Monday, August 17, 2015

Vintage Kenmore 158.10402 - Restored

Downloadable Manual

I've been collecting these incredible little machines for several years now.  The 158 series machines were made for Sears by Jaguar/Maruzen out of Japan.  I consider them to be the Singer 221 Featherweight on steroids.  I suppose, if you are a quilter, the 221 is the holy grail for quality of straight stitch and portability.  However, if you are a typical sewer needing more than a straight stitch, portability, and a compact footprint, this little Kenmore 1040 is a must have.  There were three in the 1040 series: 158.10400, 158.10401, and 158.10402.  The 10400 and the 10401 are nearly indistinguishable, but the 10402 had some differences in the indicator markings.


  • 3/4 Machine w/rose embossed clamshell case
  • 18 lbs.
  • Cast aluminum housing
  • All metal gears
  • Case measures 17" long  x 5.5" wide x 11.5" tall
  • Oscillating vertical 15 series hook/bobbin
  • Straight stitch
  • Zig-zag stitch
  • Blind hem stitch
  • Mending stitch
  • Straight stretch stitch
  • Zig-zag stretch stitch
  • Built-in 4 step buttonholer w/five guides: 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 13/16", 1 1/16"
  • Light
  • Foot controller w/case
  • Automatic bobbin winder w/five bobbins
  • Feet include: zig-zag, straight, zipper, blindstitch guide with shank 
  • Straight and zig-zag needle plates
  • Needle threader
  • Large and small screwdriver
  • Five needles
  • Two double needles
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Droppable feed dogs
  • Oiler/lint brush
  • Seam Ripper

Over the past few years I've acquired seven of these machines. From them I have restored three and gave one to each of my daughters as Christmas presents a couple of years ago.  I have a couple left to restore and sell, and then I found this very unusual 158.10402 in virtually mint condition.  I did go through and perform a full restoration; cleaning, polishing, and waxing, along with grease and lubrication.  All functions were checked and it performs flawlessly.

What I didn't expect, nor have I ever seen, was the styrofoam packing.  It was obviously used to secure the machine inside its rose embossed clamshell case during shipping.  This is the most complete, most perfect 1040 I've run across and it has found its way into my little private collection.

The inspection label is still on the side of the case and the original hang tag is on the handle.  It even came with an actual page from the 1974 Sears catalogue from which, I assume, it was ordered.

The following few pictures show the machine from all sides.

 Inside the machine is clean and untarnished.  It received a full oiling and greasing.

 Here are the markings that are changed on the 10402.  The indicator lines are black instead of orange and there is descriptive text instead of dots.

No markings on the manual and the binding is perfect.

The page from the 1974 Sears catalogue featuring the machine and the price.  $160 in 1974 is equal to $800 in 2015.

The electronic foot pedal is pristine and the green vinyl case is perfect.  I've only seen two that weren't torn at the seams.

 This machine came with all of its original accessories including the oiler/brush, the needle threader (in the original box and still sealed in plastic, and the two screwdrivers which are still in their plastic bag.

 Feed dogs work and drop perfectly.  Bobbin case present and accounted for.

 I love the way the end of the machine flips up and the accessory case flips forward for added material support.  The engineering on this machine is amazing.

 The manufacturer's tag on the bottom of the machine.

 A perfect case with hang tag and inspection sticker.

 Here are the oiler/brush (with original oil) and the seam ripper.

 All five buttonhole guides.

 The original double needles and single needles in their plastic cases.  This machine also comes with a straight stitch needle plate and foot.

 Screwdrivers still in the bag.

 Its hard to believe that all of the accessories fit in the tilt out tray.

 The original shipping styrofoam.

 The hinge knuckles are perfect; usually one or more are cracked or broken.

Everything fits into the case except the manual, which is why so often it goes missing.  Of all the machines I've collected, this is the hardest manual to find.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the Kenmore 158.10402.  If you have any questions, let me know. The items that are problematic on these machines is that the double belt pulley and the drop feed dogs tend to freeze up after years of nonuse.  I'll be doing a tutorial on easily dealing with both.

Thanks for looking,


  1. What an awesome find, love the pictures of it and the information. You are one lucky person to find one of these so pristine. I have two, don't remember which models and they were hard for me to find and a bit pricey. Great for classes etc.

  2. Wonderful, informative review!! I especially appreciate the $$ conversion to today's prices. It puts it all in perspective!

  3. Thanks for the info and pictures!
    I look forward to your pulley tutorial. I have 158.10301 that is struggling mightily.

  4. Beautiful machine! Thank you for the detailed photography - what a find! I have recently acquired a 1040 and a 1050.

    I'm also very interested in your pulley tutorial (as I'm having some issues with my belts/pulleys areas) and would like to understand how to service them.

  5. I'm looking at a 158.10500. Looks almost exactly like this. Rose case. Is this model made in Japan too, with all metal gears? Thanks

  6. My mother just gave me her 10402. Is there an online owners manual for this machine? Should I have a sewing center clean it for me since I don't know anything about sewing machines? Thank you for your help!

    1. The link is the second line of this post.

      Yes, your machine has probably been sitting around for years and would benefit from a good cleaning and lubrication. I never run old machines without first doing both.

      You can do it yourself... it is fairly easy. If interested, find the Kenmore Sewing Machine yahoo group links on my resource page. Lots of ino there on maintaining your machine.

  7. Wow, it's beautiful!! I recently purchased one of these on Ebay and I am looking for the little plastic piece that holds the thread spool pin in place- it appears to have broken during shipping. I was wondering if from your restoring you have any extra parts and if you would be willing to sell this piece?

    1. There are parts for these machines available on ebay. If you can take a photo of the area of the missing part or of the damaged part, I'll look through my stash.

  8. Great post. Wondering if this thread / blog is still active? I own a 158.10401 and would love to know how to replace the belts. I can not get any clear info about the double pulley system on this machine. My belts have crumbled right down to the threads. So the machine is not sewing. Didn't see a follow up tutorial to this post. Has anyone reading this replaced the belts on this machine? Please explain how to do it? I've been given suggestions to loosen the idle pulley in the center that holds both belts or to loosen the motor somehow.

    Thank you...

    1. Still active, just working on other projects. For the belts, go to the resource link and click on the link.

      As to replacement, I copied this from another site: "The Kenmore Model 1040 sewing machine has an intermediate idler step pulley that reduces the speed of the hand wheel. This idler is on a shaft that can be loosened and moved a bit to make removal and mounting of the two drive belts easier. IMPORTANT: the thread on the shaft is a LEFT-HANDED THREAD; turn it clockwise to loosen it, using a large flat blade screwdriver with a sharp, square blade. After the new belt is installed, adjust the idler pulley position to provide adequate traction on the belts without excessive side load on the idler shaft. Tightening the belts too much causes high friction on the idler shaft and loss of torque to the sewing machine mechanism."

      I'll do a post on this at some point. Hope this helps until then.


    2. Aha! So it is the Idler pulley!
      Left Handed Thread!!
      Yikes, I've been making it even tighter.

      Michael THANK YOU for this info.
      And your swift reply.
      I will give this a try.
      I have the new belts already.

      Will circle back for your follow up post.


  9. Love this. I have an early seventies 1040-1. My first and only machine. Used it for 3-4 years before the kids came along and it has moved with me from CT to VA, and hasn't been touched in nearly forty years. I pulled it out of the basement last week, because I'm now retired and bored to death. Thought I'd try my hand at sewing again to give me something to do, especially in the wineter months while my garden rests under a heap of snow.
    I had to replace the lug belt, I cleaned and oiled it. Runs like a dream. Have only one issue and that is the special stitch selector. It's jammed. I can only use the straight stitch and elastic stretch stitch. The knob will NOT turn to any of the other options. I have tried everything I know. Popped off the top, looked around, jiggled and probed, used the hairdryer on it... nothing. I don't know why I can't get it to turn and catch.
    I really, REALLY hope you have a magic fix for me in your bag of tricks. I would so love to have that issue resolved. If you have any suggestions, I would be eternally grateful!!!!!!

    1. Jeanette, congrats on your retirement!

      I suspect lubrication or hardened grease under the cam assembly. It is pretty tight under the selector switch so I'd suggest removing the bobbin winder assembly to provide a little better access.

      Get some AeroKroil (on my resource page) and spray anything and everything under the selector switch and the at all of the linkage pivots. Also, clean all the old grease from the worm gear. Then add heat. I also tend to tap everything I can reach with a small hammer. The idea is to add vibration to the pivots and linkages, allowing the AeroKroil to seep deeper and do its magic. Apply fresh grease to the worm gear (Tri-Flo synthetic).

      Repeat this process everyday until it loosens up. It took a week to free up a frozen Necchi I was working on.

      You might also join the VintageKenmore Yahoo group. Lots of good folks there.

      Good luck and Merry Christmas!


    2. Thank you for your reply ! ok... so I have managed to get the stitch selector dial unjammed and then had to get the zigzag working. It wouldn't zigzag AT ALL. Loosened the screw on the needle bar (not the needle part, but above it) and now it is zigzagging along just fine. I'm hoping that's all I needed to do. I did beak the little accessories box flip lid (not the one which is part of the box, but the lid above it). Boo HOO. I would so love to replace that and have no idea where to find one. Have searched online, eBay, etc., but can't find it. Should you have any idea where I can purchase one, I'd certainly love to hear from you! Love your blog site, thank you again!

    3. Add some oil on either side of the needle bar just above the needle. There is a channel there that the needle bar slides back and forth in (left to right looking at it from the front. Also, follow the needle bar upwards to its pivot point and oil it.

      The only way to replace that lid is to find a donor machine on ebay or CraigsList. Someone might have a spare one on the VintageKenmore yahoo group.

      Hope you find one.


  10. I have been looking for those buttonhole guides for years. Do you have any idea where I can buy some?