Singer 401, 401A, 403 & 403A, & 404 Sewing Machine Review

All Rights Reserved Copright 2008-2010 -What does this mean?  (NOTE: you may NOT use my photos or text to sell your stuff!)

The Singer 401 (401A), 403, (403A) and 404 (404A) are all models in the Singer Slant-o-matic/Slant Needle Deluxe Series from the late 1950‘s, early 1960‘s.  They are all gear driven (no belt), slant shank, all metal, aluminum bodied sewing machines with a fully rotary hook. This review will provide a technical break down for each model along with commentary on it’s strengths and weaknesses from a usability standpoint. as well as in depth information about presser feet, buttonholers and other attachments for these machines. (free manual downloads at the bottom of the page)

There is also an article on the Sew-Classic blog about refurbishing the Singer 401. It has more photos of the internal workings and additonal technical considerations. 

Need parts or supplies for your Singer 401, 403 or 404?
 (click on image to enlarge)
Information about the 400 series 'Slant-O-Matics' and the 'Slant Needle Deluxe' from a 1960 Singer sales brochure
(click on image to enlarge) 
Information about the available cabinets from that same brochure

What’s up with the “A”? Really, not much. It is believed that the letter A at the end of the model number denotes the Singer factory in Anderson South Carolina where the machine was made  In one of the Singer Service manuals, I noticed that there was reference to suggest that the "A" stood for "automatic".  Other than the letter on the name plate, there is no difference between a 401 and a 401A . When discussing the models, I just drop the letter. There were some 400 series slant-o-matics made in Germany, and their model number ends with a “G”. This review doesn't cover those in particular, but in many ways, they are very similar to the models that this article will address directly.

Photo of the Singer 401 (401A):
 Photo of the 403 (403A):
 Photo of the 404 (404A):

Specifications, Let's start with the 401:

  • Full aluminum body, flat bed
  • Weight - about 22 pounds
  • Bobbin - class 66
  • Needle system - standard household sewing machine needles (15x1, 130/705H)
  • Hook style - horizontal rotary
  • Motor size - about 0.7 amps
  • Drive system - gear (no belt)
  • Slant shank
  • Built in cam stack with zigzag and decorative stitch capabilities
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Elevator style throat plate - lifts up for darning and free-motion work - feed dogs don’t drop
  • Light at the front of the machine
  • Original foot controller- carbon pile, button style
  • Adjustable stitch length and full reverse
  • Adjustable needle position
  • Adjustable stitch width
  • Uses standard, home sewing machine needles (15x1,HAx1, 130/705H, SY2020..)
  • Twin needle and double needle capable
  • The appeal with the 401 apart from it’s sturdy build and all metal construction, drop in bobbin and smooth rotary
    hook, is it’s ability to produce many decorative stitches with the built-in cam stack and additional, external cams.

       Some of the built-in stitch patterns  on the 401 are shown under the "hatch" for the cam stack.  It also provides the settings on the machine for making the various stitches.

    With the 401, you can use two needles or a double needle. Just be certain to not go too width with the twin needle, and to exercise caution with the double needle set up on zigzag or decorative stitches. You want to make certain that the needles fall within the needle opening on the presser foot and the machine.

    The Singer 403 (403A):

    Now, the 403 is exactly like the 401, EXCEPT it doesn't’t have a built-in cam stack. In order to produce a zigzag or decorative stitch, the machine relies upon an insertable cam. It uses the exact same cams as the 401. Below, you will see a thumbnail link to the stitch and cam charts for both machines.

    (click on thumbnail to enlarge)
    Here is a stitch pattern comparison chart for the Singer 401 and 403.  It shows what stitches are built-in on the 401, and what stitches the various cams produce.

    (click on thumbnail to enlarge)
     These are the "top-hat" cams used by the 401 and 403


    The Singer 404 (404A):

    This model  is just like the 403, EXCEPT that it is a straight stitch only model. So, you can’t use a twin or double needle either. The 404’s were often used in school home education programs because of their sturdy build and ease of use. The 404 is a bit lighter than the other models as well.

    Poratable or cabinet?

    The 401, 403 and 404 can be installed into a cabinet or used as a portable model, but they're not super light for toting around.  The 404 is the lightest at about 19 pounds.

    Need a SEWING MACHINE CASE for the 401, 403, 404, 500 or 503? Sew-Classic has them!

    Presser feet:

    These machines all use slant shank presser feet. Below are some thumbnail photos of some of the various, vintage feet. Click on the images to enlarge.

    Sew-Classic has slant shank Presser feet in stock and can order tham for you  

    Foot controllers:

    Originally, the Singer 401, 403, and 404 all came with Singer button style controllers. These are very high quality, adjustable and repairable carbon pile type controllers, and they are compatible with the knee levers found on many vintage Singer cabinets. The controller pops right into a holder and the lever apparatus engages the button on the controller. 

    However, many people have a hard time using them as a foot controller because they just don’t know the "trick" to using them:

    When the controller is on the floor, the cord end should be away from you and the side with the two “buttons" should be nearest to you. The “button” on the right is stationary, and the one on the left is the one that actually controls the speed. Place the ball of your foot on BOTH buttons, and use a tilting motion  of your foot to push down the button on the left to control the speed of the machine.

    If your machine is missing the controller, or you still can’t get used to the original, button controller, then there is a solution.  The button controller can be removed from the cord set and a different, two wire controller can be used to replace it. If you do a lot of slow speed sewing, you might wish to consider an electronic type controller. Unlike the carbon pile or wire wound resistor type controllers, the electronic controllers don’t produce heat when use continuously as slower speeds.


    With the 401 and 403, you have several options for making buttonholes. With the adjustable needle position and zigzag capabilities, one can make a manual buttonhole or use one of two types of automatic, buttonhole attachments.

    One type of buttonhole attachment is the “Professional” buttonholer. This type requires that the machine be set to a narrow zigzag, and it comes with 20 different templates. The templates are installed from the top of the buttonholer, so you don’t have to remove the attachment from the machine in order to change templates These include eight sizes of straight button holes ranging from ½” to 1 ½”, 5 different sizes of keyhole buttonhole templates, an eyelet template, and six different sizes of bound buttonhole templates. Be aware that many of these professional buttonholers come with feed cover plates that WON’T fit on the Singer 401 or 403. So, it’s important to get one with the feed cover plate that is compatible with the elevator style throat plate on these machines. The correct feed cover plate for these machines is part number 161825.

    The last type of buttonholer is the type that is for any, straight stitch, slant needle Singer. There are two versions of this. The first is black, and usually comes in a maroon, plastic box. It’s Singer part number 160743. The second style can come in a cardboard box or is often found in a “Jetson” (torpedo shaped) pink case. This buttonholer is a beige plastic and the part number is 489510. These buttonhole attachments can be used with the 401, 403 or 404 as well as the 301. It uses the machine’s straight stitch setting and moves the fabric side to side to create the buttonhole. They come standard with an assortment of 5 different sized templates in straight and key holes designs. Additional templates are out there, but it does NOT use the same templates as the Professional buttonholer.



    Monogrammer attachments:

    There are two monogrammer attachments, but they only work with the 401 and 403. The most commonly available is called the “Professional” monogrammer. It makes smaller letters (about 3/8” high) and works a lot like the professional buttonholer. In fact, it requires the same feed cover plate if you want to use it on the 401 or 403.


    The second monogrammer makes larger designs, and it's called the “Deluxe” monogrammer. The challenge with this unit is finding the long, rectangular templates for the various letters. They often only come with a few of the letters as they were sold separately from the monogrammer attachment. People usually only purchased the letter templates they thought that they would use.



    The 401, 403, 404 are TERRIFIC all purpose machines for altering, mending and making clothing as well as home dec applications & various crafts. They have good piercing power when in proper condition and set up with the correct needle and settings for the project at hand. Hemming jeans, sewing sheers or silk, quilting, etc.. are wonderful tasks for these machines. They will stand up to much use and some abuse and still hum along nicely with just a wee bit of care.

    These machines were NOT cheap when new.  In 2008 dollars, a Singer 401 would run you about $2,600 and a 403 would be close to $2,000 when the original price is adjusted for inflation. The 404 was certainly less money, but it was never a “cheap” machine either. By today’s standards, these machines are basic, but the new models cannot hold a candle to the 401, 403 or 404 when it comes to build quality and durability. These classic, vintage machines will last long past the life span of any new machine on the market.

    THERE IS NOTHING INDUSTRIAL or industrial strength about them. These are HOME sewing machines, albeit very good ones. That said, if you are in the market for a home machine for a steadier diet of heavy duty type projects, I wouldn't’t make the 401, 403 or 404 your first choice. Some of the cast iron, vertical needle machines are a bit better suited to this type of sewing. Also, the horizontal hook can make free-motion quilting tricky on these machines.

    What about the Singer 500 & 503 (500A & 503A / aka "rocketeer") slant-o-matic machines??

    The Singer 500(500A) and 503 (503A) internally are essentially identical to these 400 series slants mechanically, but they have a different bobbin winding mechanism, thread path, and exterior cosmetics. The hinges on the needle bar door and top 'lid' are prone to breakage on the 500 series slant-o-matics. I will give them their own review at a later date.


    (Singer 403 with it's "top" off)

    Buying tips:

    Perhaps you are hoping to find one of these machines in “attic fresh” condition at a yard sale or thrift store. There are a few common issues these machine can have. On the 401, it’s very common for the internal cam stack to be frozen or gummed up. It can be tedious, but a little cleaning and elbow grease will free things up nicely. On the 401 & 403, often the swing needle assemble gets gummy or stuck as well. On the 404, 403 & 401 It’s also not uncommon for tension parts to be missing or coated with grime. Also be on the look out for broken or mission thread guides. If anyone over lubricated or oiled the motor (not uncommon) the motor will be slow or even smoke. Usually this can be resolved by removing the motor and getting inside and properly cleaning the armature and the brushes and anything else that is coated with oil or grease. The only other not uncommon issue I’ve had is with the thread clearance at the bobbin case cushion spring (bracket). You can bank on it needing a new bobbin winder tire and possibly new rubber feet or cushions on the bottom of the machine. These deteriorate with age. I’ve only had one of these machines require any sort of timing adjustment, so I don’t consider that to be a common place for these machines. In the end, your best bet is to thoroughly test the machine to make certain of it’s condition before you purchase one that is in that “attic fresh” state. If the machine is going to require work or repairs, it’s better to know about them before you purchase it. 


    If you are considering an eBay purchase, You may find my eBay Buying Guide for Sewing Machines helpful.

    Singer 401/401A manual from Singer
    Free Singer 401 (401A)  download- From  LARGE file 14MB)

    403/403A manual from Singer

    404 manual from Singer


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    • Sunday, October 26. 2008 Karendee wrote:
      I found this to be a very informative article, especially since I have my Mother's 401A machine. Identifying the different feet and attachments was extremely helpful for me. Thanks for the article.
      1. Wednesday, July 14. 2010 Hidden deck fasteners wrote:
        I used to have a 403, now own a 401. Having a bit o.....Margef a problem with the tension
        1. Tuesday, August 10. 2010 Noelle wrote:
          I have a 401 that I inherited. My grandmother had it serviced before giving it to me, and it worked fine for a few sewing sessions spread out over 2 years (I was a student at the time). I went to use it the other day and found the tension was mysteriously off and it made long, loose stitches with the needle thread that got stuck in the feed dog mechanism while sewing. After a few days of trying every possible setting with the bobbin and needle tension, I took apart the entire tensioner in frustration. I found that the repair guy my grandmother hired hadn't put it back together correctly, and the little wire loop to the left of the tension adjustment knob was extremely loose. I solved my problem by taking out the spring and adjusting it so the spring would press down harder, then reassembled the screw. Correctly assembled, you can only turn it one full rotation. I can forgive a 50 year old spring for getting loose, and I hope this helps you some. I figured the worst that could happen was having to take it to the repair shop anyway, but I'm glad I seem to have solved the problem myself.
    • Monday, October 27. 2008 Melanie wrote:
      Thank you for this as well! I picked up a 401 (also at a thrift shop, with original cabinet!) this past summer, too. I haven't chosen to buy the manual yet, but this certainly helps me further along in taking care of it.

      Thank you!
    • Tuesday, November 11. 2008 Ruthee wrote:
      Hello, I am so glad I found your help. I am not a sewer but I inherited a Singer 404. I am trying to thread the bobbin. I followed the instructions in the manual, but the bobbin stitch is bunched up. What am I doing wrong? Please help! Thank you
      1. Tuesday, November 11. 2008 Sew-Classic wrote:
        Getting thread nests and wads on the underside of the fabric? Perhaps this blog entry will help you out.

    • Thursday, November 13. 2008 Mermaid wrote:
      Thank you for the information and manual for the 503! It was very helpful.
    • Friday, November 14. 2008 Marjorie wrote:
      What a wonderful surprise to find this site! I do love the OLD singers. I used to have a 403, now own a 401. Having a bit o.....Margef a problem with the tension, but a great machine!
    • Friday, November 21. 2008 Joey wrote:
      Hi jenny, What a surprise to find this blog! Fantastic information! I bought a 403 a year ago and just got around to fiddling with it today -- wanted to get a little more information about zig-zag and cams, so I did a Google and found this page you've just recently published. Always enjoy reading your reviews because I learn so much from them -- please keep them up! I'm eagerly awaiting your Rocketeer page, too!
    • Saturday, November 22. 2008 Kitnrose wrote:
      Thank you! I found your blog when trying to identify a craigslist machine and your descriptions and photos were a huge help - thank you!
    • Thursday, December 11. 2008 Bob Parsons wrote:
      As a mechanic, I love the sound of a smooth running engine. When I heard the 403 hum, I knew I'd found my machine. Thanks for the help with all the details.
    • Sunday, February 22. 2009 Jeanne wrote:
      Glad I found this site. Just bought a 401 at an estate auction, in the stand with all parts.  It works perfectly.

      Thanks for all the useful information.
      1. Wednesday, March 04. 2009 Ruby wrote:
        I have the 401a singer which I would never part with. I mislaid my manual and forgot which levers to use for the simple zig zag.. Can anyone help me ?
        1. Wednesday, March 04. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
          Lift the lid at the top of the machine under the spool pins where you insert the cams.  There is a chart- right there on the machine that tells you where to set the levers for various stitches inc. the zz.
        2. Monday, June 01. 2009 Shirley Deyoe wrote:
          The setting is AK3 for straight stitch.
          Set the left pointer to A (Push in to set)
          Set the right pointer to K (Pull out)
          Set stitch width to 3
          Manual is in files of yahoogroups "vintage singers"
    • Tuesday, March 10. 2009 Sam wrote:
      I can't figure out how to do a cuff on the 404. Is it possible? I had a modern Singer that finally died after YEARS of use, and it just had a smaller deck the cuff would fit around. How can i do a cuff on a 404?
      1. Tuesday, March 10. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
        People often think that you need a free-arm to sew a cuff or pant hem.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You can actually sew a smaller diameter "tube" (cuff/pant leg) on the surface of a machine than you can fit around the free-arm on almost all home sewing machines.

        When using a free-arm, you sew on the OUTSIDE of the tube.  With the free arm the tube goes around it and the feed dogs are on the on the INSIDE, and the bottom of the presser foot is on the outside.

        This is how it is done on a flat bed machine:

        Take that tube of fabric, and set it on the bed of the machine to the left of the needle.  Just rest it there for a second.  Lift just the top layer so that you have access to the INSIDE of the tube. Now, move the fabric over to the presser foot.  Place the presser foot on the INSIDE of the tube.  Reposition the fabric a bit as you sew.. 

        You can see it done in this video

        People sewed cuffs and pant legs on flat bed sewing machines for a CENTURY before free-arm machine became the "norm" for home sewing machines.
        1. Tuesday, March 10. 2009 Sam wrote:
          WOW! Thank you VERY much! That was extremely helpful. I feel like an idiot, LOL. Well, at least I know now!
          1. Tuesday, March 10. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:

            Don't feel stupid.  You were just used to doing it that one way for years- that's all.

    • Friday, March 20. 2009 Robbie wrote:
      What a great article! It gives me a greater appreciation for these great machines and makes me want to 'bond' more with my 401!
      1. Friday, March 20. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
        Yep, the 401 is hard to beat as a great all 'round machine.   My niece has really started sewing alot more and she needed a quality, versatile  machine to keep up with her.  I set her a 401- she LOVES IT!
    • Monday, March 23. 2009 steve wrote:

      thanks for publishing the pdf manuals for the 503!! I just bought one and the manual is a must have!! thanks for the website and all the great info, its really sparked my interest. Can't wait for the review on the 500 series. I hope it can do the monogramming etc like the 400. My girlfriend is so envious of my 503 and its incredible power. we sewed through about 5-6 layers of denim like nothing!

      thanks for the site! thanks for the manuals!
    • Monday, March 23. 2009 Richard wrote:
      Many thanks for your site and the generous information you provide on various machines. I acquired an "attic fresh" 401 recently  and gave it a going over with Murphy's, Singer Oil and Singer grease. At first the machine would barely pant through a few stitches. After a thorough cleaning and lubricating it is running like new. It required no timing and no tension adjustments. All you say about the 401 is true. It is strong and very fast. All the special stitches now work well. I sold off a 730 Record to upgrade. The difference is astonishing. Thanks again... as my Dad said "Faint heart never won fair lady". Get a 400 series Singer and enjoy a fine machine. Richard
    • Wednesday, March 25. 2009 Singer Sewing Expert wrote:
      I have several models of Singer, and they continue to impress me up to this day! Singer continues to bring out an important quality in sewing, one that many companies forget today: relaxation and enjoyable. i recommend a Singer machine to anyone who wants to pick up sewing as a hobby.
      1. Monday, May 25. 2009 Kixfixing wrote:
        I thought Singer sold their name and basically quit the business years ago? No?
        Is it not a Chinese company now with rights to the name? Curious. Kixfixing
    • Friday, April 10. 2009 Cindy wrote:
      So happy to have found this site with so much wonderful information. I have a Singer 411G. It was purchased new, by my grandmother, back in the early 60's. I don't have a manual and can't seem to find one anywhere. I have heard that this machine is similar to the 401 series. Is this true? And is there a 401 manual available anywhere? Thanks so much.
      1. Friday, April 10. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
        There are several online sites that sell paper copies and PDF downloads of manuals (including the 401) for $10 to $20.  A quick internet search will pop up serveral.
      2. Friday, May 22. 2009 Marnie wrote:
        If you have not found a manual for your 411G yet, you can get one from
      3. Thursday, May 06. 2010 Mary Holland wrote:
        I just bought a 411G with manual and attachments. I would be willing to create a PDF scan of the file for $10 via Paypal. It will take awhile to scan and create. Am looking myself for a service manual, if you are lucky enough to find one.
    • Friday, April 10. 2009 Tattooedbullies wrote:

      I had the same issue Here you go, it's the whole manual. Very cool
      1. Friday, April 10. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:

        That's the 404 manual. She is looking for the 401.  There is already a link to download the 404 manual at the bottom of the review.

    • Friday, April 17. 2009 Karen wrote:
      I have just bought a 503 with cabinet. I'm looking for the disks, but am not sure which ones really work with it. Do you know if those from later Singers will work? I know my mother has a set of Kenmore disks she will give me; there are two kinds from two machines she once had. The set on ebay is more than I want in price and in number. Any suggestions for a source?
      By the way, one of the reasons i bought this machine is your description of it. Thanks for all your content. I just found the attachments section, so you'll be hearing more from me.
      1. Saturday, April 18. 2009 JIm wrote:
        I have a new purchase of a Goodwill Singer 503, and it came with 21 cams, which seems to be most all of those made.

        They are called "Top Hat" and are black and have a raised center giving the top hat appearance. 4XX and 5XX cams are interchangeable. I have some 600/603 cams which appear identical to the 503 cams.

        There are several places to download the 503 manual free, which has a listing of the different cams and the stitches they do.
        1. Saturday, April 18. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
          Yes, there is a link right on this page to download the 503 manual for free.

          Also you will find the stitch chart for the various cams and built-in stitches for the 401, 430, 500 and 503 right on this page too.  Here it is again.

          click to enlarge (new window)
          1. Saturday, July 17. 2010 lorene wrote:
            thank you so much
    • Sunday, April 19. 2009 Rachael wrote:
      Went 'thrifting' for just a cabinet for a machine I already have and ended up with a Singer 404 machine in a Parklane 356 style cabinet. Although the machine seems to run fine, both of the cords, power and control, have been spliced with other cords. Am I going to be able to get replacement cords? And can anyone recommend where?
      1. Saturday, October 09. 2010 Sandy wrote:
        I found several of both listed on eBay.
    • Thursday, May 14. 2009 Cari Beatty wrote:
      I own the 503 and love it. I've been looking at machines for my daughter and am considering either a 400 or 500 model. Have there been more problems with the 401 and 501 because of their built-in cam stacks or has that not made them any more problematic that their 403/503 counterparts?
    • Tuesday, May 26. 2009 Terry wrote:
      If you do some web searching you might well find a Chinese company named the Shanghai Singer Sewing Machine Company. It is here that, I believe, they are making a treadle sewing machine ( I think it is called a "Butterfly")and a Model 221 featherweight - reproduction, of course, both of which the Singer stores seem to offer, or can order. These days, who knows what Singer (as I once knew it) does and does not own.
    • Saturday, May 30. 2009 Donna wrote:
      Will th SINGER Sewing Machine Attachments for Class 503 Special Slant-O-Matic work with the 403 model?
      THanks for your time, DOnna
      1. Saturday, May 30. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
        As per the blog article, they are both SLANT SHANKS. So, they use the same feet and attachments.
        1. Saturday, May 30. 2009 Donna wrote:
          Thank you much for response, but will 503 Cams work?
          Thanks again,
          1. Saturday, May 30. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
            As the blog entry explains, they are the same machine (403/403, and 401/500) apart from some external cosmetic differences and the bobbin wider assembly.  SOOOO...... yes the cams are the same.
            1. Saturday, May 30. 2009 Donna wrote:
              Sorry...I'm a bit new at this).
              Thanks so much for your help,
    • Sunday, June 07. 2009 Irene wrote:
      I love my 301 and found it in perfect condition.
      Yesterday I found a 403, it works well also.

      I recently bought a 401 from EBAY and not as happy. I cleaned and oiled but cant get the built in stitches to work correctly. Help, I want to love this machine also.
      What am I not doing right?
      1. Sunday, June 07. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
        I suggetst that you contact the seller from whom you purchased the 401.  Be much more specific about the problem with the stitches and see if they can help you or are willing to let you return it.  - ""can't get the stitches to work correctly" is a too vague and general to expect a specific question.  Describe the problem in detail and provide photos to the seller if possible.

        )Technically, you didn't buy it from eBay, you bought it from a seller via eBay. eBay sells advertising space so to speak.) 
    • Thursday, June 11. 2009 Sharon wrote:
      I have a 401A Singer. It does a great straight stitch, but I can't get it to do any of the decorative stitches. I tried to clean and oil it before I started sewing. I have the manual and have tried all of the combinations. I replaced the tire on the bobbin winder but it doesn't wind a full bobbin. It will quit winding before the bobbin is full. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

      1. Thursday, June 11. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
        To adjust the auto stop on the bobbin winder, just loosen the screw on the stop, and move the stop up a bit- re tighten screw.

        The slant-o-matic machines  can get really STUCK with old, dried up grease and oil.  I can't tell for absolute certain what exactly is the problem with your machine from my vantage point over here, but I suspect it needs a deep down clean.  Kerosene, liquid wrench or other solvents (be careful not to damage the finish) can be used very carefully  to loosen & dissolve the hardened oil/grease.  Even lots of sewing machine oil and a hair dryer aimed at  the stuck components can be used as part of the "elbow grease" routine needed to get the machine working correctly again. ...... oil, hair dryer, wiggle, oil, har dryer, wiggle, repeat.......

        If it all sounds too daunting, take it in to your local sewing machine shop.
      2. Wednesday, November 18. 2009 Nev wrote:
        Hi Sharon, I have been given a 401g portable, it looks complete and goes but I dont know how to use it (threading the needle configurations etc.) I have tried to get a manual but to no avail, all I reguire are the threading sequence and how to wind a bobbin. I am willing to pay for a copy if you are amenable to providing one. OK?
    • Saturday, June 13. 2009 Stacy wrote:
      I was lucky enough to get a 401A for free- the man we bought our house from left it for us. I fiddled with it a bit but couldn't get all of the kinks worked out, so I took it to the local sewing store for a deep cleaning. After that, it worked like a charm, and it sews through just about anything!
    • Wednesday, June 17. 2009 Janet wrote:
      Bless you! Thank you for all of the detailed information on the Singer 503A. I just was given one and now I can know all about it, including having a copy of the manual. You are a sewing ANGEL!
    • Monday, June 22. 2009 Kristin wrote:
      I work in housekeeping and found a 403 A singer sewind machine in a abandon apartment and I keep it. I know nothing about sewing and would love to learn how.Its been a dream of mine. But I don't even know how to work my machine. Could you offer any help or a manual? Please thank you , Kristin
      1. Monday, June 22. 2009 HollyP wrote:
        Kristen, there is a book on Singer Sewing by Gladys Cunningham which may be of use to you in learning how to use your 403. Look up the author on Abe Books (
    • Wednesday, June 24. 2009 David Lang wrote:
      Will the 161829 buttonholer fit the 403?
      1. Wednesday, June 24. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:

        I don't have all of the correlating information and parts numbers for the various buttonholers memorized, but off the top of my head, I can tell you that if it is slant shank, it should fit.

    • Thursday, June 25. 2009 David Lang wrote:
      I'm sorry, I forgot the rest of the info. It says it fits the 503.
    • Friday, July 17. 2009 Janet Hall wrote:
      My 401 also came out of a garage sale. I have no idea how long it had been sitting but the dials were frozen. Once I took off the top it was easy to see where to re-oil the shafts in order to get the dials moving again. The machine is all metal so I wasn't too worried about breaking anything. Once I got the dials to move I had no trouble cleaning off the old dried oil with pipe cleaners. I re-oiled the whole machine and adjusted the tension and it sews like a charm. Absolutely the best $ I ever spent. I managed to get the Instruction book and the attachments that originally came with the machine on Ebay.
    • Tuesday, July 21. 2009 Julie wrote:
      I am very fortunate to have found a 401A at a thrift shop, in a nice cabinet.  It had all of the presser feet, the original manual and cams and it works great. I'm leaving my expensive machines in the closet for awhile and playing with this wonderful machine.

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