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Thread: Singer 403A Motor is Dying...Help

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Singer 403A Motor is Dying...Help

    I am a sad, sad girl today. My beloved Singer 403A Slant-O-Matic is not doing well. She's sluggish and sometimes just won't go at all. The light goes on and the foot peddle seems to be working OK. I've cleaned and oiled her. I think that she needs her motor looked at. Perhaps the carbon brushes need to be replaced??? How do I do that? Where can I find new brushes? Any other suggestions of what the problem might be? Please help...thanks.

    ~ Cindy

  2. #2
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    Wish I could help Cindy! I know nothing about motors... I'm thinking Bennett might be able to help tho!! I would think any motor could be rebuilt or replaced tho...
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

    http://charleeturner.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    I bought a replacement motor on eBay - there are instructions for switching the motor in the group files at the vintagesingersewing group on yahoo.

    One thing you might want to try is dripping a couple of drops of Tri-Flow or sewing machine oil down into the top of the motor at the base of the vertical gear, in the seam. Then run your machine as fast as it will go for five minutes. This may loosen up any old dried crud that might be making your motor sluggish.

    If that works, save some motor oil and drip one or two drops of motor oil into that seam. It will work much more slowly and dry very slowly, giving you some extra life in the bearings.

    A third option is to contact Jenny at sew-classic and see if she can open your motor and clean the bearings and check the brushes for you. I can't remember if she works on these motors or not, but she is a whiz with 201 & model 15 motors.

    Getting the motor out might be the trickiest part. It's not hard - it's just more "sticky" sometimes than you expect it to be. Have fun!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bennett's Avatar
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    Sew Classic sounds like a good choice to contact. I haven't ever played around with one of the built in motors. It would would definitely be worth cleaning it up to see if that helps. Is she sluggish all the time, or just when doing certain things? Wish I could offer more help!
    I have a screw driver and YouTube--I can fix it!

  5. #5
    Senior Member littlesurfer's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=thepolyparrot;4850288]

    One thing you might want to try is dripping a couple of drops of Tri-Flow or sewing machine oil down into the top of the motor at the base of the vertical gear, in the seam. Then run your machine as fast as it will go for five minutes. This may loosen up any old dried crud that might be making your motor sluggish.

    If that works, save some motor oil and drip one or two drops of motor oil into that seam. It will work much more slowly and dry very slowly, giving you some extra life in the bearings.

    I would try this first before sending the motor out for repair. If you go to the Yahoo Vintage Singers Group, you can get a lot of info on vintage machines...you have to join the group.
    Lynn

  6. #6
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I would do a thorough clean up - is there any dried up oil keeping the machine from running properly. Is the foot control ok. Do the wires to it work right. DH does an electrical test on the wires. You can get a lot from sew-classic. She does have brushes - not too hard to change. There is only one screw holding the motor in the 403 - it is in the middle of the black square thingy next to the motor. Unscrew that screw - then un-hook the electric fasteners - you might want to mark them so you can return them to the right place. Then the motor might or might not drop out. I've had to take off the hand wheel and tap on a block of wood very lightly to get it to start - some times the motor goes shooting out so be careful. Maybe you can find a motor rebuild shop if needed then put the motor back just like you got it out.
    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

  7. #7
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    Thank you everybody! These are all great ideas. My DH is out of town for a couple of days and then I have to leave town for a week, or so. I'll try all of these when I get back. He can check the wires in the foot peddle and other places. He can also help me with taking the motor out. I'm guessing that it's the brushes. The sewing machine is very sluggish to start...I have to help it along with the wheel. Then it may...MAY start moving a little faster, if I keep the peddle down all the way, then it slows back down again.

    I've looked over it and I don't see any gunk built up, or fabric/threads tangled. I've cleaned, oiled and greased it. I'll try dripping some oil down into the top of the motor and see what that does. If that doesn't work, I'll take the motor apart. I have a good schematic of it.

    ~ Cindy

  8. #8
    Senior Member Linda - K.'s Avatar
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    I bought a set of carbon brushes for my Featherweight on 221parts.com. I don't know if they are universal ones or you'd need specific to the 403, but you might try them. They weren't too expensive at all.
    She who dies with the most fabric didn't sew fast enough!

  9. #9
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    I'm guessing that brushes are brushes and can be found for any small, electric motor. (Fingers crossed.) The DH came home last night. I hope that we can pull the motor apart today. I'll keep y'all posted.

    ~ C.

  10. #10
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    He fixed her! My sweetie took all morning and patiently took apart my machine, cleaned the brushes, contacts and commutator. We put her back together and she ran better, but still not tip-top. He then took apart the foot peddle and adjusted the wire contact mechanism and voila! She roared! I've never seen her move so fast!

    In detail:
    The motor was very easy to get to...only one screw to release a metal bracket that covered the compartments that held the brushes. He left the motor in the machine because he could get to everything without taking it out. (Singer was so thoughtful and effecient that way.) The brushes were worn, but only about 1/4 gone...pretty good considering her age and use, so we didn't replace them. There was a lot of carbon soot on everything, so he carefully used Q-tips dipped lightly in rubbing alcohol and cleaned all the points of contact. The commutator had some hardened stuff on there, so he took very fine sand paper and gently cleaned the crud off and also wiped up any leftover grit with more Q-tips. (He didn't want grit to get into the bearings.)

    We put her her back together and she ran, but still kind of slow and hessitantly, so he took apart the foot peddle. This was something that we probably should have done first, but we really felt that the brushes were the problem. Just as well...the motor needed inspection and cleaning anyway. Inside the peddle there is a horseshoe shaped wire/metal piece that moves forward when the peddle is pressed down. When it moves, it makes contact with the electrical wires and starts the machine. Over the years, this metal piece had bent back and was not making a good contact any longer. Once that was adjusted, the machine ran like the wind.

    Thanks for everyone's input. I hope that my post will help others with their machines. I could definitely do this project on my own if I ever need to. It wasn't hard at all. It just took a little time and patience. Now, I'm off to work on my "new" Redeye treadle that arrived during the holidays!

    ~ C.

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