The difference a day makes

Why am I posting this before I finish the timing series, you ask?  Well, this is what distracted me from it, and put me behind. 🙂  I’m also feeling less technical than I need to in order to finish that article today, but wanted to present you something to read.  It’s a terribly long post.  I apologize for that, but I’m very happy with how it turned out, I think you might be pleased as well.

I traded emails with a lady who had posted in Kijiji that they were having an estate sale that included 4 sewing machines and a bona fide stash of fabric, patterns and other craft items.

As you may have guessed, I was most interested in the sewing machines.  I found out that the machines were: 3 Singers, and a new Brother.  I’d seen photos of 3 of the machines and knew I was only interested in one but not at the price they’d listed it at, and possibly the “unseen” one.

The interesting one that I’d seen was a Singer 401A.  The photos showed it to be in fairly rough shape though, making the $100 asking price a little high.  It had the usual grime on it from oiling, but the slide plate had “something” on it that was tan and white.  Corrosion?  Sewage accident?

Oh I couldn’t have been closer. 

The first day of the estate sale rolled around and I was one of the first in the door.  I snooped around til I found the machines.   I saw the Brother, the newer Singer, and spotted a Singer 404 in the corner.  Ok, so that was the mysterious 4th machine.  While it’s an interesting machine, I didn’t want it, cabinet and all, for the asking price.  No, I was looking for the 401, if nothing else, curiousity had made me show up to see what the deal was on the machine.  Why somehow through a picture it had conveyed how forlorn it was, and asked me to rescue it.

I grabbed one of the gals holding the sale, and she helped me out.  I’d originally thought that it was in the other sewing cabinet, but it was sitting hidden on a lower shelf of a bookcase.  Weird.  She pulled it out and placed it on top of the cabinet so I could look it over.

Sure enough, the “piggy snout” – stitch selector was frozen solid.  That didn’t scare me at all, I’ve freed those up before and know it can be done.  I borrowed a screw driver and took the top off the machine to see if it looked like everything was intact though.  The whole time I was telling her what I was doing, the expected result and what an unexpected result meant.  What put me off the machine in the end was the fact that the handwheel turned but the horizontal shaft didn’t.  Uh oh.  I couldn’t turn anything by hand.

Looking closer at the machine, the slide plate did have a spot of rust on it and it looked a little different than in the photo I’d seen, so maybe it had been wiped a little before the sale started.  The throat plate was covered in rust.   Neither of them budged a bit when I tried to move them.  I’d noticed the tan colored corrosion inside the top of the machine when I removed the lid.  What had happened to this machine?  It’s so rare to be able to ask any questions about a machine, I had to know.  I asked if the machine had been stored in a garage or outside at some point.   No, always inside, but there was a fire at one point and the machine would have been in the house when it was waiting to be rebuilt.

That explains the moisture problem, and further cemented my decision to leave it there.  I reassembled the machine, and thanked her for her help.  I wandered out of the room and went to look at fabric and patterns.  I brought some home.  Some will go to making quilts, and the flannel left over after I make a design wall will go for cat and dog beds I hope to donate to the vet, likewise the fleece I found.

So why am I writing about it, you ask?  And what does this have to do with sewage? Yeah, uhm, well.  I left it there overnight.

I thought about it that evening and decided that the motor might be salvageable, possibly other parts as well.  I was pretty sure that it would likely never run again, but maybe it could resurrect a couple of other machines down the road.  We were headed into the city the next day for some errands anyway, and one of them took me pretty close to the house again.  I went to the door and they greeted me by name.  Wow.  I mentioned what I’d been thinking about the machine and would they be willing to sell it for parts.  They asked what I wanted to pay, and I said it was only worth about $10 – 15 to me.  The lady I’d been talking to via email previously said $15 would be fine.  They’d realised it was only good as a “prop” after what I’d shown them the day before.

I thanked them and left with the machine.  In the truck, Ryan, in his best Jamie Hyneman (Mythbusters) voice said, “what do you think would happen if you gave it some oil?”  This is as good a test of the TriFlow that we all use for sewing machines these days as I could think of.

401A - Prior to cleanup
401A – Prior to cleanup
401A - Throat and slide plates covered in rust
401A – Throat and slide plates covered in rust
401A Corrision in the Bobbin / Hook Area
401A Corrosion in the Bobbin / Hook Area
401A - Corrosion inside the top cover
401A – Corrosion inside the top cover

When we got it home I figured it would be interesting, but my hopes weren’t high, after all, the main shaft was seized.  Well, imagine my surprise when we started knocking problems off the list.

Initially, I’d known about the seized shaft, the slide plate and throat plate, and the piggy snout.

  • The slide plate fell off in the box on the way home.  That’s one hurdle cleared.
  • I took the top panel off when we got home and oiled like crazy in there.  More oil than I would ever recommend that a person use under normal circumstances, but this was far from a normal situation.  5 minutes later the pig snout was moving freely.  Wow.
  • I removed the handwheel with the goal of oiling everything back there too.  On a lark, after a few drops of oil, I decided to reassemble without the handwheel, but with the clutch disk and knob and see what would happen.  My intent was to watch it and see if anything was or wasn’t moving when I turned it by hand.  The main shaft started turning immediately when I tried to turn it.  Holy crap!

I reassembled the handwheel and plugged the machine in to see if I could run in the oil we’d applied.   It ran very quickly and quite quietly for the amount of maintenance it had seen in recent years.

Of course we quickly began to find other problems now that it was running.  The elevator throat plate didn’t budge, and the machine didn’t zig zag at all.   Copious amounts of oil later, and things still weren’t loosening up. Additionally, the presser foot adjustment was seized.

401A - Presser Foot adjustment screw - rusty
401A – Presser Foot adjustment screw – rusty

A pair of fabric covered pliers loosened the presser foot adjustment.  We then removed that screw and the shaft inside altogether and doused the area in oil.  Slowly the zig zag mechanism started to free up.   It was very sluggish at first, but it could be moved with a fairly significant amount of hand pressure.  We added more oil and decided to leave it over night.

First thing I looked in on when I  woke up the next morning was the 401. 🙂  Ryan does say I’m a bit obsessive.  I’m not sure where he gets that idea.

The zig zag mechanism was completely free.  The only outstanding issue was the throat plate.  Ryan was sure it would go.  I asked how sure, and he claimed 100% surety, so I figured it was a good time to clean up the machine.  I stripped off everything that could be reasonably removed and soaked it in OxyClean.  While that was soaking, I cleaned the body.  I used a rag and dipped it in the tub that the parts were soaking in.  Rinses though were in the other sink, to avoid sullying the water too badly.

401A - Getting ready for bath time
401A – Getting ready for bath time.  A mix of OxyClean and dishsoap.
401A - Dunked!
401A – Dunked!  I use a translucent container so I can check from the bottom that I haven’t left any parts in before I pour the water out.  If you do this in the sink, put the sink stopper in place, put a towel down to catch any pieces you drop (it’s amazing how far they can travel.) and then fill the container with water.  Use water as hot as you can stand it, it cleans better.
401A - Fiber gear - don't soak this, clean it with a rag
401A – Fiber gear – don’t soak this, clean it with a rag
401A - Non-removable items can have their corrosion removed by rubbing at it until smooth with a scotchbrite pad
401A – Non-removable items can have their corrosion removed by rubbing at it until smooth with a scotch brite pad.  It doesn’t have to be perfect,just smooth enough that the thread isn’t abraded when it passes over the area.  When it’s clean, the corroded area will be black, not rust brown.  Apply oil liberally to discourage rust in the future.

Then it hit me like a brick wall.   The moment my cloth touched the area around the stitch length selector and the throat plate lever and the power plug.  Cat urine.  Gag.  There was no scent until I added water.  It must have been extremely old.  It also explains why the cats and dog all were so interested in the cardboard box it came home in.

A quick look on the Internet yielded a recipe to rid the machine of its unwelcome scent: 1 cup Peroxide,  1/4 cup of baking soda and a tiny bit of hand soap.  We mixed it up and put it into a spray bottle, sprayed it on and let it dry then wiped it away.  The smell seems to be gone now, but I haven’t done a kitty sniff test yet.

Once the machine was dry and clean, I reassembled it, which left only the throat plate issue.

401A - naked
401A – naked
401A - Found all the parts - make sure they're completely dry before reinstalling
401A – Found all the parts – make sure they’re completely dry before reinstalling

Eventually the left side freed up, I suspect because I’d levered it up and down a few times which had let the fluid film and oil cocktail work its way in.

The right side pin was still being stubborn though.  We tried heat.  We tried cold.  We tried fluid film.  By the end of the second night, we decided to get a little rough with it.  Turning the machine upside down so the hook mechanism was face up, I hit the pin with a rubber mallet and a screwdriver.  Ryan hit the pin from below with the side of a pair of pliers.  We went back and forth like that until the pin worked completely free of the machine.

401A - Hole where the slide pin for the elevator throat plate goes.
401A – Hole where the slide pin for the elevator throat plate goes. I accidentally smacked the side once, so we had to use emery cloth to round it back out so the pin could slide.

Once it was out, we cleaned up the pin, and the “bore” it fits inside.   A liberal oiling later and reassembly and the throat plate moves again as Singer intended.

401A - Slide pin for elevator throat plate
401A – Slide pin for elevator throat plate

The 401 has had a completely successful restoration to usability.  I didn’t think it was possible, but it just goes to show what these machines are capable of when you give them a little of the TLC they need.  I test sewed it later that night, and it works as well as the 411Gs I have here which seem to have never been neglected.

401A – The worst of the Corrosion that’s left. It’s in an area that doesn’t affect the usage of the machine at all.
401A – Corrosion removed from the Presser foot adjustment screw
401A – Tensioner cleaned up.
401A – Completely cleaned up and ready to sew
401A – Even the throat and slide plates cleaned up well. They’re not perfect, but they won’t catch fabric or thread anymore.

In fact, this 401 is the machine I’ve been using for the timing series.

I’d sure love to hear about successful and even unsuccessful restorations you’ve taken on, and the best ways you’ve found to clean multi-decade old grime from these machines.  Go ahead and post below.  I answer all post questions and love to hear from you.

33 thoughts on “The difference a day makes”

  1. Hi Tammi
    I just picked up a 401a today. It seems to have been well cared for and sewed fine when I gave it a quick test run. It will need a clean and oil, and I haven’t checked to see if any of the stitch settings are seized. Somehow I’ve gone from 0 to 7 machines in 6 months. Thanks for the great post – I’m sure I’ll be referring back to it when I find time to clean this one up.
    Paris, Ontario

    1. *snicker* Yeah, that’s how it starts. 🙂 Be warned, the catch part is much easier than the release part of the program! I’m glad you’re rescuing though.

      Even if the stitch selectors are seized, they come loose eventually. Some take more time than others and I think it sometimes has to do with how moist the environment is that they live in. The worst one I’ve ever had (besides a Gritzner I still haven’t freed up) is this one and that’s because it sat in a house that had been in a fire (and presumably a lot of moisture soon afterward.)

  2. “What put me off the machine in the end was the fact that the handwheel turned but the horizontal shaft didn’t. Uh oh. I couldn’t turn anything by hand.” I think this is what is happening with the 503A I bought for $25. Following your instructions in “Stuck in the Middle”, I have oiled everything I can get to. Nothing but the flapper moves. The zig-zag left side needle shaft doesn’t move. The horizontal shaft doesn’t move. The fiber wheel does move. The light goes on when plugged in, and the bobbin winder works with the foot pedal. That is all. Is this machine too far gone?

    1. I would say that – especially since the stitch width lever is also broken off – something is jammed. What happens if you take the bobbin case out and try to turn the wheel to turn the horizontal shaft?

      “Back then” I didn’t really know what Tri-Flow or I (and especially the team of Ryan and I) was truly capable of. I probably still don’t but I know the bar is higher now than it was then. 😉

      Is it too far gone? Probably not, assuming nothing’s bent from the abuse it’s suffered. Is it a good “first machine” project? Uh,… that would depend on your patience level. I know you said in your other comment that you’re detail oriented and handy so those two things go a long way for you but the big one will be patience. I got a little impatient with this one and had to do that repair around the elevator pin.

      1. I have found the aerosol Tri-Flow a lifesaver in more than one locked-up machine. Just give the whole inside cavity a coat and let it sit for a few days. Sometimes that’s enough to get things budged to the point where you can start working on them.

        1. I’m actually not a fan of the aerosol. The entire cavity doesn’t really need to be oiled and any lint and dust, etc sticks to the oily surfaces. The straw that comes with the bottles of tri-flow gets the oil into the spots it needs to rather than spray and pray. I also use a syringe to get even better accuracy.

  3. Many thanks for your detailed explanation – this is going to be hugely helpful. My wife and I picked up a 401A from a consignment shop over the weekend for the princely sum of $25, complete with carrying case and drip pan – but nothing else. We borrowed my sis-in-law’s 301 cordset and foot pedal and the machine fired up and made a decent stitch… howling like a banshee the whole time. “Sounds dry”, said my brother-in-law, and so it is; I’m awaiting a shipment of Tri-Flow (and a new motor bearing just in case), along with some other assorted parts. It’s certainly more complicated than the 99K i rehabbed last 🙂

    Question: there seems to be a bit of “play” between the fiber gear and mainshaft when the handwheel is turned; about 1/8″ or so when reversing the direction of the handwheel normally. Is this normal, or does something need to be tightened up, or is the gear worn?

    1. Hi! Yeah, the motor bearings get loud when the grease hardens. Usually a couple of drops of motor oil softens things up. I think I talk about that in one of the other posts.. probably stuck in the middle.

      Yes, as soon as these machines went to more than one stitch, things got complicated and crowded in there. It’s like lifting the hood on my ’83 firebird and then looking under the hood of my 2006 Mustang! 😉

      The play is normal. I -think- the slack is there to prevent the fiber gear taking up too much lash when the machine starts. It’s possible your sis-in-law’s 301 does it too. I’d have to go try my 301 downstairs. The fiber gear is likely just fine. I used to worry about them but more than one OSMG has told me they’ve -never- seen one fail. If you were to take the handwheel apart – you don’t need to though because the mechanism in there require little or no maintenance – you would find a spring mechanism in there that’s responsible for that slack you feel.

      1. Many thanks! Using your posts I’ve cleaned and lubed the machine and it’s freed up nicely. Hardest part of the job was replacing the ossified old rubber feet – had to chisel them off the bottom of the machine! Can’t wait to really make it work out. Thanks again!

  4. Fantastic! Thank you so much! A few months ago I found a greasy linty neglected 401A that had been in a shed the last 30 years unused. The woman was obviously a smoker and the humidity here (temperate rainforest) had gummed it up. We plugged it in and the motor just hummed/groaned but wouldn’t turn. I got it in the cabinet for $80. We went through a similar process and she’s running nicely now. I have to say, these machines are quite impressive. They sew a nice stitch. I’ve used around 20 different makes and models from the 40’s to present, a lot of them rehabbed donor machines for a middle school class I teach, and the same stitches on this machine are finer and more delicate than the stitches on my $6000 computerized Bernina. As soon as nylon gears got introduced, you can really see a dramatic performance decline. Maybe it’s because I have some investment in the rehabbing, But it’s really enjoyable to work on the machine and know I can get in there and get it sewing without paying someone hundreds of bucks to interface with the software or clean glittery crud off the electric eyes because my kid wanted a sparkly tutu for Halloween. I also don’t worry my 6 year old twins are going to damage it just by playing with the knobs. They love sewing on it, and think it’s neat to work on. They are right!

  5. Hi Tammi!
    Thank you so much for these blog posts and your wonderful YouTube video on cleaning the 401a. It was so helpful!! I’m hoping you have time to help me with my 401a. When I got the machine, both sides of the stitch selector knob were stuck. I’ve opened it up and have been cleaning and oiling and had the left side moving so well. I was working with the right side and when I pulled the inner knob (I hope I’m describing correctly, it’s the one closest to machine to operate k-s), I suspect that I didn’t have outer knob fully back in place and I’ve jammed the silly thing. Neither knob will turn now nor can I push the outer back in. Is there any hope or am I heading to the repair shop? Thanks in advance sooo much 🙂

    1. Hey Kim,

      I know I mentioned on the QB that I was going to answer only there but politics are making me reconsider my membership there, so I’m going to post my response here too.

      First, thank you for the very clear pictures! That helps diagnose a lot!

      I think you’re right in that the finger that should be in the collar is the “whole” problem. In order to move it, if you can get the needle to the far left, it may give you some extra room to maneuver. This is because the “flapper” will be looser and putting less pressure on what you’re trying to move. Don’t be afraid to put a little gentle pressure on that flapper to move it to the left as well. No harder than you see me do in the video you mentioned.

      Additionally, when you do get it loose, check to see if anything is bent. In normal use, and yes – I popped the cover off my 411G to check this – that finger should not be able to move that far out, the linkages shouldn’t allow it.

      This part isn’t on the QB:
      I couldn’t tell from your photos on the QB if the finger itself was bent or not, but I suspect it might be higher on the left side than the right? It may be under pressure, so be careful when it does release, it may pinch.

      1. Hi Tammi! Thanks so much for replying here and there. Sorry for the cross-posting but I was so eager for answers and new to this gig, so I thought I would ask anywhere I could. The front finger is pushing against the shaft collar but doesn’t appear to be bent. I thought if I could grip the shaft collar hard enough, I could pull it up and the finger would fall into its slot, but I can’t pull it. My husband tried last night too. I did order some tri-flow oil and degreaser. I’m going to aim right at the bottom of that shaft and see if I can free any goo that would allow me to pull up on the collar. After that, it’s going in for “real” service. Thank you so much for these tips, I will keep working with it. I will respond there too with a shorter answer, thanks! Kim

        1. Don’t worry about it. I know “eager”.;)

          Check all of the linkages connected to both the collar and the finger for damage. I suppose it’s also possible that the finger is simply out of adjustment at the screw but it looked level at the elbow anyway from your photos.

          If the collar doesn’t go up…. can the finger be convinced gently downward? I can’t decide which one is misplaced. If the collar is in the right spot, it won’t want to go up for instance.

          This really is one of those ones that’s easier if you can lay hands on it, but I’ll help as much as I can from here anyway.

          1. Hi Tammi! Glad you understand. I actually caved and took it to a repair shop today. They are going to clean and service it for $90. They seemed like good folks and while I wanted to fix this myself (and certainly save the $$, I was feeling a bit at a loss on making that joker move. The collar was sitting on the bottom of the shaft, so we thought we should be able to pull it up, but we couldn’t get any movement. Thank you for brainstorming with me, and maybe I will get braver with the next one. I really appreciate all of the help, and I am a new follower 🙂

          2. Hey Kim,

            I have an idea on how you can fix this machine. If you don’t want to take it 2 hours back to the repair shop and can understand a Canadian accent would you want to chat on the phone to see if we can hash it out?
            Believe it or not, even reassembling it wrong, I think the repair shop guy helped you with the final repair.

          3. Tammi – It’s Kim, I would love to chat! If you can see my email, shoot me an email and we’ll exchange contact info. Unless tonight is your only availability, I might have a clearer head in the morning (I’m eastern time zone)… well at least rested and caffeinated. It’s been a nutty day that began too early. If tonight is best though, I won’t turn down the opportunity. Regarding accents, the real question is, can you understand a southern Appalachian mountain twang/accent, ha-ha! THANK YOU!! I will already sleep better just seeing that you’re willing to assist 🙂

          4. My pleasure Kim! I sent you an email with contact info. We’ll get you sorted. I wouldn’t normally try to do this over the phone but I think this one is doable. If I could lay hands on it, I would probably make a video out of it. Then again, it’s a really rare problem. Caffeinated is good. 😉 It’s probably the only way I stay upright some days. Have a good sleep!

  6. Hi there! I bought a nasty-looking Singer 600 at a hard sale for $5. I cleaned it all up and everything seems to be OK except the left-side pin in the slide plate. The throat plate position lever will move to the middle (up) and right(down), but will not move to far left (unlock). Looking underneath, it moves the arm back and forth, but that arm doesn’t seem to interact with anything to lift the plate. I can push the right throat plate spring from underneath, and it rises, but the left post seems stuck fast, and there’s no way to get to it underneath. I soaked it in triflow and heated it… Any other suggestions? Thanks so much for all the good info!

    1. Hi Katia!

      I would definitely say don’t hit it with a hammer like we did. Even being careful, I slipped and ended up having to do that small repair.

      Otherwise, marinate it in TriFLow. Fluid Film could work – I hate the smell of it though, so I use it only in desperate situations 😉 Some people like the Kroil as well, I haven’t had to use it yet. TriFlow has almost always done job for me eventually. It might take a few days or a week though.

      The other thing is see if you can oil from both the top and the bottom of that pin, and even the slightest movement by hand will help the oil work in further and faster.

      I don’t have a 600 here, so I can’t look. If it’s like the 400 and 500 machines – under the left side pin will be a “screw” maybe of nylon. If you push the lever that controls the throat plate pins up with your finger, if it clears the back of the nylon screw, you can carefully remove that nylon screw and get much better access to the left throat plate pin. I’ll see if my 411G has the same set up later tonight and add another comment if I can think of anything else to help. Let me know how you make out?

      1. Thanks so much! I did see the nylon screw, and almost stripped out the slot before realizing that the arm was slotted in on the top side. I could not get that arm to raise enough to clear it–that’s why the lever on the machine wouldn’t flip to unlock. I had been marinating it in triflow though so I thought “what the heck”, and gave the arm a few gentle whacks with a hammer and soft brass punch, right next to the nylon screw. I was kind of startled when it worked, but it did! It came loose, cleared the nylon screw, and freed the elevator plate lever, AND budged the elevator post!
        I triflowed the post from both sides and gently tapped it from top and bottom to budge it a few millimeters either way and try to work the oil in, then just left it soaking last night. My next question is, should I try to tap that post completely out, to clean it? There’s some sort of thin, flexible metal strip that connects both posts on the underside, and I can’t tell how that’s connected or whether I’ll damage that if I try to move the post upward and out the top/bed side.

        Thanks a million for the help!!!

        1. Great job! With the 401, we did pull that pin right out. The whole mechanism is likely full of crusted oil. It won’t hurt to take it all apart, just be careful and take photos as you go. 🙂

      2. I did it!!! A couple days of marinating in triflow and some tapping back and forth, and it freed up pretty well! The elevator plate lever works, plate lifts up, it feels a little rough, but does work! One thing that’s a little strange, I don’t think the arm is set quite right, because the posts rise in sequence rather than simultaneously, but they catch up with each other, so… NBD. I also fixed the needle positioner, which was disconnected, and freed up a lot of gunk from the guts. It’s all metal gears and cams, and still running a bit grumbly but everything, all the specialty stitches and everything, WORKS!!! It even came with the extra complete set of specialty cams!
        Thank you so very much for your blog!!!!

        1. All of the machines I’ve had with the elevator plates have risen in sequence rather than at the same time. I wouldn’t worry about it at all.

          Sounds like you’ve got a heck of a good machine now – only some of the early 600s had metal gears. You may find that the machine will grumble less as the oil works in.

          Does that machine have a fiber gear to drive the handwheel off the motor? If yes, the bearing at the top of the motor can get gummed up with old grease causing a growls as well. Some people drip a couple of drops of motor oil in there to loosen things up. I’ve used tri-flow there too.

          One of these days when I’m not shingling our roof, I’ll put up a post about it.

  7. Tammi,

    I am working on a 401a that has the left side pin on the throat plate stuck half way up. I’m not sure how to get to it from underneath. The right one I can see from the bottom, but the left has a large screw covering it. What is the “fluid film and oil cocktail” you mentioned? This machine was pretty dirty with dried oil on most of the parts, but it has loosened up nicely, except for that pin. I’m also trying to get the silver knob on the hand wheel to turn……I’m going to try heat on both tomorrow.

    Thank you for all your help. One of your youtube videos helped me to get my tension assembly back together correctly, I had put one piece on backward….it’s fine now!


    1. Hi Phyllis!

      If you follow the lever from the top of the bed where you can select stitch darn or clean settings over to the left side underneath the hook, you will see that the lever is above that screw, but below the pin for the throat plate pin.

      I would drizzle as much oil or Fluid Film as you can get in there and use some heat to see if you can free it up. This may take days of reapplying then seeing if it’s willing to move.

      The oil and fluid film cocktail is the resulting mixture of having applied both in succession to the machine, not an intentional mix. 🙂

      If you’re -really REALLY- careful, you may be able to slowly and gently guide the pin into the up position with a blade screwdriver, and into the down position with your finger. In fact, try the down position first. Try not to apply any more pressure with the screwdriver than you did with your finger. (It’s harder to tell because the screwdriver increases leverage, which is why I stress great care here.) You’re not trying to force anything, you’re trying to break loose only the dried oil.

      For the clutch release wheel, take the stop screw out completely, then I will often use a strap wrench. Again, we’re just trying to get enough of a grip that we can break the seal from the dried oil loose.

      I’m so glad the videos helped you! It’s so easy to mix those parts up, even with the diagrams that Singer has in so many of the manuals.

  8. I bought a Singer 1914 Singer 115 treadle head for $10 and after 2 months of drizzling with PB blaster & lots of work it finally sews again. It had 2 mud wasps nests in the pillar, lots of rust, had to replace a few parts that were rusted beyond repair. Nothing moved at all, just amazing the difference.
    It is one of the smoothest & quietest machines I have.

    1. Hey Sharon, That’s just great! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a mud wasps nest, and it never occurred to me to look for one in a sewing machine, but I guess something stored outside or in a barn could become a home for them! I’m glad you got it working! It’s like they breathe a sigh of relief and say thanks when we give them a little attention, isn’t it?

  9. Hi Tammi
    I did a rescue somewhat like that a few years ago. Mine came out of the trash across the street. The poor machine was covered in dog poo, dried up oil, rust, dirt and leaves. I didn’t have info on line, no manual and no repair manual. I just kept cleaning and finally by trial and error, the thing finally works just fine. Mine is a 401G. When I pulled the motor I cracked the plastic case – this machine is now on a treadle as Singer intended some of them. Mine is much uglier than yours but it probably works just as well. I’m thinking it takes more than cat pee and dog poo to stop one.

    1. OK,… I gotta admit. If there had been poo of any sort on it, I probably would have left it. If I had discovered the pee earlier, I might have too, but having been 80% through restoration, and 75% through cleaning, I felt like I had a lot invested in it. 🙂 These machines sure will take a heck of a lot. As an aside, after the peroxide treatment, it passed the kitty sniff test. It’s been re-homed finally.

Pssst! I'd love to hear what you think about this!