Project: Sewing Matractor

Definition. Matractor- the result of intense modification of vintage sewing machine in an effort to create garden art in the form of a tractor


If you are a friend, family or co-worker of mine, you know the following only too-well: I have spent the last few weeks in the middle of a project. Those who see me on a regular basis know about the project because I talk about my projects a fair amount and also share pictures of my project like a grandparent shows pictures of grandchildren. This is project sewing matractor.

I like to check online auction sights and consignment stores for inspiration. I can see a hand tool or household item whose design reminds me of an element of a larger engineered piece. This is what happened last fall.

I kept seeing old sewing machines for sale. I thought their horizontal arch remind me of the body of a tractor. I did an internet search and found that some individuals were creating yard-art tractors from old sewing machines. At the moment, I had acquired my next project.

I picked up an old sewing machine in town at K and J Treasures. I stripped off the thread, needle and anything that didn’t remind me of a tractor. I then removed the base and turned it 180 degrees. I welded the base back to the body of the sewing machine. After some careful eyeballing, I decided where to place the axle and used square tubing to create a mount for the rear axle which was just some threaded rod. I opted for tires and wheels with decent bushings so my project could move smoothly.

I carefully considered the design of the front axle of my sewing machine/tractor. I wanted a narrow front but a wide-front might be more fun to create. In the end, I just bent some threaded rod at 90 degrees and welded it to the old carriage of the sewing machine. The 90 degree bend created a stub axle and the whole thing was nice and solid.

By now the sewing machine began to look like a tractor. There must be some common practical rule of engineering that created similar designs in a sewing machine and tractor. That is the fun of creating something like my sewing matractor. You can stare at your creation and wonder why one area was thicker or why the degree of arch was so steep. Engineering would have been the highest priority but I believe design and aesthetics were important too.

I painted the whole thing International Harvester red and it really looked like a tractor. My brother, Dave, suggested I attach of those ice fishing hole strainers for a seat. It was perfect; just the right size and chunky enough to drill for attachment to the main body with a machine screw.

IS there a point to projects? Sometimes there is a practical goal however in this case the only goal was using my own creativity to please my eye. The matractor is sitting on the floor this morning and each time I walk by I bend down and move it back and forth just to view my creation in action. It is very satisfying, well worth the time effort in the shop.

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