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The Sewing Machine Shop

Welcome to TreadleOn's Sewing Machine Maintenance and Repair Shop. The pages available here will provide the information you need to select, restore and use treadle and hand crank machines. For information on restoration of cabinets or projects that involve wood working, such as installing new treadle tops and building hand crank or display bases, go to The Wood Shop.
Click on the headings to go to the relevant pages

Cleaning and Re-Lubricating Machine Heads

This page is a guide to cleaning up that grungy, sluggish machine head you just brought home from the garage sale.

Modifying a Modern Walking Foot for Use with Singer 31-15 and 31-20

The 31 Series Singer industrials are quite popular. They are very strong, heavy old machines and turn up on treadles from time to time. Their one drawback for quilters is the lack of an available walking foot for serious quilting. Here is how to modify a walking foot that is available so that it will work with them.

Interesting Old Industrial Singer

This is the first example I have seen of an actual pedal drive Singer. Looking at the drive system, the ratios are set for tremendous power to handle heavy leather.

Converting Back Clamp Feet

Early Singer Model 66's had back-clamping feet, which are rather a bother. They can be converted to the standard short-shank foot quite easily. Here are the instructions.

Converting Singer Sewing Machines from Electric to Treadle or Hand Crank

It is not uncommon to find machines that have been converted to electricity, or to find electric machines you would like to put into a treadle or hand crank base. This page tells you how convert machines for treadle and hand crank use.

The Motor Boss

The hand crank conversion process described in the previous link requires that the machine selected has a motor mount boss. This link will show you a picture of that specific feature and describe its function.

Converting Singer Sewing Machines From Electric to Hand Crank Using the Solid Hand Wheel

For years, it was assumed that we needed to change from a solid to spoked hand wheel to convert an electric machine to hand crank. Susan and Terry Bentley came up with a nice set of instructions on making the conversion using the existing solid hand wheel.

How To Treadle

Making the little beauties go

Installing Treadle Belts

How to install a new belt for optimum operation.

Lapping Hand Wheels to Make Them Fit

Modern reproduction handwheels often don't fit too well. Here is the solution.

Selecting an Old Treadle Machine for Use

This page provides a discussion of factors to consider in selecting a treadle machine for regular use, as opposed to collector value.

Servicing Treadles

Covers treadle adjustment to total disassembly of the treadle frame.

Shipping Sewing Machines

How to pack and ship sewing machines shared wisdom from Treadle On subscribers

Shuttle Fit

Adjusting the fit of a shuttle in a VS machine

Tension Adjustment

Tension adjustment is the most common single problem with sewing machines. Alex Askaroff, a sewing machine repairman in England, has provided a very thorough and clear explanation of how to deal with this problem. He has kindly allowed us to reprint his advice here. Alex is also the author of some charming books on his experiences in the English countryside. You can go obtain his books from him directly via his home page at:

Standard Sewing Machine Wiring

I know, I know, what is this doing on the Treadle On site?
So many of our folks mess about with the old electric machines as well as the people powered ones, that there has been demand for this information. Since I had to work it out, I figured it only made sense to post it where it could be found.

Adapting a Singer Featherweight to Hand Crank

This is certainly not a project for the faint of heart or mechanically inept, but it is fascinating that someone did it.

Removing White Hand Wheels

White hand wheels are very difficult to remove.
Here is a set of instructions.

Removing the White FR Face Plate

People have often commented that White face plate removal is difficult (actually the getting back together). It isn't, if you know how. Here is an instruction page.

New Janome Treadle Sewing Head

In the fall of 2004, Janome announced a new multi-stitch treadle sewing head. I was able to obtain the first one sold in the Northwest, and this page records my comments and experience with it.

Coping with a Vibrating Shuttle Machine

Obtaining an old vibrating shuttle machine is often a collector's first exposure to this mechanism. Period manuals, if present at all, are not very clear on bobbin winding and shuttle threading. These pages should help.


We often find many odd looking attachments in our sewing machines, usually without instructions. Here is a complete Singer 27 attachments instruction manual. Basic instructions should work for similar attachments for other machines as well.

Keys for Treadle Cabinets and Cases

It is pretty common to find treadles and hand crank cases with no key. Here is some help in identifying the key needed and possibly making a substitute.

Singer 20U Industrial

I got to play with a 20U, but I had to adapt a top to accept it. The project became more wood working than sewing machine head, so it is posted in the Wood Shop, but I put this link here to take you direct.

Replacing/Restoring Hinges on Fiddlebase Singers

Fiddlebase Singers have an odd hinge system. The issue of replacing or restoring them came up and here is the explanation that was provided.

Using Singer Repro Hand Crank on Wilcox & Gibbs Head

Whether you can use the repro Singer hand crank on non-Singer heads is a recurrent question. Usually you can't. However, here is a very nice application of that crank to the popular and common Wilcox & Gibbs chain stitch machine.

Making a Hybrid Pitman Rod

If you're assembling a treadle frame from parts and happen to end up with a treadle platform meant for a wooden pitman but a drive wheel with the ball bearing crank and metal pitman, you have a problem. Here is a clever adaptation system to make these two mismatched parts work together.