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

  1. #21
    Senior Member pheasantduster's Avatar
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    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.
    I have had my 410A since Sr in High School (1959!) and had to have it overhauled only once in 1992. Main problem was that it was losing power. I still have the repair slip in my Instruction Booklet and the charge then was $207. It was well worth it as there were a couple of replacement parts like brushes and ring and adjusting of needle shaft as it was off kilter. Over time, I have paid attention to the "sound" of my machine I oil and grease the required spots periodically. The bobbin tension can be tricky but with patience things can be adjusted to stitch properly. Now, 20 years later my machine is still giving me great service. I am one to sew frequently so it is well used. In recent years I have only been doing straight stitching and using the zig zag stitch for quilts and alterations of clothing. You must understand that this machine is all metal not plastic like newer machines. I would suggest that you carefully take apart and clean bobbin area with a soft brush then oil and grease where required.
    If you do not have the instruction booklet, PM me and I will be happy to mail you a copy of the pages (6) showing exact places to oil and grease. (I use Singer brand oil and grease products) Don't let go of the machine - it might just need some TLC.
    Last edited by pheasantduster; 10-21-2012 at 09:09 AM.
    Live well, Laugh often, Love much

  2. #22
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    I agree that the cost is steep just to clean and adjust the tension. I turned my 401A over onto the floor and jammed the gears (this machine had never been in hospital). I dreaded the cost, but off she went to my local sewing center. $25.00 later, she is as good as new. It sews anything! I'd try to get her fixed AND get a new machine if you can affort it. The 401A has all metal parts and will outlast anything made of plastic.

  3. #23
    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
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    1. Most will be able to learn to oil and grease vintage machines.
    2. Not everyone is comfortable working on machines.
    3. We who work on machines have not seen this one. Is it possible there is an issue you have missed?
    4. Overhead varies a lot depending on location.
    5. Level of overhaul varies among techs. It is not out of line to a) shop around for price and b) ask what will be done and c) is there a warranty on the work?
    6. It is likely that tune-up on a 'modern' machine will cost that much, and also likely to need service again long before the vintage machine will.
    I'm just saying, prices vary depending on a lot of factors. For an oil and lube, I think the price is high. For a machine that is glued together with bad oil, and requires a teardown, maybe not.
    Stephanie in Mena

  4. #24
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    Thank you everyone for your replies. My daughter came over this weekend with an old "Crock Watcher" (precursor to the Crock Pot I guess) she inherited from her aunt. It is from the 70's and still cooks like a champ...not too hot like a lot of the newer, light-bottomed pots of today. Looking at the way her unit is built tipped the scales in favor of keeping my Singer 401a...The old adage..."They don't build them like they used to" is so true...I think the Singer has many years of great service left and if there is something it can't do...well, I guess I can go try my daughter's new machine.

  5. #25
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    good choice - I think you will have many years of service.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

  6. #26
    Senior Member pheasantduster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigigigina View Post
    Thank you everyone for your replies. My daughter came over this weekend with an old "Crock Watcher" (precursor to the Crock Pot I guess) she inherited from her aunt. It is from the 70's and still cooks like a champ...not too hot like a lot of the newer, light-bottomed pots of today. Looking at the way her unit is built tipped the scales in favor of keeping my Singer 401a...The old adage..."They don't build them like they used to" is so true...I think the Singer has many years of great service left and if there is something it can't do...well, I guess I can go try my daughter's new machine.
    Good for you - so many things we have to replace (refrig, furniture, clothes) often are "built like they used to". Enjoy many future hours with your 401A
    Live well, Laugh often, Love much

  7. #27
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    I'm in the Eugene area...let me know if I can be of any help. There have also been ads on cl recently for someone cleaning and selling vintage machines in the Eugene/Florence area. They will do a clean up for $30. Someone else posted a response to their ad that they were very happy with the service they received. I think you're smart to get your 401 going whether you buy a new machine or not.

  8. #28
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by k9dancer View Post
    3. We who work on machines have not seen this one. Is it possible there is an issue you have missed?
    If you mean we haven't seen the machine in person, or a photo, agreed.
    My initial interpretation of this comment was that the people on the board that fix machines are not familiar with it. Not so.

    I can also post a how to on how to disassemble and adjust the needle tensioner back to factory specs. That may fix your tension issues. Otherwise, somewhere here I posted how to disassemble and clean the bobbin case spring. It was for a featherweight, but the principle is the same. That's all (and probably more than) a lot of the repair shops would do. It's standard when I service, because I don't want to see the machine back, but I know one repair shop that bragged to me that they spend 10-15 mins on a service. I don't think that's something to be proud of personally.
    Tammi - I've found that many baby steps tend to get you further than a huge leap in followed by a huge leap out - http://www.archaicarcane.com
    Singer 411G, 301A, 2x 221 (featherweight), 222k - the holy grail, 15-90 Centennial, 27, VS2, 28 hc, 128 knee bar, 201-2, 31-15, Pfaff 130-6. Non-Vintage - Pfaff 6122, Kenmore (Janome) 385.81595 serger, Kenmore (Janome) 385.81155, 2013 APQS Lucey

  9. #29
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    If you mean we haven't seen the machine in person, or a photo, agreed.
    My initial interpretation of this comment was that the people on the board that fix machines are not familiar with it. Not so.

    I can also post a how to on how to disassemble and adjust the needle tensioner back to factory specs. That may fix your tension issues. Otherwise, somewhere here I posted how to disassemble and clean the bobbin case spring. It was for a featherweight, but the principle is the same. That's all (and probably more than) a lot of the repair shops would do. It's standard when I service, because I don't want to see the machine back, but I know one repair shop that bragged to me that they spend 10-15 mins on a service. I don't think that's something to be proud of personally.
    I agree. But, why write it all out every time someone comes up with a mere tension problem. It is all in that wonderful manual that everyone has posted a million times on here. The manual has gone over the various types of tension - once you have taken a few a part and put it back together it can nearly be done in your sleep.. What is scary, most repair men are TRAINED to just REPLACE the tension with a brand new one rather than clean, properly reassemble and adjust your old tension. I just had one yesterday - I betcha someone got rid of a machine because someone spooned the disks when they reassembled the tension. The instructions putting a tension back together are sometimes in the owner's manual. Not as good as that repair manual but I managed it when I was about 18. I wish I had known where the tension spring was suppose to position.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

  10. #30
    Super Member oldtnquiltinglady's Avatar
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    Miriam, I love your "favorite quote" Never let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry, and have used it a time or two myself lately when carrying on a conversation in my sewing room......just a note in passing here. And to get back to the subject at hand, fix the 401, and if you have the money to spend, tell DH you want the new one for Christmas, and then let us know next year sometime which one you like better.
    Make every day count for something!

    JoAnn

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