For a little background on the model 401A’s history, my research reveals that “In 1950 Singer built a new plant in Anderson, South Carolina for manufacturing a new range of slant-needle aluminium bodied sewing machines. Although the plant was officially opened in 1950, production did not start until 1951. The original models produced at the Anderson plant were the 301/301A, 401A/403A and 500A/503A”. The first 2 years of production were dedicated to the 301/301A slant needle straight stitch only sewing machines, with the first 401A sewing machines beginning production in 1958 thru 1960. The model 401A was the second slant needle sewing machine Singer offered with 18 built in stitches and a rotating cam mechanism for extending the range of utility and decorative stitches by utilizing separate plastic drop in “pattern disks”.
Except for the 24 available plastic pattern disks designed for the machine, there is no plastic anywhere in its construction (except for the bakelite cover pieces on the internal motor housing). Built with quality materials and tight manufacturing tolerances, these vintage machines are legendary for their build quality and are designed to last a lifetime with minimal care and maintenance.
The 401A is distinguished by 18 built in stitch choices, a solid cast aluminum body, it’s 2-tone tan and beige color, slant needle, three needle positions, adjustable foot pressure, Twin needle capability with twin tension discs, the same horizontal full rotating hook assembly used in the model 201, a powerful internal gear drive motor, concealed lamp, and top hinged cover for different pattern disks. The feed dogs do not drop, but Singer designed a three position lever on the machine bed adjacent to the pillar that allowed the plate to lay flat for general sewing, lift slightly to clear the feed dogs, or raise the needle plate for removal and replacement of the needle plate. The 401A uses a type 66 bobbin and standard 15×1 sewing needle.