Wednesday, March 13, 2013

1951 Singer 401A

1951 Singer 401A
I had to do it.  How could I not?  This machine was 55 miles away.  It came with an adorable blond desk cabinet.  Steven's granddaughter learned how to sew on a 401A and every time she visits from California she mentions that.  I get the hint.   She wants one.  This one is for her.  It is quite clean for a 62 year old machine.  The cabinet is in nice shape as well.  That will not get shipped.  I will sneak that up into the guest apartment this weekend while Steven is away in the Virgin Islands.  (He deserves a nice vacation.  He has been tending the canines while I work....)

True to 401A reputation, the stitch selector knobs were stuck.  The A-J knob freed up with a little Tri-Flow applied to the camstack follower.  Look at the brown fluid on top of the follower to the left in the photo.  ICK..The K-Special knob took a bit more persuading.  They both move freely now as does the plunger for the needle bar left to right swing.  I cannot wait for Friday when I will have time to get this machine all cleaned up.  (I apologize for leaving the top hat cam in place for the photo).


22 comments:

  1. I've had one of these since 1970 and have sewn hundreds and hundreds of items on it. It's a real workhorse. The only thing it's not great on is slippery knits so I pull out my little basic Brother machine for those. I trust the grandaughter will enjoy using it.

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  2. This is one of my favorite Singer machines. The other one I love is the 404, which only stitches a straight stitch. I actually have the 401A in my office in a cabinet. I use it mostly for mending, but I do love it. The motor is strong and fast! GD will love it!!!

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  3. Elizabeth, I have one of these. It was the first vintage I bought. It was in remarkably good shape except the case was shipped without the bottom and the case top got broken. What is the odds of finding a bottom, right, not good. My husband keep threatening to throw the broken top out which I would fix if there was a bottom. I love the way it sews. Now I know how to get the cams to move a bit better after reading this. I was disappointed that I could not FMQ with this because the throat plate lifts up, dogs don't go down and so the fabric does not slide well. I use it for zig zag, blind hem and decorative stitch. Then I bought a 301 and another, and...
    One more day till I drive clear past Rochester to get the treadle! Hope it is as good as the photo looks.
    Linda

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  4. Thanks so much. I have one of these - sitting and waiting. Think I'll take it out and work along with you.

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  5. I had one of these once. I heard that the internal parts in the 401 is the same as the 500 rocketeer. We do have the Rocketeer here. My 12 year old daughter absolutely loves to sew on it and considers it "her" machine. What I like about it for the new sewer is you push the lever up for reverse. You do not have to hold a button. that way you can have both hands free to manipulate the fabric. It has worked well for us!

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  6. I'm enjoying your blog very much and we have a bunch of the same machines.
    I have this one as well as a 500 and 503. I absolutely love my 401 and it came in a cabinet with manual and attachments.

    Art4vr, are you saying that you don't have a bottom to a portable case? What sort of case? You can make a simple wooden base and you know that those ivory colored plastic portable cases are sold at various places (about $30-$35) and can sometimes be found at online used sites. Yard sales might be a good place too look or try FreeCycle. Used cabinets are out there too. Don't toss that top as it will help keep the dust off your machine.

    Visitor

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  7. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! ILYSM!

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    1. You are welcome. Glad I could help.

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  8. We have a Singer 401A -- but oddly the manual that came with it is for the Singer 404. Anyone want to trade?

    The stitch selector knobs were stuck on our machine as well. Oil oxidizes over time (6-12 months) and formed a sticky substance that resulted in the selector knobs being stuck. I put a couple drops of 3 in one oil on the post. Then gentle persuasion got them to move.

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    1. And in time your 3 in 1 will create a glue that will require more work. I suggest that you clean the 3 in 1 off soon and replace it with some TriFlow Superior lubricant. It is synthetic and has teflon suspended in it. Shake the bottle well before application and it will penetrate and lubricate and decrease the likelihood of future problems. Just sayin'

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    2. I just bought a 401A and found out the manual is online as a pdf file. You can always print a hard copy from there (once you have previewed it). Hope this helps!

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  9. Hello, Just a bit of information... If you are determining the # 401 age from Singer serial number website, it is very incorrect.. I learned to sew on this machine and It was not manufactured until late in 1957. It debuted for Christmas 1957. The amount of labor, engineering and legal issues that comprised the manufacture of this machine were astounding.. This machine contains designs purchased from Bernina, and the Italian manufacturer Vigorelli. The Singer
    company was in serious competition from the Japanese and European manufacturers after WW2..The # 401 was a fantastic feat of 1950''s engineering and quality. The # 301 machine was introduced in small numbers in 1951, followed by the first Singer zig-zag # 206 in 1952.... Happy Sewing !!!!!

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    1. Thank you very much. I too learned to sew on a 401 somewhere around 1961. It is a very fine machine.

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    2. I live this blog. I have arranged to purchase a 401a and have been very excited. I currently own a 503a, but for some reason I kept wanting a 401. Thanks to Richard, I now know why it was mfg the year I was born! Thanks.

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  10. Just got mine and I am already in love!!

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  11. The 401A manufacturing did not begin until 1956, arriving the the marketplace in 1957. My mother had one of the very first ones in the spring of 1957. The following website probably will help in dating the machine. Hope it helps. http://www.singer301.com/dating/default.html

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    1. It is difficult to date these machines, I agree.

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  12. Does anyone have a Instruction Manual as I have the 401A but do not know all it can do but it is a heavy duty machine. Help please.

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    1. There is a Facebook group Vintage Sewing Machines. I do not recommend that you join. It is full of charlatans. BUT the files are open to anyone and you could scroll through to find a PDF owner's manual. Again, don't join the group. They aren't reliable. For good information, join the Yahoo groups. And they too may have a file of the owner's manual

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  13. I am in need of a Instruction Manual to learn everything my 401A can do. Help please.

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  14. I remember when my grandmother bought her new 401a because she sewed for a living. My mom ran out and bought one immediatedly! I learned to sew on her featherweight then got to use the 401a when she bought it. I now have the featherweight and the two 401a's.
    I'm not sure I would ever be able to adapt to anything else after this many decades ;) I'm looking for a knit foot to fit. I've heard good things about it. I feel quite fortunate that I have both those old machines with all the original equipment including the cases and tables. Over the years of living close to the ocean the manuals have mildewed...eww. And the case for the featherweight stinks!

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  15. You are probably aware that the manuals are on line. No mildew on the WWW.
    There is a way to get the stink out of the FW case. I don't have a case for mine so I haven't had that problem. I'll bet Lady Google can help you find the answer

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