Pig Snout on a Singer 401a

If you know two things about our family you know that 1) daddy is really into raising pork and 2) mommy is really into old sewing machines. When my friend dropped off a crusty old machine WITH A PIG SNOUT I knew I was in for a treat.

The machine is a 401a Singer. It’s widely regarded as amoung the best machines Singer ever made. It’s (almost) all metal, and is direct drive. The motor isn’t connected to the works with a belt, but instead uses a geared shaft. This eliminates the inevitable “slip” you get with belted machines and gives the 401a massive street cred amoung those in the know.

And she has a zillion and two “base” stitches, with the option for nearly countless more by installing various discs.

The best part is that the stitch selections are made with the coolest pig-snout knob you’ve ever seen. Too bad it didn’t turn. One bit. Oink.

Thankfully, the girls and I are not easily deterred. Also, it gets dark here at 4:45 in the afternoon so our normal escapades involving daddy’s pigs, gardening, bikes, chickens, and poking inanimate things with sticks are all basically on hold. #afraidofthedark #seeyounextspring

We started by giving the 401a our routine service. S dismantled and cleaned, A created general chaos, and Mommy directed the show. After a few wonderful evenings of work-play the 401a was looking good, but was still a straight stitch only machine. It became clear we’d need more than sewing machine oil.

Our pig-snouted friend with the top off.

The mechanisms that change the stitch pattern involve a stack of rotating notched disks, two fingers that “read” the disk notches, and two collared rods that move the fingers up and down to various discs…all when the snout is turned. But the snout didn’t turn.

Ground zero for our “unsticking” efforts. We spent bits of several lovely days focused on this 6x6x6 inch piece of machinery.

I’ll spare you the details, but basically we ended up packing the body of the machine with cotton balls to protect the painted parts from excess solvent, then using tiny sprays of aerosol solvent on any stuck, slow, or gummy parts. Wipe. Spray. Repeat. It was as arduous as it was lovely.

At various points, my 5 yo big kid and I were forcep wielding surgeons; we were csi-type, flash-light-shining investigators; we were Smithsonian-caliber art work restoration experts; we were……a mommy and daughter lost in solving a problem together. And it was lovely.

Maybe years from now S will fondly recount our sewing machine adventures as the start of her passionate, fulfilling career in ABC field, or maybe these times will be remembered as merely a blip on her adventure radar. Either way, this momma is in love. In love with the quality time, in love with the challenge, and now in love with a fully functional, turnable-snout 401a. #dropthemic

Our first project with the 401a was a simple pieced Christmas tree. Magic.

Our first test project was this fun, pieced Christmas tree. Pattern courtesy of https://conniekresin.com/2011/12/christmas-tree-runner-tutorial.html

She sews beautifully, though she’s not perfect yet. I think we’ll switch out the foot pedal for a more responsive, slower-starting, five-year-old-kid-compatible pedal. We also need to drill out two broken off spool pins and replace them. And we’ll need to try every.single.stitch pattern. And we’ll need to finalize the refurb by sewing at least 8 or 10 zipper bags. All before the daylight hours get long enough to beckon us back outside. #challengeaccepted #joyineveryseason

The original foot pedal. It’s a classic two button Singer and it’s prone to sticking. We’ll start by dismantling and cleaning it. If that doesn’t help, we’ll swap it out for a better one from the scrap parts box.

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