Monday, February 4, 2013

Ms. No Name

Yesterday I decided to tackle my Singer 66 Redeye treadle sewing machine and get her sewing. This particular machine has a lot of cosmetic damage, poor baby, so if the cleanup doesn't work, I have another head to drop into the cabinet.

Maybe that's why I've hesitated to name her - don't want to get attached in case she doesn't work out.

When I got her last year she was super grimy, so I coated the head in sewing machine oil inside and out to gently soak and loosen the grime. An old tea towel went into the bottom of the cabinet to catch drips, the head was lowered and the cabinet closed up. Since then, it has just been used as a stand.
A thorough cleaning can take weeks and includes disassembling everything, soaking all the parts in Liquid Wrench or kerosene, then cleaning each part separately before reassembling.
I wanted to make sure I could use her to sew before investing a lot of time, so I rubbed off much of the loosened surface grime with a baby toothbrush and soft cloth so I could test her out without getting my thread and cloth dirty.

This cabinet is very sturdy, has very little damage and is in great shape for its age. The hinges are still as tight as the day the cabinet was made and all the joints still fit well.

These original finish on these cabinets wasn't super smooth and glossy like a Baby Grand piano, and this one won't look that way when it's cleaned up.

The scratches and watermarks are minimal and will be easy to make disappear. (That will be the subject of another post.)

Mostly, she just needs a good cleaning.


My guess is that the masking tape was put on the edge of the lid to hold down peeling or chipping veneer. It will take some time and a lot of care to remove the tape  and fix whatever is under it without causing further damage.

She needed a new tension assembly and I just happened to have one in my parts stash.

Loosen that one little screw on the right, pull out the old tension assembly and slip in the new one, then re-tighten the screw and that's done! So easy!


She needs a new presser foot because the plating has been worn off the one she currently has. She takes back clamp feet and accessories, which I also happen to have in my stash so I guess I'll go dig them out.
She sews a good straight seam, and that's what we are looking for!  

The bobbin winder didn't get cleaned as much as the rest of the machine so you can still see lots of loosened crud.

The tan areas are not rust; they are either dried oil or bare metal that has lost its silver plating. The exposed metal will be dull gray when cleaned.

I couldn't find the spare treadle belt so I improvised and sewed two 36" shoelaces end to end; it fits perfectly and works as good as any leather belt.

A long time ago (way back in mid-last century) I did much the same thing with another treadle; a long narrow strip of fabric was tied in a square knot and worked quite well for as long as I used the machine.

Maybe after all the work is done, I can find pretty red shoelaces for a new belt! New belts are readily available, but why buy when you can make one with what you have on hand.

The decals that are still there are silvered and fuzzy so this machine will be to use, not display. The condition of the bed tells a tale of heavy use for a very long time.

The shiney black spots are paint on the metal, with all the decals and protective coating worn away. The dull surface is where the protective coating is disintegrating.

If I were to soak this head in kerosene, all that crackled finish would come off and most of the decals underneath would also be destroyed even more than they are now. I will probably just clean her again with baby toothbrush and soft cloth, and follow up with a coat of auto polish to protect what's left.

But dang - she works great. I sat and pieced on her for a couple of hours last night.
Someday she will tell me her name. Until then, I'll just call her Honey.
She's like me - lot's of wear and tear and showing her age, but still gets the job done. LOL! 

Maybe I'll find out where Bonnie Hunter sends hers and get her repainted cranberry or turquoise!
Since Singer changed their policies, you have to write to them to get dates now instead of just looking them up on their website. If anyone happens to have a listing, I'd appreciate a date for this beauty. For several reasons, my guess is she comes from around 1915 or so.

UPDATE: A facebook friend looked up the serial number and this machine was made in 1917.

Happy Sewing


No comments:

Post a Comment