Replacing the Belt

In a follow-up to last weeks post, this one is all about the process of changing the belt I snapped on my circa Singer 1920s Treadle Sewing Machine.

I’m going to insert a little coronavirus update here. While the grieving process isn’t linear, I feel like I’ve officially made it through all the stages by this point. And I’m moving into trying to accept three things. Money will be tight this summer (I’m so fortunate to have had experience with a summer of no money when we bought the house-2014-that I know I can get through it), I will be missing my interventions for my chronic illness, and I will be teaching via video.

But what I’m surprised to admit is that, in regards to my illness, I feel so much better than I have in over a year. My hot flashes and migraines have been more predictable and easier to treat (though I’ve had to up my dose of migraine medicine). I’ve been sleeping a bit better and finding it easier to wake up in the morning. My balance and walking are doing really well-I’m consistently able to walk Gus for 30 min in the morning and afternoon PLUS 15 min in the evening.

I know this won’t last forever, I could just be having a period of remission. But it’s really relaxing to be able to just…do things. I still have to watch how much I do…but it’s easier to balance when I’m home all the time.

So that is my silver lining of the month, and now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

First, I watched several YouTube videos to get the gist of how others have gone about this. Each time taking away the importance of measuring the belt while it is in place on the machine so you don’t cut the belt too short.

I gathered my tools. And, by my tools, I mean-tools I found in the garage that belong to Tyler.

A hammer, some little pick tool that has a cord attached to it, a pliers, a wire cutter and two hair alligator clips.

Yes, that’s right. Hair clips.

I threaded the belt through the machine to get my initial measurement. I clipped the one end of the belt to the hand wheel with the hair clip. So it wouldn’t slip through while I was threading. I don’t have any clothes pins and didn’t see the point in buying them for this one time thing. Also-we aren’t suppose to go places bc of the Coronavirus. So, you use what you have.

(This post was written the weekend virus shutdowns had started on the coasts, but hadn’t reached the Midwest. Just the day after I replaced this belt, is when the Governor of Iowa recommended closing schools for at least a month).

I was being extra careful and crawling on my hands and knees and laying on the floor under the machine to make sure I didn’t miss any spots where the belt sits in the groove.

Once I pulled the belt through the top, I measured where I needed to make a hole in the belt to put the metal u-ring through.

Then I unthreaded the belt, and used the weird tool with the cord on the end to put a hole in the belt. It’s leather, so it was a little tough. That’s where the hammer came in. I tapped the end of the tool to make it through the belt. And then make sure I had an even hole to work with.

I rethreaded the belt and put the metal u-ring through the hole I made. The belt had too much extra past the hole, so I ended up clipping it off in order to crimp the u-ring through the edge of the belt.

And then, I did the same thing three more times! 😂😂😂 Yes, I mean I ended up remeasuring, re-making another hole, re-threading and re-crimping the belt again three times.

No, not because I didn’t measure correctly. But because leather is supple and loosens up as you work with it. Everytime I made the belt hole lower, it wasn’t quite enough. I didn’t have to use my spare belt at all; I just made the belt a little bit smaller each time.

But I feel this was the right call despite some wasted attempts. I’d rather have to put three holes in one belt a centimeter or a millimeter from the previous hole than cut the whole thing too short and need another belt entirely.

What has this experience taught me? A few things.

YouTube is incredibly helpful. I don’t mess everything up. I need to oil my machine badly.

  • As for that last one, yikes! There is more to be done to get this machine functioning. I can see why Tyler finds restoring his old machines relaxing/enjoyable. You can’t think about anything else when you are working on a machine. It needs your full concentration.
  • The journey continues.
  • (Are there bullets in this post? I didn’t add them and can’t figure out how to make them disappear! They don’t exist in the draft! Ahhh technology!)
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