Monday, 21 July 2014

The Mystery Cabinet

A couple of months ago (21/3) I bought a 319k on eBay. Why I'd buy such a common machine when I have a 320k is that it was sitting on a very interesting looking treadle table. It had plywood nailed on top and obviously no cover. Luckily I had a coffin lid from a VS2 I bought a year or so back.
My dad did all the work and my friend provided a set of semi-usable treadle irons. Put it all together and we just needed to know what sort of machine went in it. I'd assumed it was for a VS2. Well, it did look the same, but dad discovered that the hinge holes were too close together. I was going to drill and saw it so the VS2 would fit but decided against it. Did a load of research on it and found that the VS3/28 was a 3/4 size VS2 so waited until one came up and bought it. Of course it didn't fit. At around the same time as the 319 purchase I'd discovered the original version of the Singer model 15 was from the 1800s. Imagine an 1800s machine with a round bobbin. Even better was that it was originally a fiddle base. I'd thought then that I wanted one. So... my friend (also an enthusiast) pointed to an auction for two "museum pieces" just two weeks ago. She only wanted one of them but the other, a Singer, was unknown to her "which model is this?" she asked. My eyes widened, I got excited, you guessed it: An 1886 Singer 15-1 or "Improved Family" fiddle base.
We planned the auction strategy, won both machines and split the booty appropriately.
You see that hint of decal? I'd assumed it was painted over but it seems that really old machines with a shellac exterior go very dark when left exposed to dirt etc. Seeing as this one came with no cover or cabinet (or bobbin winder, or upper tension mechanism, but that's not relevant), it was safe to assume this is what happened. I've been applying kerosene (recommended for gentle dirt removal) but no dirt is coming off the machine's exterior, although plenty came from the inside. I've since fitted it with a tensioner from a model 66 but the bobbin winder might be a problem. Since the machine was made in new york there are a lot more of these in North America. I'll just have to be patient and wait until the bits come up. After all, what are the chances I'd have won this incredibly rare machine and just happen to have won its even rarer treadle cabinet a few months before?
A very old lady having a bath - oo-er!
Oh and I fully intend to use this machine. It was the first sewing machine in the world to use 15x1 needles, which were invented and named for this very model and the world's first circular bobbin. Cyndy Kitt imports and sells the little bobbins. It also uses normal Singer low shank feet, so my attachments and feet will all work.
I'll put her into the cabinet very soon and take some more pictures. Here is one I took just after popping it in as a test:

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