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-   -   Hopefully bringing a Singer 401g back from a long sleep (https://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage-antique-machine-enthusiasts-f22/hopefully-bringing-singer-401g-back-long-sleep-t312435.html)

Jay401 09-11-2020 08:33 AM

Hopefully bringing a Singer 401g back from a long sleep
 
Hello,
My grandma died a few years ago and I found her old sewing machine, a Singer 401g.
I can sew by hand but never used a sewing machine, but since I'm absolutely fascinated by them I decided to try and bring this one back to life.
I never remember my grandma using and my mom only remembers the machine working when she was a child, it's safe to assume it hasn't been used for 40 years at least.
By reading this forum I already learned a few things about it, and now for now before even attempting to make it move, I'm going to clean it up and oil every single moving part.

Things I know:
- Hasn't been moved, cleaned or oiled in 40+ years
- It was set up on a treadle, I have the base and it had a belt that snaped as soon as I tried reaching the machine.
- It's very dirty of old dried oil. I think the oil leaked form the machine and soaked the bottom of the plate.
- It's missing the cord and pedal that comes with it. Could it have been used without power?

What follows are some pictures of the machine as I got it:
https://i.ibb.co/0qydK2D/IMG-4595-1.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/xqTxbgW/IMG-4599-2.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/4SZZ5pT/IMG-4610-4.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/4YwVVGh/IMG-4613-5.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/17T5zgs/IMG-4615-6.jpg

JoeJr 09-11-2020 09:34 AM

I don't remember where, but I have read about someone taking apart one of these models part by part and rebuilding, but that's a huge project.
The only "cleaning" tip I can suggest is using a heat source, such as a hair dryer, to loosen up old oil. I have needed to do this only once on a machine, and I could tell it was working because it began to move, without too much force, as things warmed up.

Jay401 09-11-2020 09:42 AM

:O that's a huge project. I'm afraid if I attempted such a thing I would be left with a bag of spare parts.
Thank you for the tip, it's a really good idea.
​​​​​​I was planning on using WD-40, toothbrush and rags to remove the old oil and then removing and cleaning out the Wd-40 to finally oil it up properly with the appropriate oil.
Weirdly enough I was expecting to see gummed up oil on every part and it doesn't seem that bad..

JoeJr 09-11-2020 09:46 AM

I would search the board for opinions on using WD-40, some people speak favorably, others not. I think most people use oil, only sewing machine oil, to clean up oil, and WD-40 is not the same as oil.

Jay401 09-11-2020 10:48 AM

Thank you, I'll stick to machine oil for the cleaning. Hopefully tomorrow morning I'll start the cleaning process.

I usually use wd40 to clean grease and old oil in my job, so it comes naturally to me and I didn't even consider it could harm the machine.

tropit 09-11-2020 01:23 PM

I think that you'll enjoy using that machine once it's fixed up. I love all of the Singer 400s and have sewn on a 403A most of my life. There are some sticky messages about cleaning old machines that you should read. One thing that I remember from this board is that sewing machine oil is great for cleaning and you can't harm a machine by using it. There's lots more tips, especially from "Skip." Have fun!

Mickey2 09-11-2020 02:06 PM

How are you doing?

As you mention, WD-40 can be a help if there are lots of stubborn hardened grease, but for lubrication you need a better oil. You can get far with basic sewing machine oil, my favorite is Finish Line Ceramic Wet lube (gold cap), it is light, dissolves old grime and dirt very well, and make parts runs a notch smoother than most oils. Another favorite for vintage machines is Tri-Flow, both the oil and the grease. There are lots out there but generally these are the only ones I can safely recommend. They will work ideallly in the long run. This model takes grease on the open gears.

Several of the light spray can oils can help to speed up the initial clean up process, but be extra careful to wipe off and apply a good oil frequently, even daily oiling and test sewing for a period. The 401 will respond to thorough cleaning and repeated oil applications, test sewing, moving levers and knobs, etc. With this model it takes a bit of effort to make new oil seep to the inners of joints, gears and hinges. As oil oil start to dissolve, it takes repeated oiling and wiping off excess to flush out all sticky grime.

You machine looks a bit dirty, tan machines often do. Old oil mess cause staining like that. On the pluss side, it looks it is in very good condition under there.

This is one of the best tutorials on the 401, and there are a couple of very good threads on this forum too.

Jay401 09-11-2020 03:35 PM


Originally Posted by tropit (Post 8417355)
I think that you'll enjoy using that machine once it's fixed up. I love all of the Singer 400s and have sewn on a 403A most of my life. There are some sticky messages about cleaning old machines that you should read. One thing that I remember from this board is that sewing machine oil is great for cleaning and you can't harm a machine by using it. There's lots more tips, especially from "Skip." Have fun!

Thank you so much. This place is an amazing source of information.
A lot of people love these machines it seems.
Hopefully in a couple of weeks it will be running smoothly and I'll be sewing my fingers together.


Originally Posted by Mickey2 (Post 8417361)
How are you doing?
[...]
This is one of the best tutorials on the 401, and there are a couple of very good threads on this forum too.

Thank you for asking Mickey. I'm doing well. How are you?
That link is so useful, thank you so much.

I don't know tri flow I only have generic sewing machine oil (I use it at work and the bottles are recent). I might get the tri flow if I can find it. But do you think the generic one okay for cleaning at least and first oilings?

It's really dirty but I'm hoping it will be easy to clean and the outside will look as good as the inside. My grandpa was a machinist so I'm sure the machine was well oiled and cleaned while he was alive.

Nooker 09-11-2020 04:11 PM

Andytube on YouTube has very detailed step by step videos on how to clean and service the 401.

Looks like you have a treadle version of this machine
http://www.toolfool.org/sewing/401G-...d-Electric.htm


Jay401 09-12-2020 03:03 AM


Originally Posted by Nooker (Post 8417388)
Andytube on YouTube has very detailed step by step videos on how to clean and service the 401.

Looks like you have a treadle version of this machine
http://www.toolfool.org/sewing/401G-...d-Electric.htm

Thank you!
Those videos have been really useful.

I suspected that. I have the base and the pedal for it. Is the treadle the base+pedal/cabinet? Or just what you call the way it operates.


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