Saturday was Morinville’s Town Wide garage sale. Every spring, the town has a garage sale, where people can rent a table at the Sports center, or just put their stuff out for sale at their homes. The town publishes a list of the “registered” garage sales, and tons of people show up from far and wide to take a peek at people’s stuff.
This year, with my “new” hobby, I set off around town with my treasure map in hand, to see what I could find. I promised from the outset that I wouldn’t buy any more sewing machines, unless they were exceptionally special. No more rescues for now. I can’t even find enough time to work on the ones I have.
At first it was easy. I kept finding late 70s machines to mid 90s. No temptation at all.
Ah, the best intentions… We walked down the alley to this one garage sale, and as I rounded the corner, I saw it. A coffin top sewing machine. A sharp intake of breath, and Ryan spotted what I’d spotted, and did an admirable job of suppressing his groan.
I had to lift the lid, and as I did, I saw the price: $50! The machine had obviously been left outside in the elements, and the top veneer on the tabletop is gone, as is the second layer, and the coffin top is in need of more than a little rehabilitation.
A rescue. That may have been a slightly more audible groan I heard from Ryan’s direction.
As the lid cleared the machine, we both knew I was taking it home. A fiddle-based Variable Shuttle 2 (VS#2) So very grungy and in need of a loving hand. A quick look told me that the slide plates were there, the bullet shuttle and bobbin were intact, and the machine still turned fairly smoothly, of course begging me now for oil, now that it knew I was hooked.
A man spotted me looking at it, and let me know that there were 2 other machines there as well. Both were Model 15s of various ages, one in a cabinet, and one in a portable base ( I never did see the top.) No, the VS#2 was the real treasure.
He also suggested that I make an offer to his wife if I wanted the treadle, he didn’t want to have to lug it back into the garage.
At this point his wife stepped up and told me about the machine. It belonged to a friend of hers, and have been the friend’s great grandmother’s machine. Doing the math, knowing the age now, I think there’s a chance it was a hand-me-down to the great-grandmother. She mentioned that she knew how much of a project it was, and that she just didn’t have time, so she wanted the machine to go to someone who could and would take the time. I don’t know how much time I have, but I seem to make time for the machines that I feel like I need to rescue. I told her what I’d probably do to the cabinet. For now, take the whole top and coffin lid off and store it. I’d make a “universal table”, like the one I’d spotted on the TreadleOn site to put her in, so she could see everyone admiring her, until I could rehab the wood. Mostly I was thinking out loud. Stream of consciousness.
The serial number: 9100577, tells me that the serial number for the machine was allocated in 1889. A true antique. This machine is the first centenarian in the house. Betty (model 27) is next, she’ll turn 100 next year.
As I was looking at her, she started to get a little more notice from other garage salers. I’ll be honest here, I started to get a little panicky. I’d once told Ryan that I would love to have a fiddle bed machine, but didn’t think I was likely to ever come across one in our price range, because I was quite sure they were that rare. I didn’t want someone to scoop her out from under me, not now that I’d found her. I heard someone ask if she was sold, and heard the wife say that she wasn’t sure yet. I calmed a little, and knew that she was going to be coming home with us. I was being given first right of refusal, and I was not going to refuse.
I don’t know why, but it seemed I bonded with her right away. Ryan and I discussed quietly whether I should try to offer a little less money for her, or just take her for the asking price. He reminded me that the husband had said to make an offer.
I screwed up my courage, and waited until she was not talking to any of the other people around. I asked if she’d take $40. She said yes, because of where it was going. She wanted to know that the machine was going to be taken care of, and I guess I’d given her that impression. I gave her the money in my pocket, and told her that I would be back with the rest, and the truck shortly.
On the way back to the truck, we discussed the machine. Yes, I knew the machine was rough. Yes, I knew that the cabinet was rough. Really Rough. Yes, I knew I was starting to sound like Scooby Doo (rough ruff)
On the drive back to get the machine, I lamented that the neighbors were going to think I was nuts. Ok,.. I wasn’t that bothered by it. 🙂
We arrived back, loaded her into the truck, and gently drove her home. Because my hip was acting up, I didn’t want to risk putting her in the basement, so she went into the garage, but we promised her that she would not spend another night in a garage, or outside a house for that matter.
A little while later, I figured that I might as well clean her up now and see what she looked like under her dirt, since I really wasn’t concentrating on much else anyway.
First cleaning with Murphy’s Oil Soap (and one really fast, deep 123 year old sliver later), she’s ready to come inside. She’s mostly disassembled at this point, so that I can begin the rehab.
After her bath, I spent a little time spreading some Howard’s Feed’n’Wax on her wood parts to seal in what moisture she does have, and lend a little more of its own. It was also a great opportunity to fully evaluate what I was dealing with for the restoration.
Today (Monday) to feel the wood, it’s completely dry again, it soaked in every last bit of moisture, and I will apply again this week. The luster that this brought up though in the wood, even the damaged parts, is stunning!
The head has been blown out, there was tons of dust everywhere, and the stop motion screw had been seized. Ryan took her out to the garage, and applied (very carefully) some fluid film to her stop motion screw. After letting it penetrate for awhile, he took a strap wrench and gently encouraged her to let go of the screw.
Back inside, she got a bit of an oiling down of her body, and I will be doing her guts probably tonight after sewing circle (where I expect there may be an intervention soon), or tomorrow.
I also made a list of parts to get for her, and have begun shopping it around. I found one of the screws at Kilborn Sewing Machine Repair in Millet. I was there picking 3 of the sewing machines from their spa dates with Ron anyway. I have left the samples with Attica Antique to see what he can find me, and done a small email campaign to find the rest. 🙂 She will be fully functional if not her completely former beautiful self, in no time.
Our newest addition to the family, please meet: Mrs. Cooper, Betty’s mom.
Update June 22, 2012: All of the bolts have been found. Her treadle irons are secure now, and I’m waiting on the final wingnut to secure her to the cabinet top to arrive. I managed to find an Ebay seller willing to part with one. Hopefully it and her belt will arrive tomorrow or early next week. She’s been oiled and may actually be one of the smoothest turning machines I have. A pleasure to watch. I’m really looking forward to her belt arriving and seeing her in action.