August 10, 2012

Singer 301 (1952)

 Well I never understood the hype surrounding the 301s but after a trial sewing I think I get it. What a sweet little machine! Basically the same running gear as the 221 with an all new body. I can't decide if it's the super light weight (16lbs), slim design, or ease of use, but I do like it.

Found this 1952 (301, not 301a) one at an estate sale with the bobbin case missing... I am going to call out all of the people that steal them out of the machines at sales; shame on you. Anyhow I got an original replacement and it it runs beautifully.

I believe access to the bobbin is better than any machine using a removable bobbin case.

Although very grimy it is virtually scratch free and is cleaning up slowly. And since I am calling people out I will make my complaint regarding the crappy paint Singer used on these mocha machines WTF! you know what I'm talking about; it has poor surface quality, has to be cleaned very carefully, and more than likely will always have some blotches in the end. One of the failings of a large engineering company is that a penny saved on a million units makes a healthy bonus for some hack executive.

For my automotive reference I'm bringing in the late 60s BMW (had one of these.)

The BMW's were quirky back then for sure, so this just shows how far ahead Singer was at the time.



  1. I have cleaned up and lubed quite a few of these 301's. I do like them better than the FW because I seem to always burn my arm on the light of the FW. I do agree with you on the bobbin case theives. Eighty percent of them I got at auction never had the bobbin case... hmmm.. I heard those creeps also take the knobs off of radios and tv's and stick them in their pockets. The 301 usually never had any bobbins with them either. I like the machine but I don't like the way they sound. I much prefer the "rain stick" sound of my 15-91. As far as the color goes I agree with you on that one too. Its like a dirty rose and goes with nothing...

    1. Thanks for the comments Gwen. I do like the 15-91, I think I will pull it out again. After a strong surface cleaning I tried several polishes and just went with a past wax; it came out OK.

  2. Absolutely right about the crappy paint job, I don't even bother trying to shine them up. They also have a reputation for noisiness. I had one at an event and asked a local guru whether there was anything wrong with mine and he said that all 9 of his sounded just like it! I do love them, they are significantly faster than other vintage Singers (although I don't have a working FW to compare).

    love your blog. I had thought of comparing my vintage machines with era-appropriate actresses and singers, but cars are better!
    Cheryl Warren

    1. Hi Dragon, thanks for the nice comments. I pulled it off the shelf to listen to it closely and as I remembered it really doesn't sound that bad to me, it does however have an unusual sort of whine.
      This vintage craze is so much fun; to me it's about how these things fit into the context of their times. So please compare and contrast all you like I'm sure your take will be unique!

  3. Hi. I have a machine just like the one pictured. It has been stored in its case for I don't know how long. Any suggestions for getting it ready for use?

    1. Hey Jolene, it's time to get oiling!
      If you have the manual it will show specific points or there should be a diagram on the net.
      Start here:
      1)remove the top cover, rotate the wheel by hand; oil every thing that rotates, slides or moves - one drop between all moving parts.
      2)open the front cover, rotate the wheel by hand; oil every thing that rotates, slides or moves - one drop between all moving parts.
      3)turn the machine over, remove the bottom cover, rotate the wheel by hand; oil every thing that rotates, slides or moves - one drop between all moving parts.
      Replace the cover, turn it up and run it with the presser foot UP. You should be ready to do some test sewing.
      I always assume that an old machine has never been oiled since the day it was made. It's a precision machine and needs oil.
      These are excellent sewing machines let me know if it doesn't stitch.
      Good luck, Tom

  4. They say in the manual never to put oil on the gears in the bottom. They need grease instead. Sewing machine grease?

    1. Yes Sewing machine grease is a "light weight" grease. automotive bearing grease would be on the other end of the spectrum.
      But definitely don't run them dry, at the same time we don't need them swimming in grease either.

  5. What cleaning products would you recommend for the mocha finish? I tied soap and water and the finish began to come off. Machine was used in the kitchen and has grease buildup.

    1. The paint on these machines is not extremely durable so you need to use gentle cleaners gently.
      Try each new cleaner on a small area.
      Oil such as WD-40 on a rag may cut thru the grime. Also, superfine polishing compounds such as bon-ami, or automotive types.
      Sometimes these machines will not shine like new but that grime can be dissolved with research and effort.
      I have used TR-3 Resin Glaze succesfully

  6. Thanks will try these subjections.