Multi-Top Treadle and 3/4 Treadle Replica

Third Page

I got back into the workshop the next day and here is how that went:



In the past, I've aligned the treadle with a plumb bob. I dawned on me to try using a laser level... wow! Super neat. Here you can see the red light from the laser ... it's faint in the drive wheel, but visible and you can see the line on the top and accross the belt opening. This is the top with Cathy's pattern cut in it.


White FR sitting in opening. A word about the treadle belt... I have had, for some years, one of the old all spring belts that were used by the repairmen in their shops. I decided to dig it out and try it. I'm sold! Very nice arrangement... a little tighter than I like to run my belts, but talk about easy to put on and off.



When positioning the machine head, watch not only the fit to the drive wheel of the treadle, but how the belt functions with the bobbin winder! I had one head nicely positioned in terms of the hand wheel and drive wheel, but discovered that it didn't clear the bobbin winder properly to allow for both treadling and bobbin winding. The center of the hand wheel doens't necessarily go over the center of the drive wheel. I ended up having to slide my 28 head forward a good 1 1/2" to make the belt clear the winder. So, check that factor before final placement of machines.



The way the spring belt fastens is interesting. The spring itself is kind of a screw. You counter twist one side and put the ends together. The natural spring twist tries to tighten it up again and it just stays together. It's not really very visible, but you should be able to detect a slight fattening of the spring right where it crosses the hand wheel spoke. That's where the joint is.


Singer 15 on top.


There is play, different for every machine, in using this "one size opening fits all" approach. Here the Singer 15 is slid to the back of the opening... you can see the edge of the two slots that allow the hinge pin castings to fit in.


Here the same machine is slid forwarad, and you can see that in order to allow a larger machine (I think a Wheeler and Wilson) to fit in, the actual opening allows a lot of movement for this head.


Here is my Singer 28 sitting in the opening. Obviously, it has a shorter bed. It is also even narrower than the Singer 15. It will rest here and treadle. However, it has to be exactly placed. I got a little sloppy and the head slipped through the opening and fell on my foot! No major damage, but not nice.



The head falling through the opening led me back to my old plastic adaptor plate, seen on the page from yesterday's work. I tried it again here. Note that it is way bigger than the opening and the machine is secure. I decided to explore this option as well as Cathy's and proceeded to make a set of adaptor plates for the three machines I was working with.




Using masonite, I made an adaptor plate for the Singer 15. At this point, I was primarily interested in the fit of the machine into the hole in the adaptor plate. As you can see here, this piece of masonite is obviously short for the machine, but I figure that outside dimensions could be adjusted later on any final work. The key to this adaptor plate is using the belt opening from Cathy's pattern to control all of the markings and cuts.


Here is the adaptor without the machine


Making an Adaptor Plate

The next four pictures should help you get the idea of making the adaptor plate hole.


All of the sewing machine heads I’ve ever seen are designed with a lip around most of the edge of the base. If you turn the machine over and study it, you will see that lip. There may be spots where the casting comes out to the edge, such as the hinge pin holes on the back edge, or there may be actual hinges welded to the back edge. There may also be some spots underneath where there are lumps and mechanical projections to be allowed for. The trick is to measure for the basic opening you will need to set the machine in, forgetting the projections or lumps. That will be your basic cutout.

The machine has to be placed in such a way that it’s hand wheel groove is properly aligned with the drive wheel. My instructions show how to do that. Once you have the place marked on the machine top or template where the belt alignment will be, you can position your cutout hole and cut it out. The machine will not drop right in... remember those casting projectionss and lumps? OK, so you observe where the machine doesn’t fit and carefully cut out those spots, using a small saw or wood rasp. Work gradually and keep going until you’re satisfied that the machine sits in it’s custom fitted hole with the lip of the base resting on the surface, and that the belt is properly aligned.


The little 28 is about as simple as it gets. The lip is wide and clearly defined at both sides. This one, being a pre-1900, has the welded on hinges, which will require cutouts. Also, the ends of the rod to the right sticks out to the very edges of the base... see the previous picture. This will require another cut at the edge of the basic opening...

Note also that there is large bolt head right in the middle of the end of the base. This, too, required a little cutout at first. As work progressed, I decided to remove the piece of wood between the basic opening and the belt slot. After I joined these two openings, removing that piece of wood, there was no longer a need for the cut at this end of the rod or for one for the bolt head... see subsequent pictures.


Here you're looking at the finished template set on the machine. Note that I gave up on keeping the belt slot as a separate opening. This is necessary on Cathy's pattern because you will need that end support on some of the machines you might put in the opening. However, with this type of one machine template, the complete support provided along both sides and at the left end are more than adequate, and, particularly in the case of the 28, the cut required for the ends of that rod left very little actual wood on the piece that separated the machine opening from the belt opening. Joining the two openings made making the template much easier.



Here is a closeup of what, right side up, would be the right hand end of the machine and template. You cans see the rectangular cutout made to allow the welded on hinge to sink below the surface and allow the machine to sit flush, and the extra cut that had to be made to allow for the end of that rod.



Here we're stepping back a bit and I'm showing how much space there was around the 28 in the pattern hole, and also how I was aligning the machine itself to the belt opening.


There really isn't much lip here to hold the machine. I suspect that this is a situation where a minor difference in bed size resulting from machines being case in different forms might be enough that one would hold and one would not. Note also the narrowness of the piece of wood between the basic opening and the belt slot.


Lots of play left and right, too.


OK... back to templates... Here I've got the 28 template on top of the opening and the machine sitting on it, everything aligned and checked with the laser.


Template in place without machine. Note the two cutouts in the piece between the opening and the belt slot... not a lot of wood left there in terms of support.



Three templates made.. FR, 15 and 28. Note that on the FR I used two ovals instead of a full slot. My thought was to leave more wood for support. However, bad idea... This meant that you had to unconnect the ends of the belt every time you changed machines. As previously noted, my eventual decision here was simply to remove that strip of wood.




Here are the three templates set on top of each other. Note that the one common feature is that the belt groove is the same on each. After I decided to remove the separating piece of wood, the right side edge of the belt groove became the control.


I wanted a whole new top for my recreated 3/4 treadle. This is a piece of either oak flooring or counter top I got at a salvage store. I cut it to the size I wanted, then placed each of the three templates on it and drew their pattens, keeping the belt slot edge in common. This gave me the minimum size opening that I had to cut to fit the three machines.


I had a piece of 1/2" high quality ply wood and cut my first template out of that. I made it plenty big. I also cut the opening well oversize, to allow for any additiona and perhaps larger machines I might want to add later.


No big project is complete without personal investment... Ouch! Never even knew I had a problem till I saw the blood stains on the wood. Still don't know what I did...


Here you see my first template, and the cut that I made to eliminate the piece of wood separating the two openings. The right edge of the opening remains the control.


Note: It was in the making of the multiple templates that I came to the conclusion that no simple pattern was going to be universally usable. There is simply too much seemingly minor variation in pencil point thickness, tracing size changes, variable thicknesses of saw blades, etc to come out exact. I used a large wood rasp to true up the right edges, sometimes rasping on the oak top, sometimes on the templates. I ended up with all of the the same, but it did take adjustment.


Plan ahead... You may need one! Here I've picked up my coffin top and placed it on my template... which, obviously, I made without consideration of how large it needed to be for the coffin top to sit on it! That turned out OK, because I benefitted from making the "test run". I then went out and got another piece of 1/2" plywood with a nicely finished fancy veneer on it and made the three final templates from that.

You can see the Cathy's treadle top and my finished 3/4 treadle reproduction on the initial page of this topic:

Finished Work




Cathy Nelson's Multi-Top Pattern




Here is Cathy's pattern as she sent it to me. All measurements were added by me, as accurately as I could. You can use them to redraw the pattern. You will have to do the redrawing... don't try to enlarge this picture and draw from it as, obviously, the camera perspective is skewed. Remember as you use it to check each machine's fit carefully. Tend to cut undersize and rasp, file and sand your way into the best possible fit.





At this point in this whole project, or actually group of projects, the dust has settled... a multi-top has been made to Cathy's pattern, a replica 3/4 size treadle has been built and said treadle has a set of top templates for several machines. Much of the material covered on these pages has been covered on Treadle On before, but repetition is a valid learning tool. If you review "Universal Treadle Tops", "Installing a Whole New Top on a Treadle", "Resurfacing a Treadle Top", and "Making an Adapter Plate to Use a Machine for Which a Treadle Wasn't Designed", you will have gone through a tremendous amount of material related to treadle tops. Absorb even half of it and you should be able to do about anything you want with a treadle.

I hope you enjoyed the presentation, which I'll admit got a lot more involved than I anticCapipated.

Captain Dick

Some Followup Comment


I received the following posts from Cathy, which explained some of my concern regarding the smaller machines...


I think that your enthusiasm did get the better of you. I was getting exhausted reading. :>)
The aquarium tubing that worked best for me was the more expensive blue silicone, not the clear tubing.
The "belt" that is in current usage is black & solid core.
The original cutout was set for a Japanese class 15. I've never tried a 3/4 head in the uni-treadle. As I
discussed with you at the TOGA, I am planning on making a second complete top for 3/4 heads or a
large piece with the appropriate 3/4 cutout to fit over the original top.
I'll send you pictures of whatever I decide to do.
BTW, my White Rotary sure looks fantastic on the Treadleon page. Thank you.


This was supplemented by this:


"I just spent a few hours in the garage making a temporary insert for a 3/4 head.
I'll get some good solid wood and wood dowels for locating pins at a later date. For now
the plywood for the insert and aluminum tube for locating pins will do.
I attached a few pictures.