Thread Number: 75492  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Old Sewing Machines
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Post# 993232   5/5/2018 at 21:37 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Anybody here collect sewing machines?  Just like washers, dryers, dishwashers, cars, engines, mowers, etc...these little mechanical wonders have always fascinated me.  Last week I ran across an ad on CL for a free treadle machine.  I knew the cabinet was probably shot but the treadle would be ok.  Tony has his grandmother's or great-grandmother's treadle stand that was just rusting and collecting dust.  I took it and made our dining room table out of it (the one that caught fire a couple of months ago).  I have since re-made a new table in the form of a drop-leaf that's just the perfect size for our small kitchen.  The pics were taken before I finished staining it to the proper depth of color.  I don't have a wood shaper or router so I just had to leave the edges straight and smooth them down some.  To me it just makes it look more antique.

Redirecting...back to sewing machines...

This video shows what my free machine used to  look like and hopefully will again after I work a little magic on it.  The machine head in the video is a Damascus and mine is a National...but they are otherwise identical because National made Damascus for Montgomery Ward. 


  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size

Post# 993239 , Reply# 1   5/5/2018 at 22:31 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I can work on them

As a kid my Aunt had a Free Westinghouse that I always liked because it was so different from Mothers Singer 301, I still have the 1958 301 of Mothers, Great machine, I like the White/Domestic/Kenmores too, worked on many of them.

Post# 993242 , Reply# 2   5/5/2018 at 23:17 by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

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My grandmother had a beige/light mauve sort of color Singer that was her pride and joy. My mom also has one, she also has a small hand crank one in those colors, not sure if it's a toy or what. She also has a few other Singers but they're later plastic ones.

She also has had a few of those pedal stands for the manually operated ones, I don't know much about them. As a kid I was just interest in the motors and light bulbs on them.

Post# 993244 , Reply# 3   5/6/2018 at 00:07 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

As a vacuum cleaner collector have a small collection of sewing machines-A Singer "Rocket" model I found at a yard sale with cabinet.The sew an vac place mentioned that machine was not common.sort of rare.Fixed it up with him-works great!!Its ALL mechanical-no circuit boards as in later machines.also have Bernina,Pfaff,Juki.also found a New Home machine at a yard sale-portable case all the parts in the case.You have to pack it just right or the case won't fit.

Post# 993248 , Reply# 4   5/6/2018 at 00:53 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I just bought a Japanese "Singer 15 clone" on ebay for cheap because the cord is cracked and the seller couldn't verify it would work.  I just threaded it and turned it manually and it sews beautifully.  It is virtually identical to the Singer model except that it has a knob to drop the feed dogs down for embroidery.  The Japanese machines were shipped without motors on them and American motors were installed when they arrived here.  Some call them badge machines because many companies bought them and just slapped their own name on the front.  Like Wizard, Kenmore, Atlas, Packard, General, JCPenney, Wards, and many more.  I've watched on youtube about these machines and surprisingly they are VERY good sewing machines.  Some were made by Brother.  If I can't make that National head work properly I'll stick this clone on the treadle when I'm finished with it.  Unless I find a cheap Singer treadle somewhere.  The clones fit perfectly in a Singer cabinet.


When my mom married my dad she got her grandmother's old treadle machine.  I can't remember if it was a Singer or Kenmore or what.  It was in storage for most of my early life so didn't know much about it.  She gave it to our local "Fred Sanford" and I'm sure he sold it.  How I wish I had that machine now!  Just to know it was my great-grandmother's would mean so much to me.

Post# 993255 , Reply# 5   5/6/2018 at 06:29 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I have heard good things about the metal,Japanese built machines made years ago-GREAT machines and sew well,last a long time and easily adjusted or repaired.The sew&Vac place I frequent runs into these-mainly as Kenmore.Also have learned about machine timing.If the machine is out of timing-no matter what brand-it cannot sew.IE the needle and hook must meet point-to-point.But not hit each other.It does take skill and practice to do this.And you have to know what you can adjust to achieve this adjustment.The fellow that runs the shop is an expert sewing machine technician!Sewing machines do amaze me-kinda like a bumblebee-they fly but sure don't look like they can.My Mom recently died-don't know what happened to her black cabinet Singer she received as a wedding gift and made a lot of our clothes with it-and it even sewing a convertible car top for Dad!

Post# 993259 , Reply# 6   5/6/2018 at 07:53 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

My mom had a Necchi which my dad bought from the Navy PX, apparently. It was an olive green hammertone number from the late 50s. It used cams for decorative stitching...she then got a computerized Bernina which was kind of fun to play with. My grandmother had one of those Atlas machines which she probably bought from Polk Brothers in Chicago. Interesting about how they were imported--I wonder if this wasn't the post-war version of the Chicken Tax (where you can't import small pickups trucks without a 25% tariff).

Post# 993311 , Reply# 7   5/6/2018 at 15:49 by Athanasius80 (California)        

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Oh I only have 8... a Singer 301, National Exp BT, three Ankers, and Adler 187, a White Rotary, and a cute Challenge VS. Maybe it's time for more!

Post# 993329 , Reply# 8   5/6/2018 at 19:00 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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When I was a teenager my Mom got her mothers Singer Treadle machine that Grandma got when she and Grandpa got married in 1919. That machine came to California with them in 1935 only because Grandma said if the Singer didn’t come, she wasn’t going either. Grandpa had to build the homemade trailer that they pulled behind their 29’ Chrysler large enough to pack the Singer along with the few other possessions they were able to take with them.

When Mom got the treadle machine it was kept in our garage for a while. I used to go down the hill to the gargage and play with it. The leather belt that powered the machine from the treadle broke, and I was unable to fix it. So I fashioned a belt of sorts with some tied together shoe laces and I managed to get the machine to work. It was a real work horse, and could sew through several layers of denim without difficulty. I taught myself how to sew on that machine. I have an old Singer from the 30’s now in a portable case and a new, basic Singer that I bought about 5 years ago.

My Mom fondly recalled how her Mother made all her four daughters clothing on that machine. And each year before school started she made each of her four girls four new dresses each, with underpants to match. When they arrived in Oakland, Calif. in 1935 my Mom and her sister who was 11 months older than her, (they were both born in 1927, Imogene in Jan. and Mom in Dec.) were taunted by their classmates for having “Oakie” panties, because they matched their dresses!

And before they came to Calif., during the Depression Grandma sewed clothes for many of the townspeople to help make ends meet when Grandpa left for the Dakota’s to work the wheat crops. There were no Social Services then, you either made it or not, and she wasn’t going home to ther parents. She also made donuts and cookies that the girls peddled around town. In the 70’s Mom used to make Grandma’s Potato Donuts and her sold them to a couple of the small stores on the coast, who in turn sold them to the tourists and locals. I come from resourceful stock.


Post# 993346 , Reply# 9   5/7/2018 at 00:00 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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 I tinkered with this poor old neglected and forgotten machine last night just to see what would happen.  It was locked up from being outside in the elements for who knows how long.  PB Blaster freed it up immediately!  Found the thread path diagram online, threaded it, and by george it sews!  I'm having trouble locating some needles for the National Rotary machine.  It came with a package of Boye needles left in the cabinet...well only one left...but I think it is too short. But When I seat the needle to the stop, it won't catch the bobbin thread.  If I pull it down a hair it will catch, but it's hard to tell just how far is far enough so the under stitches are just right. 

I've also been looking on youtube about how to polish with shellac to achieve a nice finish.  I don't want to strip and refinish it, that would take away its charm.  But I would like for it to be protected.  It was finished with shellac to begin with anyway.  I'm going to try that WD40 rust remover on some of the badly rusted parts.  Says it won't hurt painted surfaces.  We shall see.  I believe I have found the original sales receipt in one of the drawers.  The receipt is from Olds, Wortman, and King department store and it has the woman's name and address as Oregon.  They scribbled the date though so I can't get a confirmed date.  There just isn't as much info online for National machines as there is for Singers. 

This is a neat original song by the lady in the video.  It makes me think about us and the way we feel about old washers and dryers and such.

Post# 993348 , Reply# 10   5/7/2018 at 00:12 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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I found a listing on ebay for Singer Treadle sewing machine needles.

Post# 993350 , Reply# 11   5/7/2018 at 00:21 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Thanks Eddie, I'll go check it out.

Post# 993353 , Reply# 12   5/7/2018 at 00:28 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Here's a pic of my Japanese Singer clone.  In person it doesn't appear to have been used all that much.  It's still very shiny.  I plan to use it on a treadle for embroidery.  Who needs a $4000 computerized embroidery machine anyway?

  View Full Size
Post# 993442 , Reply# 13   5/7/2018 at 17:54 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I don't collect them, but I have the sewing machine that my mom had. It's a White, and was purchased sometime around 1947. It's a cabinet type, and has a maple finish, and still in decent condition for being 70 years old. I don't sew, so I've never used it, but my mom made many of my sister's clothes, some of hers, and a few things for me when I was little. Don't think she ever made any of dad's clothes, though.

Post# 993844 , Reply# 14   5/11/2018 at 02:19 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I cleaned this old girl up tonight.  Oiled it inside and out.  The cord was cracked and broken so bad it could not be tested which is why the ebay seller had it listed for $19 since he couldn't promise it would work.  I replaced the cord and rewired the light.  It all works great.  It sews so straight and smooth with perfectly balanced stitching.  Now I will take it off the base and stick it in a treadle.  I can switch back to electric anytime.

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