Sunday, October 27, 2019

Variable speed drive demonstration model

Some relaxing tinkering with the vintage bits of Meccano. In addition to the instruction manuals and 'book of models', the Meccano Magazine is full of inspiration and little (and large) models to build.

In the December 1945 issue on page 422 is e.g. this very compact demonstration-model of a variable speed drive, sent in by a reader from Hull.

Built with Meccano parts from around 1930, a variable speed drive is built within the spirit of the illustration and text. As is very often the case, some deviations to make it possible with the fit and range of parts at hand.

And it does work, very well actually. The motor has a runtime of at least a full minute with 'power'. Using the handwheel then to change the pulley position as it is running causes the driven wheel to noticeably speed up or slow down, relative to the driving wheel.

The side view shows some of the changes and how the driven axle is supported. By adjusting the position of the driving faceplate/wheel (on the axle with the gear), the force of the rubber-tyred pulley on the driven plate can be adjusted. Adjusted so that it still drives without slippage and also does not press/jam everything solid.

A relaxing little puzzle to tinker  together - and a very neat, visible demonstration of variable speed drives. With thanks to A. Bedford of Hull.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Associated ephemera - haberdashery

Even though these are 'consumable' items, probably a great many of these cards survive - like these.

An amazing amount of these snap-fasteneres were jammed in in an old jam-jar. Amongst a load of fairly recent generics (for offspring to craft with), a surprising number of older cards. Many with the original product still on the card. A snapshot of haberdashery packaging from probably the late 1930-ies to the late 1960-ies.

Some cards have used fasteners snapped back onto a card - waste-not, want-not!

Some of the older Koh-I-Noor buttons/fasteners have an unusual 'castellated' rim, neat. The spelling of the advertising on the back of these does suggest a date no later than ~1950. (Dutch spelling evolves rather.) The one card that was the lower-corner of a sheet carries what is probably a printer's mark 'I 40', quite likely 1940.

Another little bit of trivia this threw up; there are a few 'Prym' cards in there as well. This company is still in business and has been producing metalwork since 1530. Still makes snap fasteners too.

Not quite so ephemeral :)

Monday, October 7, 2019

Singer 28K sewing machine

The sewing machine is clean and working again!

This is another niche subject it's possible to totally 'geek-out' with. Looking again at some more online resources (there's e.g. ISMACS), it turns out this is not a 128 from '29. Despite the bobbin-winder being high-up, it does not have the eject-lever for the shuttle - so a type 28. Also the serial number falls in the range released on January 8, 1930 for a batch of type 28 sewing machines (according to the really most extensive serial number database at ISMACS). So it's a 28K from 1930 manufactured in Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland.

In any case - a very neat and decorative small machine that again works absolutely fine. Here threaded (with of course thread on a wooden spool) and it has already been used quite a bit.

Apart from general cleaning and polishing the thread-tension disks, the only part that needed attention was the cam-roller for the feed-dog motion (white arrow). This was seized-up and sliding over the cam surface instead of rolling. This made the machine go 'heavy'.

The machine tilts-up for access. Some oiling and coaxing of the wheel restored motion. With general oiling of all parts, the machine rapidly got into its own again. Positively purring away.

The hinges that hold the machine in its wooden base had come loose a little. With a large screwdriver these were fastened again. (Never thought I'd ever have a need for this large screwdriver, but it was just the right size.)

The machine drops over hinge-pins and then fixed by set-screws. These set-screws turned out to be the only part missing on this machine. Not essential, but will be nice to get a set later. It turns out that screw-thread in Singer machines is non-standard and Singer-specific. Hadn't thought about it, they started mass-production in the 1850-ies before well established standards - so created their own.

The rubber feet at the corners of the base had disappeared, leaving only the nail protruding. These were covered by some new felt feet. For grip, the felt was 'infused' with some plasti-dip.

With the machine out of the base, the date that was scratched into the bottom became easier to spot. This looks like a date from a professional servicing. Perhaps the machine was serviced and sold again by a dealer second-hand in '54 to a new owner. These were once very expensive items!

Judging by the the state of the machine and how all the adjustment screws were all jammed 'tight', the last time it was used was probably a frustrating failure. Then it was probably put away in an attic or cupboard for a few decades, to end up in the local council recycling-centre's store.

Still some small things to add/put right, but already this Singer is functional and being used again.

Highly recommended, these - both for restoring and using.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Cleaning up the impulse buy machine

The machine was clearly well-used, with wear to the finish from fabric and hands sliding over the surfaces. After use, the machine must have been stored away for perhaps decades, judging from the dust, dirt and 'tiredness' of the wooden case.

The wooden carrying case for the machine is similar to typewriter cases in that it consists of a base and a lid. Very different is the domed, steamed 'bentwood' and the lacquered finish. With the gold decal the case looks more like early Hammond cases.

The general 'tired' look of the case with the varnish being broken in spots could be revived very nicely with furniture wax. There may be other and better methods, but this will fill the bare spots and protect the wood and create a more even finish. Working carefully around the decal, not taking any chances with rubbing or solvents from the wax-preparation damaging it. As can be seen in the image with the corner waxed, it brings out the depth of the wood again.

The metalwork of the machine had some superficial rust as well as general grime. After cleaning with a damp cloth, a basic, quick polish with a little bit of Brasso brings out the shine again. An important part to clean and make smooth again is the thread-tensioner (or so I have gathered from the vast array of resources online about these machines).

That's the complex looking spring-assembly with knurled nut on the side of the machine head. The two dished discs in that stack pinch the thread to create tension during sewing. These fortunately cleaned up well and are here again assembled.

The damage to the decals and paintwork of the machine can be seen very clearly here. The cast frame of these machines was painted (dipped) in black lacquer, then decals and then followed by a clear-coat of shellac.

The clear shellac has been worn away on most of the machine - the spotty, brownish layer on the bed are probably remains of this protective shellac coating. We'll have to see how to tackle this.

Maybe this will be left as-is; it is a well-used machine and will be permitted to look it. Getting it to work again is the main thing (it's being eyed by a daughter, keen on using it).

Very different mechanical technology again, very neat to tinker with and fix-up :-)