I spent the evening at Siobhan’s house getting her old girlies dusted off, cleaned up and oiled thoroughly ---
And her 66 redeye is turning SO SMOOTH, I vowed to help her locate a cabinet so we can get her up and really sewing. She’s even got the perfect spot for a treadle, behind where the recliner is-- a mass of otherwise empty space and she’d be able to treadle AND watch tv with her hubby ---
I checked Craigslist early the next morning.
NADA in the Augusta, GA area. Nothing affordable in the Columbia, SC area where I was traveling through on my way home to NC ---remember I made a stop off to visit my son Jason at his work?
So I looked up ads that would be on my route home through Charlotte.
NOTHING for a Singer cabinet in good enough condition at a reasonable price that did not already have a treadle head in it. Don’t you know --- if you buy a cabinet with a machine ---you are always ONE CABINET SHORT!? Because we’d have to get THAT machine up and running too. That’s just the way it works.
But --- I came upon THIS ad in Concord, right on my way home:
1885 Singer 15-1 “Improved Family”. Beautiful cabinet, coffin top, fiddle base machine. $85.00.
Knowing NOTHING about this model of machine, I needed to find out if it used a bobbin case, if one was there – because parts could be hard to find for machines of this age ---and I learned a TON just by posting my questions on the “mad for treadles” page on Facebook! Big huge thank yous go out to Betty and to Capt’n Dick of Treadle-On for getting back to me on what to look for with this machine.
It does not use a separate bobbin case. There is a little “latch/catch/door” that the small round bobbin fits behind and snaps into place.
When I went to see the machine, the bobbin – the ONLY BOBBIN --- was present behind its little funny mechanism. After getting it home I had to figure out HOW to get this bobbin out without doing any damage! Luckily --- the machine came home with a reproduction copy of the original manual.
Okay, maybe it looks like a long bone chicken leg!
"Honey, did you burn dinner, AGAIN!?" :c)
"Honey, did you burn dinner, AGAIN!?" :c)
What we are seeing on the finish IS the original varnish at 128 years old. I hope I hold up as well in my old age! There are a few decals left, but not many – they've mostly been worn away. I could remove the entire finish and start over, but I think I want to keep it as original as possible. I’m fine with it not being “cosmetically” pretty. The main concern is – can we get her sewing!?
Here is the underside of the machine bed….you can see how I’m still loosening stuff up on the right end of the pic…that’s new wet oil to dissolve the old and that will all be cleaned up. I love the Singer FMG CO trade mark on the underside! This was a pleasant surprise.
The tension assembly was a bit out of whack – the check spring was stuck and in the wrong position, but thankfully – after fixing the tension assembly on the Singer 27 Sphinx I picked up on my birthday, I was no longer afraid to take it apart and get in there and fix it.
There was a bit of fix-it to do on the cabinet. There was only ONE ancient screw in place holding the irons to the table base. A search through Lowes only found screws that were a bit longer, and a bit narrower than my 128 year old screw ---so we had to improvise. I filled the old holes with wood putty and let them dry over night. I used the new thinner screws with some washers so they wouldn’t dig as deep ---I didn’t want longer screws coming through the table top. This fix worked out fine!
She came with a belt that had never been used. I measured the length we’d need, trimmed it, and used a drill bit to drill the new hole for the staple in the end of the belt.
Now for the big question……TENSION. And did I replace that bobbin in correctly? Will it make a stitch? I’m holding my breath here, but look:
The only thing I can’t seem to do is regulate her stitch length with the screw on the pillar – that may be glued down after years of un-use ---I think I forgot to mention that this girl was found in a barn after years and years and years of neglect. Which is probably why her finish is bubbling up. Exposure to hot humid summers and cold damp winters are not good for machines!
The machine and cabinet take up LESS space than that piano – good swap, don’t you think?
Original drawer pull with the Singer name!
Underside of drawer pull – MFG Co.
And of course she needs a name ----1885! Must do some research on popular stories of the day :c)