I figured that I couldn’t make the cabinet situation worse and with the back up plan of harvesting a replacement from some other unlucky machine, I decided to start cutting into the cabinet. To do the construction, I got certified to use the wood shop at the local makerspace Openworks.
After analysis, there were a couple types of damage.
Layers of wood delaminated and shifted in relation to each other
wood bent out of alignment from water expansion or weight of the machine
screw holes stripped out
This is a big post covering several months of work, so here’s a readmore to save you the scroll.
A year or so ago I picked up an Instax Mini camera on a lark and quickly discovered that having physical photographs is good actually. I also quickly discovered that I needed a place to put them and got a couple of ebay grade albums. Neither of these albums seem to have been designed to be fully filled with pictures- instax films are pretty thick and with about 2/3 of the pages filled, the albums start to look a little V.
So I cut a couple of pages out and turned them into a separate album.
For the binding: accordion folded muslin with the edges turned under and stitched. Each page is sandwiched between two peaks of the accordion fold. Next time I would double the width of the muslin so that the hems met in the middle instead of having seam allowance bulk at the edges only. I think it would be neater. Sewing through the plastic material of the pages killed the sewing machine needle.
Sew the other side of the accordion fold closed so that it doesn’t sprawl open like that.
For the cover: I laminated some scrap card stocks together until it was pretty and punched holes through to make the sewing easy. I stitched the inside through the holes first, and then hid the stitching for the outside under the muslin.
I’m not completely satisfied with the stitching on the inside but (hopefully I don’t have to do this again) next time I will give myself a little bit more room to work with the muslin and I think that will flatten it right out.
Right so as I said in the previous post, the wooden cabinet suffered a lot of water damage. The four screws that hold the base of the lift arm are not in steady wood/the holes are stripped. The hole that the sewing machine comes up through is sufficiently warped that it cannot be lifted through while it is bolted in place. Additionally the sewing machine sits on top of the woodwork and is visibly warping/exacerbating existing damage.
I imagine that the sewing machine is supposed to sit level and even with the table surface. I am not sure that the table surface(s) could be effectively refinished because of the warping and separation. The brass hardware seems to be in good condition. The steel hardware has surface rust.
It’s a pretty hefty spring for a pretty heavy machine.
In the above picture, the left corner hits the wood instead of passing by it with close clearance. The sewing machine is supposed to sit on tabs protruding from the panel along the body of the machine- instead it sits on top of that panel.
I found a bit of rust inside the machine, but none of it is on bearing surfaces. I’m going to try to remove it and oil the pitting to discourage any further development.
I oiled the belt with boot leather oil and stitched it back into place. The bobbin winder is missing a critical rubber piece, so I wound a bobbin on the Featherweight. Replaced the needle. Adjusted the tension. It sews very nicely. Getting the treadle started is a bit of an adventure but I imagine practice makes perfect and so on. Needle up is wherever all that iron wants it to be.
I am planning pulling out what parts of the mechanism that I can in order to remove the oil varnishing and properly oil and grease all of the bearing surfaces, and try to reduce the needle lift click.
I have a new belt and the piece that the bobbin winder is missing coming in the mail.
It’s a No. 66 ‘red eye’. I haven’t found a serial number but the manual was printed in 1916.
A quick rundown of what I’ve seen so far:
– The machine itself is in incredibly good condition. The action is smooth and frictionless. There is no rust. The decals are in nearly perfect condition. The bobbin race turns, the bobbin comes out, and the bobbin eject mechanism works perfectly. There’s a fair bit of oil varnishing but none of it appears to be impacting function. I’m planning on cleaning that up and oiling it. It looks like it uses a standard bobbin size.
– Hurricane Agnes did a number on the cabinet. It is largely constructed out of plywood and every piece that could delaminate has tried to delaminate. The varnish and stain are rough/cracked. The locks are rusted in place (although I do have the key). The bottoms of all four drawers are separated. The block of wood that holds the lift arm and spring is cracked where the screws are. I can’t get at it right now so I can’t guess if it’s repairable/replaceable. There is however no rot in the wood.
-All of the accessories that were in the drawers have spot rust and are responding well to a de-rust bath.
– The cast iron base/stand is in excellent condition. The little rolly feet all roll. The treadle mechanics are smooth. All I’m planning there is a touch of oil.
– I had to cut the belt to separate the cabinet and the stand to get it into the car. The belt is leather and is in actually very good condition (much better than the ‘spare’ in the cabinet, which looks like it might have been the original and was stuck in the envelope that the replacement came in). I am planning on using the good leather oil on it to supple it up again and then sewing it back together when I know what size it needs to be. The original closure was a staple, so I know what level of workmanship I need to apply here.
At this point I think I need an experienced opinion on whether the cabinet should (could?) be restored or if measurements should be taken and more or less built new. Consider that the lid on it would look really nice in a light/dark stripe pattern, and if it was done with a 1/4 or 1/2 inch spacing, it could also work as a layout guide.