January 5, 2014
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The return of an old friend
This Singer 31-20 tailors treadle sewing machine was manufactured at Singers Elizabethport factory in 1900. It will sew heavy fabric and light leather up to 3/16 inch or 4mm thickness.
I don’t know about this machines early history but I bought it from a saddle maker in Palo Cedro, Ca. in 1970 and added an after market 1/6 hp ac/dc sewing machine motor/w controller. For the next 20 years it was used on our ranch to repair and create seat covers for pickups and farm equipment. After that it was forgotten in one or another old shed until this fall. The laminated deck was falling apart and the head was caked in dirt and grime.
Decision! junk or reclaim? Emmmm…………………………………………………… That damn old machine used to be real handy.
I soaked the head with penetrating oil and gathered up the pieces of wood and parts falling out of the failed drawer, and moved them to the new shop.
Last week tried the machine head and it rolled over! so I spent part of the week cleaning off dirt and rust. Also made up a new deck for the treadle and repaired the drawer. Then threaded her up and tried to sew some old denim, and tried, and tried. Poor results for several days, although things did get somewhat better. What the !!!! that thing used to never mis-a-lick.
Went on that blessing/ curse of the New Age, The Internet! Spent most of 3 days looking for information, Manuals etc. Found out my old Singer was OLD! BUT! Singer made tough, bullet Proof, machines that would work for several life times. Maybe the best line of American machinery ever made. If you ever bought one, you would never need to buy another as you could not wear it out, even under commercial use. They made them by the millions for over 50 years. In every corner of the world there are old, cheap Singers that are still being used to sew foot wear and clothing. So even though Singer went bankrupt and no longer supports their old machines there are people out there that love them. Hoard and share parts, or sell parts, even make new parts, print manuals and provide free pdf downloads. There are also chat rooms with years of chatter to read up on to increase your knowledge on the care and maintenance of your sticher. After 5 hours of reading comments on line I was able to correct my machines’ timing and she sews very well again. Hurrah!