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.
|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.
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?