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What makes a machine sew fast?

What makes a machine sew fast?

Old 12-12-2020, 02:53 PM
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Default What makes a machine sew fast?

There was a thread a couple of weeks ago where the poster said her 401 sewed almost as fast as her 301. My 401 sews very slowly, even with the pedal down all the way. This is the 401 that was really gummed up when I bought it. It took repeated cleanings to get it to zig-zag. I always just assumed it was the way it sewed. Now, I want my 401 to go like my 301. (I have another 401 that is untouched since purchased, so wonder if I should start there?)

Where do I start?

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Old 12-12-2020, 05:57 PM
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Sounds like the internals are still gummed up. My 401A was similar when i purchased it
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Old 12-13-2020, 05:09 AM
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I have had similar experience. I it once took me 4 days to free up a sluggish 201; to start with it was pretty clean, very dry and hardly any dried up oil residue. Still something made it sluggins, and it wasn't until I had oiled and test sown 4 days in a row it suddenly freed up. I guess a 401 with sticky old oil can be even more of a challenge, more gears and parts to clean and flush out dried up oil from. It can take days to dissolve stubborn grime. A straight stitcher like the 301 might run faster with the same motor power, but the 401 is pretty fast when cleaned and finetuned.

I keep up a daily oil and test running routing on a machine like this for a while. Detecting all oil points can take some time on a new model too. I once had machine that turned out to have the needle bar go up and down with quite a bit of resistance. Even after thorough cleaning, oiling and test sewing it was slow, I didn't realise until after yet another turn of cleaning and oiling. I poked around with a tooth pick and it looked like sticky grime had turned up where the needle bar moved up and down in the body. Heaps of oil down there did the trick. It was a bit messy,and required a bit of clean up, but it has been fine since. My point is; you don't always know which link(s) are frozen or sluggish, so keep oiling all of them. Some points are hard to reach, and needs extra attention to get oil all the way.
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Old 12-13-2020, 06:21 AM
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Many vintage machines did not get the right machine oil that evaporated, most got 3 in 1 oil that does not evaporate, so it stayed in the machine getting built up and sticky. I know most vintage sewing machine restorers will use kerosene to remove sticky oil.
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Old 12-13-2020, 07:51 AM
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My featherweight needed the foot pedal adjusted to increase speed.
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Old 12-13-2020, 07:58 AM
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I bought it at auction. It appeared to have been left in it's cabinet in a hot, dry place for many years. It had no rust, but it had this goldish/brownish gunk everywhere, especially on the face side, as it had collected on the front of the machine where it had run out of the mechanical areas.

It's been cleaned and cleaned and cleaned with sewing machine oil, kerosene, denatured alcohol, tons of q-tips, t-shirt strips, toothpicks and cotton balls. I could be wrong, but it appears to be clean.

I have worked on a couple of controllers, but I'm not sure I've worked on this one.

This is my everyday driver. I've made several quilts on it and really like the machine. I finally cleaned up my 301 and used it....and WOW! was it fast! I loved it! I went back to the 401 yesterday and it was soooo slow, I was surprised. I've considered exchanging the cabinets. That, however, means adapting the cradle to the 401 cabinet. Also, the 401 cabinet doesn't have a knee adapter.

Maybe Mickey is right. Maybe it's dry. I'll work on that and see if it helps.

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Old 12-13-2020, 08:48 AM
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Since you have two 401s, would suggest trying the other one's controllwe on your slower one, just for a test.
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Old 12-13-2020, 03:05 PM
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Well Leon, I guess I gave the 401 controller to the lady I gave the 503 to. I have two 503 controllers, and one 503 machine. I have two 401s and one controller. I texted her son to see if I gave her the wrong cords. He hasn't answered me. He may answer me yet.

I guess I'll have to take this controller apart and see what I find.

THanks,

Bkay

Last edited by bkay; 12-13-2020 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 12-13-2020, 03:55 PM
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It likely will pay off to keep up a daily oiling application for a while, test sew, poke around a bit, move levers and knobs. It will eventually get to the source of the problem. When I take out a machine I haven't used in a while, I need to fresh up my memory and check where all oil points are. I have to say, I had my black cast iron 201 out for a spin yesterday and I was reminded I need to get a slightly wider motor belt (it's not the potted version), and I need to tidy up in the drawer with bobbins and spools of thread. I know you are all onto the details of your 401, but at least for the inspiration this is a good video.

Last edited by Mickey2; 12-13-2020 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 12-14-2020, 06:16 AM
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Thanks, Mickey. I used her posts here to (and someone else's - maybe Joe's) to clean the machine to start with. I had not seen her video, though.

Thanks.

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