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Thread: What Do I Need To Know About Singer 500A?

  1. #1
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    What Do I Need To Know About Singer 500A?

    I'm new to vintage machines. I stumbled across a Singer 66-16 at an estate sale recently and thought the large throat would be great for machine quilting. As it turns out, the machine needs a lot of TLC.
    That lead me here and I have really enjoyed looking around. While learning all I can about restoring vintage machines I saw a picture of a Singer 500A and I was immediately transported to my childhood... I know this is the machine my mom used to teach me how to sew. She must have traded it in when she bought her brand new Singer Athena 2000 in the '70's (which still runs like a top.)
    So, please tell me what I should know about the Singer 500A. What concerns should I have in buying one... such as power cords/foot pedals easily replaced, etc.
    Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    NiaJane
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  2. #2
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    I have one of these and it's my favorite vintage machine! They're nicknamed "Rocketeer".

    These are slant-shank machines, so the feet are slightly unique. But Singer made slant-shanks for awhile and the feet are still being made and are available online. Just hunt for "slant shank". Singer made buttonholers for slant-shank too, they come in a pink oval case; I see them periodically at thrift shops for around ten bucks.

    There's the 500A and the 503A that look very similar and both are called "Rocketeer" - main difference is that the 500 has more built-in stitches. Both take cams; the cams are also pretty easy to find as they're the same style Singer used for a few different models.

    New power cords/pedals are easy to find online still too. I don't like the button-style pedal that mine came with so I bought a modern clamshell style one to use for myself; I think I paid about $25 for it.

    Manuals are a little harder to find but if you keep your eyes on eBay they do turn up. I think you can buy photocopied versions on CD pretty easily. (I waited to find an original paper one, but I DID find one!)

    They take class 66 bobbins - modern Singer-brand class 66 bobbins will NOT fit, however. They are made much cheaper now and have flaws. If you need bobbins, don't buy them somewhere like Joann's, buy them somewhere like Sew Classic, or look for vintage bobbins on eBay.

    Happy hunting! I LOOOOVE my Rocketeer, it's a great machine.

  3. #3
    Super Member Rodney's Avatar
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    Singerco.com has free downloadable manuals in the resources section. I recommend having a manual handy. These machines are capable of a lot if you know how to use them. The downside is they're not overly intuitive to set up and use.

    Look for the black Singer "tophat" cams. They're easily available from sources like Ebay and were used from the 400 series slant shank machines thru the 600 series Touch & Sews. The Touch & Sew ones tend to run a little cheaper if you're not worried about a matching box for your accessories.

    Sew-Classic.com has new slant shank feet along with other maintenance items like bobbin winder tires. They also have a good reputation here.

    Congrats on your new Rocketeer! I have a 400A and a couple Touch & Sews and like them. Yours should be a good machine.
    Your 66 is a great machine for piecing. It would be worth the effort to make it run. My first 66 is the machine that got me hooked on vintage machines.
    Rodney
    "Neglect to oil the machine will shorten its life and cause you

    trouble and annoyance" Quote from Singer Model 99 Manual

  4. #4
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    Thank you so much Sewnoma and Rodney for you replies!
    I am so excited to know that a Rocketeer can be easily be restored. I have so many memories of my mom sitting at that machine.
    I will let you know when I find one! I'm sure I'll be asking many questions.
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  5. #5
    KLO
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    Yep, that's the machine I lust for also. (Recently posted a query about them and the 300 and 400 machines in this section so you may want to read how others responded to that post.) Thankfully you are in Texas and I am on the East Coast so we probably won't be elbowing each other to try to get to that ever elusive Rocketeer. lol

  6. #6
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    Fun, I just went thrift-storing on my lunch break, and picked up a box of cams for $7 that will fit my Rocketeer. Some are going to be duplicates I already have but I'm pretty sure most are not!

    It made me think of this thread.

  7. #7
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    LOL! KLO .... some people might drive a long way for their dream machine.
    Sewnoma, what a great find! Now if I could just find a rocketeer.......
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  8. #8
    KLO
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiaJane View Post
    LOL! KLO .... some people might drive a long way for their dream machine.
    .

    Well, maybe you would drive to NC for a machine but I promise you I will not be driving to Texas for one so you are safe for a local buy. Way to hot to do that at this time of year anyway. Hmmm, but maybe I will outbid you for one on ebay??? We can still be friends though, right? Ha!

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    I have a 503a and really like it. I recently went to an auction and picked up another one for $1. It was missing the nose piece. The problem with it is when you put it on zig zag it doesn't sew consistently. It will zig zag but leave straight stitches every little bit. Any ideas? I have cleaned and oiled.

  10. #10
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    Woot-woot!
    Going to look at a 500A tomorrow! I'll let you know if this is the one!
    Hope I can sleep tonight... I am so excited!

    Grandma Nancy, hope someone can help with your machine.
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  11. #11
    Senior Member tate_elliott's Avatar
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    NiaJane, the best advice I can give about the Singer Slants is to go to the Groups section of Yahoo and join the Singer Slant Group. There is lots of advice and in the Files section there are manuals and plenty of help.

    Also, you'll find that many recommend TriFLow oil for vintage machines. It can be found at bicycle shops. Regular sewing machine oil is good, but TriFlow has tiny flakes of Teflon in it, which help protect the parts from wear. You can also find grease with Teflon, for the gears.

    Best of luck finding your Rocketeer.

    Tate
    King of the Rocketeers!

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    GrandmaNancy, look at your zig-Zag template and see if it is worn out. Could it be?

  13. #13
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I will also say that I have put up several videos on Youtube about caring for and fixing some known issues with the slant machines. You can look for my name (AA) and a bunch should come up. Should the machine be "stuck" at the stitch selectors, it can be fixed but is a bargaining chip.

    GrandmaNancy, the one about unsticking stuck might help you with your issue too.

  14. #14
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    Thank you, Tate! I wil check out the Yahoo group. Also, I had heard of the Triflow oil, but didn't know what made it special.

    Archaic Arcane, thank you for letting me know about the videos. They have already helped with the 66 tensioner.
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  15. #15
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Oh! Good to hear! Good luck with the visit with the 500A today

  16. #16
    Senior Member Pat M.'s Avatar
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    I love mine. I quilted a twin quilt without a quilting foot and it just sewed right through all the fabric, batting and backing like butter.

  17. #17
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    I got it! She is a beauty! Just as I remember from my childhood!
    A sewing cabinet full of sewing goodies including cams, owner's manual and presser feet was included.
    I'll get her set up and take pictures tomorrow.
    Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement!
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  18. #18
    KLO
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiaJane View Post
    I got it! She is a beauty! Just as I remember from my childhood!
    A sewing cabinet full of sewing goodies including cams, owner's manual and presser feet was included.
    I'll get her set up and take pictures tomorrow.
    Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement!

    Well shoot! Now I am so jealous .... but happy for you, of course. But how the heck did it happen that fast? Didn't you just ask about them and now you have one? Ah to be so lucky. You might want to think about playing the lottery this week. Enjoy your "new" machine. Cannot wait to see it.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiaJane View Post
    I got it! She is a beauty! Just as I remember from my childhood!
    A sewing cabinet full of sewing goodies including cams, owner's manual and presser feet was included.
    I'll get her set up and take pictures tomorrow.
    Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement!
    WOOOHOOO!! Congratulations! Sounds like you scored!! I'm still hunting for the 'right' cabinet for mine.

    I'm looking forward to the pictures!

  20. #20
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    No lottery for me... I think I used up all my luck for a little while! LOL! I'm staying away from black cats and ladders...
    Actually there were 2 Rocketeers in my area on Craig's list... the other had no power cord or accessories and was in need of a faceplate and some serious TLC.
    The one I purchased was orignally owned by the seller's grandmother-in-law. She had service records showing the machine was taken in for service annually in June. It looks like the accessories are all there. I'm having a treasure hunt through the drawers of the cabinet.
    Pictures soon....
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  21. #21
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    And here she is...
    Name:  IMG_20150615_132733.jpg
Views: 138
Size:  1.53 MBName:  IMG_20150615_132656.jpg
Views: 129
Size:  1.54 MB
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  22. #22
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Oh you did well! You have 2 throat plates in there that belong to a newer machine but that's extra on top of the plates you should and do have. What are the blue and silver guage looking things in the lower right?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    Oh you did well! You have 2 throat plates in there that belong to a newer machine but that's extra on top of the plates you should and do have. What are the blue and silver guage looking things in the lower right?
    I got some of those in a notions lot I got on ebay. They're pleaters...actually have nothing to do with the machine. You set the size of the pleats with the prongs....slide one prong under & one prong over the fabric. Then turn the gizmo over & pin (or sew) your pleat....repeating for each pleat.

  24. #24
    Junior Member NiaJane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    Oh you did well! You have 2 throat plates in there that belong to a newer machine but that's extra on top of the plates you should and do have. What are the blue and silver guage looking things in the lower right?
    They are pleat spacers-I can't say I have ever seen any of those before.
    The cabinet has 8 drawers full of curiosities Name:  IMG_20150615_132552.jpg
Views: 95
Size:  1.38 MB
    I felt the asking price was fair - $75 ........ I feel as though I have won the lottery.
    "What day is it?" asked Pooh
    "It's today." squeaked Piglet
    "That's my favorite day!" said Pooh

  25. #25
    Senior Member tate_elliott's Avatar
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    Congratulations on your new-to-you machine! I wish you many years of happy sewing with it.

    Tate
    King of the Rocketeers!

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