The trouble with a new hobby is the snowball effect.
In researching and seeking parts for Frances, I learned a lot more than I ever intended to about sewing machines. Among other things, I learned that parts for a Singer machine are cheap and easy to find almost everywhere, no matter how old the machine, whereas parts for Frances, whose maker, National Sewing Machines, went out of business more than half a century ago, are...not.
I also learned that many of the old machines could be purchased with either a hand crank, or a treadle, or an electric motor, depending on the consumer's preference. (Lots of people at the time still didn't have access to electricity. Some treadle and hand crank machines were even delivered with a boxed electric motor, to be converted once electrical lines made their way out to the consumer. Fascinating.)
And I learned that there are still lots of people today who use the old treadle or hand crank machines--or people-powered machines, as they are often called. This caught my interest in a big way. My primary objection to sewing machines has always been the noise and the speed and the whole industrial sort of nature of the things. But a treadle machine...hmmm. That's almost like a spinning wheel, isn't it?
On a lark, I took a little look on eBay to see what the things run. There are quite a few available, often for $200-$400--plus $150 in shipping. This is more than I'm willing to spend on a lark. But it just so happened (doesn't it always?) that there was an auction ending in 20 minutes for a lovely-looking treadle machine for pick up only, about an hour's drive from me.
You can see where this is going, I presume. Straight back to the title of the post. This is my new baby:
She is a Singer 66 "Redeye," manufactured in 1922. She is in surprisingly good shape for an 88-year-old.
You can see that her pretty decals are mostly intact. She has about half of the original attachments. She does need a new treadle belt, and her oak cabinet has a bit of water damage and some paint splatters:
She needs a bit of cleaning and oiling, but her mechanism seems to work properly. She uses modern bobbins and needles (yay!), and original and reproduction parts are widely available, meaning I don't have to worry about breaking or losing pieces as I do with Frances.
As you can see, she has already taken up residence in my new craft room. I am in the process of cleaning and repairing her and I can't wait to try her out! Oh, and the best part? She cost me exactly $81. Probably more than her original owner paid, but a smokin' deal, nonetheless!