Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Singer 401G

I abandoned the Supermatic for an old standby Singer 401A and finished the project I was working on.  Sewing on the 401A made me think about the 401G on the shelf that hadn't been used in years.  All I remember is that I didn't like it when I got it and put it on the display shelf for someday in the future when I felt like tinkering.

  The machine is in excellent cosmetic shape, obviously not used too much in the past. It came with a unique accessory box having two slide-out drawers instead of the 401A box with hinged lid

  It is kind of a cross between the American 400 series and the American 500 series machines.  It has the general body shape of a 401A with the thread finger of a 500A.

At first look, I thought the bobbin winder was missing and I have never parted out a 401, 403, or 404 to salvage the bobbin winder.

 Then I realized that while the mounting provisions exist for a 401A-type bobbin winder on the front of the machine, the bobbin winder on the 401G is in the top lid.

To begin with, the motor would not run.  Turned out the connector on the motor was loose and not making connection.  That gave me the opportunity to pull out the motor and lubricate both ends of the shaft.  Next issue was a loose hook shaft - not much, just enough to make a click when it was jiggled.  Loosening the screw on the collar and sliding it toward the hook about half a millimeter solved that.

I oiled and greased everything that needs oiling and greasing but the machine is still noisier than other slant-needle machines.  It still has the beige bobbin winder tire so I am going to assume that the machine has so little wear that the gears have not worn together yet and it will quiet down in time.

I will use it for a while and see what happens.

  After everything was back together, I tried sewing.  The green fabric on the left was the result.

No matter how high I turned the tension dial, I got loops on the underside.  Checked the thread gaps and felt the hook and bobbin case for burrs and could find nothing wrong.  I disassembled the top tension and found nothing wrong there, either but after reassembling, the stitch looked like it should (the pink fabric on the right)  -Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Store


Jonathan said...

It's a nice machine. Was this a German model?

Ed Lamoureux said...

Yes, the 'G' at the end of the model number indicates it is German-made. -Ed

Jonathan said...

About 5 years ago, a friend of mine found the free arm version of this machine at a thrift store. He sold it on eBay. I was so jealous. I would have kept it.

Mary Holland aka MaryGwyneth said...

Hi Ed,
I also picked up one of these rarer models a few years ago. The G version does a single thread chain stitch which makes it wonderful for basting during fittings, if you can get the machine working. When I got it the machine was so gummed up it barely ran. I spent several days cleaning, cleaning, oiling, running, cleaning, and eventually got it running. I found the longer I've used it, the smoother and quieter it's become - so I hope that is an encouragement for your situation. I have oiled it regularly and heavily and periodically go back to use it to keep it going, for the past couple years I've had it.

The biggest recurring problem I had (besides the power cord continually popping off the male pins in the slot) and the chain stitch jamming and breaking, is that the entire drop-in bobbin case and enclosure keeps popping out of a spring levered place for it, underneath the slide plate. Whenever I ran it on high speed it would do fine for about a foot of seam, then suddenly pop out and make a terrible tangled mess, worse than other machines I had. I tried to adjust it but couldn't seem to. I could use it but only at slow speeds, and with much patience.

Then not long ago I went back to it, and it must be that the oil finally penetrated. I was able to unscrew the spring lever, push it tighter to the bobbin case so there wasn't so much play. Now the thing runs like a charm. This is a wonderful machine, runs smooth as silk, is powerful and precise. I have embroidered silk charmeuse, sewn heavy canvas and denim.
I am encouraged now to go back and try the chain stitch.
Keep us posted on how your renovation goes. There are few of these machines in the US.

Synnove said...

Hi! Thanks for posting about a 401g, I can't find a lot on them online.
I have my grandmothers 401 g, and I love it. I guess they are much more common in Europe than over there (I'm in Norway).
My gran got the machine new in the late 1950's, and used it a lot! She thaught me how to sew on it.
I love that I now own it, but I have had no luck locating a users manual for it. My search continues.

Ed Lamoureux said...

I can't help with a 401G manual, but you can find a 411G manual at

The 411G is VERY close to the 401G. On that same site, you can find a manual for the 401A. Between the two manuals, you should be able to find anything you need to know.


Norma Woodward said...

I have a 401G which was a house clearance find of my husband's. The old lady who had owned it had kept in in tip top condition and when I set it up it ran so quietly. I was delighted with his find and have discovered an online manual in ismacs. The only problem I had is when the machine was found all the attachments (and box) had been thrown away. All I had was a straight stitch foot. However, I have traded another foot and adapter for the slantomatic with a guy in Western Samoa who used to be a Singer engineer. I am now able to get any modern snap on feet to fit this adapter. Good luck to al owners of one of these superb machines

Susanne said...

Hi Ed,
Having a Singer 411G, I just stumbled across your fabulous blog on vintage sewing machines in quest of a solution to my problem. It seems that the bobbin winder tire of my machine does not work any more, i.e. bobbins put onto it would not spin because the flywheel fails to take the winder along, the contact between tire and flywheel is too weak. I saw that your old 401G, too, has a beige tire. So does mine, and both models, 401G and 411 G, seem quite similar to me. So how do I get this winder to make real contact with the flywheel again? Not so long ago, it still worked. Do you have any idea? I took everything apart to have a look, but to me everything just looks normal and fine. I have no idea.
Any help or hint would be most appreciated!
Susanne (from "G" like Germany :-) )

Anonymous said...

I bought a 401g and the bottom stitch looped a lot no matter how tight I screwed the tension . I eventually discovered that the thread was not sitting in the proper place at the tension bit and if you omit the threading bit before the tension part it sews fine

J Khedair said...

I have singer 401G it works fine but after few minutes of straight sewing the bobbin case pops out of its place. I place it into position with spring lever holding it in place after cleaning it and again pops out. I bought a new bobbin case but it did not solve the problem. Any suggestion of the cause and how to solve the problem.
Any help and suggestions would be highly appreciated.
London W4, United Kingdom

Bicyclz said...

Tried this several times....
It doesn't work....

Bill Moretti said...

I just posted it on FB and it works!
First I posted it to myself just to see if it works,and it dose work,it may take a little bit longer than usual but it work!������

Anonymous said...

We're can I get a replacement zipper foot?