Unsticking the Treadle Machine

I hope Donna Kohler will be proud to know I've been reading her Treadle Sewing Machines book from cover to cover.  I'm not sure I've really earned the right yet to use her Treadle Lady Driver License.  I'm still working on the perfect technique to keep the machine running smoothly.  I've made progress since the machine got stuck several weeks ago.  Hopefully I won't embarrass Charlotte Baker, either; she tried to show me the correct treadling technique when I visited her last month. 

I recently sat down to read Kohler's manual on how to get a treadle machine in working order.  She includes numerous tips on getting started by cleaning the machine.  I had left our machine in a stuck position and been too busy to work on it.  Somehow I caught my husband's interest in solving the mystery of why our machine wouldn't move.  We unscrewed metal covers and peeked into all of the moving parts.  He finally found the stuck spot:  a large gear next to the hand wheel but encased in the machine.  Some extra (clear) oil and muscle finally got the steel moving again.

I understand from the book that the surest way to get the machine working smoothly is to take it nearly all apart and clean all pieces of gunk and rust.  We're not doing that yet for two reasons.  With young children around, I choose to limit heavy solvents that I might need for that project.  Also, as long as the machine is moderately clean and in working order, it seems reasonable to try sewing with it a while.

My first effort was, of course, with scrap fabric.  I started turning the hand wheel and then starting pumping the foot pedal.  I had several false starts because I forgot to use both feet to keep the machine from going backwards.  The top thread would come out or the stitching knotted up.  Finally I completed some nearly perfect looking stitches, top and bottom.  It was strange turning the piece around to manually sew in "reverse."  

Unfortunately a rotten piece has fallen off the bobbin winder, so I'll be ordering that part before I can create bobbins in any color.  I'm hopeful that perhaps I can make some little items for my in-laws in time for Christmas, after all.

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