Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Treadle Clean up

I had absolutely no intention of getting involved in this project today.  But it was a warm day, low humidity and a perfect day to paint.  I thought that one of the treadle legs was ready for paint.  I was wrong. This treadle is so dirty.  It is going to take HOURS before I can paint it.   This is how this side looked a few weeks ago.
Here it is after some work that day and some more work today.  I scrubbed with a small wire brush and degreaser.  And I rinsed with the hose.  Then I did it some more until, when I scrubbed, the froth was white, not brown...

 Someone had painted it silver.  It is pretty clear that whoever did that just got out the spray can and went to town, right over the dirt.  The silver paint comes right off along with the dirt.  But there is just so much of it.  

I  wanted to start on the wheel today but I was worried about the pitman.  It's wood.  Hard wood, most assuredly, but wood still and 104 year old wood at that.  I did not want to get it wet.  I did not want to break it .  I wanted to get it off.

I went to Treadle On and looked up how to take apart the treadle base http://www.treadleon.net/sewingmachineshop/treadles/servicingtreadles.html and felt confident that I could do it.  They stated that it is not necessary to remove the pitman.  True, but in this case it had to come off.

Removing the dress guard was easy.  I was surprised and encouraged.  Perhaps removing that screw to the wheel would be easy.  NOT!

I had treated it with PB Blaster before dinner.  I whacked, scraped, applied more PB Blaster, whacked some more, scraped some more, put the hair dryer to it,  applied more PB Blaster and just could not get it loose.  I was about to give up but finally tried Kroil.  (I have a very little bit left over from class)
I grabbed the nut behind the screw and turned it.  It moved, finally.  Then I was able to loosen the screw and back off the cone bearings and finally get the wheel off.  WHEW.

In order to get the pitman off, though, I had to loosen its "adjuster" and remove it. See how I backed that screw all the way out?
Once that was out, the two little pieces in that hole were free to come out.
The little half moon top piece practically fell out, along with a washer that sits between the two pieces.
I had to manipulate the other part.  I think that I can get it back in after everything is cleaned up.

I have already lost the nuts and bolts and some other parts to this machine.  I would not say that they are lost.  I would say they are mis-placed.  They will surface, probably when I clean the shop.
But I did not want to lose this very important and special piece. So I tacked it to the wall and took a picture of it.  It needs cleaning too..
I cleaned the pitman.  I used my utility knife to gently scrape the crud and old paint off.  Then I wiped it down with mineral spirits.
The patent mark is still legible.  Imagine that
I guess this little project was worth it.  None of my other treadles have a wooden pitman.  None of my other treadles are in such terrible shape, either.

Speaking of which, yesterday Steven and I drove over to Gilbertsville to look at a treadle.  It was in worse shape than this one.  It, too, has a wooden pitman.   I offered less than the asking price.  The asking price is firm.

My plan for tomorrow is to try to finish the cleaning.  I think that it will be a breeze now that the pitman is free.....Oh, yeah, I gotta find those parts....(UPDATE, I found them this morning, Independence Day,.......just had to know where to look)


  1. Degreased and scrubbed the silver rather looks like patina. Maybe a coat of floor wax and you're good to go?
    Likewise after some steel wool on the pitman.
    Very rustic look.
    Happy Fourth.

  2. My treadle also has a wooden pitman. Fortunately, it had never been painted over. Once a month, I 'nourish' it with Howard's Feed & Wax to keep it from drying and becoming brittle. For me, putting the arm back in place was simpler (read: less work) than removing it. Can't wait to see your finished product!

  3. hi just found your site, thanks very much for the info! I found today that my new/old sewing machine also has a wooden pitman it was just too grimey for me to notice it was wood before now! :-) love your sewing machines!


  4. Thank you for the info. Yesterday I decided to begin refurbishing an old sewing machine stand I bought years ago. It was so grimy, I had no idea the Pittman was wood until I stumbled onto your site. I have the same model as yours. I ended up taking the entire stand apart which will make it easier to clean. I had no problems taking it apart which only places more emphasis on the quality of parts and labor when life wasn't all about mass production. I hope to complete refinishing the pieces today.

  5. Where is the Pittman located? I have the same machine. Thanks!

    1. The pitman connects the balance wheel to the foot pedal