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Singer sewing machine 241-12 (vintage)

C’mon Dne’, a sewing machine? πŸ˜‰

Dear friends, who says classic and vintage has to be only related to Cars and Trucks? This particular sewing machine from the ’50’s(?) is a classic! It’s incredibly heavy, and incredibly heavy-duty! Whatever one can put beneath the foot, it will sew! Only heaven knows how many yards this incredible machine has sewn over its lifetime!;)

sewing machine2




Sew, why do I have a sewing machine you might ask?Β  well, I plan someday to make ’50’s style kitchen furniture! and perhaps try my hand at car upholstery as well, and take up my clothes, etc. Plus it’s makes for good conversation!

sewing machine1




Underneath the hood, an oil sump like a car!Β  This thing was built to last! Very little maintenance!

sewing machine7



The engine or motor I should say, goodness! ~ I have to use My Little Mule to move this machine around!


sewing machine5sewing machine4




These numbers are no different from the serial number on a car. Tells when it was made and where.

sewing machine




Oiling mechanism:

Going a little deeper into my machine, I was worried about not getting oil to the important parts! This particular machine was used on assembly lines and required little to no maintenance due to self oiling. Β  However, I never really saw any oil in the sight glass while sewing despite having a oil pan full of oil having sewn a few things, but things were oily underneath.Β  The pic below is about as much oil as I’ve ever seen in it, but I do not sew at full speed ahead either. I sew slowly and little bits at a time. I thought for sure oil would be flowing through this sight glass!

sight glass



With heavy machine tilted back and resting on a 2×4 piece of wood, I could start checking this machine out. I want to know that oil is getting places!Β  The oil I use is by Zipperstop, Lilly white sewing machine oil, of which I’m sure I purchased from Amazon;)

sewing machine7



Checking out the impeller of the oil pump, it was in good shape and the drive shaft was turning it just fine. The screen was clear, all looks well!

oil pump



Lastly, removing the top cover held by 2 screws, I found that the sight glass oil is supplied by a slinging effect, as the machine would roar at high speeds, the oil is directed by this oil sling diverter leading it to the sight glass. Unless you’re sewing at high speeds for long lengths of time, one will rarely see a “flow” of oil going through the sight glass.

Below, the silver thing is the divertor held by one screw. As the machine is revved up at much higher RPM’s than I sew, the oil would be slung onto this part, then dribbles into the sight glass.

Note: I made up the name for the part which I have dubbed the divertor, if someone knows the actual technical name, let me know!;)

oil sling diverter


With the divertor off, one can see the gears and realize that oil is slung up by the moving gears, and again, the oil spray is then channeled into the sight glass. But I never get the machine up that high in speed. I then ran the machine with the top cover off and at a high rate of speed, making a mess I might add, then oil started spewing through that little hole out of the brass pipe at the top of the pic, and oil slung off of the gears~ I made quite a mess!


So, the mystery is solved about the oil glass and is my machine oiling! I’m relieved knowing that my machine is operating properly and should be good for another 100 years! πŸ˜‰

Let me know if this helped out there!! πŸ˜‰

weep hole


Sewing is absolutely a relaxation phenomenon~ it gets your mind off of everything, and one can make whatever his/her heart desires, or at least wants to learn. Everyone should sew!;)


I Love the ’50’s and I’m sure I was born in the wrong era, but it’s still nice to be here during these uncertain times and look back and appreciate what real Americans were capable of making. We used to make cool stuff:(


24 Responses so far.

  1. Janice says:

    It does help! I just inherited this Singer 241-12 from my grandmother. It sounds like it is running smooth but only a drip in in the tube in the site glass. I was worried but not now. Thank you! Now to get the tension right:)

    Having fun,

    • admin says:

      Hi Janice! I’m happy to have helped! It was a little mystery on the old Singer! Luckily, my machine tension seemed to be just right, but ask me how to set it! eek! Happy sewing!! And thanks for visiting my site and leaving a response!
      dne’ πŸ˜‰

  2. pedro says:

    is there a screen missing on the oil pump?/ i’m just curious mines has screen under it.

    • admin says:

      Hi Pedro, Yes, mine machine has the screen, I believe you saw the picture on my Singer machine blog with the screen assembly off to show the impeller/pump assembly. Thanks for visiting my blog site!
      dne’ πŸ˜‰

  3. doreensica says:

    I just got my mother’s machine and I need to replace the glass on the sight for the oil do you know where I can get one or any parts I might want to replace if broken

    • admin says:

      Hi! Dne’ here, sorry for the late response to your question, my site was hacked and was down, but all is OK now. As for your question regarding a new glass for the site glass, I honestly don’t know other than looking for a non-working 241-12 machine. If you read my blog on this machine, the sight glass in my opinion is more of a novelty than a necessity. Very little lubricating oil makes it to the sight glass, at least in mine. The oil is basically slung and makes its way into the sight glass. I thought for sure I’d see oil Flowing in the sight glass, but that’s not the way this oiling system works. However, back the glass, I’ve never had the actual glass piece out to see how thick it might be, perhaps a glass company or mirror place could fabricate a round piece of glass? Just a thought~ sorry for not giving you the answer you looking for:(

  4. Pam says:

    Could you use the machine as a quilting machine?

    • admin says:

      Hi Pam, thanks for taking a look on my blog!;) As for this particular machine being used as a quilting machine? hm, I’ve never seen a quilting machine, but after googling and seeing what they look like, a genuine quilting machine can handle a large amount of material, let’s say a quilt to fit even a full sized bed, that’s a lot of material! Maybe a small quilt? but in that case, any sewing machine would probably work. For me, I bought the 242-12 for a few reasons; it’s a blast from our past(vintage), it was relatively cheap(300), I want to sew leather(upholstery). However, keep in mind this machine does not have a reverse, so one has to overcome that of which I’m still trying to master! Well, I hope this helped a bit! Again, thanks for asking!;)

  5. Bob Fell says:

    Hi. I am restoring a 241-2 and found some info about the machine self oiling. The operator would begin by winding the bobbin and run the machine at full speed for a while (no thread thru the needle or fabric under the foot), The pump had a chance to build some pressure and get oil to the top of the machine.

    • admin says:

      Hi Bob, thank you so the added info~ I was hoping to get others input on this blast from the past machine; never will know how many of these incredible machines are out there! Dne’ πŸ˜‰

  6. Richard Ruiz says:

    I have a 241-2, cannot find an oil pan, as long as I keep it lubricated with a oil can will it be okay or where can I find a pan.

  7. Richard Ruiz says:

    Where can I find an oil pan for a 241-12.

    • admin says:

      Hi Richard~ what happened to your oil pan? As for finding an oil pan~Just have to keep an eye out on eBay. More than likely you’ll just have to find someone with an old broken machine to be able to obtain one. There were many of these units made. I wish you luck! dne’;)

  8. Jason says:

    I just picked up one of these machines for canvas work and was having the same concern until I read this… It seems that all is well and this will be a great addition to my shop, thanks!

    • admin says:

      Jason, I’m so happy to have helped! Good luck with your machine! Hardest part for me was regulating the speed of the machine with my foot!;) Otherwise it’s a incredible machine and incredible piece of history!
      dne’ πŸ˜‰

  9. maya says:

    Thanks for this very helpful post. I have the same machine inherited from a great aunt who I believe was the original owner – she made wedding gowns and more as a professional seamstress. One question, I see you use Lily White oil for filling the oil pan. What do you recommend for lubricating the machine (dropping into the oil holes?). Just trying to get this beast set up and order the stuff I need. Thanks, Maya

    • admin says:

      Hi Maya! Congratulations on your “new” sewing machine. As for oiling, the machine is self oiling~ it’s like a car engine~ It sucks up the oil out of the oil pan and puts oil where it’s needed. These machines were built for heavy continuous use; probably why they’re still around! However it’d probably be a good idea to put fresh oil and check the oil screen to make sure it’s free of lint/dirt,etc.. I love my machine, just wish it had a reverse;)
      thank you!
      dne’ πŸ˜‰

  10. Elaine Barndt says:

    I just recently started teaching myself about the 241-2. Having acquired it from an auction. It seems like the wheel is hard to turn that enables me to have the needle down position when pivoting around corners. Does anyone else out there have that problem?

  11. Elaine Barndt says:

    Hi Dne’ This is Elaine. Just wanted to get with you and let you know I feel I have things working to the best I can. Again, the only thing with my 245-2 that I have a little concern about it the stiffness of the hand wheel. I had someone do a thorough cleaning of this machine a few years ago and I remember him saying how very dirty it was and mentioned threads even in the inner parts. After reading up on this machine, I now know that it was a wicking machine and I feel he took my wicks out. When you cleaned yours, did you take the cover off where the hand wheel would be? I’m so tempted to approach that area to grease it up, but just want to hear some one else did it too. The stiffness of this wheel is not good for people who may have conditions involving the hand or even fingers. If I can get this area going, I’ll be one happy person. I can only imagine the history of these machines. Again, thank you for your help and encouragement.
    ~ Elaine

  12. Francis Aud says:

    how do you remove the handwheel and install a larger pulley to decrease the speed of this beast? running at motor speed ( 3640 rpm ) is a bit much?

    • admin says:

      Hi Franis~ yes, the speed is incredible and takes time to learn to control. Keep in mind these machines were designed for high output, that’s why they were built ‘bullit-proof’. However, I did change the rod placment on the foot pedal and on the lever arm which goes to the enormous motor~ that seemed to help, but learning good control with your foot will help greatly! Keep at it and let me know how you do!
      thank you!
      dne’ πŸ˜‰

  13. Bruce says:

    Thank-you for this discussion, recently acquired a 241-13 (looks identical to yours), and had the same concern re: lubrication. You have put my mind at ease and I can now get more familiar with this great machine. It’s a fine addition to the shop.

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