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Thread: Should I overhaul my Singer 401A or purchase a Janome 2012?

  1. #11
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    NE Indiana
    My 401A is my "go-to" machine and I would be lost without it! I've had it since I graduated from high school and have learned to fix it myself. My DH even replaced the motor brushes once.

  2. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Jersey Shore
    I don't understand the 185 dollar quote. That is excessive. Try to oil it and grease it yourself. It's fairly easy and it will run fine. Worse thing that could happen is that the timing is off or the bobbin winder spring is broken...

  3. #13
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    i have a 503a, which is fairly similar to the 401. it's the only machine i've ever had, never needed any repair and i bought it at an estate sale in 1989. since then i've made a zillion kids' clothes and at least a dozen quilts and a few craft-type projects. i'd try oiling and greasing it yourself and asking here if that doesn't do the trick. there's a wealth of advice here and i imagine people could guide you in anything else that might be wrong if oiling/greasing doesn't work.

    if it were me, i'd probably restore your mom's machine just for sentimental value.

  4. #14
    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Mena, Arkansas
    Blog Entries
    Go for the 401 rehab or send it to me; I'll give it a good home!
    Stephanie in Mena

  5. #15
    Super Member oldtnquiltinglady's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lafayette, TN
    Blog Entries
    Sewing machine repair people (in shop type) are my worst of all worlds "go to" people. I know they need to make a living, but "make a payment on their new BMW"; no thank you ma'am or sir. Did he see "idiot" tattooed on your forehead, or is your machine in that bad shape? I am like many on this board, I have studied their comments and pictures and learned a lot on how to service and repair sewing machines. Thank you one and all..... At $180, you can buy lots of new parts via internet and be a lot smarter in the long run too. I love working on the old "treasures" and getting them working, and an old Singer beats any new one hands-down on a smooth, even straight stitch, which is absolutely necessary to you as a quilt piecer. I say go for the "learning, do-it-yourself" and keep your mama's machine. And, failing that, tell me where you live and I might buy it from you.
    Make every day count for something!


  6. #16
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    NE Indiana
    Quote Originally Posted by Gigigigina View Post
    I have my mother's 401a and is going to cost $179.00 to overhaul and put in good shape. I am planning on sewing crafts, beginning quilting, and some home decor projects. Should I have the overhaul performed or purchase the Janome 2012 (my price range for a new machine)? The Singer has never been serviced and was having serious tension problems.
    OK, I did not read everybodies posts between yours and this one. So I'm gonna risk saying something that's been said before or asking something that's been asked already.

    What exactly does the machine need that's going to cost nearly $200.00 to fix?

    You can do cleaning and maintenance yourself. The tension problems could be nothing more than old oil, dirt, lint, fuzz and thread in the top tension and bobbin areas. Nothing you can't clean yourself. The owners manual gives detailed info on lubing the machine. There are other threads here, including one I did with pics, showing where to put oil and grease.

    There are sites on the web such as TFSR that give very detailed instructions on disassembly, cleaning, fixing, reassembly and adjusting the tensions.

    I'm just asking, not trying to be a smart arse.

    Now to answer your post title question: "Should I overhaul my Singer 401A or purchase a Janome 2012?? Yes.


  7. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Beautiful Orygone
    Thanks everyone for your input so far. The needle bar is very sloppy, the machine is skipping stitches and yes...the machine is very dry and desperately needs oiling and greasing.

  8. #18
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    I would *definitely* overhaul the 401. I have two of them and have given away a third. It's the machine I learned to sew on and if you're not feeding it a steady diet of canvas and jeans, it will be a wonderful machine to learn on.

    You can buy additional attachments and cams (although I don't think you really need the cams - most of my sewing is straight-stitching with the occasional blind-hem stitch - I'm pretty sure that's built in to the 401) If you look on eBay, pretty full sets of attachments and cams for the Touch & Sew machines go for a song. The white cams and the chain-stitcher sets from those machines won't work on your 401, but the black cams and the other slant-shank attachments will be just fine. Usually a lot less expensive than the sets made and marketed for the 401, too.

    You're not going to be able to buy as sturdily built and versatile machine as the 401 for what it's going to cost you to refurbish it.

    And you might save even that, if you like to tinker around with machinery (which I absolutely love as much as I love sewing! LOL! ) You might find that it's fun for you, too.

    Have fun with your old gal - nobody makes 'em with that quality any more.

  9. #19
    Junior Member overdew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Northeast TX

    401a is a great machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gigigigina View Post
    I am a new member here at Quiltingboard and am sensing that with all the online manuals and help here at "QB" , I just might be able to do it myself!
    There is a ton of info on the net about this machine. The main problems can be solved with cleaning and oiling the machine. The decorative stitch controls on my $25 one were "stuck" from not being used. There is a great video about where to oil to restore movement. These machines have no belts, and all metal gears. These gears love oil. The slant needle makes a lovely stitch and you can get excellent speed from these machines. That price for adjustments is and oiling is outrageous, imho.

  10. #20
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Blog Entries
    I learned a lot about repairs on one. Here is a service manual link: http://parts.singerco.com/IPsvcManuals/306W25.pdf
    you will have to scroll down 125 pages to find it though.
    There is a LOT of information right here on QB - you might need to do an advance search. Several of us on here can tell you how to do that $180 job for nothing but your own labor. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFE4I..._order&list=UL
    If you run into any problems please post a pic and some idea what isn't working - we'll try to help.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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