Sunday, March 11, 2012

Three 401A Singers

Sewing Machines, of course, not vocalists.  We worked on these three machines this afternoon.  The one in the foreground we just picked up yesterday.  The one in the back ground is one Betsy is servicing for money.  The one she is working on is a PITA.  We can't get the tension right. 

Betsy hates 401s.  I love them  I learned how to sew on one and I just have the best time fiddling with the stitch selector knobs and making all those fun stitches.  "Too many steps" complains my friend.  consequently the machine baffles her.  I offered to take it off her hands and work on it but she needs it as a model for the one she will service.  Then maybe I can grab it and see what is up with it.

I did service the motor today.  I remember when I first serviced a 401 motor.  I was very nervous about getting into "Ingrid".  But I did it with some help from a photo tutorial on one of the groups.

It took me a long time the first time.  Today it took me about 20 minutes.  Next time it will take less time.  Oh my, I wonder what kind of shape "Sal's" motor is in?  That is this kind of motor.  Oh boy won't that be fun?


  1. I found a 403A this weekend. That completes my 'set' of 400 series machines. The needle position lever was stuck, and the thing that pops up to release the plate was stuck, but we fixed that. All I need now is a stitch length knob doo hickey, which I am working on getting. The motor is still surprisingly fast and strong. I haven't sewn with it yet to test the tension. Maybe tomorrow. I LOVE the 401A. I believe it is one of the best machines Singer ever made. I love the SPEED and strength it has.

    Have a great week!

  2. Hi I have a 401 that I picked up for 15.00. I cleaned and oiled her, but top thread kept breaking. I finally fixed that issue by sanding the edge of the hole in the zigzag throat plate. Now I have a new issue! :\ It's skipping stitches like crazy. Only catching a stitch every inch or so. I'm ready to tear my hair out at this point. I have fiddled with upper and lower tension, changed needles, thread, etc. to no avail. Any tips you may have would be gratefully recieved.

  3. Skipped stitches are a result of: incorrect threading; bobbin or needle path. Wrong needle for fabric and thread; bad thread; lint caught in the bobbin case. Start with a universal 130/705H # 80 or #90 Schmetz needle. Get some good thread (Gutterman or Mettler) and check your threading diagram. Fill a high quality class 66 bobbin with the same thread that is on your spool. Check your bobbin threading. It is rare that machines go out of "time" but it is possible Do the simple things first. Then join Vintage Singers Yahoo group and ask for advice there. They are all very smart and helpful

  4. I found that the reason for skipped stiches on my machine was that the bobbin case clearances were incorrect. By adjusting them, I cured the problem. Few people speak about these clearances. They can be found in the service manual. Hook timing is also important and should checked along with needlebar height as that determines how far down the needle travels...too little and it will miss the hook.

  5. Hi I need help I bought a 401A it was filthy I took out all the old gunk and dirt it did not have oil to clean up just rust in the bobbin part old dried up dust from the thread. So I oiled and greased it up the cam selectors where stuck then patiently i kept messing till I was un able to un freeze them I was hand turning because it did have the power cord I order it. But after clean everything up putting everything where it belongs now it is stuck it feels like it is the bobbin I did take it apart and put it back, Do you think I ruined it? Or can help me. my email is>

    1. I can't help you. Maybe someone else can

  6. I purchased my first 401a last month and fell in love, but it had a problem. The bobbin hook position bracket (part 172207) has a pin sticking out of it that Singer decided was a bad idea. They recommended that service technicians remove the pin, but it was hard to get to so they would yank it out leaving rough edges for the thread to catch on as it stitched. This is what happened with mine unfortunately. My service guy caught it quickly and I found an intact replacement part on Ebay. Now that he installed it however, the top thread is breaking at faster sewing speeds. I'm so disappointed and $170 lighter in my pocketbook. It is under warranty, but I'm worried that he won't be able to get it right. Fingers crossed. I'd really like to try sewing on this thing!!

  7. Really interested in a guide to take apart 401 motors, could you post a link of the group page you found the info on please? My Mom was a prolific sewer who had a 401A, I learned to sew by osmosis just being in the same room! I'm not a sewer, but I OCD on the mechanical aspects, taking a dirty hunk of metal and turning it back into a gleaming machine is quite a pleasurable experience!