The American cowboy has a lot of gear to wrangle, from horse harnesses and saddles to pistol holsters and belts. All of that stuff needs to be tough, which is why leather is the material of choice. And stitching up the thicknesses required calls for a particularly bad-ass machine, one that uses mechanical principles different from the standard needle-pierce sewing machine.
Thus we have the Campbell Lockstitch Sewing Machine, a "needle & awl" machine designed in the 1880s and still in use today (albeit with an electric motor added) to process heavy leather:
The Campbell is a needle and awl machine designed for leather. The awl is set in the head of the machine and the needle mechanism in the base. The awl punches a hole through the leather as it descends, then the awl feeds the leather forward. A barbed needle raises and pulls the thread through for the lock, as the awl again descends for another stitch. This process assures uniform feeding and stitching, without the flex and needle breakage inherent in needle feed machines.
No word on pricing, though some leatherworking forum-crawling indicates it's probably in the $5,000 range for one of these puppies.
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