Friday, May 20, 2011

Amazing Singer 404 Transformation!

A few weeks ago, I REALLY wanted a Singer 404. With the recent addition of the Singer 401A, and recently fixing up the Rocketeers, (500A and 503A) I wanted a 404 to complete the lineup. I watched some Singer 404’s on eBay for awhile and then I found a good deal on one. Here is the ad. Read it carefully and see if you think this is what I got. The picture below is after I cleaned the machine. It is the one in the front on the right.

this that 009

Now granted, I was pretty sure there was nothing wrong with the machine. It sounded to me like it was in bobbin winding mode (which it was). It looked pretty good, other than that, and the description of the case (lid) didn’t throw me off. Yes, it looked dirty, but I know how to clean things. (Incidentally, I showed the lid to a couple of my quilting friends last Saturday when I brought it in from the garage, undecided whether I would keep it at that point, and one of them said, ‘You want that in your HOUSE???’ Back to the garage it went. There IS a difference between DIRTY and filthy.

My ‘new to me’ machine arrived last Friday afternoon, and I had to spend over two hours cleaning, oiling, and getting it to work. It was FILTHY. Now, I have picked up a lot of machines at thrift stores over the years, and a few have been dirty, but this one won the contest. The lever that lifts the throat plate under the needle was STUCK. All the mechanisms were dry and rusty, and gummy. Yes, the motor spun, but the motor smelled. (Thank God Louie and I have the skills and patience to fix all these things!)

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of the machine before I started cleaning, but I got a picture of the lid, and the box it came in. I think they were a LITTLE deceptive about the condition of the lid. See the big L shaped ‘punched UP’ place on the top. If you go to ebay and look at the photos they posted, the foot control is sitting right on top of that boo boo. (How con-VEEEEEEE_nient!) They also said a small portion of the stripping around the bottom was missing. Ok, there was a small portion missing, and the stripping (I call it piping) was half torn off. Also, both ends of the lid were ‘flopping’ from being ripped away from the front and back portions, and they failed to mention that the ‘stripping’ was completely missing on the other side!  Oh, and just a LITTLE filthy!

404 006404 003  404 004404 005

Now, here is the box they shipped it in. No damage to the box, so do you think it looked that way BEFORE they shipped it? Yeah, me too.

404 001404 002

Despite my disappointments, I figured, I finally had my Singer 404. It was still a decent price, (since I couldn’t find one junkin’,) and if I kept the lid or not really wasn’t a big deal for me. I just had to decide if I wanted to keep it or not. I really did not think it had much of a chance of being resurrected, but I still had not definitely decided at that point.

When I got my Brunswick last week, it came with an old treadle belt. It was no good anymore, as the clip had torn through the end, so I ordered a new belt. Guess what???? The leather belt was the EXACT size thickness and diameter I needed to use as piping for the opposite side of the case! I was excited!

lid 004

First though, it needed a bath! I spent 30 minutes scrubbing it. It wasn’t just dust! It just amazes me sometimes how different things look with a little elbow grease.

Last night, Louie took the lid out to his shop and started gluing it back together. Looks better already with a few layers of filth removed, doesn’t it?

lid 002lid 003

He pounded the ‘boo boo’ back down ‘flush’ into itself, and touched it up the best he could, then he pressed the leather treadle belt into the channel on the one side, and pressed a piece of belt into the space where the small area was missing on the opposite side. No glue required, like I thought. What do you think?

lid 005lid 006

The leather belt is on the front side, and not noticeably lighter in color, until you stick a camera 8” from it! LOL! We still might try to figure out something to make the ‘boo boo’ less noticeable, but if we don’t, it’s ok.

lid 007

So, a little recap……


404 003


lid 006

I have decided not to leave any feedback at all for this seller. I think this is the first sewing machine she has ever sold, and obviously, she doesn’t know much about presentation, or much about sewing machines for that matter. Had I been her selling the machine, I probably would have just thrown away the lid, but now, to me, it is very acceptable. It is around 50 years old, and cannot look brand new. If she asks for feedback, we have decided we will tell her what we think, but we feel it is kinder to not leave feedback at all for her.

The other thing that bothers me, is, in the description, she says: 

I have been targeted by another ebayer, someone that is local to me.  If anyone contacts you after this sale please contact me and ebay and report this matter to them.  Thank you!

I wonder if she tried to pass this off to someone else in this condition and it didn’t go as well? Just wondering……

For me, it was not such a traumatic experience, since, between Louie and I, we know how to fix a lot of things, but what if someone else, with less machine cleaning/fixing experience had bought it? I’m sure she would have received it back. Louie ended up taking the motor out of the machine, and reworked it, cleaning the brushes and polishing the armature. It runs clean and strong now, and I have everything oiled and UNSTUCK. The light bulb she claimed as working, burnt out when I was cleaning her up, (not her fault, of course, but a coincidence) so a new one is on the way.

My Singer 404 is clean and happy, and I’m happy too.

Thanks for letting me share another sewing machine story.

Be blessed,








Amelia said...

Another machine has found a new home with new people that loves it. The change is remarkable!

Amy, a redeemed sheep said...

I take any listing that says, "Everyone is picking on me...*pout*" with huge grains of salt. I suspect the person had a reason to complain about her.

I'm glad you and Louie could make this machine shine again!

The Tulip Patch said...

You are the foster mother of all unloved sewing machines! I think this is what I just helped my friend get from her grandmother's storage. She is needing a new pedal and power cord (she thinks it is in storage still) but I think I have one that might work that I can give to her. My only old Machine is a singer 406W and the tension is terrible but I can't tell if it is just because the bobbin winding is's a super thin bobbin and it won't wind on the machine. Are those good machines in your EXPERT opinion? PS, wish my hubby would learn to fix machines. It would save me a lot of money (then again I'd have to hound him to do it for months before he would!)

myletterstoemily said...

i'm very happy for you to have such a wonderful
machine, but as a 'singer', i thought you had a
musical post. :)

Val said...

404? Never heard of that. I know that I love the one I got from you- my 401a! Love it!

punchanella said...


thanks for this post. i've just gotten a 500a with a stuck throat plate lever. it will only go as far as "darn" and i can't get the throat plate off.

how did you clean that area so that you could remove it?

many thanks!

Haute Goat Reclaimed Cashmere said...

wow! great job cleaning that mess up! what did you use get the case looking so nice - I always have problems with fabric covered cases...


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