Archive for ‘Hardware’

17 January, 2014

Model 66 – treadle

by gorthx

Part 1.
Part 2.


The treadle
Again, disassemble this into its component parts so it’s easier to work on. This was the perfect excuse I needed to replace the Honkin Huge Screwdriver that disappeared with my ex-husband. A lot of these bolts were stuck pretty firmly; PB Blaster wasn’t helping, so I used the old trick of using a crescent wrench to turn the screwdriver. Voila.

My original plan was to scrub the rust and paint off of “the irons” (as they are called) and then spraypaint it black. I spent a couple of hours just on the screws, and when I discovered how much rust there was under the paint that was covering the pedal, well… when my sweetie suggested (again) “You know, you could just take this to the powder coaters that is right around the corner“, I agreed. Best $100 I spent this year.

It’s a simple machine, but again, take lots of photos when you’re taking this thing apart. There is a pretty good text guide here.

Order of reassembly:
– attach belt control to dress guard, to minimize the number of pieces you need to keep track of.
– attach the belt guide to the center brace
– attach center brace to legs. It’s easier to do this if it’s upside down. Put the bottom bolts in first (they’re at the top if you’re doing it upside down), then the top bolts. The side pieces are interchangeable so there are two sets of holes for the top. You want the center brace angled toward the back. (This is where photos of the disassembly come in handy, especially if it’s been 3 weeks since you’ve had it apart & have just gotten the big pieces back from being powder coated.)
– like any other project involving multiple fasteners, get each bolt threaded just a bit before you start tightening them.
– connect the pitman to the drive arm.
– attach drive arm to center brace
– attach dress guard. I don’t have the belt thrower reattached correctly yet; the spring has lost a lot of its spring over the past century.
– attach pedal to center brace & adjust the cone bearings (put those bike maintenance skills to use!)
– connect pitman to pedal

Connecting the pitman to the drive arm was the hardest part; the bearing housing + bearings had to be reassembled in place around the drive arm. This requires very sticky grease and/or an extra set of hands to help chase bearings around the workbench.
bearings in pitman housing

So! This machine is up & running new, and I sewed actual fabric (a quilt block) with it this week. I spent a good amount of time learning to work the treadle without thread in the machine, and then stitching on paper, before I tried to work on a project. It is a lot like learning how to drive :).



10 January, 2014

Model 66 – head

by gorthx

Part 1.


As you can probably guess, I got this baby home and hooked up a belt and discovered it wouldn’t sew. The treadle wouldn’t power the head, indicating it was gummed up somehow. The handwheel wasn’t completely stuck, so I figured “how hard could it be?”

Tools and tips:
The best advice I read, besides the obvious “take pictures from every angle, and take more than you think you could possibly need”, is to keep screws in their taps as much as possible. Some of these babies are tiny, and doing this helped me keep track of them.

This project mat from ifixit was invaluable. It helped me keep track of parts while I was working, and because I took pictures, I have a labeled record of all the parts.

There are a lot of good manuals and instructions online, so I won’t give a blow-by-blow here other than specific trouble spots I encountered. (If you use the manuals from Tools for Self Reliance, please consider making a donation.)

Tension mechanism: this just didn’t look right to me1, and once I found a manual online with images I could actually pick up details from2, I realized it *wasn’t* my imagination, the spring really wasn’t in the right spot. And thus began the extraction of the tension housing: Every few hours I’d drip a little more PB Blaster in the set screw hole, and tap it gently with a mallet and block of wood. Finally, on day 3 of this, I got it to move. A few more cycles of PB Blaster-tapping-waiting, and I smacked it right on out. To get it completely loose, I pushed it almost completely inside the machine by hitting it with the mallet & wood block. Then used the handle of a plastic toothbrush to pop it out from the inside.

Bobbin winder: this was coated with enough grease and dirt that none of the parts would spin and the spring-loaded stop latch wouldn’t even move. This required a complete teardown, cleaning, and relubing. A camera is the most essential tool here. The rubber bobbin wheel is much easier to remove/replace when the bobbin winder is not attached to the machine. It’s so much easier that it’s worth taking off the entire bobbin winder just to replace that little wheel, even though it is a major pain in the kiester to reattach the winder.

Bobbin and hook area: I tried for quite a while to remove the bobbin latch, because I’d read “absolutely do not remove this screw”, then found out that there are two different styles of bobbin latch – one needs to be unscrewed, the other doesn’t. They don’t actually look all that different. Use the manual from Tools for Self Reliance to figure out which one you have; you could break the bobbin latch if you do this wrong.

Underneath: I took this as far apart as I dared; I didn’t want to mess with the timing, because the machine would stitch when cranked by hand. PB Blaster and sewing machine oil were the key here. This was probably the easiest part of the whole refurb. When this was back together, I could give the handwheel a little flick and it spun freely for at a few full rotations.

Next: the treadle!

1 – it helps that I know my way around a sewing machine.
2 – a lot of the manuals available now are scans of photocopies of originals. The TFSR are the best I’ve found, as they are not reproductions.

3 January, 2014

Singer model 66 treadle

by gorthx

And now for something completely different…several months back I picked up a 1912 Singer model 66 “Redeye” off of Craigslist. I was looking for a completely different machine, but I’ve wanted a treadle for a long time, and from the photos it looked in ok shape. One thing led to another and I found myself driving a ways east of town on a reasonably nice day that I otherwise would have spent biking, to check out this machine.


The good:
– the treadle pedal & drive wheel moved freely
– it has a metal pitman; the wood ones are prone to drying out, cracking, and often end up missing
– the (oak) cabinet’s ornamentation is intact; sometimes the wood carvings come off, or drawers are missing, etc
– the handwheel on the machine head1 moved
– the decals on the head were in pretty good shape overall; they tend to get rubbed off with use. This machine is over 100 years old, after all.

The bad:
– layer of grime on everything
– paint splatters all over the cabinet; it was going to need stripping completely.
– no belt so I couldn’t actually test it

I’ve since decided that one should examine these things in daylight and not in a warehouse. As an alternative, flash photos will highlight problem areas better than you can see them with your eyeballs. And next time, I’ll bring a belt with me so I can determine whether the machine runs or not. That said, I’m glad I bought it because fixing it up was a good experience and I now have a machine that sews better than my formerly TOTL European machine :koff:Bernina2:koff: for much less money.

And yes, these things are “heavier than a dead preacher”3 so come prepared with additional muscle or tools to tear it down so you can take it home easily. Or both.

There are 4 projects here:
– cabinet refurb
– treadle refurb
– head external refurb
– head internal refurb

All of these took significantly more time than I expected; I really didn’t know what I was getting into. To keep posts to a reasonable length, I’ll talk about the cabinet & head outside first, and the treadle and head internals separately.

A full photo set is on flickr.

The head – outside
As I mentioned, this machine’s decals were in pretty nice shape. I was interested in keeping them that way, so cleaning the outside of the head basically just involved rubbing them very very gently with oil in order to remove the grime. My BF actually volunteered to do this, but then, he used to detail cars, and has the patience for this kind of thing. This is probably anathema to some people, but I didn’t want to look at the “patina” (read: yucky old brown finish), so off it came with some rubbing alcohol. A coat of carnauba wax made it shine again. Metal polish took most of the rust off of the chrome pieces, and that was that.

The cabinet
In addition to the layer of grime, this machine appeared to have been left uncovered while someone nearby spraypainted. The treadle pedal was almost solid white and the cabinet was speckled all over; there was even a handprint on the back.

I broke the cabinet down into its component pieces and used Citristrip to remove the old finish. Citristrip does a much better job indoors at temps over 60*F than in a 40*F garage. This was my first time stripping carved wood, and I don’t intend to repeat the experience.

My method:
– glop on the citristrip & wait until it’s ready. If it’s starting to get clear & a little dry, like it’s “setting up”, it’s getting close.
– with a plastic scraper, remove as much of the stripper & old finish as you possibly can. Old credit cards work great for this, if you are too cheap to go buy something you are just going to throw away anyway.
– around the carved wood, I used a brass brush to get rid of the stripper. This is not recommended for soft woods, and probably wasn’t advisable for oak – IOW, don’t do this. A stiff nylon brush would have been easier on the wood, but didn’t do jack about removing the crud.
– remove remaining stripper with 00 steel wool soaked in mineral spirits (odorless will work fine for this.)
– remove more remaining stripper with a rag soaked in mineral spirits
– remove still more remaining stripper with another rag soaked in mineral spirits (this stuff was hard to get rid of)

The PNW is a very humid environment, and the veneer had buckled and pulled away from the core over the years. Just few small chips were missing, so I opted to re-glue the loose veneer. I only own a couple of clamps, so this step took several days.

Once the wood was dry, I filled the screw holes, sanded that down, and then all that was left was a quick buff with 0000 steel wool (which I’m told is too fine for oak, but it made a palpable difference), a swipe with tack cloth, and it was ready for finish. I use Tried & True Danish oil on almost all of my wood furniture; it’s not as protective as polyurethane, but it’s a lot easier to apply and I love the way it looks. And smells. I put two coats on for now, and then reassembled the cabinet.

Next up: head internals.

1 – The head is the part that actually does the sewing.
2 – Alternate title: “Nothing sews like a Bernina… except this Singer I have from 1912.”
3 –

8 November, 2013

nook Simple Touch 18-month review

by gorthx

I’ve had my simple touch for well over a year now, and I’m still pretty happy with it, especially since I’m traveling a bunch.

Initial review
6 month review

Updates on specific issues:
– I haven’t had any further problems with mangled print; I suspect that was a feature of the particular material I was reading.
– I never did get ebrary to work correctly, but my library doesn’t offer that anymore anyway, so it’s moot.
– I said I would purchase one again (and they’re going for about $70 right now), but I’d rather get a kobo just for philosophical reasons. I like the “open ebook format” idea.

Speaking of kobo, yes you can read kobo books on your nook. You just need to download them in the Adobe epub format, and use ADE to load them. (This works just fine with Wine on Ubuntu.)

My library offers two e-lending options: OverDrive (the new incarnation of library2go) and 3M Cloud Library. They’re both now searchable from my library’s catalog and from their respective websites, which makes finding stuff to read much simpler.

I prefer OverDrive because it’s more straightforward to use.

Downloads from the 3M Cloud Library are quirky and very slow (sometimes taking multiple hours), and the app crashes frequently. I haven’t tried running it on Windows yet; my problems may be due to using it with Wine. You do need to use 3M’s app to download books to an e-reader, as the web interface doesn’t do this.

Library2go used to provide a way to “return” ebooks before the lending period was up; no more. 3M doesn’t allow that either. If you are particularly voracious you will bump up against the 5 item limit in short order. Checked-out materials become unreadable on your device once the lending period is up. (Other e-lending solutions I’ve tried allow you to keep reading the book until you re-sync your device.) This left me stranded 30 pages from the end of a book I was really enjoying. Boo.

The nook itself has started getting a bit flaky: the touchscreen randomly doesn’t work, and sometimes the hard buttons cause it to skip ahead multiple pages. I cleaned it with a soft toothbrush & eyeglasses cloth, as discussed here, and that seems to have cleared it up[1]. If not, there’s always the option to take it apart and put it back together again.

One strange thing I’ve noticed is ADE shows a lot of “missing” books that don’t show up on a regular directory listing of the nook. They seem to be duplicate file listings; even if I delete them through ADE, they show back up next time I connect the nook. Still trying to figure that piece out.

1 – This is what happens when you take electronics camping.

28 September, 2012

Nook Simple Touch: (almost) six-month review

by gorthx

So, I’ve had this thing for a few months now, and it turns out I’m using it way more than I thought I would. I love traveling with it – it beats the heck out of carrying a book around. I take it camping, too.

I made my own screensaver with a bunch of images I converted to greyscale in The GiMP.

I also use it to store my current knitting pattern; just export it to .pdf and load it on there!

– the ‘home’ button (the little ‘n’ at the bottom) was already getting a bit beat up at the one-month mark, and I also scratched the screen pretty quickly, because I just threw it in my handbag without a cover. Don’t do that.
– powering it completely off and back on frequently (e.g., for the required “please fasten your seatbelts and extinguish all portable electronics”) seems to suck out the power.
– I can’t resize images in the books, at least I can’t figure out how to do it. This is a drag when I read books with photos or maps.

Finding books is still a problem. I don’t like purchasing a lot of books (even though they’re not physically on the shelves, it’s like I can feel the clutter) and the options through my library are not yet wonderful. library2go (aka Overdrive) still has a sucky website, and the .pdfs I get from ebrary don’t transfer to my nook correctly: all I get is the copyright page, over and over.

Other than that, :thumbsup: from me. Would purchase again.

18 May, 2012

Thinkpad 420 6-month review

by gorthx

There’s actually not a whole lot to report here, other than: I’m still very happy with my Thinkpad purchase.

The grippy matte finish on the cover has definitely contributed to me not dropping it. It’s acquired some weird smears on the cover that I can’t remove though.

It functions better as a “laptop” than the HP 2510p did; it doesn’t get quite as hot when it’s actually on my lap. Pleasantly warm, not hot.

And I love, love, love the keyboard light.

Two glitches:
It doesn’t play nicely with my HP L1706 monitor. The aspect ratios never turn out right. I could probably dink with it and fix it, or I could just replace the monitor with something that takes up less space (since it’s 5 years old anyway).

The card reader only works about 1 out of 10 times. I am not sure if this is a hardware issue or an OS issue (I’m mainly on Ubuntu); I can just connect my camera straight to my computer to download photos, so I haven’t bothered to boot into Windows to check it out yet.

Wonder of wonders, I haven’t spilled anything on the keyboard yet (this has to be the longest stretch *ever* of not spilling something on the laptop) so I haven’t had to test the drains.

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27 April, 2012

Nook Simple Touch: initial impressions

by gorthx

I received a nice little bonus at work earlier this year, and instead of SAVING! IT! ALL! like my mother would have me do, I put most of it aside and decided to use the rest on a new toy. I’d been eyeing e-readers for a while; I thought they’d be great on camping trips. My main hangup about e-readers was that I’m a die-hard library user, and my local library has no support for linux users of e-readers.

Then I read this and decided I could probably figure it out.

read more »

6 April, 2012

Ubuntu + wine + ADE + nook + library2go

by gorthx

I’m pre-empting my promised posting about Cisco SLA syslog messages (it was a bit of a disappointment, anyway) to post the steps I took to get my nook to download a book from library2go [1].

I had to try a bunch of different things (links at the bottom) to get this to work. The basic procedure is:
– Install Wine (the windows emulator).
– Install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) under Wine.
– Configure Wine so ADE can see your nook.
– Visit the library2go website & check out your chosen reading material; it downloads as a .ascm file.
– Open the .ascm file with ADE; you can read it in ADE if you want (ew)
– Use ADE to transfer the book to your nook.

read more »

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16 December, 2011

Generic steps for troubleshooting wireless on Ubuntu.

by gorthx

Fresh from my success with my Thinkpad T420, I tackled my Dell Latitude E6410, which had its own interesting quirks. So, here are some basic wireless troubleshooting steps for Ubuntu.

Step 1: Make sure the hardware switch is not set to off.

Step 1a: Is there another “hardware” switch? My HP2501p had an extra firmware switch for the wireless, accessible only from Windows. (Good thing I hadn’t deleted that partition…)

Step 2: Check the permissions: System -> Administration -> Users and Groups -> Advanced Settings; make sure “allow to connect to ethernet and wireless networks” is checked.

Step 3: Use lpsci to make sure your machine can see your card. Should look something like this (output filtered for brevity):
lspci -nn
02:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Broadcom Corporation BCM43224 802.11a/b/g/n [14e4:4353] (rev 01)

Step 4: Check the drivers: System -> Administration -> Additional Drivers. You should see a driver appropriate for your card there, e.g. I have the Broadcom STA Wireless Driver. It should show green and say “activated”. If not, click the “Activate” button. (I needed to reboot the Dell in order to get this change to take.)

Step 5: Find your ethernet interface:
lo no wireless extensions.

eth0 no wireless extensions.

eth1 IEEE 802.11 Access Point: Not-Associated
Link Quality:5 Signal level:0 Noise level:163
Rx invalid nwid:0 invalid crypt:0 invalid misc:0

…and enable power*:
sudo iwconfig eth1 txpower on

Et voila.

* This page: helped me figure this out.

2 December, 2011

Installing Ubuntu 10.10 on a Thinkpad 420

by gorthx

(This post is mainly about getting the RealTek wireless card working.)

I went with 10.10, mainly because I had the image handy on a USB key, and I’m not so excited about what I’ve heard about 11 yet. (Although I do intend to try it at my next available opportunity.)

To get the Thinkpad to boot from a USB, I hit F12 during boot (gotta be quick with it!) to access the boot menu, then -s to get the startup menu. (The ‘thinkvantage’ button didn’t get me where I wanted to be.) Once I was in the startup menu, I was in the ‘boot options’ tab. Hit the down arrow to select “USB HD”, then hit enter. Voila.

The install went pretty fast, but then I spent a fair bit of time with updates. In retrospect, I probably should have updated the image on the USB key. :shrug:

First, the most important configuration change: put the #&@* minimize/maximize buttons back on the right side, where they belong.

Next: install my favorite font.

Everything worked out of the box (external keyboard, external monitor, card reader, etc) except wireless. My laptop wasn’t even detecting that I had a wireless interface.

First I tried enabling “connect to ethernet and wireless networks”. (System -> Administration -> Users & Groups; select the user; click “Advanced Settings”; select the “User Priveleges” tab; make sure “Connect to wireless and ethernet networks” is checked). No dice.

I could see my card:
lspci -nn
Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device [10ec:8176] (rev 01)

…but I needed the drivers. This thread (specifically, the post by canucked) had the info I needed:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lexical/hwe-wireless
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rtl8192ce-dkms

(Kind of confusing that the driver has what seems to be a different model # in it, but there it is.)

I pulled up System -> Administration -> Additional Drivers to check the status of my new driver, and discovered it was activated but not currently in use. Deactivating and reactivating it didn’t change anything, but a reboot did.