Friday, November 22, 2013

Davis Rides Again!

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I’ve been on a search for a long time for pieces and parts to pull together and finally get my Davis machine up and running.

You can see here it’s nearly hidden in the corner at the bottom of my basement stairs --

Great for a display piece – but she’s never sewn since I’ve had her.

This was the second treadle machine I ever bought –she came from Baker City Oregon somewhere around 1992.

We had just bought our first “real” house after spending 10 years in a single wide mobile home while we struggled as young marrieds with young children, trying to make ends meet while The Hubster finished school at Boise State and I worked ---as an xray department assistant at the local hospital all the way up until Jeff was born in 1990.  And then, still needing to help bring in a living, making dolls and stuffed animals and selling them through local crafters malls and gift boutiques, finally moving on to selling patterns.  It was a life time ago.

And through every move, the Davis came along ---always being placed in an inconspicuous spot, spending time as an end table, a bed side table, an accent piece for the sewing room – yet never sewing.


Several months ago, Allison had helped me find her a shuttle and a bobbin, and we found she takes a Boye 40 needle.

I was on a mission for the last missing piece.  FIND A NEEDLE CLAMP!  That was the only part of the puzzle missing ---and I started to search through every obscure machine I have just trying to find one that will fit that odd sized needle bar. The Singer needle clamps were all too small.  This needed something BIGGER.

And I found it.  On my EATONIA!  BINGO!!  Now that I have one that fits, I have one to compare with so I can get this one back on the Eatonia at some point.

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Ready to Roll for a test drive!

I used the tubing belting to get her ready to treadle – my eager and hopeful hands running the belt through the holes, around the fly wheel, and giving her very old wooden pitman rod a tender caress and finding no cracks.  Solid as the day she was born ---when was the last time someone put a belt on her?

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She sews!

And it only took one slight tightening turn on the upper tension to get a stitch looking really nice…I put her through her paces and adjusted the stitch length to see what it would do.


I made this little video so you can be witness…I did this on my iPhone while holding it with one hand and sewing with the other while talking, so pardon a bit of blurry and bad panning here and there:

Sew fun to see her sewing!  And once I had all the parts, it wasn't as hard as I thought!

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Cabinet with the door open to hold the extension steady.

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Eastlake Cabinet front with the door closed.

The cabinet needs some help. But now that I know the machine sews, it will become a future project. The machine wants to fall out when you try to lower it into the cabinet to close the lid, some check screws are missing and the mechanism that swings her down has issues….The front panel of the cabinet has cracked at some point, but isn't her carving gorgeous?

I figure after this long she has a right to be a bit beat up, and her balance wheel a bit wobbly.

But she’s sewing!  And that makes me a happy quilter!

And yes – this is a very late post, but I’m still on Texas time, and puttering around before going to pick up DH at the airport – he has a 11:15pm arrival ---this is how I’m staying awake!  ((It sure beats cleaning bathrooms, which I have already done!))

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  1. Anonymous10:34 PM EST

    Bonnie - I love your Davis parlor cabinet - it is just beautiful! I'm so glad you have her sewing again and, yes, my Davis - a vertical feed - is noisy. I like that about it - sometimes I like my quiet treadles, sometimes it's fun to crank up the Davis and make some power sewing racket! Loved your post!

  2. Way to persevere. And wow was that noisy but so awesome to see.

  3. I'm happy for you to have figured out a way to get your Davis up and going, she's amazing! I have just the one treadle and it is a Davis Hummingbird which I absolutely love. It is also loud, but I like the sound once we get to goin'. I think the needles look like miniature swords, they're pretty lethal looking!!!! Mine came with SIX bobbins, I can only imagine ever needing a few so if you need an extra, let me know!

  4. You are a whirlwind of energy, I am amazed at all you do. Glad to see you got your
    machine working. Thanks for all you do for the quilting world.

  5. I learned to sew on a Singer treadle machine. You can't beat the pretty straight stitches. Not as fast as machines now but why rush when you are doing something you love. And what a work out for your legs!

  6. Anonymous12:01 AM EST

    Wow -- congrats. Some oil might be in order! Gail

  7. Anonymous12:30 AM EST

    The noise of your Davis, I oddly found very soothing. Congrats on getting Davis to work and the fixing of the cabinet, looks like a great project to look forward too. :)

  8. WOWOW, being persistent is a good thing! Glad David is working well.

    Wondering if the noise is amplified by the machine cabinet? Might be...but it is nice.... I LOVE DAVIS!
    Smiles, JulieinTN

    1. HEY!!!! I too enjoy her sound. How nice to hear her on a day when this are just spinning in your mind...she will sooth you!

  9. I love it ! glad you got it working

  10. Hi Bonnie

    Wow, I love it that you got your Davis working. You are an inspiration!

    I have an unrelated message for you and your fellow bloggers. I am currently at a Dear Jane Retreat in Shipshewana, IN all 110 of us. This was a big group. We just had the big Friday night show and tell. I saw your Easy Street mystery from last year and two or maybe three Orca Bays. They were all gorgeous.

    One of the fun things to do in Shiphewana and surrounding towns is to go fabric shopping, go figure. In two different towns I walked in to quilt shops and found gals with paint chip cards in their hands. I said to them, I know what you are doing! I got such a kick out of seeing this that I thought I would share with you and your readers.

    Just fun....

  11. Love her! ♥ I'm a Davis by birth, too, and some of us can be kinda loud! ☺

  12. You are so talented!! Design, sew and machine mechanic extrorindaire!

  13. hurrah bonnie! one more hurdle met and resolved. i do love that cabinet.

  14. Glad the Davis is back in action. Perhaps some Triflow lubrication is needed? I love the cabinet carvings. It's so nice to see the appreciation of old workmanship and quality. Your "star power" is certainly giving old machines a boost in popularity!

  15. You can use Howard restore a finish (they carry it at Home Depot in the paint department) on the cabinet then you don't have to strip the wood down Then follow up with their beeswax and orange oil finish and you are done and she will look like new. Glad you got your machine working. How fun

  16. Congratulations on getting Davis running. Beautiful machine!

  17. Bonnie, I absolutely love you. You made me smile this a.m. as I watched your Davis video. Having a rather troublesome, faith shaking week, you ground me. Enjoy your machine.

  18. Bonnie I am so glad you got that machine running after having it for so many years. I have a question I bought a machine in a parlour cabinet like that but the treadle itself has the name "KENNEDY" on it (where they say singer/white ect) does anyone have an idea of the company that made them? The machine on it is a Husqvarna! Thanks for the help anyone:)

  19. "from the fleet" love your comment. But good that you have so many and were able to find the part that you needed. I can see why you used the cabinet all those years. It is just beautiful.Maybe after some use and some TLC, it will run more smoothly and quietly!

  20. Lovely story...I love machines that lived another secret life before us...

  21. The Eastlake-style cabinet is charming. I look forward to seeing again after you make it beautiful.

  22. I wish we were closer to you, DH and I could make that cabinet beautiful again. I just picked up a Damascus in a beautiful cabinet - but don't know where to put it. Decisions, decisions. . . .

  23. Oh. Bonnie!! I'm laughing through my tears of joy for you. Loved the story. The cabinet is just gorgeous. Thanks for the video that made me laugh because she is loud just like my Minnesota A I got running (Made by Davis Sewing Machine Company). So glad to know the shuttle and bobbin worked out. Genius that the Etonia needle clamp worked. I'm doing the happy treadle dance for you!!

  24. Beautiful cabinet for the Davis. I've never heard of Eastlake style before, but now that you have educated me, if I see one I'll recognize it. I'm looking for a "working" treadle because I don't think I'm as talented as you to repair one. Thanks for sharing.

  25. I'm so happy for you. This must have felt like seeing your child take their first steps. Congrats. On my way to work over the years I've seen sewing machine cabinets(maybe the machine also) set out at the curb for the trash man and just felt so sad. Driving on,hoping someone with a truck would rescue them before the trash truck.

  26. Ha, I love that tickety-tickety sound. Remiinds me of an old antique car. LOL
    Thanks for sharing. I am looking for a treadle myself. Found an old 'red eye' for a
    friend who lives 'off-grid' and got that going for her. Now I need one. 8-)

  27. Bonnie, may I make a suggestion for the cabinet? I've found this stuff to work miracles on old wood: http://www.kramerize.com/natural_way.htm It's AMAZING and would probably do a great job revitalizing the finish without stripping. Cheers!

  28. Anonymous7:04 AM EST

    Hi Bonnie, I have a Richmond treadle which is similar to your Davis. My Richmond was extremely noisy too. DH had to unassemble the bottom of the cabinet because the foot pedal was hitting the wood of the cabinet. Once he had reassembled the base of the cabinet, it sews extremely quiet for a treadle, much quieter then my White treadle.
    Becky in upstate SC


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