The Singer Rocketeer is a vintage sewing machine first released in 1960*. It is known for its sleek, futuristic design and its powerful performance. The Singer 500A is also the machine that got me to use vintage sewing machines. When my modern sewing machine slipped a gear just before the holidays and I had started quilts for EVERYONE I couldn’t stop sewing. Once Paul convinced me to try the Singer 500, I was hooked on vintage sewing machines.
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Singer Rocketeer History
The space race had America’s attention and Singer jumped on it with the 500 series of sewing machines. The 500A was quickly nicknamed the Rocketeer, and the 503 also carried the same nickname. These machines had that futuristic look that EVERYONE wanted in the early 60s.
The production run was only from 1961 – 1963. In those two short years though Singer made roughly 400,000 500A and 300,000 503A. Now for that * in the introduction, on October 17, 1960 Singer allotted 5 serial numbers AN 319820 – AN 319824 for the Singer 500. I had a minor panic attack with the year these machines were first made because I had in my list of Singer sewing machine models by year 1960 but the link above listed it as 1961. I went back through all of the Singer serial numbers on ISMACS and that’s where I found those 5 sewing machines that were made in 1960.
Location Rocketeers Were Made
These machines were assembled in Anderson, SC while most of the parts for the Singer 500 were made at the Elizabethport factory. The Anderson factory also made the 301, 401, and Athena sewing machines. The factory also made Singer power tools when it stopped making sewing machines. When Singer stopped domestic production Ryobi bought the factory in 1988. Ryobi is still making tools in Anderson, SC today.
Nicknames For The Singer 500
This might be the only sewing machine that I have to make a section just for the nicknames for it. Most Singer sewing machines go by Singer and the model number, some have a single nickname like “Featherweight” for the Singer 221/222 sewing machines. Not the 500 though it’s got almost as many names as built-in stitches. It goes by Singer 500, Singer 500A, Singer Rocketeer, Rocketeer 500, Rocketeer 500A, Slant-O-Matic, Slant-O-Matic 500, 500 Rocketeer, and 500A Rocketeer.
Singer Rocketeer Needles, Bobbins, and Feet
The Rocketeer takes a standard 15×1 needle and uses a class 66 bobbin. It has a drop-in bobbin system so it doesn’t use a bobbin case. It also uses slant shank feet like the Singer 301. We actually have an entire article on the Singer slant shank feet that you might want to read if you are new to this style of machine.
The Singer 500A is packed with features and Singer called it “the greatest sewing machine ever made”. Many believe that it was the last “good” Singer sewing machine ever made. In the video, I will show you how to wind a bobbin, thread the machine, use the built-in decorative stitches, use the pattern cams, drop the feed dogs for free-motion quilting, and basic sewing.
More Features of The Singer Rocketeer
I couldn’t cover all of the features in the video. The Singer 500 has dual spool pins and it allows you to use two needles in the machine. This is not a twin-needle system. A twin needle has one needle shaft with a bar that holds two needles. It also has a built-in buttonhole stitch.
The 500a is a gear-driven sewing machine, not a belt drive system.
What is the difference between the 500 and the 503?
The two machines are almost identical. The 503 doesn’t have the built-in stitches that the 500 has. This made the 503 a cheaper option at the time.
How much is my Singer Rocketeer worth?
There were almost half a million Singer 500s made and over a quarter of a million 503s made so they are not rare. You aren’t going to land on Antiques Roadshow with these machines either. In most places, $100 will be a fair price for one of these sewing machines. You can read more about prices of vintage Singer sewing machines in our Singer Sewing machine history.