Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kranky People

We are the Kranky People . . . because we like our old hand crank sewing machines!

Let me introduce you to my Kranky friends--on the left is Laurie, then JoAnn, Jerry, and Kay.

We gathered in my dining room last June to work on our HAND CRANK SEWING MACHINES.

We had so much fun, we decided to make it a regular thing--getting together to work on our machines.  Laurie came up with the group name, KRANKY PEOPLE.

Laurie has a Singer with original hand crank--as I recall it has a manufacture date of 1894.  It is a 3/4 size.

Needless to say, Laurie stayed the cleanest Kranky Person--dressed to the nines with gloves and apron.  I think she's polishing a throat plate with some fine steel wool and metal polish on her 1894 Singer with original hand crank.

Here we see Jerry (leader of the Kranky People group) opening a bag of weed  uh--spare parts.

You can see on Laurie's machine bed is a shallow glass bowl where she puts thumb screws, presser foot, bobbin, shuttle, during dismantling and cleaning.  

There aren't any fast rules where to begin, but with Laurie's hand crank machine, I think the balance wheel and shuttle were locked in rust and wouldn't move.  It took a full day of cleaning and oiling to bring it around. 

JoAnn's pride and joy is a 1923 Singer model 128 with La Vencedora decals--an elaborate and hard to find pattern decorated in gold, red, and green.  JoAnn bought her machine in it's original wooden base and bentwood case, and removed its electric motor and added a reproduction hand crank.

In the same photo, front and center is Kay's Model 66, fitted with a reproduction hand crank.  The balance wheel spins like a top after deep cleaning and oiling.  A perfect machine for hand crank sewing.  I'll have to look on my other computer notes/photos to find out its manufacture year.  We have lots of photos of our machines when we first got them, and they were dirty toads.

At this first gathering of the Kranky People group, Jerry is instructing dismantling a machine, and getting us familiar with machine part names.  As we unscrewed this and that, and filled our little glass bowls with itty bitty parts,  Jerry is  a great teacher and cheerleader.  When things got complicated he'd sit down at our machines to solve a problem.  

Some times we'd have a scary moment--(in awe), as Jerry brought out the lead hammer, brass punch, and pads, and gentle taps to nudge throat plate slides open.  I'd wonder how long those plates had been frozen in place with rust?  

Who are the Kranky People?
Laurie (left) is the owner of Reflections Antiques in Nelsonville, WI.  JoAnn is an IT executive for a large corporation,  Jerry is a rug loomer and professional candy maker.  Kay (right) teaches woodcarving classes at a local college--and she's the diva of woodcarving.  Before retirement, I was an executive secretary for two CEOs (back to back) at a large corporation for more than 20 years.  

Kay the wood carver, wears a taped wrist while working on her Singer model 66.  

Kay told me about her busy summer work--how she helped birth pigs and cows on their farm.  And the flower and vegetable gardening, the vegetable canning, and their recent apple orchard harvest--and making apple juice.  Kay, when do you sleep?  

I wanted to share these great photos--our first group lessons in restoration.  We worked, and snacked, and talked machine history, and made plans for road trips to find more antique and vintage sewing machines to work on.  And we did!  We bought other antiquers, and many colorful vintage machines.   
Note to Jerry: I don't know how many machines we've cleaned this summer--maybe 20 or so?  

We love to find toasty machines--dirty, filthy ones.   It's a challenge we just can't resist.

By the way, if you want to have your granny's old machine restored--drop me a note.  Jerry does house calls too!


  1. What a great idea and loved seeing your pretty dining room. I could be Kranky with you, I'll bring my old Singer!

  2. A hand-crank is on my wish list. I'm jealous!

  3. What a great idea to work on machines with others. I'm sure it's more fun. Mrs. have just too many interests. How do you do it all! Glad you all are having a good time.

  4. I came across your blog somewhere today while looking at old houses in WI. We live in WI too and are about to buy our first house and are looking at older homes.

    I had to comment because My husband and I restore and collect vintage and Antique sewing machines. I have more then I'd like to admit.

    However, my original hand cranks are my absolute favorites. The simplicity and soothing click clack from turning the crank is the best.

    I just love old things and it only seems right to buy an old house to preserve for future generations just as my husband and I do with our machines.


  5. Hello Samantha,

    Thank you for taking a look at my 1893victorianfarmhouse website. I would like to correspond with you while you are looking at old houses in Wisconsin to buy. Since I don't know how to contact you . . . would you write to me at my google account? mrs.durrant1@ :)

  6. An antique. Must be priceless. Thanks for sharing.