It is fairly common for taller, longer legged folks to find that it's a tight fit for their knees under a treadle. They say folks are taller now than they used to be, so maybe that's the reason. There are things you can do.
1. If your problem isn't too severe, get a scrap or rough treadle and remove the center drawer or put a new top on it with no center drawer. This is an easy approach and can gain you some height. It's fine if you want a "working treadle", but, of course, does no good if you want to use that beautiful antique you found..
2. Assuming that 1. doesn't do it, you need to build "treadle risers" to raise the top in relation to the treadle frame as follows: (Note: Do not confuse "treadle risers" with "treadle runners". Treadle runners are wooden slats that the frame sits on on the floor, and which allow you to slide the treadle about on carpet. They raise the treadle, but they don't change the distance between the treadle pedal and the top, which is what you need if your knees are bumping. Treadle risers actually increase the distance between the pedal and the top.) Proceed as follows:
- Remove head and drawers and turn machine upside down on the
- Mark where the inside edge of the drawer columns comes to.
Probably it will be very close to the frame edge.
- Remove the treadle frame from the top
- Make a light cardboard pattern of the space inside where the
drawer columns was, including marking where the screw holes for the screws
that hold the frame on are. there is usually not a lot of space under there.
Drawer columns are close to the frame edge and/or clearance for the center
drawer is also tight. Study things and plan ahead.
- Make two wooden strips, or slats to match your cardboard pattern,
with holes drilled where the frame screws will go through. I usually used
regular 1X lumber, 3/4" thick. You can use thicker, even a 2x4, if you
like, but in most cases, one regular board will prove to be enough. If you
go with a thicker riser, you may also need a higher chair.
- Drill two more, smaller holes inside the two holes for the
- Set the two strips in position on the upside down top. Make
sure you have some screws that are a good length to go through your new riser
strip but not all the way through the top! Screw the riser strip to the top.
- Set the frame in place on the riser strip. If you did things
right, the frame holes will line up with the larger screw holes you made in
the riser strip and the riser strip will be narrow enough that the drawer
columns will still fit in place. Again, make sure your screws are the right
length and screw the frame on. You can just screw the frame to the riser strip,
but I generally prefer to go through it and into the top again. Just seems
sturdier to me.
- Put the drawers columns back on and turn the treadle right side up.-
The treadle top should now be higher off of the pedal height
than it was, by the thickness of your riser strip. You will need a notably
longer treadle belt, and, if you used a thick riser, might either have to
get some belt on a 100' roll or join two pieces of belt to get one long enough.
Final comment... Before going to all this trouble, think about what shoes you wear. Back when I took up long distance walking and lost all that weight, I once built treadle risers for a treadle and finished the job before I realized that the problem wasn't my height or my leg length, or that I had stumbled on a particularly small treadle... it was the fact that I was now regularly wearing thick soled walking shoes. When I took them off and slipped into mocassins, there was no problem in the first place.