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Thread: Servicing Newly Acquired Vintage Singer Machines

  1. #1
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    Question Servicing Newly Acquired Vintage Singer Machines

    I purchased a Singer 66-16 and a 401A this week, both in working condition. The 66 hasn't been used in 10 years, and the 401A seller is unsure of last use. I have manuals for both and can clearly see where to oil / lube parts on both machines. Would you suggest that I still take these machines to an authorized dealer to "service" them before use? I just took in my Singer 99, and the bill was $85 for cleaning/service. That machine hadn't been used for 40 years (last use by ME when I was 10!)...and only needed belt replaced. I would love to avoid 2 more $85 invoices, if possible, but I'm a newbie to using/maintaining these amazing battleship-built machines. TIA for your input.

  2. #2
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    You are correct, most and usually all maintenance can easily be performed by the owner. In fact, the owner's manual covers basic maintenance.

    The owner can even rewire the s.m., following a good tutorial, with some basic skills and attention to detail. There are many sources here and on the web.

    I have successfully rewired Singer lights, replaced wires to foot controllers, and rewired my 15-91. DH did the soldering for me, as that is a skill I haven't learned yet. The correct tools are necessary, and relatively inexpensive.

    You can even dissassemble, clean, and reassemble the cam stack on the 401. Find some good resources, go slow, take photos of.every.single.step. (My 401 needs a spa day.)

    Enjoy!

  3. #3
    Member Treadle&Gears's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WIChix View Post
    Find some good resources, go slow, take photos of.every.single.step.
    Absolutely! Taking detailed pictures before and as you do each step is possibly the best advice you can get. I know it has saved me more than once.

    The second best advice is take apart as little as possible. Even if it looks easier to do something in the tutorial by removing that part that's in the way, don't. Again, I learned this the hard way.

    And if you get stuck (or just want to share your progress ☺ ) post on the board. There are some exceptional folks here that really know their stuff.

    For my 2 : start with the 66 - it has less parts and more room to work with so you get a basic knowledge of how everything goes.

    Good luck!

    K

  4. #4
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    I agree. Surprisingly little disassembly is needed to get these machines running.

    Good cleaning in place, oil, new needle and thread.

    I do not clean the tension assembly until I know how it sews. Once it sews, then I'll clean the tension.

    My typical experience has been that the last time someone sewed on a 35# beastie, it sewed, and decently. A little bit of tlc and they sew like the champs they are.

  5. #5
    Super Member tuckyquilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnInspiredMess View Post
    I purchased a Singer 66-16 and a 401A this week, both in working condition. The 66 hasn't been used in 10 years, and the 401A seller is unsure of last use. I have manuals for both and can clearly see where to oil / lube parts on both machines. Would you suggest that I still take these machines to an authorized dealer to "service" them before use? I just took in my Singer 99, and the bill was $85 for cleaning/service. That machine hadn't been used for 40 years (last use by ME when I was 10!)...and only needed belt replaced. I would love to avoid 2 more $85 invoices, if possible, but I'm a newbie to using/maintaining these amazing battleship-built machines. TIA for your input.
    One can never miss with either of these machines. Easy to clean & maintain. I have two 401A's
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 03-30-2019 at 02:36 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps
    Jackie
    Lover of Scrappy, Chocolate and Wine

  6. #6
    Super Member OurWorkbench's Avatar
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    I agree with all of the above. Do be careful with cleaning, especially the 66 as the best cleaning of Japanned machines is with sewing machine oil. The 401 is painted so still need to be careful, but a damp rag and dried will probably work.

    For the 401 the best thread I have found to working on them can be found at https://www.quiltingboard.com/vintag...g-t174801.html particularly post #15. And for servicing the cam stack and stitch selectors this page is good - https://archaicarcane.com/stuck-in-t...lant-o-matics/ (Not affiliated with link)

    A couple of other threads about the 401 https://www.quiltingboard.com/vintag...e-t216956.html https://www.quiltingboard.com/vintag...e-t216956.html


    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
    Janey & John

  7. #7
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    Thank you so much for your input (and encouragement). My DH picked up the 401A for me this morning, and when I saw it, I felt gut-punched. It was filthy and covered with grime. The online pictures were a little blurry, but the seller assured me it was clean, just "hadn't been used in a while".
    But I'm not giving up on this beauty. She's clearly been through a lot, and I've spent the day gently cleaning her up, inside and out. Thank you for posting threads to consult! There is a little rattle in the bobbin case, but I will continue to work on her and research. There is also a bit of "mechanical" smell when I sew. Regardless, I believe she has more life to give - and I have great hope for her next chapter! The beautiful thing about these machines is that they are (mostly) built like a battleship, and parts can be replaced if necessary. Thank you again as I embark on this "rescue, recover, and rehabilitate" mission! ha.

  8. #8
    Super Member hobbykat1955's Avatar
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    you did better then I did w/my first vintage singer 301 I found for 30.00...I took it to a local vintage singer guy and by the time he was done with it that 30.00 purchase was costing me 250 for cleaning and replacing foot petal...After that I taught myself how to do it all myself and bought 3 more 301's and A Red Eye got them all purring...

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