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Treadle sewing machines

Marilyn Glen st. Mar, FL(Zone 9a)

Would anyone know where one can get the body cleaned and serviced for one of the old singer sewing machines? It has been converted to a regular bobbin, but it is still ran by the treadle/belt system, not converted to electric.

Wichita, KS(Zone 6a)

dmail quilter_gal. She's got a lot of refurb experience.

Marilyn Glen st. Mar, FL(Zone 9a)

thanks so much. She's not in the address exchange, where do I find her dmail?

This message was edited Feb 20, 2010 7:34 AM

Wichita, KS(Zone 6a)

find a post she made in this thread I've added below, her name will be big and blue. Click on her name and you'll be able to send her a dmail (daves garden private message). She'll see it the next time she logs in. Hope that helps!

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1065945/

This message was edited Feb 20, 2010 7:53 AM

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

She did get in touch with me and boy, does she have a nice old back-clamping 66-1. :)

I thought I would gather up all my links for refurbishing these babies and put them on this thread for future information hunters.


Getting started: model identification, serial numbers and manuals:

Here's a great way to identify an old Singer - just look at the pictures and answer the questions as you come to them and when you get to the end, you will probably know what model of Singer you have: http://www.sandman-collectibles.com/id-singer-machines.htm

If you can read the serial number on a Singer machine, the Singer records are usually correct about the model number and the date that it was commissioned: http://singerco.com/support/serial_numbers.html

There are many free downloadable manuals available for old sewing machines. Singer puts theirs here: http://singerco.com/accessories/manuals.html In their search box, enter the simplest form of the model number - i.e.: instead of 66-1, (which gets you the manual for the 6610 from the 1980's) put in only the 66. Instead of 15-91, put in only 15.

Some companies scan and print the old manuals and the finished product is much easier to read than the original and the spiral binding makes the book lie flat - nice while you're trying to work on a machine. Relics is particularly good at scanning the originals and she carries manuals for an unbelieveable number of machines: http://pages.sewing-machine-manuals.com/stores/relics/

The Smithsonian has a huge collection of antique trade literature, including sewing machine manuals, attachment manuals, heirloom machine work instructions, etc:
http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/

Search their site here: http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/CF/search.cfm If you want to actually see the images of the items they have in their catalog, you will want to tick the box next to "Display Only Results With Images" or you will get a huge long list of items in their collection which haven't yet been scanned.

Here is their scan of the old "puzzle box" set of attachments for use with the model 27, a machine that was made from the 1890's through the 1950's: http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/0528/



Hope these will be interesting and helpful. More links to refurbishing resources later. :)




San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Many thanks! I have a Singer that started out as a treadle but then was changed to a belt-driven motor. The belt began slipping ever so slightly several years ago and needs to be adjusted or replaced....I've been looking for help...maybe I can find it here. My Bernina is good but the old Singer is such a steady stitcher I'd like to use it again.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

I booked marked this thread on the Tip & Techniqes main post so it won't get lost along the way.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Good idea......thanks!

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

Yuska, I don't have any machines with those after-market motors, but I *think* there are just two screws on the motor housing that you loosen in order to slide the motor farther from the pulley on the machine (when the belt is too loose) or move it closer if the belt is too tight.

And there are almost always new belts available for these machines. If you post a picture of the front of your machine and another of the motor and belt area, I'll bet someone can tell you where to find a belt that works.

This is most likely the one that you're looking for - it's a good eBay seller that I've bought a lot of different things from:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=380129394541 This fits nearly all the antique domestic Singers with a solid handwheel. If the handwheel wasn't changed from the spoked type when the motor was added to the machine, you may need a different type.

I've heard that the stretch belts add a lot of strain to the motor, so I would avoid any belt that says "stretch" on it. (It may say "universal," instead of "stretch.")









San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Thank you for the good info! I'll investigate this asap.

Wakaw, Canada

I got a treadle machine for Christmas a few years ago, hubby bought from a friend from his aunt.
It was converted to electric once..but we took it in to a local guy and he converted it back.
It is in awesome shape..and my wish is to make a quilt on it..sounds to good to be true.
sew and stay in shape LOL
My machine is not overly old...early 50'

Thumbnail by Canadianchicken
San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

I think using a treadle actually allows greater control.

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

Your model 15 is one of the machines very well suited to free-motion quilting because of that big (and vertical) class 15 bobbin. And of course, it's got a perfectly precise straight stitch, so it's fabulous for piecing, as well. :)

I had one of these, but it had RAF decals on it, so I gave it to my grandson who was interested in learning how to make quilts. My model 15 is electric and I've just been thinking that I need to haul it upstairs and put it where it will get used more. They're really beautiful machines - and they make such a lovely sound when they're sewing - a happy little jingle. Especially the treadles.

Marilyn Glen st. Mar, FL(Zone 9a)

Haven't started on it yet Quilter_gal,,,but I will.

Marilyn Glen st. Mar, FL(Zone 9a)

Haven't started on it yet Quilter_gal,,,but I will. did do some research, it was made in Elizabethtown, N.J. , in September of 1918,,,how cool is that? :)

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

I'm adding another treadle to my herd - this one is an industrial treadle.

I bought it for free-motion quilting and embroidery because instead of the 7" of space between the needle and the pillar, as on my Singer 15-91, this one has over 10" of free space - and it's a half-inch taller, too. Since I seem determined to make nothing but queen and king-sized quilts, I figured I should look for something with a longer arm.

It has the vertical bobbin that seems to be necessary for smooth free-motion work - and a class 15 bobbin, so it's a good amount of time between bobbin changes.

It takes standard industrial needles, too - easy to find and cheap. The seller is going to bring it over on Saturday, and I'm very much looking forward to trying some feathers on it. :)

Thumbnail by quilter_gal
(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

Here's a picture of just the machine - not a glamourpuss, for sure. ;)

I forgot to mention that these giant industrial tables have 16" treadle wheels in them, instead of the 10" wheels you have in treadles for home machines. The larger wheel gives you a lot of power, but it's harder to get things in motion. I may switch the wheel to a smaller one, which will give me less power but faster sewing than this big one.

It could also turn out that I'm not coordinated enough to treadle and draw doodles on quilts at the same time, so I may go with a smallish motor, instead. :)

These industrial treadles come up for sale fairly often in different parts of the country - more in the northeast than here in the south because that's where all the factories were. Some of them are perfect for this kind of work - and they cost a heck of a lot less than the mid-arm and long-arm quilting machines.

Thumbnail by quilter_gal
(thunder)Wildwood, FL(Zone 9a)

I am jealous!
and the table looks to be in great shape too, wow !! lucky you....what a find!!!
I would def. have to go ith a small motor added...my old knees could not take the action....

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

Thunder, I got this Saturday and you wouldn't believe how easy it is to treadle and I'm just tickled pink and blue! I was afraid of how it was going to get along with arthritic knees and hips, but I think that for now, it's going to stay a treadle.

It's very dirty and grunged up and the table isn't in nearly as good a condition as the pictures appear, so I've got a lot of work to do on it before it does any quilting.

The take-up spring on the tensioner is broken, and someone has used non-Singer screws to attach the needle plate. Plus, I think the feed dogs that have been put on it are too big, because they were banging up against the underside of the needle plate with every rotation.

It took some sweating just to get the needle plate off, but I removed the feed dogs and I ordered a darning plate and slide plate that I hope will fit the machine.

It took TriFlow and a wrench to get the pressure off the presser bar - it was locked solid with old crud. But, I got that up and put a darning foot on it and it does free-motion feathers! :) (Well, it tries to - but I keep getting in its way! Hahhaaaah - walking and chewing gum at the same is tricky for me, too!)

The needle that's in it is HUUUUUUUGE, so I can't wait until the new needles and bobbins and stuff get here. But, the main task is cleaning, right now - and boy, it's going to be a pain.

I wish I could just soak it in a tub full of acetone until it's clean - and stripped. I would love to paint it a bright metallic candy apple red! :)

(thunder)Wildwood, FL(Zone 9a)

I have a nifty old treadle, that was pieced together, very haphazardly with ( I think) parts from two or three different machines....but it's mine and I love it......hubby got it at a yard sale for me (for a song)....It does work...or did anyways...have not used it in years....but it sure looks pretty in my living room!!!

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

I wish I hadn't converted my treadle - many years ago - to motorized. It's belt-driven rather than geared and now the belt slips too much. At the time I was looking for more speed, but I really think there is more start-stop control with a treadle.

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

Thunder, oil that baby up and put her to sewing! ;)

Yuska, you are so right - I love being able to control every stitch, sometimes.

The good news is that with the machines that were originally treadled or cranked, it's usually very easy to remove the add-on motors and re-convert the machine to treadle or handcrank again. Lots of people convert machines that never were treadled to treadles! :) Janome still makes a very nice zig-zag/fancy stitch machine for plopping into a treadle base.

If you have discarded the treadle irons/cabinet, that's going to be your biggest expense and headache of getting it re-converted, (just moving it to your house, I mean) but if you watch craigslist, sometimes they pop up at reasonable prices - if the wood is sound and the iron treadles smoothly, go for it! Most Singers (along with many other models) will fit into any Singer cabinet.

If you have to replace the handwheel, www.sew-classic.com has reproduction handwheels and cranks and belts for treadled and cranked machines. She's fast to ship and her prices are reasonable and along with being just plain nice, she's a really knowledgeable person.

Have fun!
Elizabeth

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

I just finished cleaning up a little hand-crank 28K from 1900. The paint is mostly nice with some small gouges here and there and the gold decals are still pretty, even though some are missing. Clean and oiled, everything turns as easy as a breeze - that's almost always how it goes with these old ones - they were made to sew forever.

The industrial treadle is slowly coming along - with the feed dogs removed and a darning plate in place and new bobbin case, it really does nice free-motion sewing. I've got a burr or a maladjustment somewhere, though, because the thread keeps breaking. (I'll bet it's PEBCAM syndrome - Problem Exists Between Chair and Machine ;)

I only have one minor repair to make on the irons, but it badly needs a new top, so I'm going to make it a really big one and put a light or two and a thread rack on it. Go big or go home, you know? Well.... with me, it's usually a case of a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread. ;)

The paint is also a problem - who wants rust and paint and who-knows-what else coming off onto their quilts? So I'm going to strip the machine and paint it something really jazzy and plate the steel parts with nickel so that they'll be shiny and pretty. (and clean!)

These old machines are addicting - like Lay's potato chips used to say, "Bet you can't eat just one!" Once you try one, the hunt will be ON! :)

Have fun!
Elizabeth


Longboat Key, FL(Zone 9b)

http://www.quiltingbargains.com/daintydarlings.html

just beautiful

Marietta, OH(Zone 6a)

those are just adorable.... the first set has needles that move!

Interlaken, NY(Zone 5b)

Have been lurking on this forum for a few weeks. Am new to quilting and gathering great info from everyone here, has been wonderful! Discovered this morning an old treadle machine in attic and wondering if anyone can tell me anything about it, particularly if good for quilting. It is a Willcox & Gibbs Automatic. The direction manual does discuss quilting and the use of the Quilter attachment.

Any information anyone has on this machine, and its usefulness in quilting would be much appreciated.

Marietta, OH(Zone 6a)

quilter_gal would be the machine expert here, a picture would help too, if you could post one. Welcome to the Group!

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

I don't know anything about Willcox and Gibbs machines. How wonderful that it came with a manual! :) Does it have a model number or copyright date in it, anywhere?

What kind of a bobbin does it use? A spindle type or a round one? If it's round, does it lie on it's side or stand on end?

Any of the old straight-stitchers will do great for machine-guided quilting, but if it has a vertical bobbin or a vibrating shuttle bobbin, it will also probably do very well as a free-motion quilter. :)

I'd love to see pictures of what you have - what fun it would be to get it running again!
Elizabeth

Interlaken, NY(Zone 5b)

Here is one picture, I have a couple others I will post. We believe the machine was made prior to 1913. We think the serial # is A311196. Any ideas you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Peggy

Thumbnail by AnnieRose
Interlaken, NY(Zone 5b)

Another picture. There does not seem to be a bobbin, instead something called "looped rocker". Can post or d-mail pictures from manual.

Peggy

Thumbnail by AnnieRose
Interlaken, NY(Zone 5b)

We have found a website with a great deal of information about history of Willcox & Gibbs sewing machines, but nothing regarding usage today for sewing/quilting. Using the information on the site we believe the machine here dates back to 1880s, altho the site says the method is imprecise.

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

I know absolutely nothing about this type of sewing system, but I think this style of machine might date to even earlier. It has a patent date of 1870 embossed on the irons, so it could be that old.

Is this manual like the one that came with yours?
http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/0469/

If this is the same, then it looks like you have a chainstitcher machine. Chainstitch is wonderful for basting and redwork-type embroidery. I don't think you would find much use for it in quilting - chainstitching uses only one thread and it's made to come out with a pull on one end of the thread. You can lock the end of a line of stitching to make it secure. The space under the arm would be very limiting, though. You could quilt placemats or piece squares on it - but your seam line will be wider than one made with a straight-stitcher machine.

This message was edited Oct 23, 2010 4:15 PM

Interlaken, NY(Zone 5b)

Yes, the manual is the same as the link you cite. Good to know that it won't be of much use in quilting; well, disappointing - but I can save my son some work now! LOL Thanks so much.

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

I don't want to discourage you - these machines made garments for decades and garments had to stand up to a lot more stress than quilts. :)

Some of these chainstitchers are in demand among treadle collectors and users because of the ability to baste with them, to embroider, or to add growth tucks to childrens' clothing.

You might want to join the treadle-on mailing list and search the archives for other peoples' posts about quilting and sewing with these machines.

Have fun!
Elizabeth

Interlaken, NY(Zone 5b)

I think we may take a serious look at the machine to see if we can get it running. I think it would be nice to make each of the granddaughters a small quilt on it. Thanks for the information re: treadle-on, I will look into it.

(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

This link was posted on treadle-on this morning - it's a source for needles for your Willcox & Gibbs:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kpinkert/5124094631/

Apparently, someone has found a modern substitute needle that works just as well as the original (hard to find) needles - and they come in a variety of sizes, instead of just one. :)

Have fun!
Elizabeth

Interlaken, NY(Zone 5b)

Good to know - thank you.

Springville, IA

My hubby gave me a beautiful old Singer 12K treadle a few years ago. I cleaned it and it works very well. I have always wanted to use it but do not know where to get needles for it. The ones I have are rusty and brittle and dull. Can anyone help?

Kit

Thumbnail by kitgary
(Elizabeth) DFW Area, TX

How fun! Do you know how old it is?

There's a manual here on the ISMACS site:
http://www.ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/manuals/singer-12k-manual.pdf and according to the manual, the machine takes a 12X1 needle - and those are as rare as hens' teeth.

You can sometimes find equivalent Boye 23 needles on that auction site, but they're going to be expensive.

Schmetz 23:51 needles (LAX339) are a modern substitute, but they're very hard for the consumer to find. You can ask a shop to special order them for you. Not every shop will be able to order from every distributor and not all distributors carry them, but you may eventually find someone who can get them for you.

I emailed Jenny at sew-classic.com to see if she has the ability to order them.

Good luck!
Elizabeth

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Smetz needles can be ordered from their website. Just google smetz needles to get to it...

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