Thursday, April 23, 2015

Phoenix Bound

I have a dear friend in Phoenix, AZ, whom I love to visit (especially when the winters get long in Minnesota) and now I even have a Phoenix Automatic 283 sewing machine. Of course, it's not exactly like the warmth of Phoenix, or my friend, but a girl can pretend, right? This isn't my first Phoenix but I ruined the finish on my first one and it's in the lineup for those waiting for a paint job. When I read the ad for this one, especially in the cute cabinet, I got ahold of the owner right away and it was SOLD. I went to pick it up last night and, as always, I met a nice couple who were ready to tell me stories about this great find. It was bought at a church sale and used many years but now she was given a Husqvarna (Viking) and didn't need two sewing machines. I didn't tell her how many most of you enjoy since I wanted this one and she didn't so it got loaded into my car. Here she is, ready to sew:
Cabinet closed with chair tucked away
Phoenix Automatic 283
Open with Phoenix pulled up
Chair with storage under the seat

 Isn't she a beauty? Phoenix sewing machines were made in Germany and I even have paperwork for the "Lifetime Warranty" showing the date of sale, in Minneapolis, on August 13, 1956. There were letters and offers for cleaning and a tune-up for $1.75 when it was new and $3.50 in 1964. Things sure have changed! There are two manuals, one for  model 282, a straight stitch and zigzag only, and then the 283 manual to be used in conjunction with the 282 manual, but it has information on how to use the cams for decorative stitches. The  accessory box, with the Phoenix name on it, included all sorts of feet and attachments and three were duplicates, to be shared with my other Phoenix. There are 14 cams that can be stacked in sets of four and inserted into the back of the sewing machine. To the left of the stitch length lever on the front is a lever with markings one to four. You choose the number to match the order of the cam disks inserted. It seems a bit odd but if you only have to put in one set of cams and get four design by moving a lever, that is pretty convenient.
Phoenix 283 accessories: feet and cams!

The machine took very little work to get it running as intended. After cleaning and oiling, I tried out some stitches but I needed to adjust the tension disks on the front and noticed they were way, way off. It needed to be turned several rotations and that's not how it is supposed to work but this is a much older sewing machine and when made in another country it's possible there was no stop on zero and nine. It works fine now so I don't need to worry about it. It does not have any extra bobbins so I'll have to check and see if they are special or just a standard class 15 bobbin. The needle size is also imprinted on the needle slide plate so I'll need to compare that, too, but I suspect it has a standard needle in it right now.

In the photos of the Phoenix I have already cleaned and polished it with TR3 Resin Glaze and she shined up nice. I can see that I'll have a bit of work on the cabinet but it is mostly the chair front and top edge of the chair and cabinet. The rest of the cabinet just has surface scratches that should smooth without having to strip off all of the finish. Don't you love a compact cabinet like that with the chair all snug up to it? This is perfect for the occasional sewing job and just look at how much could be stored in the chair base! The removable tray could hold your sewing supplies such as pins, thread, scissors, elastic, buttons, and then the base could hold a box of patterns and folds of fabric. I think this will be a real stunner when it's all back to its original glory. I would love to keep the original vinyl on the seat cover but it needs to have new padding since it's rock hard and not every comfortable. Maybe something that would coordinate with the green and brown of the machine and cabinet? Stay tuned!


  1. What an interesting backstory on this machine. Love that cabinet with the tuck under chair!

  2. I just scored one of these machines and the instruction booklet is in German. I have forgotten most of my high school German. Any chance of getting a copy of yours? Thanks!

    1. This machine has been sold and I do not have a scanned copy of the manual but i will try to remember to look and see if there is a paper one somewhere.