|Wheeler & Wilson No. 9|
Looking forward to starting my new life free from commercial clothing vendors, I began cruising craigslist and ebay for a suitable treadle table to house my newly acquired Necchi BU Nova. Becky and I agreed that a good looking treadle table would be best located in the dining room, where we could use is as a little sideboard or side table to put flowers when it is closed up. As you might expect, there were plenty of options on craigslist for cheap, but I was picky and wanted something that looked (or could look) great, was in reasonable shape and so wouldn't need a ton of work, and also not too big in size.
So I bought this Wheeler and Wilson No. 9 from a guy in Salem, who was kind enough to deliver it for an extra fee.
Wheeler and Wilson was once the biggest sewing machine manufacturer in the world, and had an enormous factory in Bridgeport, CT with 5 acres of floor space. Allen B Wilson invented the rotary hook and the four motion toothed dog style fabric feed. The W&W 9 cost $60 in 1892. This is the equivalent of about $1500 in 2010 terms, and it is a high quality machine which has weathered the 120 years since it was made exceedingly well. The company was bought out by Singer in 1905 after a period of decline.
Above info is taken from SEWALOT, the informative website of Alex Askaroff.
Some other websites with info on Wheeler & Wilson:
Wheeler and Wilson at ISMACS
Wheeler and Wilson at sewmuse.co.uk
Wheeler and Wilson at Wikipedia
My machine looks to be an earlier model based on the longer bobbin cover plate and bigger balance wheel. Here is a shot of the patent dates on the right hand throat plate section. The latest patent date is 92, serial is 2563227.
RejuvenationBasically I followed the guidelines found at the Treadle On website.
The girls and I took it apart and washed it with Murphy's oil soap. Then I treated the woodwork with Howard Restore-a-finish, which toned up the finish very nicely, plus I got it a shade darker to bring the tone of the finish closer to the other darker wood furniture in the dining room.
|The cleansing begins|
I took the iron parts and the head to the basement and hosed them down with WD40 (kerosene), then cleaned them all off thoroughly.
After drying I took these upstairs and got my helpers to give them a good waxing with Turtle Wax. This looked good to begin with, but after a while it got kind of dull and I wasn't able to buff it to a shine again. So I went over it again with Wax-n-Feed and it now looks great.
|Work crew applying Turtle Wax|
Millie helped me lube all the moving parts in the head and the iron base with Tri-Flow, and I went over some parts in the head with a metal polishing cloth. The polish didn't really do a whole lot, probably I need something stronger than what I used, but it still looks fantastic.
|Millie carefully adjusting the upper thread tension spring|
|Violet concentrating on trying to treadle|
Presser FeetAs you might expect with a machine of this vintage, it is a straight stitcher and has a limited range of attachments. The presser foot is a unique but very sturdy style which involves a vertical plate of the presser foot being inserted and clamped into a vertical center slot in the presser foot rod. This makes finding feet for it difficult. I'm thinking of making an adapter for low shank feet; I've heard from a few people that their machines came with such an adapter. I'd like to be able to fit a buttonholer on it, but that would involve not only the presser foot adapter, but also an adapter to connect the needle rod to the power input arm of the buttonholer. A project for the future.
|What is that little clip thing above the foot?|
There are frequently W&W machines and attachments on ebay. Search for "Wheeler Wilson". I bought a nice little wooden box with a bunch of attachments for $40; some are duplicates of what came with my machine. Anyone need a spare tucking foot for a WW9? Come on, don't laugh!
|Millie checking the lid lock action|
|Accessories and Manuals|
My machine came with a tattered operations manual, which I photocopied at work to make a usable version. Here is a version I scanned:
Wheeler and Wilson No. 9 Manual
The version visible in Google Docs doesn't look great, but there is a link to download the original pdf which looks and prints ok.
Dianne B. in England from the Treadle On list was kind enough to post the link to the Wheeler and Wilson No.9 manual at archive.org.
Also got an attachments manual with the machine, scanned copy is posted to Google docs:
Wheeler and Wilson No. 9 Attachments Manual
There is a different scanned copy of this manual at archive.org.
NeedlesThe needle is not compatible with any currently made needles on the market. It is longer, with a smaller diameter upper mounting shank than a typical 15x1 needle. My machine came with 10 needles including one of each of the sizes listed on the front of the old manual, so that should serve for a while. I read about an ebay seller, ngosew, who sells some modern industrial machine needles which are not exactly the right fit but apparently will work if lined up properly by hand. I bought some of those but have not yet tried them out. Cindy Peters of Stitches in Time probably has some suitable antique needles.
|Top - 15x1 needle Bottom - W&W No. 9 Needle|
In the drawers of my machine, along with attachments, manuals, terminally weakened spools of thread on wooden cores, broken needles (why save them??), rusty pins, dust bunnies, etc., were some touching personal documents. These must have been dear to the heart of the former owner, to keep them for decades in the crowded drawers of a treadle sewing machine cabinet.
One was a ripped ticket from the launching of the USS Delphy dated July 18, 1918. This ship was an ill fated destroyer commissioned after WWI, which foundered on rocks off the coast of California in 1923. Was this husband or son's ship?
In another drawer was a little typed love poem, on the back of stationary from the dentist's office. Was the dentist her husband? Perhaps lover? The locking drawer of your sewing machine cabinet would be a great place to put a note from your lover, since no man could possibly have any call to look there.