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Forum > Sewing Machines > viking 6440 vs Singer 401 ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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viking 6440 vs Singer 401
Which machine is better?
lollypopsmom
lollypopsmom
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Date: 4/3/13 11:04 AM

I am looking for another sewing machine with more variety of stitches. I currently use a 5000 series Viking as my main machine. I like vintage machines and am partial to Vikings as that is what my mom uses.

I am looking for a Singer 401a, as a friend who is a semi-professional sewing swears by that machine or a Viking 6440, which has the cams for decorative stiches.

Most of my sewing is for clothing and some decorative, such as tote bags and curtains. Any opinions would be valuable.

ThePadre
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In reply to lollypopsmom <<


Date: 4/3/13 11:53 AM

I've never used a classic Viking. The machines are highly regarded by those who use them, and Bill Holman (formerly a user here) was a long-time servicer of them. However, parts availability is a concern for these machines, as SVP (the conglomerate that now owns the Singer, Viking, and Pfaff brands) dumped classic parts inventory a few years back. They're also unusual enough in their internal workings that not just everyone will know how to repair them. Frankly, they were different enough that I decided it not worth the effort to learn the differences and handed-off the three classic Vikings I had to someone who had use for them. (All three of them were frozen up.)

In contrast, the Singer 401 (and 403, which takes separate cams) are plentiful, with good parts availability, and straightforward to repair/refurbish. Just keep it oiled and greased.

I will say, though, that for heavier sewing of tote bags and decorative fabrics, the word on the street is that the slant needle Singers like the 401 aren't quite as strong for that.

lisalu
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lisalu
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Date: 4/3/13 12:47 PM

I can only add (FWIW) that my Singer 503 - which is similar to the 403, I think - is great for deco stitches. With the full cam set, I get more than 20 stitches and that is mainly what I use it for. But I agree that the slant needle machine isn't my first choice for anything heavy duty. Although it performs better than any entry level plastic machine you could buy today, it doesn't perform as well on heavy duty sewing as most vintage Singer straight stitchers. A Singer 15-91 can beat the heck out of it any day!
-- Edited on 4/3/13 12:50 PM --

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Jim (Singer 301), Margaret (Singer 201-2), Betty (Singer 15-91), Bud (Singer 503), Kathy (Singer 221), Liz (Singer 221 Centennial Edition)
http://runningstitches-mkb.blogspot.com/

quiltingwolf
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In reply to lisalu <<


Date: 4/3/13 12:53 PM

I just pulled out my 500 last night and as I posted under another thread the perfect tension without any adjustment blew me away. If I can get a good quarter inch seam this may become my piecing machine.

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quiltingwolf.blogspot.com

Kalisews
Kalisews
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Date: 4/3/13 1:22 PM

I know I have already thrown in my 2 cents about my love of my own Viking 6460, so I will just say that part of why I chose the 6460 is that there are always used machines coming up for auction on ebay and spare parts out there to be found if you look. It is not nearly as rare as other machines as I have owned. You do need to have someone nearby to work on them which is an issue. I know you are near me in MD so I will tell you that I had to drive all the way to Westminster to get someone qualified to work on them. But the guy I found at Jomax sew and Vac is a gold star rated Viking repair guy and was currently in the process of fully rebuilding another 6460 when he did mine also. He did a fabulous job at a very reasonable price. Well worth the hour and a half drive each way for me with two toddlers in the back seat

Also, I would suggest the 6460 over the 6440 just for the extra decorative stitches. If you are going with the 6000 series might as well get the best the series has to offer.

Soolip
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Date: 4/3/13 1:43 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Viking does automatic (forward/reverse) stitches, and the 401 only does forward stitching (I know it will backstitch, but all the stitches stitch out in one direction only). If you need automatic stitches, go with the Viking. If not, pick whichever you like.

ThePadre
ThePadre
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In reply to Soolip <<


Date: 4/3/13 1:53 PM

Soolip makes a good point.

If you need automatic stitches in a vintage machine, I think it would also be worth your while to consider a vintage Kenmore. (This page has some samples of a Kenmore's cam stitches, showing ability to reverse stitch.)

I try to avoid saying negative things about some machines, so I'll endeavor to be positive. Namely, I find vintage Singers and Japanese machines to be a lot easier to keep running - and to be more robust - than those that don't fit that description, with the exception of the Pfaff 1200 series. This doesn't apply to newer machines, with which I have little experience.
-- Edited on 4/3/13 1:57 PM --

quiltingwolf
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In reply to Kalisews <<


Date: 4/3/13 2:04 PM

Kalindi you weren't replying to me were you? I wasn't the original poster. Just though it odd if we had another Maryland poster on this thread, Go Maryland lol. Anyway glad to hear good things about Jomax. I want to get up there and see the PCP in person. I have to go for emissions soon and I'm half way there at that point. They are like the only Pfaff dealer within miles and it's a good ways away from me also. That's why If I were buying would hate to buy so far away.

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quiltingwolf.blogspot.com

Kalisews
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In reply to quiltingwolf <<


Date: 4/3/13 7:12 PM

OH darn... I was replying to you That is what I get for cooking dinner and chatting on the computer at the same time. I should learn to do one thing at a time.

Anyway... my advice about finding someone to service a viking still stands for anyone who intends on buying one and the 6460 vs 6440. You certainly need to have someone qualified to work on one. I went to someone who claimed they could only to have him call me to tell me he was stymied shortly after opening it.

And yes quiltingqolf, I was happy to find Jomax at least for their service guy Mike. He knew his way around my vintage Viking and if I ever have another issue I will not hesitate to drive the hour and a half back.

lollypopsmom
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Date: 4/4/13 12:37 PM

Wow, thanks for all the replies. I've never considered a Kenmore machine, as I have no experience with them. What models would you recommend?

I do own a Singer 15-91, which was my grandmother's. My daughter is learning to sew on it, as this was the machine I learned on.

The viking 5530 I own was purchased at a sewing machine center, which also serviced it. The owner must like vintage machines because he always has 15-20 machines for sale at any time. I just stopped in last Thursday and the Viking I had looked at three weeks ago was gone...

I love looking through the reviews and messages. This is SUCH a valuable site!!!

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