Monday, September 14, 2015

Small modification on her parlour cabinet

While I was fixing the hinges on the drop leaf, I thought it would be a good time to address a small annoyance I noticed, while taking the machine head on and off her cabinet.

Conveniently there is an electrical outlet behind, just in case
 she runs out of pedal power :-)

Like I said previously, that vertical lift is spring loaded and you really have to hold it back on the way up, you don't want to let her spring up on her own..... Humm, would make a great squirrel catapult launcher (click on text) :-)

Most of these machines required some sort of base to operate in, be it a small tray to hold the bentwood case cover or set inside a cabinet held by two hinge pins.  That one is no different.  But the way it hold the machine in this cabinet is really different.  There are two standard size of old Singers, the full size machine (like this one) and the 3/4 size ( such as No 28, 128 and  99 )

Typical Singer small portable case, full size, with both hinged pins showing

Hinge mechanism from Singer is more compact and simpler.

Lo and behold this one can accommodate both! It simply use the hinge to pined the machine as usual and secure that on the lift tray with an appropriately sized adapter plate to fill the hole around the lift tray opening.  Very clever and standardize their cabinet construction.  It even has a metal drip tray in the bottom, so you don't splash sewing machine oil on your legs inside the cabinet, nice touch...

Removing the full size machine adapter plate.
Metal thing in the bottom is drip tray.
Plate need some work in the front, small thin piece is missing.

So the Missus can wear her finest and not worry about getting dirty while sewing.
Here's why according to a Singer's literature of the days:
Modified to reflect today' s reality :-)

I shit you not, the text on the left, is real vintage.
Modified to reflect today's reality :-)
As usual, like any of my pics, click on it to enlarge.

On Heather machine, the adapter tray is loose and if it shift, the machine won't be able to come out flush with the top. Investigating the problem, I realized that the hinges which normally hold the machine in the bottom case or cabinet are missing on both the tray and the machine.  There is also two holes under the hinges which lined up with the lift tray.  Found out that a piece of 5/16 in hardwood dowel fit perfectly and hold everything secure and in alignment. Problem solved!

Round hinge cavity and a thru hole in it, corresponding 
with a same size hole on the lift tray.

Piece of dowel fit just right.

Since these dowels are just friction fit, I can easily reverse my temporary repair once I figure out how they were originally secured and find a pair of those hinge. May be hard to find, but you never know...

Adapter tray now held securely in correct position.
I got the belt stuck between the lifting tray and adapter plate in this pic.
The metal drip pan is showing at the bottom, dark part on left of the bottom 
is the treadle showing, without the drip tray you could get splash on.

I then had a quick look at the bottom RH door, it's top hinge is loose.  Tighten the screws but there is still too much play. It's better, but not perfect.  That hinge will have to come out, be straighten and I may have to plug the screw holes and make new holes?  Other than that, only has a couple of spot that would requires veneer patches to finish its restoration then gently clean the whole cabinet.  We have no intentions of refinishing the cabinet and make it look like new, it is after all almost 110 years old.  Machine serial number tell me she was made in St-Jean, Quebec in 1906.

Bent and loose door hinge on top RHS.

That spot bear a previous repair but a piece is missing. 
I will remove the whole patch and put a new one in instead 
of adding a third patch.

We both have a love and respect of antiques (like each other :-), so preserving its character is important to us.
But it also have to be a working machine, which she would be after a good cleaning and lubrication.
These old gal are all cast iron and steel gears, heavy duty and last forever.

Handling that newer Kenmore machine around right now in the shop, I'm amazed at how light she is compared to all the old Singers I have lug around, big difference!  That Kenmore is aluminum cast. Newer machines, including crappy new Singers are plastic case and gears, probably very light after manhandling a cast iron behemoth ;-)

Bob, going down his list of sewing machine related jobs on my to do list.


  1. Thank-you my Dear Antique ;-) your support (enabling) is much appreciated <3

  2. Your'e Welcome dear :-)
    Can I go at the Lee Valley sale Saturday (insert biggest grin here)

  3. That's true love. ;-)
    Great. I like the idea to be dolled up before sewing. I will propose that this evening :-)
    If you won't read anything from me the next days, don't wonder....

  4. LOL Thanks Stefan, and good luck with that :-)