In case you don’t recognise it, that’s a vintage Singer motor plug of the most common type, shown here without the two screws which hold it together. In most installations there are two leads connected to one of these – one to the mains plug and one to the foot pedal, and it’s those cut-off leads you see sticking out the back here.
When you consider that all of these plugs are well over 60 years old and many of them are still on the end of the original cables, it’s hardly surprising that most are in a bit of a state inside. Actually, some of them are downright scary, but that’s something for another blog post.
This one wasn’t too bad as these things go, but I’m in awe of whoever had the patience to knit this little lot with the old rubber-covered wires in such a confined space …
It’s bad enough rewiring one of these plugs with modern cable which is both thinner and more flexible, but to do it with two fat old rubber-covered cables that needed forcing through the hole in the plug body to start with must have been a real PITA. And in case you’re wondering, the purpose of the knot is to act as strain-relief i.e. to stop the leads pulling out when No 1 child runs past the end of your table at high speed and trips over the mains lead that you’d just told him for the third time to be careful of.
While I’m having an explain here, if you’ve never used a vintage Singer electric, you might be bemused to know that the motor socket lives more or less under the handwheel, and that plug goes into it in such a way that the two leads come out the top of it, not, as you might reasonably expect, out the bottom. Yes, that does mean that the leads can rub against the handwheel as it rotates at a fair old rate of knots, particularly if the motor bracket’s at the top limit of its adjustment (ie the motor’s as high up as you can get it). I too think that’s very silly, but apparently the reason they did it like that is so the leads didn’t get in the way of you removing the lid of the storage compartment.
Or so they say. I’m more inclined to thinking they just screwed up, simple as that, and took far too long to replace that plug with the one which has a cable going in each side rather than two on the top. It’s a big improvement is that, and it’s actually a bit easier to rewire, for which people like me are truly thankful.