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Thread: Singer 403a

  1. #1
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    I recently bought a 403a slant-o-matic at an auction. It's in a cherry wood cabinet and I paid $2.50 for it. As I was cleaning and oiling it I noticed the throat plate, where the needle goes up and down, looks like it has been scrapped by the needle. The needle rubs on it as it sews. I thought the needle might be bent so I changed that but it didn't help. There wasn't a bobbin with it so I don't know if it will actually sew stitches.
    I'm wondering if there could be an obvious problem with it, like something that happens to these older machines when they've had years of use. If it doesn't end up being to costly I might get it fixed but I'm just wondering if anyone might have an idea about what the problem could be.
    ~Deb~

  2. #2
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    Did you check to see that the needle position was set for straight stitching? Does this machine have a straight stitch throat plate as well as a zig-zag throat plate? If the machine was set to do a fine zig-zag it would definately rub on the straight stitch plate. Was a cam left in and now is causing trouble? The needle should definately not be scraping on the throat plate. Good luck trouble shooting this one. (Check the instruction book too!)

  3. #3
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    What side (back,front,right,left) is it hitting?
    Knowing that might help with figuring out why.

  4. #4
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    I think its the needle position selector that is causing the issue with that one. Make sure it is in the center position and you should be good.

    Billy

  5. #5
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    I have the all purpose throat plate on it and the needle is centered, no cam in.
    Here's a pic of where it's rubbing.

  6. #6
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    I have the all purpose throat plate on it and the needle is centered, no cam in.
    Here's a pic of where it's rubbing where the arrow is pointing. It's like the needle is bent forward but it really isn't. Would the shaft coming down be bent?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
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    It could be a possibility the shaft is bent but try to replace the needle with another 15x1 and make sure it is in all the way. I cant remember if the needle threads to the side or front to back on that machine but make sure it is in right.

    Billy

  8. #8
    Super Member KatFish's Avatar
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    Mine did that too. I got a manuel to see if I could find out what was wrong. The letters by the specialty stitches were not lined up where they needed to be for straight stitching.

  9. #9
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I have a 411G that hits the foot - I got a repair manual and diddled with it and didn't get it fixed. I'm not sure if the shaft is bent or what. It is frustrating. I would love to get that machine working. I understand the 411 can be rigged to go on a treadle.

  10. #10
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    There is an adjustment for the shaft in the service manual - you can get a copy on line for about $10 - it is a service manual opposed to an operator's manual. I was able to move it around but my machine seems to have a slight bend in the shaft. When was that machine last thoroughly cleaned? I like to wash all the old gunky oil off them. Billy has info on that on here somewhere for the older machines. For that one, there are parts in the zigzag that sometimes get stuck up with old dried up oil. The kerosene wash could free up the zigzag part if that is what is stuck. Since it is electric you have to just kind of paint on the kerosene and keep towels around to dry it off. If your needle is hitting side to side it might just be gunky oil. Sometimes a bit of heat directed at the zig zag part of the shaft will free it up too.

  11. #11
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    My 411G was hitting the presser foot. I tried everything finally, I replaced the bent needle shaft on my Singer 411G. It was not hard to do - it took about an hour - most of the time was spent timing the needle and the shuttle. I did not think the needle shaft was bent until I got it out and compared it to the donor's needle shaft. There is a picture on the bottom of this page: http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-130994-6.htm and link to my discussion of it http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-43881-1202.htm#3520792 and more on http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-43881-1169.htm

  12. #12
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Lots of the plates on these slant-needle machines have this needle strike damage. Having the needle enter the fabric at an angle makes needle deflection more likely when sewing through heavy or dense fabrics. The needle is overloaded and bends upward, putting the tip into the needle plate instead of the hole.

    Almost all of my slant-needle machines have damage like this on the all-purpose needle plate and usually, it doesn't cause any trouble. If the damage is catching the thread and breaking it or causing skipped stitches, you'll have to try to get rid of them.

    You can grind burrs off of the hole with a fine needle file or Dremel grinder tip or you could use emery cord on a single-needle hole plate.

    I just re-read your message and you're saying that the needle is rubbing against this needle strike damage, so I would guess that either something is gunked up enough inside the machine to hold the needle bar too far forward or the needle bar is actually bent. I will try to find some pictures I took to show my daughter where to oil and jiggle her 401 and put them in here.

    Oiling points under the face plate
    Name:  Attachment-227025.jpe
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    This is a closeup of the lowest oiling point shown in the first picture. Keep this oiled and push the needle bar side to side and back and forth.
    Name:  Attachment-227027.jpe
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  13. #13
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    thepolyparrot, I would add... if someone used 3 in one oil those points you so clearly show will need to be thoroughly cleaned with something - that 3 in one oil is awful when it gets dried.

  14. #14
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Yes, it is - nasty stuff. I get it off of stainless and brass with denatured alcohol or acetone on q-tips or acid brushes. Don't let either of those get near painted surfaces, though.

    It does do a good job of getting that hardened amber looking stuff off of bare metal - you can see bits of it left on the top of this fitting on the bottom. I think that's considered a sure sign of someone using 3-in-1 oil.

    Funny thing is, 3-in-1 oil used to be advertised specifically for sewing machines. :)




    .

    Don't - believe - anything - you - read - in - this - ad! ;)
    Name:  Attachment-227035.jpe
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Size:  56.9 KB

  15. #15
    Super Member QuiltingJaguar's Avatar
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    I have owned this machine for over 50 years now when I bought it new in MD. This happen to me recently and after going crazy with it decided to remove the plate. Then took the bobbin area out for the first time and found a thread caught up in the back of it. I cleaned it out and put all back in again, wew...now works like a dream.

  16. #16
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot
    Yes, it is - nasty stuff. I get it off of stainless and brass with denatured alcohol or acetone on q-tips or acid brushes. Don't let either of those get near painted surfaces, though.

    It does do a good job of getting that hardened amber looking stuff off of bare metal - you can see bits of it left on the top of this fitting on the bottom. I think that's considered a sure sign of someone using 3-in-1 oil.

    Funny thing is, 3-in-1 oil used to be advertised specifically for sewing machines. :)




    .
    I had one machine gooed up so it wouldn't turn - I used xylene on it - it does dissolve plastic and paint instantly but it does the same to the 3-in-one oil on gears and moving parts - use very carefully and well vented area. You have to work very fast - no plastic brush - it dissolves goo fast but it evaporates fast as well

  17. #17
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    It could just be a bent needle. I was able to fix my machine with the bent shaft by replacing the shaft - someone must have pulled real hard on some heavy fabric or something. The needle goes in flat to the back and threads front to back. I hope you have it working by now.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  18. #18
    Junior Member bmanley's Avatar
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    I have this same machine and my husband bought mine at an auction for $5.00. Mine sews great after I cleaned, oiled her up but it will only straight stitch. It has a cam for zig zag but can't get it to work but for the money they are great, heavy and NOT plastic. good luck with it.

  19. #19
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmanley View Post
    I have this same machine and my husband bought mine at an auction for $5.00. Mine sews great after I cleaned, oiled her up but it will only straight stitch. It has a cam for zig zag but can't get it to work but for the money they are great, heavy and NOT plastic. good luck with it.
    Take a very careful look at thepolyparrot's last picture - jiggle that piece on the needle bar and see if it will go side to side. If it doesn't move freely, you need to clean that part - then follow that arm over to the cam reader. Under the reader there is another little part that moves side to side just like that one on the needle bar. Clean it up too - try denatured alcohol very carefully and it should un-gunk your machine. You will have to paint it on, jiggle it back and forth and paint some more on. My sister uses a panty liner to absorb excess alcohol as she goes. Also do you have it set for width? 5 would be the widest 1 the narrowest. Do you have a manual? http://www.using-sewing-machines.com/Singer403.html Those are a bit tricky to work if you don't have a manual.
    Last edited by miriam; 11-06-2011 at 07:37 AM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  20. #20
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    I'm sorry to say I don't have any bobbins, but I do have a box of 403 attachments - 403 slant-o-matic attachments - extra throat plate, 6 cams or disks, hemmer foot, appliqué foot, ruffler, zipper foot, button foot and darning foot and manual – also printed instruction sheet from seamstress who had the machine – $25 & ship/handling

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