We just got back from walking around the 87,000sf Wolff-Fording factory in Shockoe Bottom. One of the owners, Stuart Feldstein, was kind enough to take us on a tour of their old production facility on East Main Street in Richmond, Virginia. Wandering around the building from floor to floor and room to room, seeing so much equipment and so many industrial sewing machines stacked up in corners and covered with drop cloths, I imagined what their facility must have looked like during their busy days, before they were purchased and subsequently closed in 2014.
Our tour was more than just looking around at old equipment, though. We visited the old Wolff-Fording factory with a laundry list of supplies we needed to set up production for Worse for Wear, and Stuart was showing us around to help us find what we needed. In the end, we didn’t find everything we were looking for, but we weren’t expecting that. Wolff-Fording made dance wear and costumes, which meant the were working with a lot of fancy knits, specialty elastics, sequins, and glitter. Glitter everywhere! Let me know if you’d like any glitter-coated motorcycle gear. I might be able to hook you up.
I’m quite pleased with the items we ended up getting from them, though they made no guarantees about whether anything worked. We did get a deal on a couple of machines because, as Stuart put it, “I don’t want you to be too angry with me if these machines never run again”.
We’re getting the machines delivered to our shop on Monday, so I’ll have more detailed photos later. This brings our total machine count to 10, but we’re still missing a few key items. Also, all of these machines are operated by a 220 volt / 3-phase clutch motor, which requires more power to operate than other types of motors. Clutch motors also make a low-level hum in the background as long as they’re switched on, which isn’t bad if you only have 1 or 2 machines, but can be much louder in a room full of them. We may switch out the motors for servo motors instead. Bonus would be a servo motor with needle position sensor, which would allow the operator to bring the needle up when they’re finished sewing almost automatically, instead of having to do it by hand. Every little bit helps.