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Thread: Singer 401/A

  1. #1
    Senior Member Gilla's Avatar
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    Can someone tell me the difference between a Singer 401 and a 401A. When we first were married, (51 years ago) my husband bought me a 401A and I used it for years. Then we traveled and I had to sell it. I am trying to buy one now, but I can't remember what the difference was between the two.

    Thanks
    Gilla

  2. #2
    luvmy2bts's Avatar
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    There is no difference in the machines. The A just denotes the fact that the machine was made in Anderson SC. I have one of these machines and it is a real workhorse.

    http://blog.sew-classic.com/2008/10/...ne-review.aspx

    Debbie KS

  3. #3
    Super Member Olivia's Grammy's Avatar
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    I have a Singer 301 and the 500A. Glad to know what the A stands for. Bought the 500 at an antique store. I like the option of using a straight stitch or ziz zag with the different throat plates.

  4. #4
    Junior Member gangles's Avatar
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    I inherited a 1958 Singer 401A from my Mom last year, it truely is a workhorse, sews beautifully, I just love it and will forever call it "Mom's Sewing Machine", even thou it is now mine.

  5. #5
    Senior Member pheasantduster's Avatar
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    This may be a repeat on other topic page, but when I was in high school my Mother's Featherweight need to have the bobbin case repaired. At that time the singer company would leave a machine for your use while your machine was being repaired. The rep left a Singer Slant-O-Matic 401A and I would come home from school every day and sew on it. When Featherweight returned I came home to see the two machines sitting there in our dining room. My mother and father purchased the 401A for me! It was my Christmas present, Birthday present and Graduation from High School present. It has been with me all these years through every sewing task asked of it. My daughter has the Freatherweight now.

  6. #6
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    I received the 401A for my First Wedding Anniversary gift. Still use this machine.......Real work horse. I also have a Brothers I purchased two years ago since I needed a light weight machine to move about in the house to use for piecing quilt blocks, but always go back to my Dear Old 401A for "real" sewing...
    LOve my Singer 401A

  7. #7
    Senior Member cherrybsixty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gangles
    I inherited a 1958 Singer 401A from my Mom last year, it truely is a workhorse, sews beautifully, I just love it and will forever call it "Mom's Sewing Machine", even thou it is now mine.
    I too, have had my Mother's 401A, and she purchased somewhere around late 63 or early 64 and I also refer to it that way. But, she can get tempermental when she hasn't been used in a while. She doesn't sew through a lot of thickness like I often hear referred to on this thread.

  8. #8
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    401A is American made 401G is German made
    Then there is the 400 series and 500 series.
    There is 401, 403, 404 and I found a 411G
    There is 500 and 503

  9. #9
    Power Poster CarrieAnne's Avatar
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    I bought one at a garage sale last Summer. I will have to look and see where it was made!

  10. #10
    Senior Member JoyVoltenburg's Avatar
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    I have a 401A too. I don't use her anymore since getting my Babylock (I love that automatic thread cutter and threader). But, I just can't part with her either.

  11. #11
    RML
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    I bought a 403A the other day at a thrift store for $15 - It needs a cord and some cleaning but I think it'll work just fine. I have a Pfaff 1471 that's working for me, but with all the talk on this board about the quality of the old Singers I thought I'd like to fix this one up and play with it awhile, remembering the purrrrrr of the Singers when I first leaned on them in junior high (many years ago).

  12. #12
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Singer 403 - you can get a cord from Jenny at www.sew-classic.com and get the bobbins there too - good quality and price! She also has feet, etc.

  13. #13
    RML
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    Quote Originally Posted by miriam
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Singer 403 - you can get a cord from Jenny at www.sew-classic.com and get the bobbins there too - good quality and price! She also has feet, etc.
    Thanks - I'll check that out.

  14. #14
    butterflylady54's Avatar
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    I was wondering what a good price for a 401A would be? It is dirty but seems to run ok. It is at a resale shop not priced yet but sounds like I really would enjoy it.
    thanks.
    These are the machines they have, Can anyone tell me about them and what a fair price would be?
    . New Home Jenome 532 22944 JA30
    2. Kenmore 117 580 46642

    3. the Singer Manufacturing co. 401 A I did find this one on ebay with some info.
    But nothing on the others.

  15. #15
    Super Member QuiltnCowgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gangles
    I inherited a 1958 Singer 401A from my Mom last year, it truely is a workhorse, sews beautifully, I just love it and will forever call it "Mom's Sewing Machine", even thou it is now mine.
    What a coincidence! I inherited my Mom's 1956 Singer 403a in 2007 when she passed away. I alway's refer to it a "Mama's sewing machine". I just love sewing on it and often think of her sitting at that same machine for so many years. I feel as though she is still here sewing with me. Sweet special memories.

  16. #16
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterflylady54
    I was wondering what a good price for a 401A would be? It is dirty but seems to run ok. It is at a resale shop not priced yet but sounds like I really would enjoy it.
    thanks.
    These are the machines they have, Can anyone tell me about them and what a fair price would be?
    . New Home Jenome 532 22944 JA30
    2. Kenmore 117 580 46642

    3. the Singer Manufacturing co. 401 A I did find this one on ebay with some info.
    But nothing on the others.
    If that singer 401a is dirty but 'runs ok' I would explore a bit further. See how easily the adjustment knobs work. Do they slide freely? If it is kind of gummy feeling, cleans with kerosene. If the shaft on that adjustment knob is BENT it is very hard to fix - you would need a new shaft or more. Check to be sure it holds a bobbin. Is it all there? Does it have an accessories kit? Manual? 5 discs? If it is in good condition $150 isn't out of line. The accessories kit, manual & cams can run some money - check Ebay. I paid $85 for my last 403. She is a beauty. She came in a mint condition (well almost) cabinet with a stool. She has all her parts and very smooth action, etc.

    I don't know about the kenmore or the Janome - what does it do? zigzag, cams, straight only? Is it all there? Is it plastic or ALL metal? How old? If you sit in front of it, how well can you see what you are doing? Some times people use the wrong oil and really gum up a machine. The kerosene will set it free - beware of plastic parts - they melt. Under $50 is fair for no plastic and in working order if it is more than straight stitch.

  17. #17
    butterflylady54's Avatar
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    Thank you for the input I will check into them further.
    I am new to this site. maybe I will try to add pic's

    she has it priced at 9.99
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    she has it priced at 19.99 with cabinet
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    not priiced yet was thinking of an offer
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  18. #18
    butterflylady54's Avatar
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    I will try for more info. They alll run well of course need cleaning and oiling.
    1. New Home Jenome 532 22944 JA30
    2. Kenmore 117 580 46642 has cams and manual

    3. the Singer Manufacturing co. 401 A I did find this one on ebay with some info.
    But nothing on the others.

  19. #19
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    We recently acquired a Singer 401a. Paid 35.00 for it,was going to give it DIL, but reading about the possible value, keeping it. Beside I have already given her a brand new Phaff.

  20. #20
    Senior Member pheasantduster's Avatar
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    My 401A celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 2009! We celebrate together because it was given to me by my parents for a combined birthday, Christmas, and high school graduation present in 1959. She sure looks better than I do. (lol)

  21. #21
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    I also inherited my mom's 401 that I learned to sew on beginning at about age 10. I need to get the serial number and date her but I think my mom got her in about 1957. I was so glad both of my sisters let me have her to go along with all my other machines. I would like just one more machine ~ a featherweight. (OH ~ not counting a long arm of course!)

  22. #22
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterflylady54
    Thank you for the input I will check into them further.
    I am new to this site. maybe I will try to add pic's
    Look at those funny feet on the Kenmore...
    The New Home is probably a good machine.
    The 401 if it works well is a good machine - if it doesn't work well, it can be repaired. Check with the vintage sewing machine page for repairs

  23. #23
    Super Member ThayerRags's Avatar
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    The Model 401A was one of Singerís best machines. My wife and I have 4 of them, and our daughter has the fifth one. Three of ours do ďtag teamĒ duty for my wife at our shop and at home. She sews daily at the shop, and nightly at home. A 401A is in use at each place, and the third one gets serviced and set on my work bench for the next rotation.

    We picked up the fourth one when we got her Singer #430 "Profile" 3-Way Sewing Desk for our home. It was designed as an extra large desk for school use that combined a sewing table, a cutting table, and a school desk all in one. It has a 43 1/4" X 37 1/2" surface area with the leaf folded out. The machine folds down in the desk, and thereís an insert to cover the cut-out for a cutting table.

    I named the 4th 401A machine ďWeinieĒ, because of the sound that the motor makes when I take it up to top speed and let it wind back down (weeeeeeiiiiiiiinnnnniiiiiieeeee). The motor bearing lubricant dried up after years of non-use, and it will take a while for the oil that I added to it to soften it back up again. Itís a loud enough whine to be really annoying. It should quiet back down eventually and be another good machine. If not, Iíll stick another motor in it.

    Non-use is probably the hardest thing on the 401A model, as with most other machines. If they donít get used regularly, things get sticky, whether freshly oiled or not prior to storage. Nearly all of the 401A machines that Iíve come across have had sticky cam selector pins in them, so itís common. Things can get bent if someone hauls one out of long-term storage and starts forcing the linkages.

    Prices vary greatly from one area to another, so I canít comment on that.

    CD in Oklahoma

    Singer 401A in Model 430 3-Way Sewing Desk
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    Singer 401A in Model 430 3-Way Sewing Desk
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  24. #24
    Super Member ThayerRags's Avatar
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    I wish they'd bring sewing back into the schools.....

    CD in Oklahoma

  25. #25
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    The numbers for them is:
    401 (built in zigzag and other decorative stitches)
    403 (my preference but needs a top hat to zigzag and do the decorative stitches - it also has more stitch width control than the 401 or the 500)
    500 (built in zigzag - pretty much the same internals - just has a different body than the 401)
    503 (also needs a top hat to zigzag - same as 403 inside but has a different body)
    The 404 and the 301 have slant needles but straight stitch only. All but the 301 have a drop in bobbin. There are some other models of 400 series as well. I also have a 411G and a 401G. (they were made in Germany and they are a bit different) They are ALL excellent machines. The 401G was found in the trash and in horrible, horrible, horrible condition. I started messing with it anyway and sort of fell in love. At one point I took it in to a repairman to get a cord (he's 92 and still going strong) He looked at it and his eyes got big. He said he'd never seen the 401G. So we looked it over and he said that one was well worth fixing up! So I did - it took me a year and a lot of trial and error. I learned SSSSSOOOOOOO much. It works. I had to clean dog poo, cigarette smoke, rust, gunky oil, the whole thing was frozen up - nothing moved. Then I tried to put an old Necchi foot on it and threw the timing off (blush) I found a service manual for the 500 and learned how to do the timing, clean out the cam stack, etc. We pulled the motor and DH cleaned it up. That whole machine works slick now!

    This is on the vintage page but I thought it might be interesting to put it on here as well.

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