Saturday, 25 August 2012

Frister & Rossmann E Series SPHINX CLEOPATRA - Vintage sewing machine: my new toy!!

Frister & Rossmann: E Series - Sphinx Sewing Machine 

After cleaning and full service - shining bright CLEAN!! 
and now working - was rather filthy and very jammy before ...
I just so thrilled with it a kid with a new toy!!!
Think I will sew my Mt Fuji silk quilt with it - nice controlled sewing of lots little pieces fabric - LOL!!
Yet to find out what it likes and dislikes in fabrics - sewing machines can be very temperamental and I have found the older machines favour one type of sewing over another and many do not like their tension being constantly re-adjusted. So I tend to have machines dedicated to specific materials and weights i.e. one vintage machine for heavy duty sewing, another for fine silks  and a modern electronic machine for all the fancy stitches .............. getting to be a sewing machine junky! But I am beginning to have quite a love affair with the old vintage models - they are just so beautifully engineered.

Now where in a modern machine does it say (& I quote) "This machine with correct maintenance will last many decades" Take your breath away in this modern throw away society - these machines were made to LAST  !?! 
I rest my case for sewing with a vintage machine!!! 

The Sphinx on the sewing machine head - very female unlike the original!!

Cleopatra eating a Lotus on the flat bed  - you can see where Madonna had her idea for her 'Madonna Bra's.... Nothing is new! 

The Quiltman badge on the pillar - still very bright and shiny!

Now found out that this machine dates to the 1920's 
The 'E' Model was the most popular machine that Frister Rossmann manufactured - a German company 
It is adaptable in that it can fit into a treadle base - the holes, complete with metal lining, in the base are there ready to go - shame it wont fit into my old treadle as it is a smaller machine not the wider base. 

One of the main reasons I bought her is because she has an adjustable stitch length (via  screw knob) not just for forward stitching but for reverse as well! Whereas most vintage sewing machines I have seen only have an adjustable forward stitch but the reverse is just a standard length ............ a close up of this pic coming..........

She is now a little beauty and now sewing well after a massive clean and degunge - I took her to bits and cleaned n scraped all the dirt n rust off - had to use WD40 to ease rusted in screws (but quickly wiped off to prevent damage to the finish), so I could access its inner workings and even just to free the sewing machine foot. 
Then oiled and oiled some more - and scrubbed & scrubbed with toothbrush - lots & lots of paper towels .......cotton buds ....and hours afterwards this is the result a wonderful clean machine which now sews like a dream! Certainly worth a whole days work! 
The case is to be cleaned and re-waxed and should be pretty good as well - just wish had taken some before pics! 

Behind it you can see an old basic Czechoslovakian machine I tried to rescue - I gave up on it as just could not keep the tension - would snarl up everytime I changed fabric weight, and the bobbin constantly kept falling out - so all teh effort to clean n oil it was wasted. I managed to contact the Czech company but they have no record of it now and no spare parts and advised that I don't bother with it - shame 

I also have an old Lotus Singer 99K (12" base - great for quilts) in a treadle base - now this needs serious work as well to get it back into order and a new treadle belt and I don't know what else 
I have moved it out of the drawing room so I can work on it and clean it without the fear of oil and solvents dripping onto the carpet .... then I have to get into treadling mode...... trouble is I am not sure I will have the energy to do it due to the M.E. but maybe in very short sessions of a few minutes .... now that will take forever to sew anything! I will post pics of that - but with a before as well as after cleaning and servicing it. 

I cleaned it and stripped it down and sews fine now - used a motor and disconnected the treadle belt as I just do not have the energy to pedal these days :( 


  1. In case you Lynn or anyone else reading this is interested I have the exact same model for sale. It is, as far as I am aware, in full working order.

    1. Oh how lovely - did you sell it ?? They are lovely machines not only to use but to look at!

  2. Did you have the manual for this machine?