Joe thanks for the comments.
I took apart the tension unit again, and turned the tension disks around. Both sides of them look the same, except for some small writing, but I figured what the heck, I'll change it anyway. The first time I put it back together I think I may not have had the spring correct, because when I looked at it a second time it didn't seem right. Anyway, I put it back together and now the straight stitch and the zig zag work without skipping. Plus, the thread doesn't bunch up anymore!
However the decorative stitches don't work like they should. The cam stack isn't sparkly clean, but I have cleaned the majority of the gunk off. It's definitely oiled up, but I will inspect the arms in each position and see if they are not engaging fully.
My grandmother definitely used the decorative stitches on the machine. My mother has told me about all of the beautiful things she used to make, so I know the machine was well used, and loved. My mom did tell me that my grandmother had the machine serviced by a guy who did a house visit, I imagine he was the one who put the washer in the tensioner in backwords. I don't think my grandmother is the kind of person who would have tried to service her own machine. It makes me wonder if he did anything else incorrectly. When she had it serviced the last time, she was getting older and didn't sew anymore, so if it wasn't working correctly she wouldn't have known.
Tate, I would love to be able to have access to all that knowledge, but for some reason yahoo groups and me do not mix well. I prefer a forum so much more. I have joined a few, but the same things always happen, I get tired off all the emails, make a folder for them and forget to check it, or am scared to post because there are always so many rules. Eventually I always get kicked out because I never post.
Originally Posted by tate_elliott
Glad you got the tensioner squared away.
I got interupted in my previous response so forgot to put something in. Ours skipped stitches when we first started sewing with it too.
I did the same things as you did, cleaning and lubing everything. New needle, making sure it was in correctly. But what really got it going was to just use it.
We have accumulated 21 different cams for it so I sat down and using white thread and black felt squares we bought at the fabric store I sewed a strip with each setting on the stitch chart under the trap door. Then from there I went to the cams and sewed with each of them. Put in two needles and sewed with them.
At the end of this that machine had quit skipping and had quieted down tremendously. There are so many moving pieces in there that can gum up, sometimes you just gotta oil 'em and use 'em.
Joe, I have noticed too that a vintage machine will get better with constant use. It happened with my 301.
Could my cam stack need to be retimed? I sewed with the special stitches chosen, alternating letters and giving each one a good amount of time. Sometimes it does a slight pattern, never quite correct, but usually it just does a zig zag. I have a copy of the Singer repair manual for the slant needles, and it gives instructions for this.
I doubt the cam stack is out of time. It would take major damage or a 3 year old grand son to mess it up that bad.
Here is a pic of the cam stack:
Notice the slots in the vertical shaft the arrow is pointing to. Each of these slots correspond to a cam. There are two of these shafts, one front and one rear. Each has a sliding part that is raised and lowered by the round nobs. At each position a lock tab snaps into a slot. If the locking tab does not snap into the slot the cam follower is not on the cam right.
These two areas must be free to move as the nobs are turned. Concentrate there.
Here is what my 401A did just yesterday:
The far left is 7 rows of straight stitches reducing the stitch length one number at a time.
From there each pattern corresponds to the basic chart under the trap door. The zig-zag is BL with the red lever at 5 and the stitch length at about 15. As I moved through each pattern as indicated on the chart I gradually tightened up the stitch length to about 25 or so. That is in the "fine" area. But for that you need a satin or special presser foot.
From the straight stitch three patterns to the right of the bold one the patterns are the cams. For those the red lever was set at 3 and the stitch length was still at 25.
You'll notice if the pics are clear enough on your monitor that it skipped a few stitches at first. Also I can't sew a straight line very well.
I'd clean that cam stack and all the moving parts that work with it and make sure they all work properly and smoothly before you mess with the stack timing.
Just for my info, where did you find the manual for timing the stack?
The manual is for all slant needles, but has parts near the end for specific models. Here is a link to the manual:
Your stitches are beautiful. Last night I spent a good amount of time with the top off of the machine, watching the locking tabs and the cam followers. The locking tabs are in the slots, and the cam followers are moving with the ridges on the cams. Now the problem is that the pattern as it is sewn is stretched out . For example, when choosing BR or HL, I can see that the stitch is in a pattern following the shape of these, but the stitches are far apart, more similar to a zig zag then say a embroidery or satin type stitch. This is an improvement from before, but still not right.
Do you think it would help to use some kerosene to clean the cam stack further? And did you take your cam stack out to clean it, or did you clean it in the machine?
janeite, I left the cam stack in the machine. I used cotton swabs, a small screwdriver and rags and a small tooth brush to get most of the crud off of it. My owners manual didn't say to put grease on it, just oil down the center of it. So that's what I did. If yours is still gunked up then some kerosene on a tooth brush might finish cleaning the stack. I won't take anything apart on these machines unless there is just no other way. I'm not that good with them yet. To tighten up the fancy stitches you just need to run the stitch length lever, the vertical one on the right, up above 20. That will really tighten them up. Look at the 5th and 7th pattern past the straight stitches on the top pic. I tightened the stitches up as I sewed the lines. You can see where they got closer together as I sew it. Thanks for the link I'll download it and add it to my manuals. Joe
Originally Posted by janeite
You can set Yahoo groups emails for no email and read it from the website, that way your inbox doesn't get clogged with too much mail.
Originally Posted by janeite
The 401 I brought home a little over a week ago was not doing very well on the decorative stitches either. Everything was just a little sticky and gummy. I oiled it, and gave my dd (she's 7) a basket of scraps to play with. After she stitched and played around with the stitches for an hour or so - it does a pretty good zig-zag, it still misses a zig here or there though. I haven't had her doing anything but straight stitches since - maybe today I'll see what happens if I try the decoratives. I know at some point I'm going to have to get in there and really clean everything - but until it warms up enough to do it outside...