controller conversion box.  Back in the day you could add a motor to your treadle sewing machine.  Unscrew the pitman from the flywheel and screw it into the motor controller.  The treadle pedal will then control the motor on the sewing machine and make it go.  And the only reason I know this is that one of the folks over at treadleon sent me a copy of the instructions for attaching all of this.  Thanks, Jimmie!



side view of motor controller, the box to the right of the flywheel

All of the wiring was horrifying, of course, and I have no intention of trying to use this.  And although the machine had a motor and the motor was connected to this controller, the pitman was still connected to the flywheel, meaning that it was functioning as a treadle when I bought it.  Just another vintage sewing machine mystery. 

It was my husband's grandmother's treadle that set off the addiction.  I had always wanted one.....ONE.  I never imagined any reason why I would want or need more than one.  Silly me.  In future weeks I will describe my other treadles and the reasons why I love them and have to keep them. 

How many do YOU have?  Are they enough or do you want more?  Do you think you have too many? 

So...how many treadles are too many?


21 comments:

  1. I have one treadle and two hand cranks, and two old electrics, a white and elnita. The wiring on the white is very scary though! I have two sets of irons, I would love more, but I'm afraid I don't have room!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What hand cranks do you have? original cranks, or reproductions? I love the hand cranks, too.

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  2. Nice! i really want a straight leg treadle...the stretch belts are only bad for the machine if they are tight. It puts extra wear on the motor to work against a tight belt.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Laura. I did make the coil motor belt as loose as possible, because I had heard that tight was bad. and now I know why the stretchy rubber belts are frowned upon!

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  3. I didn't realize you'd gotten into treadles so recently with your mothers/grandmother's machine.
    I think your $25 treadle is amazing. When I got my straight leg treadle I liked it better than the one from 1919, but once I realized I needed to lubricate the base of the pitman rod, I found they both make very easy treadling. Would love to find some treadle bargains--because I have no clue how many treadles is enough!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I've always liked the look of the straight leg treadles. The treadle-motor-controller was a bonus. Even though I don't plan to use it, I really enjoyed seeing it and learning about it. there is always something else to learn.

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  4. I have two treadles, a hand crank, several orphaned heads, and am electric in need of rewiring...and yet I can't seem to stop looking...

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    Replies
    1. It is an addiction, and you are only in the early stages. The good news is that just about anything else you could collect would be more expensive. Lighter in weight, yes, but more expensive.

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  5. Great post about your electric treadle! You are just amazing. Currently, I have eight treadles. Six are working--all Singers (repro 15, Red Eye 66, 15-88, 127, 15-88,127 as they are set up in the living room). The other two are chainstitchers that I'm fixing up. There are also five hand cranks on the dining room table, which we don't eat off of!). Four are Singer 99k, the other a 127 that I just received the front slide plate for. The each get a five minute work out in the morning to help sew up my vast stash of scraps. They are ready at a moments notice to show how wonderful they are. Sold one of the hand cranks this week! You can see some of my treadles here http://www.longarmingintx.blogspot.com. Hugs, Allison in Plano, TX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Allison, your machines are gorgeous! Mine tend to be of the well-worn-and-well-loved variety I think I am ready for phase 2 of collector's mania, in which I buy fewer machines (mwahahahah) and focus on upgrading to better quality ones. We'll see how long THAT new year's resolution lasts!

      I enjoyed seeing your scrappy work too. I love that stuff, can't get enough of the quilty eye candy. I have two crazes going on at the moment: string quilts and 4- or 9-patches in little calicoes.
      thanks for writing,
      Cheryl

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  6. I've gone from 13 treadles to 9; 3 of which are used most (because they are set up in my sewing room). I finally counted my machines the other day and, including treadles, I have around 75. 9 treadles; the others are handcranks or machine heads that I can pop into my straight-leg treadle base. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, in the who-has-the-most contest, it is a draw. I ONLY have 6 treadles, but I have 88 sewing machines (not counting sergers). They just come in the door SO much faster than they go back out again!

      thanks for writing
      Cheryl

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  7. The universal formula for how many is too many is N + 1. With N being the number that makes your partner/spouse/housemate threaten to leave. Of course, if you can sneak one or more in without said partner/spouse/housemate knowing, that is a different formula.

    I think I have twelve treadles. Four antiques (Davis, Howe, Wheeler and Wilson, Wilcox and Gibbs) Two ZZ (237 and a Japanese class 15 clone). Two Singer 66 Red Heads, A White rotary not yet restored, a Singer class 15 that is an early one (New Family 15?), A singer 31-15, a Free in a parlor cabinet. OOPs thirteen! A Singer 27, too. I have another Singer 27 head that I haul to the Farmer's Market for demonstations that I switch into the Japanese zz home made stand made from an orphaned set of irons. I remember when I had only 12 machines total, including my electronic computerized Viking. That was 26 months ago. Now I have TMTC (too many to count)

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    Replies
    1. No I was right the first time. I only have 12. I sent the Singer 27 back from where it came. Now I am not sure why.

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    2. I've got a 27 original handcrank. What a difference between that and the reproductions! If I spoke Chinese I would be trying to contact the manufacturers to convince them that they could do a MUCH better job.

      thanks for writing
      Cheryl

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  8. How cool that you can treadle or motor that machine. I love how you 'fixed' the laminate. The laminate was removed on my first treadle (still have it) but it's really rough. One of these days (when it's warmer maybe) I need to sand it down. I have to cover it with 'stencil' plastic and use blue tape when I use the machine, or my fabric catches on it. I'd love a zig zag treadle.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This morning there was an "anonymous" post here that was clearly from some kind of spammer. I have removed it. I don't want to block anonymous comments because I want to see the ones from real people. Hopefully you don't need this warning, but here it is: DON'T CLICK ON ANY LINKS UNLESS YOU KNOW OR HAVE REASON TO TRUST THE POSTER.

    You can tell the "real" sewing machine fanatics from the fake spamming posters, right?

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  10. The short answer is that it is impossible to have too many sewing machines, treadle or otherwise. I only have 2 treadles, but more than a dozen machines in all. Lack of space, and time, are the only things that keep me in check!

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  11. Hi. I ordered a 5/16th size coil belt is that correct diameter? It came today and it seems as though it would be to large a diameter compared to a leather belt. Does it need to be larger because it's a different material? Thanks for your help.

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    Replies
    1. Kay.. Have you put it together yet?? If so, did you buy the same size 5/16 connectors or a smaller size?? I want to order me a coil belt and wanted to know before i placed my order.

      Thank you in advance,

      Sherman

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    2. 5/16 is what I use and it works. And the connectors that are recommended to go with them.

      Delete

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