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Friday, April 05, 2013

Treadle Irons

I've decided to clean the treadle machine from the bottom up.  That way I can put things back together as I go, and I don't have a machine head all clean and ready to go, staring at me, "Please, can I sew?"  I started with the treadle irons.  There is more than one way to clean these and each set of irons needs different things.  Mine had been in a house so there was very little rust.  I also didn't have any threads wrapped around places it shouldn't have been.  In fact, as far as function, the irons move smoothly and soundlessly.  (Like an oiled dolphin, zipping through the ocean currents.  Or something.)  They just needed all the nooks and crannies cleaned out which can only be done when you have the irons separate from the cabinet and head.

I went to the Internet for help.  (Can I just say here, that the irony of using the Internet to get a 1923 treadle machine clean and running does not escape me.)  I found these directions for cleaning treadle irons, which seem very thorough.  They explain how to take everything apart and clean and paint each individual piece and then put it back together and how to adjust them so they're working right again.  My irons aren't in the kind of condition that would warrant doing all this, and since they're SO SMOOTH, I didn't want to undo anything.  So I kept on looking for some less extreme ways to clean up the irons.  Then I found this which clearly states it's not a tutorial, but it is.  This sounded more my speed.  Here are the irons before:
I hauled them outside and started scrubbing.  I scrubbed and I scrubbed and scrubbed some more.  I found that the toothbrush did a better job than the big scrub brush, so I scrubbed them with the toothbrush.  There was rinsing and washing and rinsing, and more washing and it pretty much went on all day.  I would let them dry, and then see more that needed scrubbing, so I'd scrub again.  It was like doing laundry for a newborn - it just never seemed to end.  Finally, I decided they were clean enough, so I oiled them.  I put oil in the moving parts (that you would normally oil), but I also coated the whole shebang with oil (just standard sewing machine oil).  I rubbed it in (and got out some more dirt) and made sure that every surface of the irons was oiled down.  Then they came inside for the night.

The next day I started waxing them - Turtle Wax.  Again, all the little nooks and crannies had to be waxed and then buffed when it dried.  It took me two more days to finish the waxing, but now that it's all done, they glow!  It was so worth it and I keep looking at the before and after photos:
See what I mean?  I didn't paint them and the gold on the logo is still there (it doesn't show in the "after" because of the lighting), it's a dark, antique gold.  They look so much happier than they did, and they still move like butter, no noise, no clanks, no squeaks, nothing.

Next up is the cabinet portion of the machine.  I'm off to mix a batch of Murphy's Oil Soap!  Have a great weekend!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so impressed! I might have taken them to be sand blasted and repainted at an auto works...but your work looks even better.

4:23 PM  

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