Welcome to the Quilting Board!

Already a member? Login above
loginabove
OR
To post questions, help other quilters and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our quilting community. It's free!

Page 1 of 4 1 2 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 34

Thread: Singer 401A - Good for quilting?

  1. #1
    Senior Member ShirlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    The Beautiful Willamette Valley In Oregon
    Posts
    431

    Singer 401A - Good for quilting?

    I was in a thrift store yesterday and ran across a 401A Singer in a wood cabinet. Both are in great condition. I had one of the employees plug the machine in and it purred like a kitten. There were no cams or other accessories with it, other than a brush and one bobbin (still with thread in it) in the bobbin area. I downloaded the manual from web. Further research reveals it was manufactured in Anderson, SC between 1959 and 1961. I see that the cams and accessories seem to be readily available on eBay. The throat plate on it now is for the zigzag stitch. Since everything in the store was 1/2 price, I paid $49.95 for the machine and cabinet. It was so nice I couldn't pass it up, although I have 3 other machines. My question is: Does this machine stitch a true straight stitch for quilting like some of the much older ones, i.e. featherweights, and do you think I made a wise purchase or not?
    Shirley
    "We shall pass this way on Earth but once; if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again." Stephen Grellet

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    377
    ha where in oregon ? yes it was a very good buy ...

    I just gave away my mom's old 401, you do know they have several built in stitches also....as far as the cams ,, you can bet the can stack inside is froze up....so unless you are into tear that apart to clean it those cam
    s won't work any way , now I believe all the black singer cams will work, the zig zag plate was the standard plate on those... it seems like there stitch was very straight inline. I know mom used it doing very fine doll clothes and her lamp shades. lately I see the price on 401's going sky hi...

  3. #3
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    6,754
    Shirley,

    We paid a bit more than that for our 401A that came without a case top. It runs nice and does indeed sew a straight line.
    It has a built in cam stack that in my opinion, (an opinion not shared by others such as my wife) produces better patterns than the top hat cams. And we have a bunch of cams to use in it too.

    My only concern is that it doesn't have as much room under the harp as some of the other machines do. If this is not a concern, I don't see why you couldn't quilt with it.

    Our only cam with the ZZ needle plate too. We've got a bunch of other bits from our LSMG and so far no SS needle plate.

    Did you get a good deal, I think so.

    Joe

  4. #4
    Senior Member ShirlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    The Beautiful Willamette Valley In Oregon
    Posts
    431
    Thank you, Joe. The manual I downloaded does not tell me much about the cams. What are the top hat cams? And how are they different from what look like sets of black-colored cams I see advertised on eBay? Does the "built-in cam stack" have certain stitches already within the machine without having to put in a cam at the top of the machine? Any further explanation you folks on the Board can give me would sure be appreciated.
    Shirley
    "We shall pass this way on Earth but once; if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again." Stephen Grellet

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    377
    these are also a double needle machine.

    I did use this one making a big quilt 7x8 ' it wasn't easy pushing the fabric, small harp area.. at times I had the needle so hot it would flex like rubber
    The lady that has it now, has a 603 her cams fit the 401

    had the 401 been black I would have kept it ..

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    377
    flip the lid up there's a diagram of how to set the dails for built in and top hat

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Outer Space
    Posts
    9,583
    You really only have about 5 cams or so to buy that aren't inside the machine if you'd want, as the cams are all built in on the 401.

    Any machine that does a zig zag stitch won't make a 'true' stitch like a straight stitch only machine like a Featherweight etc. But, you'd have to likely look with a magnifying glass to have it bother you. LOL. Straight stitch machines are the truest straight stitch because there is no wiggle room in the needle bar. The machines are typically poured castings and the needle bar offers no side to side movement. I quilt with my 401 all the time (straight stitching). And I piece with it. I don't like it for free motion quilting because of the raised feed dog plate that catches on the quilt sandwich and the tension issues due to the horizontal bobbin case. I have quite a few straight stitch only machines and I do use the 401 quite a bit.

  8. #8
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Central IL
    Posts
    6,754
    Shirley,

    The top hat cams are called that because from the edge view they look like little flat brimmed hats. There is a raised part in the center and a mouse hole shaped hole for the locator peg on the flat part. The other Singer cams are flat.

    The built in cam stack has a big bunch of stitches. And by varying the controls of the machine you can alter them to your tastes.
    Sadly I have a bunch of good pics on my other computer drive, the one that died, that I'd post if I could.

    The insides of our 401 is steel, steel, steel. Not one tiny bit of plastic in there. Pull the top off of that machine and look at it. The cam stack is right below the trap door for the removable cams. Directly under it, you can't see it without a mirror is the steel driver gear. The controls can be jammed up if you turn one nob without resetting the other nob. Set one, make sure the nob has latched, then set the other one.
    When you lift the trap door there is a chart, or should be, showing all the built in patterns and where to set the nobs to get them.
    Plus in the manual I downloaded and printed (a large .pdf file) there is extensive instructions on how to set the controls with and without the cams. That too is on my dead PC and I'll try to find it and post it for you.

    The 401 is one machine that benefits greatly from Tri-Flow. Lots of things to oil and grease. You especially need to oil and free up the parts that move up and down on the two vertical shafts just to the left of the cam stack. If those don't move free, you'll have fits getting the cams, built in or removable, to produce the patterns.

    When we got our machine the cam stack was not jammed up, but the actuators on the vertical shafts almost were, and someone had put what looked like black chassis grease on the cams. Ugh, what a mess. That stuff had solidified and I had to scrape it off one little bit at a time. Use Tri-Flow grease here.

    I've got an errand to run in a few minutes but when I get back I'll pop the top off our 401 and take some pics for you if you want.

    You got a good machine. Once you get it cleaned and lubed I'll bet you'll smile as you use it.

    Joe

  9. #9
    Senior Member ShirlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    The Beautiful Willamette Valley In Oregon
    Posts
    431
    Thanks, Candace,

    Yes, that does make perfect sense that the ZZ machines would not stitch as "true" as the totally straight stitch machines. Thanks for your information on this. I had never seen a raised feed dog situation before and I was wondering if that might impede such operations as FMQ. I did flip this switch earlier today to see how it actually worked and I can see how it might cause some problems with FMQ.
    Shirley
    "We shall pass this way on Earth but once; if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again." Stephen Grellet

  10. #10
    Senior Member ShirlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    The Beautiful Willamette Valley In Oregon
    Posts
    431
    Wow, pictures would be great, Joe! Where do you get the Tri-Flow lubricant?
    Shirley
    "We shall pass this way on Earth but once; if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again." Stephen Grellet

Page 1 of 4 1 2 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.