Adapting a Singer Crank to a Willcox & Gibbs

Note: I made a real hash out of the following material. I lost the photos for awhile, then lost the narrative, then ended up with the photos converted to a format I couldn't use and couldn't convert back. I finally got it all sorted out, but I lost the name of the person who submitted the first examples. If you see this and you're that person, let me know and I can give credit.


The question of the possibility of adapting the available reproduction Singer hand crank to other than Singer machines is recurrent. Generally, the answer is "no". However, as the material below will show, it is possible to adapt this crank to the Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch machine. It involves only minor home machine work... drilling a hole and inserting a bolt, but some degree of woodworking... building a box. Below are two examples, followed by comments from the builders.

Now, I know that I will immediately be flooded with questions as to whether this approach can be used with machines other than Wilcox and Gibbs. I suspect not. If you study the head, you will see that the Wilcox and Gibbs mounting system is such that the hand wheel stands free to the right of the base far enough to allow for the mounting of the crank. On most machines, the geometry would be difficult to achieve. If someone tries it and succeeds, I would be interested in seeing pictures.


Willcox and Gibbs Chain Stitch Sewing Machine

I have two Willcox and Gibbs Sewing machines. One is an early electric model and the other was an ugly conversion to electric. I like the Willcox and Gibbs because it has an early sewing machine style that had a long production run. It was virtually unchanged from the 1860s to the 1940s and thus the WG sewing machine heads are rather easy to obtain at a reasonable price. The original WG handcranks are beyond my budget, so my friend Jake made a wood base and modified the crank arm of a reproduction Singer hand crank. Voila, I have a hand crank Willcox and Gibbs within my budget range. I just love it! It sews really nicely and the top of the base comes off to reveal lots of space for sewing scissors, spools, and etc. This machine is my favorite machine to take camping with my Middle Ages Recreation group call the Society for Creative Anachronisms. The Willcox and Gibbs is a very nice 'anachronism.'





Second Example... From Martha Wickman


Last time I sent the pictures I described what each picture was (not that it was really needed. The hole drilled into the base looks like a hole drilled into the side of a wood box). I think I told you the bolt I put in the arm of the hand crank was a 10-24 bolt. I then ground off the head and dipped the whole thing in plastic dip to protect the machine. You had suggested using a piece of vinyl or a straw on the bolt to protect the machine. I put a nut on each side of the bolt to give it support. On the base I put a thin strip of shelf liner on each side of the hole so the hand crank wouldn't shift. I also put a 1/4 wide piece of wood on top and bottom of the hole to act like a motor mount on a Singer machine.







Some added notes from Martha:

The only thing I would add is to make sure the center of the bolt that holds the arm on the winder is lined up perfectly with the center of the wheel on the machine. There isn't much wiggle room, so if the hole is drilled slightly off in the wood box the bolt will not be centered in the wheel and there won't be a smooth rotation.
The hand crank has to crank towards the operator, too. Just backwards of Singer machines.

I was re-reading again...I don't know if it is necessary to point out that the hole is drilled in the arm where the little screw was that held the piece of metal that helped adjust the "finger" on the hand crank.