Treadle Pedal * Ladep Eldaert [foot pedal mod]

By this time the Machine has an outlet, the Brother is receiving regular 110 volt current to it’s new clutch motor. The motor is installed with no tangles. And even the presser feet are under control. The pan has oil in it, the table is level (the leveling system should be an entry on it’s own. It is a truly beautiful mechanism that keeps this factor under control – and of course it is probably strong enough to level the Bay Bridge.), the needle-bar height has been adjusted, and the new feed-dog and throat-plate are in place. The lamp is in working order, which was accomplished by splicing and hardwiring the lamps electrical cords into the power switch, so that it can be turned on independently of the Brother – without the Brother needing to be turned on (this also leaves the 6 volt outlet on the motor free for a second lamp or any other small appliance. The reason for it being 6 volt is another entry).

Now it is time to tackle the treadle system.

Treadle Action

The treadle system has a long history, and unfortunately it cannot all be contained here, but because it is valuable information we will discuss it in brief. For now we will uncover just a little bit of it’s lineage in terms of mechanical function. A present day treadle is not really a treadle at all – often these terms are confused – contemporary machines use a “pedal”, like that of any other type of machine which uses acceleration provided by a source outside of ourselves. Unlike the treadle – which is a type of pedaling mechanism we would see on a very old Singer, that does not merely engage motion, but actually generates it. What the treadle does is power the sewing machine under human force. Sitting at your sewing machine you gently get the belt going with a rocking motion of the pedal, and thus the drive activates your machine head. There are many advantages to this older-style of operation, the main benefit is that it will always work – living off the grid with no electricity, sewing on top of a mountain for your sanity, or even taking one to the moon (perhaps bottom of the ocean would be more politically correct) for posterity. Also, a treadle powered sewing machine is often more quiet, and very easy to service (considering that few mechanical parts are involved and how exposed they are to the user), lastly how could you deny the added health benefits, both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, this format did not last, and in 1889 Singer introduced the first “practical” electric sewing machine. This advent in sewing technology remedied the need for a treadle and made the electric- motor-with-“foot pedal” the new common denominator.

Needless to say, the Brother DB2-B791-015 needed a new foot-pedal to operate the motor, not a treadle. All of the parts were available: the crossbar, the pedal, the treadle-bar, and the associated hardware. Although some of this was kinda crappy hardware so some improvements were made, rubber bushings were placed between the pedal’s pivot location and the mounting brackets receptors to keep it quiet, and to keep the pedal centered between the two brackets, which could not be mounted quite close enough to keep as securely in position as was desired. Also the treadle-bar was mounted so that it rose from the most central position available on the foot-pedal, ideally to help distribute load and to make a direct connection from the pedal to the motor. With all of this hardware sorted out it was time to devise a strategy for attaching it to the existing tables legs. But because these legs were not intended to have a cross bar with a common pedal/treadle configuration it would cause the pedal to be too high up. On the older brother of the Brother, the Singer 600WI, the pedal was as close to the floor as possible which came to be a very desirable position, it was very comfortable, and structurally sound. So the main issues were that the whole piece was as low as it could be, and as rigid as it could be.

Pictures to follow..

3Phase – Not To Be Confused With PhaseOne

The Brother DB2-B791-015 would not get the proper power because it is/was a 3-phase motor system. This is why it would in fact turn on, but would quickly short out in the power switches fuse. Everything (although the mystery of the 2-pole – 4-wire socket outlet relationship remains) was in proper order, except the number of phases the building used and the number of phases the motor required. This would have never been known had a certain Jim Snook who is now a retired mechanic/electrical technician of sorts had not brought it to attention that without 3-phase power none of the machines electrical parts would work. This of course was good and bad, it was good for the fact that all the mysteries had been explained, it was not so good because it meant that a new motor would have to be purchased, if it was important to make the Brother DB2-B791-015 head work. Because the Brother had such nice table and legs, and needle feed head, it seemed like buying a new motor was the best bet, despite all the lost costs for the 220 volt outlet and other unsuccessful purchased goods for alleviating the machine of it’s ailments. So far there was about $400.00 into it without any return and the costs did not seem to be going down anytime soon. Of course a new industrial sewing machine will probably cost about double this – however the intent was to save money by purchasing a used machine – not spend more money and lose time trying to fix it. This just goes to show that when you buy used stuff you are usually buying someone else’s problems.

Originally the thought was to get another servo motor, but a simpler & cheaper one that uses a regular treadle, instead of an electric pedal system like that of the Mitsubishi motor. Fortunately there is a Singer sewing shop near by, which has a fairly good selection of odds and ends, and also caters to the industrial sewing crowd. Since the frustration of the motor had pretty much come to it’s peak, a quick purchase was made. The choice was a “Family” brand servo motor, which quite honestly was a piece of junk. But it was available, a servo, and not too expensive ($50.00). After getting it home and taking a closer look at it – it was fairly obvious that it simply would not stand up. Figuring that the diameter of it was about that of a compact disc, it seemed as if there would never be enough high end torque to really sew through much of anything. After bringing that back to the Singer shop and trading it in for a good ol’ fashioned clutch motor it was time for the install. The new motor was an Eagle brand 1/2 hp – 110 or 220 volt motor. It had your usual belt drive and needed a regular treadle system to activate it. The first task was figuring out how to lift the beastly motor up and bolt it into place without any help. Of course any sane person would just wait for an extra set of hands. After about 30 minute of fumbling with it, the thing was hanging and could have it’s bolt anchors tightened up. Unfortunately with the motor positioned to as far left of the Brother head – the belt wanted to drag on the right side of it’s slot in the table top. If you do not know exactly what this is, look to the diagram and you will see where the belt comes up to the table, also note the 3-hole mounting pattern.

The only way to remedy this was to pull out the rubber bumper which were not quite the exact size as their housing units (the rubber bumpers are the “U” shaped pieces in the diagram – they look to have legs on them. Either way, because the rubber bumpers were too big the motor could not slide to the left of the machine head enough. After using a box cutter to retro-fit the bumper it was time to re-install the motor again. This was acheived by turning the entire table upside down, this way the motor could simply rest on the table while it was positioned. Of course the Brother’s head was off, and the oil pan was dry (no need to spill oil everywhere). With the bolts in place (and loose) and the motor close to it’s eventual position – a hammer was used to essentially push (pound) the motor as far to the left as possible. Once it was in place, the bolts were tightened up and the table was lifted back up. With the Brother DB2-B791-015 in place and the belt routed it was time for a test run. Although it was not completely free of the belt’s slot – because when the clutch is engaged it moves the pulley (and thus the belt) to the left, which allows the belt to run freely. In other words when the belt is resting it is just barely touching the righ side of the slot, but when the motor is running the pulley, the clutch mechanism pulls it (the pulley) in slightly which takes the belt to almost center of it’s designated slot. It worked – finally.

The only thing left now, was the treadle system. That would be another task of customizing and light-engineering to get it working. In the next entry there will be pictures of this to show why.

Corresponding To Electric Ambivalence

With the panel switch in the on position (within the electrical panel in the basement), and the wiring laced up to the outlet, everything seemed to be in place. And even though the Brother’s power cord was only utilizing three out of the four wires – there was still power coming through to the machine. Except it would very quickly cause a short in the Brother’s power switch, this caused a little bit of smoke, but was otherwise an achievement. If you tried to immediately restart the machine it wouldn’t flinch at all, but if you let it sit for a few minutes so the switch could cool off, then it would turn on again – only to short out and smoke again. All in all when the switch was hit – you could hear the motor hum. Although strangely enough the motor on the Brother DB2-B791-015 is a servo motor and supposedly all servo motors run silently until the electric clutch mechanism is engaged to power the motor/and belt.

One thing that was obvious, was that there was one wire from the Brother’s power cord not being utilized (the white). What had not come to light was the fact that there were only three wires from the electrical panel coming through the outlet(?). After scouring many hardware stores and other retail establishments, it became clear that there was no such thing as a 2-pole – 4-wire male outlet (please interject if otherwise). This of course was a frustrating turn of events. After looking at the 4 wires and trying to figure out where they would go for many many hours, the solution only grew more and more abstract. Until the solution came. Obviously there needed to be a fourth wire running from the el electrical panel, this could ensure a 4-wire-to-4-wire connection regardless of poles, or volts, or whatever else. The fourth wire would be a neautral, so about 30 feet of neautral, or ground wire was purchased and pushed through the conduit. This wire was grounded in the electrical box. In every electrical box you will see a 7″ long aluminum piece of bar-stock that has entry points for ground wires, all of which can be used at any time, the other end of this component has a lead that runs into some kind of super-ground in the floor or outside somewhere (maybe the worlds largest piece of rubber?). With the fourth wire installed there was no longer a place to attach it into the existing store bought female outlet (that the electrician installed). And because there was no male 2-pole/4-wire socket it was clear that the machine had to be “hard” wired* into the electrical box. So the outlet and the socket were thrown out and all eight wires were strung up – red to red – green to green – white to white – and black to black. No discrimination here.

Somehow during this time a new question was brought to light. The issue of how many phases the motor was. Remembering that there was a note on the motor placard which claimed the number of phases as three, it seemed fuzzy why that was not recalled. At some point it was called to attention and a from there it was smooth sailing, kind of. The Brother DB2-B791-015’s Mitsubishi motor was in fact a three phase motor. And of course – of course – of course – 3phase power is not common. most homes, or small business buildings are only 1phase. Whereas 3phase is something used in large buildings, and high industry centers. The problem was the phases, not the poles, or the amps, or even the 220 volt outlet. Phases began to control the Brothers life in a way never imagined.

*An example of something that it hard wired, would be a ceiling fan taking place of an existing light fixture. When you install a ceiling fan you have to open up what is called the “J” Box (the “J” stands for Junction) which is under (in this case above) the existing light fixture you already have. The “J” Box is mounted in the ceiling and does two things. It first provides a place for the wires to live within so that any loose connections – if they throw a spark – keep that current away from insulation or building materials which may be flammable. Second, the “J” Box provides a standard place for screwing fasteners into to hang the light fixture or ceiling fan from. The “J” Box is sunk into the physical hole in the ceiling from above so it acts as an inverted anchor. Back to taking that appart, once you have the wires in front of you coming out of the “J” Box, you have to wind them together with the corresponding wires from the ceiling fan unit. This is what hard wiring is – making a permanent connection between wires – rather than an outlet which is similar to wiring something because it can harness that electrical current, but is not permanent. Of course when you hard wire something, be sure that the electrical switch on the panel withing the electrical box is in the OFF position.