fantastic alcohol fuelled perseverence there Selby bagger!
The answer to the great which way round debate is - it depends, sorry I can't be more definitive. To add to the confusion, some machines are designed so you thread the needle from front to back and then some from left to right. There are also some which have a completely circular needle shaft, ie no flat bit to help decide which way around the needle should go.
Best thing I can offer is whatever way around you try the needle, turn the wheel by hand and slowly until you're sure it is stitching properly. A badly set needle can present itself into where the moving parts are underneath at the wrong point in the stitch cycle. If this happens and it collides with the moving bits it can knock the timing out and will mean that you won't get a satisfactory stitch even when the needle is properly inserted.
Enough of the cautionary tales anyhoo - I love that all of these machines are seeing the light of day, pressed into service by making more and more lovely morsbags