Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Hand crank Singer

ThreadKoe | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

On my trip to Kingston this weekend, I stopped at an antique store. I saw a small handcrank singer, minus spool spindle, but otherwise intact. Probably condition 7(maybe as much as 8). They wanted $75. It was cast. I know that you collect Nationals, but do you know anything about these? I picked up a condition 9 Featherweight for under $400. but the idiot started it up and jammed it before I could stop him. Bought it anyways, nothing broken, just have to free up the bobbin I think. Looked up the serial number, built in 1949. Had to carry it the rest of the way on the back of my bike(truly a lightweight portable!). My family thinks I am nuts for sure now. Is it worth going back for the crank? Cathy


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    I'd have gotten the handcrank Singer for $75 before I paid $400 for a Featherweight. 8^)

    Without a serial number, I can't really tell you anything about the Singer other than that they were the best machines made in their day. I personally love handcrank machines. It sounds like either a model 12 (very small), a chainstitcher (again, very small) or one of the 3/4 sized machines.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #2

      Yes, it was Very small, with an adjustable slide type seam guide. I think the serial number was only 4 numbers starting with a 2. I am not good remembering numbers. Should have written it down. It was single tone beige. What else should I look at on the machine? Cathy
      Would have bought it also, but couldn't fit both on the bikes.

      Edited 9/2/2008 9:43 am ET by ThreadKoe

      1. damascusannie | | #3

        Ok, that sounds like the little toy chainstitcher. Did it look like the machine pictured here: http://www.needlebar.org/cm/displayimage.php?album=441&pos=10

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #4

          No, it is not as fancy as anything pictured. It is square shaped, very plain. Crinkle finish. Square base sits flat on table. Nothing came up when I searched the site quickly. Cathy

          1. damascusannie | | #5

            When you clicked on the link provided, didn't it take you to a picture of a single machine? It does when I click on it.

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #6

            Yes, it did, but the machine is nothing like it. So I looked further. Scanned through some of the other machines under toys, and went to domestic machines as well. Did a search under crank machines, and chainstitcher(nothing came up). Am still looking now to see if there is anything similar. Neat site. Drooling actually over some of the older machines. I would have to say stylewise that it seemed to be a 50's or 60's style modern maybe? Cathy

          3. damascusannie | | #7

            Hmm--The four digit serial number is certainly from a toy. I didn't ask--was it metal or plastic? Singer did make a "rocketeer" style toy.http://www.geocities.com/chainstitcher/Collection/021.jpgOh, and you are DEFINITELY better off with the Featherweight! The toy machines are just an exercise in sewing frustration!

          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #8

            Sorry, when I said it was cast, I meant it was metal. Yes the picture is it. Or very similar anyways. So this is a toy machine, and not worth going back for then? Cathy

          5. damascusannie | | #9

            Oops! You did say it was cast, and I did understand--but then forgot! Unless you are interested in collecting toys for fun, don't go back for it. There are lots of handcrank machines around and in fact most of the older Singers can be converted to handcrank if you really, really want one. I do this all the time to make user-friendly machines for kids that will actually sew.

          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #10

            OK then, my first instinct was right then, leave it where it sat. It is not even complete. Thanks for the input. It was an interesting search anyway. Now if I find something more interesting, I will let you know.....Cathy

          7. damascusannie | | #11

            With Singers in particular, be sure to get the serial number. That way I can determine the age and the model.

          8. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #12

            I am going to put pen and notebook in my saddlebag for next time I travel. Really needed it. I usually have it in my purse to write things down, but don't carry it with me on the bikes. Limited space, and I had to pack for 3 days. Good thing I could send the sewing machine home with one of the others. Will remember about the serial numbers for next time. Will also take a pic. that will work better than my memory, as I am not sure my descriptive skills are all that great. Again, thank you so very much for all your effort and help. Cathy

          9. damascusannie | | #13

            Oh, with pix I can ID alot of the American machines and some of the European ones. They make life lots easier for a sewing machine detective!

          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #14

            Another hat Detective Annie?

          11. damascusannie | | #15

            Oh yeah! I have lots of hats: Mom, Weird Sewing Machine Lady, Quilter, Knitter, Pattern Designer....Annie

          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #16

            tee hee, weird sewing machine lady? the machines I hope, tee hee Cathy

          13. damascusannie | | #17

            That's what I choose to believe!

          14. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #18

            Researching sewing machines is fun! I can see how you got addicted. Found the manual for mine (free), and some very interesting info on upkeep and repair. Am now going to take the bobbin assembly and loop guard apart to unsnarl a thread mess and check for damage to the loop guard. Gotta get it done before DH comes home, or he will want to get his fingers in there! Also discovered it was made in Kilbowie Scotland. Am going to unpack my treadle tomorrow when it is hot in the afternoon and get the number off of her and see what she is. She is due for her oiling anyways. Got the manual for that also I think, I never had it before, and I was unaware that there were accessories for it as well. Hmm, something new to search for....Cathy

          15. sewchris703 | | #20

            Another picture of my first sewing machine. It might have been a toy but as a child, I made many Barbie doll clothes on that machine.Chris

          16. immc | | #25

            I hope y'all can point me in useful directions. I learned to sew on a 1913 Singer treadle, have a Brother treadle, a Juki out of the 30's, several 50's Singers; ummm - well, is there really such a thing as too many machines? The crazy mom did it again.

            Honestly, it was only for the pretty cabinet, but my insatiable curiosity kicked in. Sorry I don't have more/better info, but strapping 6'5" 16 yr old son helped load it in - top of the cabinet down - hasn't been available to help me unload. I don't dare try to move this one on my own, it weighs about 3 tons.

            So, preliminary: looks like it was stored in a barn; head's filthy. Kenmore (Sears),  pebbly gunmetal gray, frayed cloth covered cord, foot control missing, bobbins 7/8" diameter X 1/4" thick,  patent # on motor L608062 or L645062, or related numbers - cleaning, better light, I hope I'll be better able to read it; another number is E6354. I didn't write down the amperage figures, etc. Don't know if head #'s match motor #s. Want pics, but can't do that yet.

            Stylistically, it's the funkiest thing I've ever seen. Very much keyed into streamlined, airplane inspired Art Deco, Art Moderne lines; late 30's, post WWII, pre-50's?. Light's on back, casing looks like a propeller housing. Where I'm used to the hand wheel and belt, it has instead(?) of a belt, a shiny band of steel(?) - maybe the belt's supposed to run around that? That steel is marked from bobbin winding. Bobbin winder's at least missing a spring, it's loose. There's no wheel, but a bullet shape, not real comfortable to the hand. I wonder if it's an industrial machine, that somehow made its way into a home cabinet? I've looked online some, but pretty much drawn a blank.

            Beyond what IS it,  I need to learn if it's worth cleaning, re-wiring, finding a foot control, keeping? IF it can be made to run, it looks like it would be an ideal jeans machine. I hate to consign a sewing maching to a recycler, but is it worth spending any time/money on? Thanks for any pointers! Iverna

          17. damascusannie | | #26

            Any way at all that you can post a picture of it or send me one? I can't ID the model for sure based on your description and since Sears used so many different manufacturers to supply their machines over the years, we need to determine the maker first.

          18. immc | | #27

            Thanks for the response - Wasn't enuf info in that post to expect more. Had son help, found model name, took some pics, will get onto disk, online ASAP, hopefully btwn Thurs & Sun. Probably need more pics and/or visit to good sewing machine shop to get firm answers. I love research, but know all too well that one discovery inevitably generates 6 more questions, which spawn their own questions.... I know Sears used everybody and his brother and a few of their cousins as manufacturers. My late '50's/early 60's Sewmor; is Korean made Kenmore - may even have been made in same plant at same time, labeled that little bit different to sell to other than Sears.

            Kenmore Imperial Rotary, open sesame to online sources; reprints of manual available. I'm rather pleased with myself that I pegged the '38-42 stylistic time frame; little later than I expected, given war restrictions. Norm at home is "how's zis work, does it come apart, let's see if we can figure out..." Any tips on how to clean grime off, dust/cobwebs out of motor (repeated applications of ?,  very soft brush?, time, patience, potentially a few of the exclamations used when DH's working on his '69 Dodge PU?), so I can see what's under?

            If this has potential use, can parts & bobbins be found? Presser foot bar's seized 'up', if(?) we have the correct lever - repeated apps of oil? As long as it takes standard needles, not the short ones, that's nothing. It would have to be (son said 'bombproof'?) workhorse that would re-pay pro rebuilding with power/strength for jeans, tents & last pretty much the rest of my life to justify putting money into. This is my 8th, or 9th, or maybe 10th machine currently on hand. I'm not sure if this is a collection or an addiction. I am sure I need to cull for best and dispose of others. Possibility of DIY? Any tips on where to look for parts online? 

            My favorite machine is a '68 Bernina 730 Record I've owned & used for 30 years. DH says we 'massaged' the rheostat in control foot, coaxed a further 7-8 yrs; it's dead. With no way to provide power to it, the machine's useless. I feel like I'm cheating on my best friend; no other machine FEELS right. But the cost of that foot isn't merely a gasp, it's a question of whether I should afford it at all. Maybe I could convince the guys to help me turn it into a treadle? There's a guy turning brand new Pfaffs into treadles for Amish women. But that's a whole different discussion! 

          19. damascusannie | | #28

            To loosen things up try Break Free. Oiling will help a lot. A soft brush or cloth works well. I'm a collector, too, but stick to the treadles for actual use--I don't trust those old motors and won't work on them. There are a lot of on-line groups for old SMs. I highly recommend Wefixit at Yahoo. I think there's a vintage Kenmore group, too. The good news is that usually there's not much wrong with the actual machine that a good clean and lube won't fix.

          20. immc | | #29

            Thanx - Break Free - auto supply, hardware stores?

            I agree about the old motors. Scary things. We already live in a '65 house trailer with an electrical system that won't support a modern fridge. It's not worth re-wiring in the short time we have left to live there. Found a place that rebuilds the old SM motors, if I wanted to go that route, but I'm certain very few are actually worth rebuilding. That's one of those let's just not go there things.

            Most of my vintage mechanical machines were acquired for the purpose of converting them to treadles, cannibalizing some for parts, since there were millions of 'em made, so there's not enuf commercial value to fuss about. DH wants to live off grid again. I'm OK with living off the grid, done it b4, didn't have a non-electric sewing machine the last time. I'm working towards being better prepared. This Kenmore rotary just showed up in a cabinet I want.

            Appreciate the tip on Yahoo groups - just hadn't thought of those.  Iverna

          21. damascusannie | | #30

            PB Blaster is good, too. Yeah, auto parts or farm stores should have one or the other.

          22. jatman | | #31

            Hi Damascusannie!

            I just got back from a second hand store where I purchased an old Singer machine.  It is beautiful.  It's one of those black ones with flowers painted on it and it even has a manual with it.  It came with a pristine carrying case (although it is so ridiculously heavy I can't imagine hauling it around) and it also has a little wooden stand that it's on as well as an extender for the stand.  The serial number is 9197331 which according to one website means that it's from 1889.  The manual seems to indicate that there were feet that went with it but there are none in the little case.  Are these things still available anywhere?  Is this something that is occasionally found on eBay or are there companies that specialize in finding or manufacturing them? 

            I bought it on a whim because I found a hand cranked machine in a bent wood case over the summer that I didn't buy and I've been kicking myself ever since. 

            Had to tell someone about my purchase!  My husband will only be mildly amused and I'm really excited to have found this machine and you seem to be the resident antique sewing machine expert!




          23. damascusannie | | #32

            The attachment sets are pretty easy to find--they're just low-shank attachments. A typical set includes binders, hemmers, a tucker, a ruffler and a shirring foot. There are dealers who specialize in this sort of thing. My favorite is Cindy Peters at [email protected] I can't guarantee that she'll have a set around, but she'll look for you if she knows you want one. On the other hand, do you NEED the attachments? I almost never use mine. Sounds like you got a neat machine. I'd recommend that you join the forum at Treadle On for practical advice on how to use it. The website is http://www.treadleon.net It's a very friendly group that will totally understand your excitement. Word of warning though--when I joined I had two antique sewing machines, now I have over 60. They are NOT going to help you control the urge to get more old machines! 8^) I'm very excited because I'll be seeing a bunch of the members this weekend in Lake City, MN. This is an annual event and I plan my September schedule around it. I CAN'T WAIT!

          24. jatman | | #33

            Thank you for the info!  And thank you for the warning that this might be addictive!

            Enjoy your get together.  It's always nice to be around people who get excited about the same things you do!



        2. sewchris703 | | #19

          Ooo, thanks for the website. I found my toy chain stitch Singer and now I know the model #--40k. The machine still works but I don't have the spool pin anymore. I use it as a door stop in my sewing room. I even have the spiral bound book that came with it. I just wish that I still had the "doctor bag" case that came with the machine.Chris

          1. damascusannie | | #21

            I'm glad you found the site useful--it's probably the best research site available for antique and vintage sewing machines.

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #22

            The Bobbin Case on my machine was seized, and while researching it, guess what I found? Another hat by our own dear Author Annie! My but you are soooo talented My Dear Friend! =) Cathyhttp://www.antiquequiltdating.com/non-electric_sewmachine.html

          3. damascusannie | | #23

            Thanks--Antique Quilt dating is a great site if you are at all interested in old quilts and quilting in general. On my writing To Do list is another article on how to use the old attachments. I finished the last custom quilting job in my queue yesterday, so now I HOPE I'll have time to get back to work on some of my other projects.

          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #24

            I thought it was a great article. And it let us get to know you better as well. Finally got the bobbin mechanism unstuck, and my new baby is sewing like a charm! Adjusted the tension and away she went! Now I am going to work on the old treadle baby. DH sat there and gave me heck about the way I laid out the pieces of this and that, but managed to keep his fingers off for the most part. The treadle's cabinet is in pretty rough shape, the drawers and such are in need of regluing. Will get cabinetmaker brother on board for that project this winter. Cathy

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All