Sewing Machines for Africa
Having previously refurbished bicycles to be transported to Tanzania, I found myself with limited supply of bicycle resources due to competing parties with interest in bicycle recycling.
After discussions with Diana Butler (who suggested that treadle sewing machines might be a good option), I decided to explore refurbished sewing machines to transport to Africa.
I have a fundamental aversion to donating money to non government organisations (NGO’s), as I am unsure as to where my donation may be utilised. For that reason the concept of spending my time and finances to refurbish items that may be utilised to the benefit of those more in need in Africa appeals to me.
Coincidentally after my discussions with Diana I happened upon an elderly gentleman who had made a living servicing Singer sewing machines (and still undertook small amounts of routine maintenance despite being well into his 80’s!).
As a result of this meeting and his convincing me of the incredible virtues of the Singer 201K (the “Rolls Royce” of Singer sewing machines – and apparently used by Rolls Royce in their upholstery workshop to sew leather to plywood!), I commenced a program of acquiring several for refurbishment and conversion to hand-operated crank.
Bill (the retired sewing machine mechanic), after listening to my story of wanting to acquire/refurbish sewing machines to transport to Africa, convinced me of the merits of converting 201K’s to hand-crank rather than treadle machines (which would be initially more expensive and definitely more bulky for transport).
After scouring the local tip shops, recycling stores and web-based auction sites, I was able to amass six functioning machines (and several others for spares). I then located a supplier of hand-crank conversion kits. Prior to presentation to Bill, I stripped all of the electrical components off the machines (most had deteriorated significantly, as expected for a machine first introduced in 1935 and produced until 1961).
Bill’s age and deterioatinng health meant that he was limited (with my help), to assessing each machine as being suitable as well as performing basic servicing needs. I then converted each machine to hand-crank operation prior to delivery to Diana, to be loaded in the next container bound for Africa.
Hopefully the available resource of Singer 201K’s will continue so that I may continue this contribution to those in need within Africa, at least for a little while!