Singer 401a or 603

Old 11-02-2023, 08:52 PM
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Default Singer 401a or 603

I got an old Singer 401a and 603 from FB Marketplace and would like to keep one of them. They are both in working condition. I'm curious what your opinion is. Which machine would you keep and why? Or let me if you're not a fan of one of them. Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2023, 06:21 AM
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Have you tried either machine? If the 401 is working, I would choose that one. They have such close tolerances that they tend to freeze up if left unused for a very long time. It takes patience, lots of solvents, etc. to get them unstuck. If it's not stuck, you don't have to worry about that.

The 401 was sold, that the time, as the best sewing machine Singer ever made. The only downside I am aware of is that it doesn't drop it's feed dogs for quilting. It has complete built-in zig-zag, so you don't need cams

I'm not as familiar with the 603 as the 401. It should be a good machine as well. I don't believe it has built-in cams for zig-zag.

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Old 11-03-2023, 02:43 PM
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You can't drop the feed dogs on the 401a but you can raise the needle plate for darning or quilting.
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Old 11-04-2023, 06:16 AM
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I found this link, which explains use of cams vs built in, and compares the series of symptomatic.

http://runningstitches-mkb.blogspot....-sew-603e.html

I've never sewn on a 600 series, but have on a 401, 403, and 503. The internal cam stack in a 401 is not that difficult to unstick if "frozen," reassembly means having paid attention to the order and alignment of the individual cams in the stack. (Take photos.)

There is a #23 basting cam, which I've just learned does not work in a 401, and was designed to be used in the 600+ series.
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Old 11-04-2023, 06:29 AM
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Thank you, Lori, for the link. Hopefully, I can remember it to determine the differences, I always get confused to which is which.
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Old 11-04-2023, 06:34 AM
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I agree with bkay, you should try each and see which one you like for the type of sewing you do.
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Old 11-04-2023, 09:06 AM
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OMG. Symptomatic! Slant-o-matic! Durn auto spell.
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Old 11-05-2023, 11:12 PM
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My first singer slant was a 603 and I liked it very much and would have kept it but for the plastic bobbin. It didn’t hold much thread and it broke easily if over filled. I think it would be a wonderful machine for garment sewing as the stitches were just beautiful, and the visibility of the sewing area on the Singer slant is terrific. But I don’t sew garments much anymore. I realized what I really wanted was a straight stitch so I donated the 603 and picked up a 404 and I love that machine and do most of my piecing on it. Hope that helps.
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Old 11-06-2023, 07:59 AM
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Both zigzag without needing a removable cam, both have a mechanism to lift the feed dog plate for darning, etc. My recollection is the 603 has the Touch&Sew pancake bobbin and the 401 taking a class 66. They both use the same needle. If you want built in special patterns go with the 401, if you're straight stitching and zigzagging, either is fine.

My bias would be towards the 401, only because of problems with other Touch&Sew machines, which isn't fair to the 603.
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