I recall a similar experience being taught on my Landis-12L. Just a few years back DW and Bob Galvin had visited me here [and Bob made several repeat visits]. They heard my laments, and both did their best to get me acquainted with the beastie. After much rumination over the machine, a one-owner job built in '67 [a mere "baby" as things go], still with the red paint dots on the oil ports, shiny chrome, perfect Bakelite cowl, and a complete set of wrenches, it was obviously low mileage. Both agreed if I had *any* problem using it, it was caused strictly by "operator error", not anything "wrong" with the machine, after they found out that I'd adjusted a certain thing backwards that is. It's one of the few great bargains in my life, I snagged it with several others [a Landis (MacKay) 88, Auto Soler, etc.] off the charitable widow of our local shoe repair guy for $500, a steal I'm told.
My "dance-instructors'" greatest advice: "the operator must always adapt to the machine, because the machine will never adapt to the operator". How you hold the work and press it into the maw of the beast, how you present it to the table, how you swiftly switch hands as you zip around the toe, not to mention bobbing and weaving, tipping and tilting the shoe or boot as it feeds to keep it perfectly tangent to the table as it makes its way around the curves of the welt in the waist, make this more like the Cha-Cha or Tango than just sticking something under a needle and stepping on the gas. It's hard to describe, but while you're sole-stitching you're up close, very close; if your shoulders aren't twisting and dipping, if your torso and knees don't bow a bit here and there, and if you're standing stone still and trying to let the machine feed the work at arm's length, obviously you're doing it all wrong. It is truly a "dance".
Want a treat? Contact the Cove Shoe Company in Martinsburg, PA, [they have a website on here somewhere] and beg them for a copy of their video 'How Quality Shoes Are Made'. This is roughly an hour-long video tour of their Goodyear welted factory, and focuses on the speed and accuracy of the various machine operations from clicking and closing, to final polish. You'll blush. The guy plunging shoe after shoe through the Goodyear inseaming machine, plus the one passing what seemed like 20 pair a minute through a Rapid-e CN with perfect results, taught me a new respect for machines and their operatives. Okay, so they can't make the whole shoe, by hand with "knife and fork", or boar bristles, but man, I'll tell you, it's humbling to watch. It cured me of ever thinking I could compete with a factory, DW