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Thread: She's real fun, my 401...

  1. #1
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    She's real fun, my 401...

    Over the weekend, I decided enough! of waiting until I get the cabinet refinished. I pulled out the 401, set it in the 301 table, oiled it up (again) and started playing.

    If you were wondering how I did on the cam stack (I took it apart months ago to clean it) - I DID put the cam stack back together in the right order. Thanks to the link shared here, I was also able to set the timing of the cam stack to the needle. (Should the cam gear have lube on it? It was totally dry, no sign of old grease, so I let it be.)

    It took a bit for the oil to get into all the nooks & crannies, and she quieted nicely once it did. I am amazed at the difference in sound between the 401 and the 301. The 401 has a higher "geared/spin" sound, even with a straight stitch. (Race horse...ridden by a plow jockey!) I think she'll be pretty vocal about her oiling needs.

    The 301 has a lower pitch, a solid, steady sound. Knows what she has to do and does it, at any speed from a walk to a canter. Not much bothers her. Her sound doesn't change much, but if she's thirsting for oil, she'll show it in thread snarling. One quirk I haven't figured out - If I don't have at least 5" of thread tail on the top thread to start a seam, she'll pull the thread out of the needle, even if I am holding the thread. Thoughts? By comparison, the 401 can start a seam with a 2" tail.

    The 401 fancy stitches are pretty fun. I think I'll enjoy embellishing tiny quilts (mini wall hangings) with her. (No grand daughters to sew for yet.)

  2. #2
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    Make sure the take up lever is at/just over the top of its travel, as well as hanging on to your thread tails. These machines definitely have a "sound", the higher pitch of the 401 indicates to me that the upper motor bearing could use a drop of 30wt. oil. I keep a syringe of 30wt. just for these motors.

    Cari
    Last edited by Cari-in-Oly; 11-02-2015 at 07:56 PM.

  3. #3
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Yes, the cam stack gears must be greased. That is covered in the owners manual in the oil / greasing section.

    Glad you got that cam stack back together and timed.

    Joe
    I love the old iron and wood machines. They're solid and reliable.
    Founder of IAAA - I Am An Anachronism .

  4. #4
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    Thanks, Joe. I have the manual open...did not recognize the cam gear in that drawing on page 89. I do have 2 gears greased, will go back and grease the cam gear.

    Cari - the manual page 91 says "The motor requires no lubrication." ???
    Of course, that machine is older than I am, and I do wish I could lube my knees sometimes!
    How long/narrow is your syringe? Or did you buy it pre-loaded? DH probably has 30wt motor oil around somewhere, but I'm not sure that is the same as what you recommend. Would the TriFlow oil work?

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    Quick question regarding a 401A: Do you grease the fiber gear behind the handwheel?
    Thanks,
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

  6. #6
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Yes, the fiber gear is also greased.

    Name:  Under the top.JPG
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    Here's a pic I did some time ago about lubing the top end of a 401a.


    Joe
    I love the old iron and wood machines. They're solid and reliable.
    Founder of IAAA - I Am An Anachronism .

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    Wherever metal moves against metal, lubrication is called for. For spots that require grease, I like the synthetic Teflon version.

    It's always nice to have a new congregant in the Church of the 401. It's my go-to machine. Even though I've been a long-time scoffer of decorative stitches, the plain zigzag is always handy, the blind stitch gets used regularly and for true decorative effect, my favorite is #11 Ribbon. To my eye, it's the most graceful of the options.

  8. #8
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    Thank you!
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by WIChix View Post

    Cari - the manual page 91 says "The motor requires no lubrication." ???
    How long/narrow is your syringe? Or did you buy it pre-loaded? DH probably has 30wt motor oil around somewhere, but I'm not sure that is the same as what you recommend. Would the TriFlow oil work?

    Thanks!
    Lori, the oil isn't for the motor itself. Right below that top motor gear that the fiber gear meshes with is a sealed bearing with grease in it that now, after 50+ years has gotten hard. That's where the whine that's particular to these motors comes from. A syringe is the easiest way to get a drop or two of oil to this bearing to help loosen up that hardened grease. 30 wt. motor oil(yes, it's for cars) is perfect for this, regular sewing machine oil or Tri Flow is too thin. It will run right through the bearing and down to the motor without doing what it's supposed to do. I don't know what size my syringe is other than it's bigger than anything I've ever seen used for people. My neighbor gave it to me. I took it to an oil change business and explained what I needed the oil for so they filled it for me. Just a drop or two and let the machine run for a bit to allow the motor oil to soften the grease. It's taken anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to hear the difference in the machines I've done this to. It really does work, and should last the machine another 25 years or so. The only other way to fix this issue is to replace that bearing and while it's not expensive to replace it, it's a lot more work than lubing it this way.

    Cari
    Last edited by Cari-in-Oly; 11-03-2015 at 03:26 PM.

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    Thank you, Cari. Your directions were very helpful. I'll do that and report back.

  11. #11
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    I can't take credit for this, it's not my idea. I read it in the files of the Vintage Singer Yahoo group. The first 401 I bought was so loud and whiny I hated it so decided to give this a try and it worked.

    Cari

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    I have a 401G whom I love, and am looking for an original extension table for her ( the metal one). If anyone knows where I can get one, I'd sure appreciate hearing about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cari-in-Oly View Post
    I can't take credit for this, it's not my idea. I read it in the files of the Vintage Singer Yahoo group. The first 401 I bought was so loud and whiny I hated it so decided to give this a try and it worked.

    Cari
    I can vouch for this method. Be sparing with the oil (I used bar oil for a chainsaw because of its high viscosity); you can always add another drop later if the first application doesn't solve the whine. The trick is to be sparing so the oil won't run down into the motor.

  14. #14
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    Love my 401.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manalto View Post
    I can vouch for this method. Be sparing with the oil (I used bar oil for a chainsaw because of its high viscosity); you can always add another drop later if the first application doesn't solve the whine. The trick is to be sparing so the oil won't run down into the motor.
    Thank you this is spot on. Joe, I hope you don't mind but I borrowed your pic and added something to it. I was asked in a PM to show exactly where to add this drop of oil. I added a green arrow to show it, right below the upper motor gear.
    Name:  Under the top 2.jpg
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    Cari

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    [QUOTE=Cari-in-Oly;7368069]Thank you this is spot on. Joe, I hope you don't mind but I borrowed your pic and added something to it. I was asked in a PM to show exactly where to add this drop of oil. I added a green arrow to show it, right below the upper motor gear

    Thank you Cari! and Joe, for this picture.
    I was thinking that had to be the area.....
    Mish k in NJ

  17. #17
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    Thanks for that picture both to Joe and Cari. I just finished cleaning and lubing my daughter's 401 EXCEPT the bearing. That green arrow was really timely. I was getting ready to ask how to access that bearing too. I'm still getting a bit of noise in that area so I'll be adding a drop of oil there too.
    Olivia has used the machine at 4-H a couple meetings now and is really starting to like using it.
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

  18. #18
    Junior Member Gray fox's Avatar
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    Rodney, on your 301 try turning the wheel to put the needle down into the fabric, then lowering the foot, and then sew. No need to hold the threads. This tip came from the 301 manual, and I've found it to work on every lockstitch machine in my herd.

    The needle only needs to be a few threads into the fabric for this to work.

    Dianne in Colorado
    Needle down......foot down......sew!

  19. #19
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tip but it wasn't me asking. I will give it a try though.
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

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    Greased the cam gear, regreased the other gears, oiled again and wow what a difference! Thank you. Will try that tip for the 301, too.

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    Loved the nod to the Beach Boys!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cari-in-Oly View Post
    These machines definitely have a "sound", the higher pitch of the 401 indicates to me that the upper motor bearing could use a drop of 30wt. oil. I keep a syringe of 30wt. just for these motors.

    Cari
    Thank you for this advice. I have a 401 that is super loud and whiny. When I received the machine the 'upper motor bearing' section was full of sunflower seed hulls! I cleaned it out as best I could, even removing the motor and taking it apart to clean it, but assumed the loudness was due to any debris that I may have missed. I am definitely going to give this idea a try!
    ~~Cathy~~

  23. #23
    Member Cawood Girl's Avatar
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    Thankyou so much for the pics and info Cari and Joe. I have a 401a and got it lubed and working but it's still very noisy and I wasn't sure if that was just the way they were or not. I will go back and give it some more attention using my new info. I do most of my fancy stitches with my Bernina 730 record but I undrerstand if you break a plastic gear it's all over! I was keeping the 401a for backup but wasn't thrilled with using it because it was noisy and not as smooth. I will take another crack at it, thanks again the pics were essential for me!!

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