Sunday, March 30, 2014

Iron Lady, Day One: Cleaning up the cabinet and base.

Day one was very productive.  Likely the most productive day I'll have during this entire process.  I just won't have another dedicated day until next weekend.  

Step one:  figure out how to remove the machine head from the cabinet.  Seems easy enough, right?  Actually, it wasn't very difficult.  Two little set screws, one that wasn't even very tight, was all it took to lift the machine right off the hinges.  Getting it back onto those pins will likely require another set of hands.
This is probably the best 'before' picture of the top finish I took.  The day was rainy and overcast and all these were taken either in natural light, such as it was, or with the flash.
I sat down and wiped the cast iron base with my machine-oil-soaked rag.  This removed dust and gave the finish a nice shine. 
Isn't that pretty?  After I brought her home, and did some more research, I realized I do not have the belt shifter.  I will have to do some homework to find one to replace it.  I don't need it to sew, but it would be nice to have to lower the machine into the cabinet.
There was only one spot that needed to be glued.  The veneer on the bottom of the front plate was peeling back from the plywood core.  Since this piece holds the machine when it is in the sewing position, I wanted to make sure I addressed it.  I completely removed the cabinet from the base.  This let me oil all the moving bits, turn the base upside down to oil the wheels (one wheel will never turn again as the pin has completely rusted and the wheel is totally seized).  To make sure the oil got worked in I pumped for a few seconds after adding oil to each moving part.  She just hums along, no squeaks or jumps or starts.
I didn't use a board to keep from creating tool marks with my clamps.  These plastic clamps don't really have that much oomph, so I just went for it.  I applied too much glue, and ended up wiping a bunch away after clamping.  At least I know there was enough glue.
I cleaned all of the wood cabinet and used Restore-A-Finish to clean up and cover some of the blemishes.  The final step was a coat of wax.  I will likely wax again tomorrow to deepen the shine.  When I put on the wax, the wood just sucked it up.  I even waxed the undersides and inside the machine head storage space.  I don't want them to shine, but I do want them to be protected.
She isn't perfect, but she does look healthier than she did. 
I'm really looking forward to the next part of this journey.  I'll be working on the machine head next.  Cleaning off the old, yellowed oil and making sure she is ready to sew.  I anticipate the machine head taking most of the week.  I might bet get to sew next weekend. 

My references for this project include:

The Treadle Lady
Etsy Shop:

Our Handmade Home

Granny Miller:  A Journal of Agrarian Life & Skills

I am not an expert at refinishing.  I am not an expert and sewing machine care or maintenance.  I am a quilter, sewer and sewing machine enthusiast.  My goal is a working treadle sewing machine.

1 comment:

  1. What a super cool project! You're very brave for jumping right in there with it. :)


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