Off the Power Grid and into "Me" Power

My most recent vintage sewing machine acquisition was a bit of a departure for me. I opted for a non-electric vintage sewing machine. If you know vintage machines, you know this means either a hand crank or a treadle sewing machine. Guess which one I got? Yes, I purchased a treadle sewing machine. 

 
 The cabinet for my Singer 66 red eye sewing machine - before clean up (white spots are no longer there!)

The cabinet for my Singer 66 red eye sewing machine - before clean up (white spots are no longer there!)

 

I have been looking for a nice treadle cabinet and a Singer 66 Red Eye (or Red Head) sewing machine for some time and lucky for me, I found them both in one package! Even better, I didn't have to travel hours (as I've been know to do) to get this machine and its cabinet as they were right here in Calgary.

 
 Slightly worn decals on the sewing machine

Slightly worn decals on the sewing machine

 

When I went to check out the machine and cabinet, I was more interested in the cabinet than the machine as I'd read that it can be harder to get a nice treadle cabinet. Machines can be switched in and out of cabinets, but these older cabinets can be very hard to find in my part of the country.

 
 Drawer detail

Drawer detail

 

When I got to the seller's house, I dealt with her husband as she wasn't at home. I managed to talk him down as to the price and hopefully didn't get him in too much trouble with his wife for doing so! He kindly helped us to remove the machine from the cabinet and helped load it into the Zoocrew (that would be our Honda Odyssey van). 

 
 If you check the serial number, you'll see that this machine is at least 100 years old!

If you check the serial number, you'll see that this machine is at least 100 years old!

 

If you don't know about this model, let me tell you a bit about it.

According to the Singer website:

"The Singer 66 or 66K was a heavy duty domestic sewing machines that set the standard for several decades, and indeed the Class 66 bobbin and the 66 style rotary hook arrangement are still in use on many ‘new’ sewing machines today. Because the 66K’s were full size machines weighing around 30lbs, they were usually sold in treadle tables or cabinets, although some hand cranked models, and later on some electric models, were also sold. The 66K first introduced the horizontally mounted rotary hook arrangement with drop in bobbins. A system which still survives in so many sewing machines from all makers today."

 
 Getting ready to clean the machine.

Getting ready to clean the machine.

 

The earlier models had back clamping attachments, which is what mine has (it was made around 1915). These can be changed so they can handle vintage side clamping attachments, but I haven't done anything about that yet. 

 
 Back clamping attachments (feet) on this model of the Singer 66

Back clamping attachments (feet) on this model of the Singer 66

 

The advantage of the 66 model is the large harp space - which makes it great for quilting. The drawback is that there is no reverse and the feed dogs don't drop, although these can be covered with a plate for free motion quilting or darning (but who wants to darn clothing anyway?!).

The 66 Red Eye model of the Singer 66 sewing machine was produced in America and is quite colourful.

The decals on my particular machine are not in as good a shape as some that I've seen, as you can tell from the photos. Even with lots of cleaning, you can see that the decals just aren't there anymore. Sometimes they may be hiding under a layer of grime, but this wasn't the case with my machine.

 
 The decals on my machine are worn, but everything else on the machine seems great.

The decals on my machine are worn, but everything else on the machine seems great.

 

On the plus side, the chrome parts are in very good shape with no rust. 

 
 Face plate is beautifully ornate - but needs cleaning!

Face plate is beautifully ornate - but needs cleaning!

 

You can see the difference between one of the chrome plates that is only partially cleaned. Initially it was very dark, but with lots of elbow grease and metal cleaner, the silver began to show through. It's always amazing to me how these machines clean up with simple cleaners, time and some scrubbing. 

 
 See how dirty the chrome pieces were on this machine when I got it? Definitely need some elbow grease on these parts!

See how dirty the chrome pieces were on this machine when I got it? Definitely need some elbow grease on these parts!

 
 
 One of the chrome pieces partially cleaner - note the unclean, dark areas.

One of the chrome pieces partially cleaner - note the unclean, dark areas.

 
 
 Still needs a bit more cleaning. I had to use a toothpick to get all the black grime out.

Still needs a bit more cleaning. I had to use a toothpick to get all the black grime out.

 

The cabinet had a few water marks on the top, but I easily removed these with Howard Products' Restor-A-Finish and steel wool. I then protected the cabinet with their Feed-N-Wax product. 

If you'd like to see a bit more about my particular Singer 66 sewing machine, please watch the video below or view it on my Youtube channel.

Subscribe to my course, The Joy of Vintage Sewing Machines (at a 20% discount) to see how I clean up and repair my vintage machines. I'll walk you through all the steps of evaluating, acquiring and rejuvenating vintage sewing machines.

Now that I've got my first treadle sewing machine, I guess I'll be able to treadle any time, even if the electricity is off - after I learn how to treadle, that is!

Do you have a treadle sewing machine or other vintage machine? Send me your photos of them and remember to check out The Joy of Vintage Sewing Machines on Curious.

Creatively,