Noisy 401

Old 04-07-2018, 06:50 AM
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Default Noisy 401

My everyday piecing machine is a 401. It's one that was partially frozen up when I purchased it. It's really noisy in the bobbin area. I kept thinking it was only when my bobbin was about empty, but I was wrong. (I recently bought a 503 that is really quiet, so this is more noticeable than before.)

I've just now greased the gears, oiled the part that moves when the feed dogs go up and down and and that oil spot under the bobbin. Did I miss something?

bkay
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:09 AM
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Well, that didn't help. It's still "rattley".

However I'm not sure I'm oiling the part that moves the feed dogs. I can't see it from the bottom or the top.

What am I missing?

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Old 04-07-2018, 07:34 AM
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I can't remember how the race and hook moves on the 401, but if I remember correctly there's a tiny lever that relases the bobbin case and needs to click in place when it's put back. The bobbin case rest on the turning parts (race and hook) and it always helps oiling these. It may just need a bit of oil, but I guess some parts might need tightening up under there. I think some reccommend oiling the 401s every other week to keep them smooth.
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Old 04-07-2018, 09:02 AM
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I recommend removing the bobbin case and cleaning the track it rides in. You may not think it needs it, but it does. By that I mean there's a tiny channel that's usually packed so full of lint it looks like a ridge instead of lint. Take a pin to it and clean it out.

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Old 04-07-2018, 10:42 AM
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When I first got my 201 I literally had to scrape grooves and corners clean with a tooth pick. The grime wasn't very detectable, but when I got to round two with oiling and cleaning I still ended up with quite a bit of grime on the tip of the tooth pick. It's odd how dirt and dust build up, and sometimes I need extra good light, glasses on, a bit of time and patience to sort things out. The 401 should run just as quiet as a 503, and I'm sure you will detect the problem.
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Old 04-07-2018, 12:24 PM
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I have a 401 service manual if you would like a scan of the bobbin area page.
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Old 04-07-2018, 03:41 PM
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Thanks, Treadle&Gears, I have the service manual. I can't remember who, but some generous person shared it with me. I appreciate your offer, though.

The quiet 503 is my second 503. This one is light years better than the previous one. The first one is loud and sews crookedly. The one I bought a couple of months ago at an estate sale was really dusty and dirty, but it's quiet and sews perfectly. It's at the school where I volunteer right now. The kids prefer the T&S, but they like the 503.

Cari - thanks, it did not have caked yuck in the channel in the bobbin area. However, I removed the bobbin case and cleaned it really well. Even though I had just cleaned around in the bobbin area with a brush, tons more lint came out when I removed the bobbin case.

Like magic, though, the "rattle" stopped. Thanks. It's still not as quiet as I'd like, but it doesn't rattle.

They can't all be 201s.

bkay

Last edited by bkay; 04-07-2018 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 04-07-2018, 04:38 PM
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Nothing is as quiet as a 201 (possibly a Wheeler and Wilson No 9) but I don't think the bobbin case on the 401 should be the noise part, I thought it would be the swing arm and cam function? The solid cast iron absorbs more vibrations than aluminium. I wouldn't give up on the 401, and when you have one good and one half good at least you can compare. Is the bobbin case on the 401 and the 503 similar enough?
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Old 04-08-2018, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Mickey2 View Post
Is the bobbin case on the 401 and the 503 similar enough?
They seem to be identical to me. I only have the 401 and the two 503s, but the "innards" appear to be same. Of course, the 401 has the built in cam stack and the 503s only have removable cams. Other than that, the differences appear to be just cosmetic to me. I'm no expert, though.

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Old 04-08-2018, 09:45 AM
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Can you detect any difference in movement? If you have the chance to have the machine side by side, you might detect something; having the bobbin cover off and turning the machine by hand.
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