The Davis Vertical Feed machine (1882)

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The majority of our readers located in this "tight little island", know nothing about the above machine; the majority of those living in our colonies know more about it than any other machine. Therefore as our home readers are greatest in number, we think it only right to place before their notice a description of one of the most excellent machines it was ever our lot to examine. We may too, perhaps, be able to give some information respecting it that will not be stale even to our colonial subscribers.

The Davis Company is one of the largest manufacturing concerns in America, and having ramifications in most towns in the United States, have just opened at 54, Queen Victoria Street, London, and are now determined on pushing an English trade. That they will succeed there is not the slightest doubt, indeed, it seems to us that the machine only requires to be known and tried to ensure a large sale. Its mechanical arrangements are very different to those of other machines. We will take first its feed.

The Vertical Feed is above the bed of the machine. The goods rest upon a perfectly smooth surface, being held firmly by the presser-foot until the feed has "stepped" forward. At this time the needle penetrates the fabrics, the pressure is automatically transmitted to the feed (which comes down on the goods close behind the needle), and the presser bar is raised. When the needle has reached its lowest point, the full pressure has been transmitted to the feed, and it and the needle-bar are moved together the desired length of stitch both moving in unison at their highest and lowest points.

From the above description it will be seen that:--

1st. The presser-foot is always raised from the fabric when the feed takes place, and presents no resistance to seams or ridges.


2nd. The needle being in the fabric, moving with the Vertical Feed and its full pressure on the goods, renders the feed sure and strong, and the stitches uniform in length.

3rd. The needle being in the goods at the time the feed takes place renders it impossible to full one piece while the other is stretched.

4th. The Vertical Feed being behind the needle, the machine is capable of sewing elastic goods. making a smooth and flexible seam with stitch alike on both sides; also of sewing any number of thicknesses without basting, operating with equal facility on the heaviest as well as the lightest fabrics.

The "Davis" has no under works to be looked after or to get out of order; the working parts being confined in the head of the machine, requiring no other attention or adjusting than occasionally putting a drop of oil in the holes provided for that purpose; it is composed of a less number of working parts than any other shuttle machine; its use is more easily and quickly learned; it is especially adapted to the diversified wants of family sewing, and is so simple that it can be used efficienlty by anyone with facility.


Its working parts are made of the best material, are compact, strong and durable, each point of friction being case hardened, insuring the longest wear with the least expense for repairs.

It will do the greatest variety of stitching, from the lightest cambric through all grades of fabric to harness leather.

The vertical feed enables the operator to turn the work at any curve or angle while the machine is in motion, without changing the tension or length of stitch; consequently it can easily do in a given time one-third more work than any under-feed machine. The shuttle holds a large amount of thread and gives an even tension in the most simple manner.

The "Davis" gained the highest award at the Melbourne and Sydney Exhibitions. The following are the juror's reports:--



We have carefully and minutely examined the whole multifarious exhibits in sewing-machines, in most cases devoting an entire sitting to the exhibition and testing of each type of exhibits, commencing with the American Court, and taking them as they stand in order in the gallery.

The "Davis" Machine -- The producers of this machine have departed from the general practice of manufacturers inasmuch as:--

1st. Placing the feed above the work instead of underneath it, in such a manner as to obviate the objections which caused the abandonment of that system as originally produced.

2nd. The increased range of work which the above arrangement permits. This we find to be considerably in excess of that of the other system.

3rd. The extreme simplicity of its construction, the number of its working parts being greatly reduced in comparison with any other machine doing the same quality of work, with a consequent decrease of wear and tear.

4th. The workmanship is of the highest class.

In conclusion we have the honor to summarize our recommendations as follows:

1. Merit -- The New Davis Sewing Machine being a complete departure from the ordinary style of sewing machines, possessing all the advantages of such ordinary machines, and in addition an increased range of work, with the greatest simplicity of construction and reduction of number of working parts. We consider it to be entitled to the first place in Awards -- Geo. H. Royce, C.E., Editor Australian Engineer, Chairman.



Sewing Machines -- The competition in sewing machines proved very keen, and great interest was evinced both by the representives of the makers and the public in the result of the trial.

The machines were removed from the stand, and were submitted privately to the jury, and their various qualifications explained by skilled operators.

The jury, then retained possession of them for some time, and at their leisure examined the workmanship and material, testing the latter for hardness by use of a file.

Domestic Machines -- Among domestic machines the highest place was awarded to a machine comparatively new in the Melbourne market, though by no means untried elsewhere, and known as the Davis Vertical Feed Machine.

The feed apparatus is entirely removed from the usual position beneath the table of the machine, and is attached to the head.

It consists mainly of a vertical bar placed close to the presser foot and which receives suitable vertical and horizontal motion from the mechanism contained in the head of the machine.

We find the other points entirely novel:--

1st. The presser foot, instead of being continuously urged downward upon the work, is lifted lightly at the instant that the forward motion takes place.

2nd. The feeding is accomplished while the needle is in its lowest position, and the needle partakes of the forward motion of the feed bar, pinning the two plies together and causing both to advance equally.

The machine is also provided with a very complete series of adjustments for counteracting the effect of wear, and an improved automatic bobbin winder, and in all its details is carefully and judiciously worked out.

Owing apparently to its peculiar feed-motion the Davis machine possesses an astonishing power of passing over seams and other irregularities, and accomplishes with the greatest ease a remarkable range of work.

It is also provided with a very ingenious set of attachments adapted to work in unison with the new feed-motion, and enabling very complicated operations to be performed with facility, and in many cases dispensing altogether with the necessity of guiding the work by hand.

It was at first supposed by the jury that this this excellent performance was in some measure due to the special skill of the operator. This view was, however, entirely negatived by the fact that a change of operators in no way impaired the result.

The Davis machine is made for either foot or hand power, and performed equally well in each case.

To it the jury awards the first order pf merit, as being prominent for simplicity, convenience, efficiency and rapidity, both as a treadle and hand machine -- W.C. Kernot, Chairman, Jury 37.

And here we may be permitted to explain why a special jury of experts came to be appointed at Melbourne - it arose this way. In the first instance a jury of gentlemen were appointed by the Commission to report on sewing machines; this jury after a most careful and exhaustive examination extending over some six weeks, unanimously gave the first position to the New Davis, in both hand and treadle machines -- the defeated competitors hurled such a mass of objections at the heads of the Commission that in sheer self-defence the report was sent back to the jury, another two or three weeks was given to submitting the Davis to the most rigorous catechism with the crushing result, that "the jury declined to alter their first report".

Now comes the cream of the joke, (a joke by the way for which the allies had to pay their piper pretty smartly) and a modern illustration of the old saw that "fools rush where angels fear to tread", the doubly-defeated shifted their ground and impugned the jury in toto as utterly incompetent, etc., etc., and applied that a jury of experts should be appointed, and so it came about that for the third time the sewing machines at the Melbourne exhibition were put through their facings, the third trial occupying some two or three weeks, and what the chosen jury of experts thought of the sewing machine exhibits and what they said of them is recorded in their own words:--

Melbourne International Exhibition, 11th April, 1881

J. Cosmo Newberry, Esq., Superintendant of Juries and Awards.

Sir, -- According to your instructions we have made a practical and thorough examination of the following machines, viz:

The Bradbury, Wertheim, Grimme Natalis, Wheeler and Wilson, Jones & Co., Johnson, Clark & Co., Cramer and the New Davis, and the results of our test and experiments are set forth in the tabulated statements attached.

We find that the Bradbury, Wertheim, Grimme Natalis, and Jones are all of the Singer type and should be classed in the same order.

The Wheeler and Wilson did differ in construction, but the results of our experiments are similar to the others.

The Standard of Messrs. Johnson, Clark & Co., is the only machine submitted, except the Davis, having a radial shuttle movement, and therefore worthy of the consideration of the judges.

As regards the New Davis we cannot but agree with the judges that it is very superior to any of the others and went through every test to our entire satisfaction. We therefore beg to recommend that machines be placed in the following order:

Family Machines -- 1st. The Davis (awarded First and Special and the Gold Medal)

2nd. The Standard.

3rd. Grimme Natalis, Jones & Co., Bradbury, Wheeler and Wilson, Wertheim, Cramer

Hand Machines -- 1st. The Davis (awarded First and Special)

2nd. The Standard, Wertheim.

3rd. Bradbury, Jones, Cramer, Wheeler and Wilson.

Signed, Bobart, Quarry, Experts.

If any additional testimony of the excellent qualities of the "Davis" machine were needed, we should have great pleasure in adding that after careful examination and testing, we find this machine is splendidly made, is constructed of the best materials, is excellently finished, and will stitch all classes of work, heavy or light, so beautifully as to be almost astonishing.