Not all sewing machines are for residential or home use. There are many models out there that are designed for high output industrial work. Those machines are built well, have solid parts, and can sew up a storm for decades. One has made it at least 72 years.
The standard 241-12 sewing machine came with a 5/16 inch presser foot and only gave you about 1/4 inch lift. But it was and is a good machine and has proven itself to be a real workhorse. It is supposed to sew at 5000 spm.
To learn more about the Singer 241-12 just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to help you buy or sell one of these old industrial models. It can be a good buy if you need to sew heavy fabrics like denim or leather.
The reviews are mixed about this sewing machine. Some people like the many positive characteristics it has like a very high stitch per minute speed as well as its ability to last almost 80 years.
Other reviewers did not like the fact that this machine did not have a reverse feature built-in. That meant more work on the sewer’s part and harder to work with. Also, this model is what was called a sump machine. It was given that name as the oil was placed in a tank and the machine distributed the oil to all the parts needing lubrication.
One model had a clear plastic tube so you could see if the sump mechanism was working or not. Most reviewers were a bit hesitant to really recommend this sewing machine. There were just too many missing features and the fact that you could only sew about 1/4 of an inch high turned them off.
There was one specific drawback a reviewer mentioned. He said that he saw oil on the needle and wasn’t sure if there was a leak or not. What reviewers did like was the fact that it was a very high-speed machine that took care of business quickly.
The price, according to some reviewers, was said to be a little on the high side when they mentioned seeing sale prices in the $800 to the $1000 range. Some owners reported paying $100 to $450 which seems reasonable for such an old machine.
It is hard to pinpoint when this sewing machine was made as not even Isaacs, the sewing machine experts, are not mentioning the production years. Some owners have stated that their machine was built in 1942 and 1948 so that gives you a ballpark time frame.
But if you want to know exactly when your model was made, it is not going to be that difficult to do. The word is that Singer keeps very accurate records on when every sewing machine they have produced since 1851.
All you have to do is locate and copy the serial number. These should be on the bottom front of the machine or beneath the handwheel on the base. Then send Singer an e-mail with the serial number.
For all Singer sewing machines made after 1900, there should be 2 letters in front of the numerals. There is supposed to be a resource page that Singer uses to post 3 lists of serial numbers but so far we have not come across that page or a link to that page.
Contact Singer for the best help in finding out this information. They will be the best source to see when your 241-12 was made.
This is a good machine when you are working with heavy fabrics like leather. The only problems would be the stitch length, which some people consider too short when sewing leather, and presser foot lift.
The fact that the 241-12 only gives you about 1/4 inch of sewing room has discouraged many from using this machine when they need to sew leather. But with that said, it is still a great high-speed machine that can sew most thicknesses of leather.
Its 5000 spm speed makes short work of most heavy fabrics and the machine is very durable. Some models have lasted over 60 years and others are getting close to 80 years of service.
The other drawback that comes with this industrial machine is that it does not have a reverse function. For some leather sewers, this may be a deal-breaker. It has been called a medium-duty sewing machine so it may not be that great for those leather projects requiring several layers.
But for smaller projects, it should be ideal as long as you can adjust to the stitch speed. It takes a while to adjust but once that is done, the machine may seem too slow.
The following description is taken from the beginning of the Singer 241-12 owner’s manual. It will give you a better idea about the machine and what it can do when you come across one for sale at a flea market, estate sale, or classified ads.
The 241 is a single needle, lock stitch, and high-speed sewing machine. It is gear-driven and comes with an automatic lubricating system. The rotary sewing hook and drop feed are also lubricated.
Singer has classified this machine as a medium-duty to a medium heavy-duty sewing machine. The stitches per inch range between 5 1/2 to 30 and the needle bar lifts about 1 13/64ths of an inch Presser foot lift is 5/16.
Also, Singer made a big point underneath its description about using only Singer parts when replacing worn out or broken parts on their machines. They made a promise to handle mail-in orders ASAP and that all Singer dealers etc., had the spare parts you may have needed.
These days you may need to scour the vintage sewing machine repair shops, flea markets, yard sales, etc., to see if parts are still available. Or you can go online to one of the many parts stores that deal in old sewing machines and eBay to see what is available there.
If you can get your hands on a 241-12 owner’s manual you should be able to find the right needle for your vintage sewing machine. It is not quite an antique yet. On page 4, according to our online source, you will find the needle size listed for this sewing machine.
But be careful, the owner’s manual is doing triple duty and covers the 241-11, the 241-12, and the 241-13 models. The 241-12 is in the middle of the list. If your 241-12 is class and variety 16x257 then you can use the following needle sizes-- 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, & 21.
Notice that there are a couple of sizes not listed here, the 15 & 20, so make sure to avoid using those needle sizes. Page 6 of the manual will also provide a chart showing which needle size will work best with the specific types of fabrics you may use.
That same chart will also provide the size of cotton, linen, and silk fabrics for each needle. We will be linking to that manual in the next section so you can see all the information for yourself.
The first place to go would be to Singer itself. This link takes you to their manual search function and all you need to do is insert the model number to see if they still have a copy available. Or send them an email asking for one.
Next up is the place we just referenced and it is one of our go-to download manual websites. Then there is this website that has manuals for download only.
The good feature about that last website is that you should find plenty of Singer manuals there waiting for you to act. You can try eBay but all we found at the time of this writing were generic manuals for the 241 series and nothing specific for the 241-12.
A good internet search for your local area may turn up more download options. Or if you do not like reading on the computer, you can always try the usual repair shops, antique stores, etc., to find a hard copy.
During our search for manuals, we came across this Singer web page full of parts for the 241 series sewing machine including the 241-12. Being able to deal with the company directly may save time as well as a little money.
Then many online parts outlets deal in vintage sewing machine parts and with the mass production of many Singer models, parts are not scarce. This company seems to have lots of parts for the 241-12 and one pop-up said there was a 10% sale going on.
eBay will be another source if you are in a hurry. Although that website is not as reliable as it can be because the parts can appear or disappear fairly rapidly. Timing is the key when using this online outlet for spare parts.
Also, you can try this website out and see if they have the part you need at the price you want to pay. They say they have parts for just about every major brand of sewing machines and some you may not have ever heard from.
Of course, you can always go to a sewing machine repair shop to see if they have the part you need. It is sometimes worth paying the extra money to have the professional fix it for you. Other places to find parts will be the traditional and online classified ads, flea markets, and similar sale locations.
Again, we will paraphrase the owner’s manual in order to provide you with the best instructions. The information is found on approx. pg. 10 and comes in one short paragraph.
The first step is to press the plunger all the way in and then turn the handwheel. You need to turn the wheel until you feel or hear the plunger drop into a notch on the feed eccentric.
Make sure to turn the wheel slowly. Once in the notch, you are to turn the wheel forward or backward until you get the stitch length you want. To know if you have the right stitch length you have to look at the indicator plate which is near the handwheel.
The letter ‘A’ is the longest stitch possible and the letter ‘L’ is the shortest. When you reach the length you want, release the plunger. One word of warning, never press the plunger while the sewing machine is running.
Your best bet will be a sewing machine repair shop, an antique store, or a flea market. You never know what these places have until you ask the owners. Then you can find some at garage sales, estate, or yard sales. These are a matter of timing as well.
Then there is always eBay and we saw a couple of machines on sale there at the time of this writing and their prices were reasonable. Considering that the cabinet was part of the deal.
When you get an opportunity to pick up a Singer 241-12, including cabinet and accessories, etc., for under $500 you should be getting a good deal. It is a workhorse of a machine that does the oiling for you.
Just make sure it is in good condition and good working order. Unless you need it for parts.