There are not many of these machines left. Many were simply discarded when electrical power became available and small motors could be used to power machinery. (At best, the foot powered parts were thrown away and a motor added.) World War I & II scrap drives very likely got a high percentage that were melted down to support the war effort.
In addition, being made of cast iron, these machines could easily break if they were dropped or knocked over. And keep in mind that in many cases, these machines were used on a regular basis and simply “wore out” over time.
Machines that do show up today are typically broken, missing parts, rusted and faded and in many cases have been kept together with “chewing gum and bailing wire.” Old repairs are common as are fabricated parts and pieces. Wooden tables on machines that are a hundred years old are often coming apart, rotten or simply missing.
Collecting foot powered machines today offers its own challenges. Given the size of these machines, a “collection” can take up an entire barn or garage. (A friend that collects small folding rules keeps his collection in a couple of small tool cabinets.) Foot powered machines can be fairly heavy so transporting them becomes a real challenge.
As a part of a collection, a well preserved or well restored foot powered machine can add a lot and fits in well in a den, tool room or even an office or reception area. When somebody sees one, they can be drawn to its uniqueness and its ornate design.
Demonstrating these machines at a heritage festival, woodworking show or a craft festival is a lot of fun and another use you see. Try cranking up a scroll saw to cut something out or pedal a lathe to turn something and see how quick a crowd gathers.
So now that you have some background on these fascinating but short lived machines, you can explore the rest of the site and see more details about the machines, the companies that made them and how they are restored.
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