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  • Have just acquired a Singer 401A

    Old 03-11-2015, 09:39 AM
      #1  
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    Default Have just acquired a Singer 401A

    Please, someone, tell me all you know about the Singer 401A. I just acquired this machine, which belonged to my cousin. I'm fairly certain she bought it new, probably sometime in the early 60s (I don't really know the dates of these machines, and don't remember when she got it but am almost sure she did not buy it used, since that was not her habit...and cost would not have been an issue).

    I assume it works though I have not yet tried it, and needs a good cleaning, and oiling, of course, but otherwise looks in great shape except the bobbin cover plate is missing. Her kids have two boxes of attachments, and I hope, a manual, which they have promised to bring to me at Easter. They had an estate sale last year but the machine didn't sell (I wanted it then but I already have 4 machines and no room, so reluctantly passed it up). Now they have quite generously given it to me and because Carole (my cousin) was like my sister, I'm proud to have it, mainly because it was hers, but also because I hear such good things about these machines. I'll just have to find room and because it's a portable, I can manage.

    I thought of all of you, by the way, when I was at the house on Saturday to pick up the 401A. There was also an black Singer, which appeared beautifully maintained and cared for, that had belonged to the daughter-in-law's grandmother (she had added it to the estate sale last year). I didn't look closely at it and am not sure if it was a treadle that had been electrified, but am guessing, both by the deduced age of the grandmother and the look of the machine, that it dated from the early 1900s. I did notice that it was a different style (much older) than either of the black Singers I have (a 99K and a 15-91). Its fate is a sad business, because my cousin's kids were leaving everything in the house that didn't sell to the mercies of the fellow who bought the house -- a speculator. That fine old Singer may end up in a landfill, depending on how these people deal with things left in the houses they buy.

    Nothing to do with sewing machines but some Desert Rose pottery, some china pieces, some silver pieces, etc. were also being left, as well as an oil painting, some nice furniture and many other useful, quality things. Broke my heart to see belongings of someone I loved so much so casually discarded. On the other hand, I understand that families cannot save or keep everything.

    Anyway, any thoughts on the 401A? I'm very grateful for anything any of you have to say about it.
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    Old 03-11-2015, 10:03 AM
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    The 401A is an excellent machine. One of Singers best ZZ machines. All but indestructible and capable of sewing most any type sewing a non-industrial machine will be called on to do.

    They are oil hogs though and have several areas that will gum up solid if not routinely cleaned and oiled. The ZZ linkage under the nose, the cam stack controls, the plunger directly under the flapper to the left of the cam stack.
    If it's been sitting for a long time, clean it good internally. I had to use denatured alcohol for most of the needed cleaning on ours, and in some places Hoppe's #9 gun cleaning solvent.

    There are 5 (I think) places that take grease, then everything else that moves or rubs against something else needs oil.

    Hopefully you will get the manual and slide plate, the manual is needed, but both can be found on line.


    Joe
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    Old 03-11-2015, 10:06 AM
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    I know there are charities here that come and pick up unwanted goods. I'm sure there are similar services there. It might be worth the kid's while to contact one of those groups and donate the items before the purchaser of the house takes over. That way they help someone in need instead of taking up space at the dump.

    I just acquired a 401A a short while ago and am very impressed with it. If you don't have the owner's manual I highly recommend that you get one and read it. These machines are capable of a lot if you know how to set them up.
    Rodney
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    Old 03-11-2015, 10:06 AM
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    Thanks for the info Joe. I have a 401A in my home that my DGS will acquire when he is 10 or 12.
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    Old 03-11-2015, 10:35 AM
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    Thanks, Joe, for the great tips and advice! I'm saving your post -- and others -- for when I have a chance to inspect and clean and oil and take care of this wonderful gift.
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    Old 03-11-2015, 10:39 AM
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    Originally Posted by Rodney
    I know there are charities here that come and pick up unwanted goods. I'm sure there are similar services there. It might be worth the kid's while to contact one of those groups and donate the items before the purchaser of the house takes over. That way they help someone in need instead of taking up space at the dump.

    I just acquired a 401A a short while ago and am very impressed with it. If you don't have the owner's manual I highly recommend that you get one and read it. These machines are capable of a lot if you know how to set them up.
    Rodney

    Good idea, Rodney, and I suggested this as gently as I could, especially concerning the pottery, silver, that Singer. There were also two refrigerators! But I could see they weren't going to do it. They don't want to be bothered, or maybe they are overwhelmed. Their father, my cousin's husband, had given them carte blanche, so they said, to "throw it all away." I would feel less sad about it if I knew someone would benefit from those things left behind.
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    Old 03-11-2015, 12:54 PM
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    http://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage...e-t216956.html

    Congrats on your machine. I don't know if you will need any or all of the wonderful advice and help from the forum members, but, they helped me immensely put my 401A in working order. Keep us posted!!
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    Old 03-11-2015, 01:00 PM
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    IF you want a manual in the meantime, go to the website. Many of the manuals can be downloaded off the internet free in pdf format! I have had to do that for a few of my machines. I took a 3-ring (d-ring) binder with a 3" capacity, and put my manuals all in sheet protectors. It makes for a heavy book, but I have my 201, 221, 403-A in it, along with a needle chart unwittingly printed from the internet (over a 100 pages). It makes them handy to find what you need! If the 401 is anything like the 403A you will absolutely love it!

    Jeanette
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    Old 03-11-2015, 01:11 PM
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    I got a 401 at an estate sale in the desk cabinet. Have cleaned it 3-4 times. There are also good videos on the 401. I was lucky the gal that owned it before me received it brand new as a Christmas present and used it for her interior designing business. I have had no problems with it. DH used it and mended his denim jacket in a very thick part of the jacket on seam of a pocket. Love it. Happy I have it. Have sewn upholstery with it as she also did. The manual came with mine as the attachments also.
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    Old 03-11-2015, 05:11 PM
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    Where in Texas are you located. I would send my grandson to that house to rescue and clean it out for those folks, if it isn't too far from Austin....
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