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Thread: How to get a treadle machine safely to a new home in moving van?

  1. #1
    Junior Member J.M.'s Avatar
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    How to get a treadle machine safely to a new home in moving van?

    If all goes well, I will be buying an antique Singer treadle machine this Saturday. From the pictures it looks good, I just need to see it in real life. I've been looking for one for a while now and this one is going for a great price, so I don't want to let it go.

    However, somewhere in the next year I will be moving to a new home, a couple of hours drive away. I am worried about how to move the treadle - even though I realize that if I am to own one, it will have to move with me at least one more time after this upcoming move. So I thought I'd better know what I am getting into and have been researching a bit on how to move a treadle. I've figured out I need to take the machine out of the cabinet and pack it separately. And the machine can go in our car, that's not a problem.

    The base though... It will have to go into the moving van. The treadle mechanism is (cast?) iron but the table and legs are wood. So, leave it whole and ship it like furniture? Or package it whole into a box with a lot of padding? Or do I have to take it apart? (Which, I'll add, scares me to death because while I don't have a problem tinkering with a vintage machine, tinkering with the treadle base is not something I'd like to do to be honest.)

    Most of the advice I've seen is about actually shipping a treadle with the mail, which I would think would be more dangerous than having it in a moving van. Still, any tips and hints and information from people who've actually moved houses with their treadles would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Super Member amyjo's Avatar
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    Have it wrapped in plenty of moving blankets, strapped tight so nothing moves. Definitely take the head out, maybe drawers too if you want. Pack everything nice and tight. Should not have any problems in the moving van. wouldn't even try the mail.

  3. #3
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Agree with what Amy said. I just moved several treadles the same way to our new house this way. I did take the drawers out and packed them separately into a box.
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

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    Junior Member J.M.'s Avatar
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    Thanks! That was what I was thinking, but I got worried.

    I am thinking of taking the head out before moving it into the car to take home - if I take it home that is. As far as I can tell, every machine can be taken out just by tilting it back (instead of inwards to close the cabinet) and loosening the screws a bit with a screwdriver. Cabinet in the back of the car, machine head next to me on the back seat so I can keep an eye on it. On the other hand, for the short trip (10-15 minutes depending on traffic) I might leave it in...

    If there's anything the new machines have over the old ones it's that they come in a box that I always make sure to keep in case of having to move it!

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    I would definitely be there when they pack the treadle and help if need be. We helped a friend move his mother to Montana where he lives. I had a couple old exercise mats and duct tape. DH and the friend used those mats and old blankets to protect her old machine in a cabinet (not a treadle) with spindly legs. Tucked bubble wrap and old pillows to keep from damage. I used her linen to help pack her dishes. Nothing was damaged. He rented a U-Haul and drove it himself.

  6. #6
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    We moved recently and I saw a hint maybe on here of taking the machine and drawers out and then flipping the cabinet over. I think it is more stable that way but would still need to be protected. We did that but moved it in the car ahead of time. We moved 8 hours away but had time to move sone things ahead
    Alyce

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    I pack and transport more than a dozen antique treadle machines at a time, a few times each year.

    I strongly recommend taking the irons apart. Cast Iron is VERY fragile. When it is assembled it is a self supporting structure, but it is designed to support the weight pushing down. Sideways or diagonal impacts can/will snap it like a dry twig.

    MOST treadles some apart very easily. (and go back just as easy)

    My usual sequence is:
    1. remove head from unit
    2. remove the screws holding the top to the base
    3. Remove the drive wheel (big one)
    4. Remove the Pitman (wood/metal connecting rod from pedal to big wheel)
    5. Remove the cross support
    6. remove the pedal bar and pedal.

    Pack each with padding or blankets between them, stack them, then bundle the whole stack with clingwrap

    Pictures of YOUR specific model of treadle would let me give more specific instructions.

    HINT: when you remove a screw/bolt/nut, once the parts are separate, put the screw/bolt/nut back where it came from. REALLY hard to lose or mix up the bits that way

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    Super Member SunlitenSmiles's Avatar
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    I use the car seat belts to hold things in place in the car, especially my sewing machines even in cases (padded inside)
    the floorboards of the backseat with moving blankets works well also.

  9. #9
    Junior Member J.M.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
    I pack and transport more than a dozen antique treadle machines at a time, a few times each year.

    I strongly recommend taking the irons apart. Cast Iron is VERY fragile. When it is assembled it is a self supporting structure, but it is designed to support the weight pushing down. Sideways or diagonal impacts can/will snap it like a dry twig.

    <snipped>

    Pictures of YOUR specific model of treadle would let me give more specific instructions.

    HINT: when you remove a screw/bolt/nut, once the parts are separate, put the screw/bolt/nut back where it came from. REALLY hard to lose or mix up the bits that way
    It looks like taking it apart will be my best bet for the move to a new house. But can I leave it intact for the 10 minute drive from the seller to my own place? I was planning on taking the head out (fingers crossed the screws come loose) and wrapping the cast iron parts in some sheets to protect them on the short drive.

    I have attached a picture of the cabinet that the seller made and a close up of the treadle mechanism - I still need to see it in real life before I make the final decision but everything seems okay. I just don't see me able to take it apart there before loading it into the car...so I really hope transporting it in one piece (minus the head) will work for the short trip.

    As an aside, that box-thing in the lower left corner of the picture, it looks like it's part of the treadle, but I don't know what it is exactly. Something to cover up the pedal of the treadle when not in use?
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Last edited by J.M.; 04-28-2016 at 05:00 AM.

  10. #10
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    My treadle has been moved around the country for 40 years with my Marine Corps husband. I never took the head out, but the packers always put padding around the machine and wrapped the whole thing in padding.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.M. View Post

    I am thinking of taking the head out before moving it into the car to take home - if I take it home that is. As far as I can tell, every machine can be taken out just by tilting it back (instead of inwards to close the cabinet) and loosening the screws a bit with a screwdriver. Cabinet in the back of the car, machine head next to me on the back seat so I can keep an eye on it. On the other hand, for the short trip (10-15 minutes depending on traffic) I might leave it in...
    DO NOT leave the machine in the cabinet for even a short trip. One dip in the road and the machine lifts up and comes down hard and smashes the cabinet. I've heard of this happening.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

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    I remove the head, and then wrap so it can't come open, and haul it upside down. they are much less likely to tip over that way, as even without the head they are a bit top heavy.

    In a moving van, items are usually packed in tight together so something can not tip over. I'm normally hauling just a few and then there is room enough for tipping.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  13. #13
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    I moved mine from southern AZ to northern AZ in my minivan. Those machines are terribly top heavy, especially with the head in, so definitely remove it, even for your short move. If the tools and feet are with the machine, the screw driver in the tool kit will loosen the screws to remove the head. I also removed the drawers just because they were full of feet, tools, and thread (and 75 years of lint). Fasten the cover down on the cabinet with a sheet of newspaper and some painters tape and turn the cabinet upside down for transport.
    Shirley in Arizona

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    even Singer shipped them upside down. (closeup of 1903 dock photo)
    Name:  1903 - Crates of singers - Close.jpg
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Size:  137.9 KB

  15. #15
    Junior Member J.M.'s Avatar
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    Upside down does seem like the best solution. In case that's not possible (it might be too high for the car) would on its side be an option? With on its side I mean putting what would be the back of the table on the floor.

    (Sorry about all the questions, I am just really nervous about transporting the thing as I don't want it to break - and I haven't even technically bought it yet!)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.M. View Post
    Upside down does seem like the best solution. In case that's not possible (it might be too high for the car) would on its side be an option? With on its side I mean putting what would be the back of the table on the floor.
    We hauled my Columbus treadle home from Chicago on its back. I knew we should be able take out the head, but I forgot about the little screws, and the guys who were hauling it down a very long flight of stairs just wanted to get it done. They broke a few pieces of trim by gripping it in the wrong place, but that was fixable.
    We had to put the back seats down to accommodate it in the hatch back. But we got it here with no more mishaps.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  17. #17
    Junior Member J.M.'s Avatar
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    I want to thank everyone for their advice. In the end, I didn't buy the treadle. The machine was very rusty. It looked to be mostly surface rust, but still. On top of that, for some reason the needle wouldn't get up and down. There was a little movement and then it just stopped, even though the wheel would keep turning. I opened the machine up to see if maybe there was some sort of blockage that was easily fixed. I could see that when the wheel turned the disk that has the needle column (for lack of the proper term) attached to it would turn about 1/3 of the way and then stop. Fiddling with the stop-motion screw didn't help. I think the problem was somewhere inside the machine where I couldn't get to it. Yes, maybe oil would have helped, but the fact that it was basically not working combined with the rust meant I didn't take the machine.

    Maybe if the seller had lowered the price enough I'd have taken it, because the treadle table was in excellent condition. But this will be my first vintage machine and I really want a usable one. A little TLC - cleaning, polishing - is okay, but at the very least I want all parts there and the machine in working order. So I'll keep looking. I'm not in a hurry, so that's okay.

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