My 401's are pretty dang quite and very smooth
My 401's are pretty dang quite and very smooth
If you believe the man's credentials, trust him and buy a machine from him unless you can find someone to hem your pants cheap. From inspection of machines he knows the amount of wear on one better than anyone. And sewing machines are like hammocks, in that some have been run for hundreds of hours; and others have mostly "been in reserve." (to be polite) No telling unless you are qualified whether the fine $1500 Elna, Bernina, whatever that hasn't been used for 30 years is that way because nobody knows or cares to use it, or because it jammed 30 years ago, and nobody really needed to have it repaired,or whether the repair would have been frightfully expensive then and worse now.
Nobody can afford in a city to pay rent and charge less than $60/ hr for labor. So, just jawing with you and inspecting a machine racks up $30 in costs.
Tell the man how much you expect to use it for, after spending a serious 5 minutes to add up the number of yards of hem and seam you expect to sew in the next year. Then he can sell you a machine appropriate to your needs. That may be the machine that is good for just 10 hours of sewing, because that may be 10 years of your use.
Charlie, I agree completely with what Loneoak said about the Singer 401A machine. Singer made the slant-o-matic family of machines for 8-10 years mostly in a factory in Anderson, SC. The A in the model designator just means the machine was made in this factory. Most of these wonderful machines with all metal parts are as close to being industrial quality as they can be.
On eBay you find these being sold for 150-400 bucks. This is a bit much for hemming a few jeans or making the occasional bit of camping gear. Loneoak is still finding these beauties for less than a hundred bucks and you can too. Try Craigslist, check thrift stores, or put a want-to-buy ad in the classifieds at your local paper. Ask every woman of a certain age if she knows who has one. If you locate one that is priced decently check the condition carefully. The biggest destroyer of the machines is rust not wear. Check the internal parts by looking behind the door on the left side of the machine. Flip it on its' back and take the pan off the bottom (one large thumb nut) and check for rust.
Beware of someone who says it works. This could mean the thread injector thingy goes up and down. What you need to know is if it actually sews. Better case would be if you actually see it sew. If that is the case and the seller will part with it at your offer price. Take your prize and run like a bandit.
You may find a model 404 which is a straight stitch only, a 403 which does straight stitching and zig-zag with an optional cam, or more likely the 401 which does both stitches natively along with a bunch of frou-frou girly decorative stitches which we wouldn't touch ever because we are manly-men.
The Singer 401A will easily do any thing you will ever need in the way of assembling gear for this great hobby. Singer made these wonderful sewing machines and sold them by the carload by advertising them on the Perry Como TV show in the late 50s and early 60s. You can buy a 50 year old machine for more than your grandmother paid new but there are still a lot of these gems waiting patiently for you in the back of someone's closet for a decent price. They are worth the effort to hunt down. Buy one and put it in your will. Your great-grandkids can use it to make hammocks and tarps 40 years from now.
Sorry, brevity was never part of my skill set...
Last edited by Witzend; 03-17-2012 at 21:36.
I am by no means an expert, so I guess I fall into the anonymous stranger. Hope I didn't come off like a know it all. Just my opinion on the older Singer models. I also have a Singer 99k, and a 15-91. All great machines. Guess I just like the old ones when it comes to sewing machines.
I sure could not afford to go buy a $1500 dollar one.....YIKES
Myself, I know nothing, but in the 60's and 70's my wife had some fantastically bad experiences with Singer machines, top of the line. She found Pfaff and never had another problem. You could not give her a 60, 70 era Singer.
I think your man may be right about the Singer. Seemed to be the time it was up and down for them depending on the model. I really like my older Singers. My advice would also to be to look for gear driven over belt driven if possible (and all metal guts is best).
The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering. - St. Augustine
Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.
- Bob Marley
I saw a semi local singer 99k on the bay that was ending without any bids tonight. I wonder if the seller would take local pickup if it ends w/ no bids. Is that a machine that I could service myself? I am pretty decent with my hands - taking things apart and putting them back together, but never worked with anything quite as old as this.
I also agree about the Pfaff sewing machines. My daughter learned to sew on our Singer 401A but when she could afford it, she bought a new much more modern Pfaff and she loves it.
If you want durability, stay away from the plastic machines with plastic gears. You can tear one up quickly hitting the wrong spot on a pair of jeans...I'd go with an older machine (late 50's to early 60's) that has metal case & gears. The less buzzers and bells, the easier it is to maintain and fix. Zig zag is nice and doesn't add that much to the machine, if you have it, you'll find all kinds of uses for it. I started out with an old metal Coranado I found at a rummage sale for $20.00. It worked great for a long time... till I started getting into canvas, sails & straps. Then I bought a Sailrite zig zag... still have it and use it, tough as nails. Then I found I needed a long arm commercial machine for canvas covers and leather goods & larger straps... I have three machines now, so watch it, it can get addicting!!!
Those Singer machines are crap. Singer lost a lot of street cred during those days. Buy the used Janome. For $125 I think it's probably a good value.
The lady who said "buy new" is full of it. Steer clear of her. She's a sales clerk. The guy is a mechanic. He's knows his stuff.
I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.
"Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn
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