I also have an "antique" singer sewing machine that is still going strong.
Use a heavy gauge needle like a #18. I bought a pack of #18 needles at the local fabric store for a few bucks, and have used them to sew through multiple layers of cordura with no issues.
They do bend or flex more after you have used them several times, but you just replace and move forward.
You might also look for a walking foot attachment if you are going to be sewing heavy materials a lot. It helps feed the fabric through the machine, and keeps things from bunching.
I don't know about the thread though.
Good luck, have fun, and share pictures when you complete your first project!