Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coming Home - circa 1880s Remington Treadle Sewing Machine

1880s Remington No. 5 Treadle Sewing Machine

Oh my goodness--look what hubby Jon found in our barn Sunday afternoon!  And if you read the entire post you'll discover who owned this machine!

Beneath all the rust and crud is a circa 1880s Remington fiddle base sewing machine.  Jon found its walnut half cabinet with three drawers on a wrought iron base too--its all there.  Well almost all there. We're searching for missing bits and think we have a chance at a full restoration.

Let me just show you how far we've taken the restoration in the last two days.

Yep--that's the same machine.  Our friend Jerry Johnson (expert vintage and antique sewing machine restorer) has 15 or so hours into cleaning, oiling, and removing rust from metal parts.

Here's the throat plate, needle shaft, needle thumb screw, and presser foot, frozen in years of rust.
Can't even see the feed dogs or its cover w/screw.

Polished throat plate, feed dogs cover, presser foot, needle shaft and needle thumb screw

The vibrating shuttle and long bobbin pins are missing.  I tried a 1904 Singer shuttle and a White (New Willard) shuttle c 1930s, but both are too short for this c1880s Remington No. 5 by almost 1/4".  But I'm searching for those items.  The original needle (now clean and rust free) is round and longer in length than what I expected to see.  So, there's still quite a bit of research to do.

Thursday 12 Mar - we borrowed a leaf tension spring and shuttle from a friend Cathy to see if my husband Jon can machine a new leaf tension.  Perhaps there will be a test sew on the Remington this weekend

Our friend Norm who owns/operates Barber's Sewing Machine Repair in Stevens Point reviewed the Remington on Thursday.  He said the borrowed leaf tension is a good fit, and identified the shuttle and bobbin as as a Boye No. 13.  Although Norm has many old shuttles in his stash, he didn't have a No. 13.  He measured the original needle; closest fit is a Boye No. 8.  He had 5 of those old needles in stock and I bought all 5.

This morning I found one  No. 13 shuttle with one bobbin on Ebay.  Quickly we're finding the missing pieces.  

Removing rust from the throat plate, sewing machine oil and fine steel wool

I've been working on removing rust from smaller metal pieces with sewing machine oil and steel wool: throat plates, tension screw, stitch length screw, and pressure foot.  I can only say--it is hours and hours of sore knuckle work.  Jerry says, it takes three things to restore an old sewing machine: Patience, Patience, and Patience.

Before and after of the throat plates

Patent Dates

The hand wheel shaft was frozen solid with rust, but Jerry managed to free it up over a period of several hours using WD40.  Nudging and gentle tapping--the stuck hand wheel and the needle shaft. 

At first nothing, then a bit of movement, then a little more, and gradually we were squealing like little pigs.  Jaws dropping--astonished as he got it spinning like a top--and enjoying the precious sound of choo-ga, choo-ga, choo-ga as the needle shaft and feed dogs sang their song.  

The leaf tension located on top of the machine.  
The metal tension springs are missing, but we are hopeful to find some.  

As a newbie to the wide wide world of antique sewing machines, I'd never seen machine tension presented as anything other than a dial with tension discs and spring.  So the leaf tension is a surprise to me.

At first glance you can barely make out the name Remington
To the right is a partial view of the rusty tension guide.

Polished stitch length adjust, and bobbin winding assembly

This is a very plain approach to bobbin winding--usually you see a heart shaped governor that guides thread left to right and back again dispensing thread evenly over the bobbin pin.  So until I ask more questions, I am thinking one has to hold on to the thread to guide it back and forth to fill the bobbin.  

The hand wheel is really big--bigger than I've seen on other machines.

Jerry believes the fancy designs could be hand painted rather than decalcomania (decals).  I noticed the hand painting is very faded (nearly non-existent) on the backside and top of the machine. I suppose it is the result of sun exposure in a window where one would sit to sew?

If you have more information about this Remington No. 5, please leave us a note.  I would love to hear from you.

This weekend, I'll work on the rusty wrought iron base, while Jon is making a new pitman rod.  I think I understand this correctly, as Jon showed me  the broken pitman rod--it is a wood arm with drilled holes--and it connects to the foot pedal and treadle wheel that turns the belt to power the sewing machine.


I saved the best information for last.  Looking over the machine cabinet Jon pointed out--some child wrote in pencil on the side of one of the cabinet drawers, "Gusta was sick today."  Oh my goodness, the second owner of our house Thomas and Maren Quien had three daughters and one son:  Ragnhild, Gusta, Peter, and Bessie.  I'm guessing this  Remington No. 5 Treadle Machine belonged to Maren Quien.  I'm so very happy.  Her sewing machine has come home.