Ariston-Elka Company History
Shown in the first set of five pictures below is an Ariston lathe from a German army service truck left behind in the Kongsberg area of Norway at the end of World War 2. Backgeared and screwcutting, the lathe has survived in remarkable fine mechanical condition. With a centre height of around 125 mm and a capacity between centres of 650 mm, it was stamped on the bed with a Waffen number and swastika - so confirming its likely date of manufacture as being between 1937 and 1944. For its era, this was a reasonable compact machine with a built-on, 2-speed gearbox behind the headstock acting as a countershaft - the drive to the box coming via a wide flat belt from part of the truck's drive system (though what other machinery it contained is not known).High-resolution pictures - may take time to open
Of remarkably robust proportions for lathe's capacity, the headstock was fitted with plain bearings and 3-step cone pulley for drive by a wide flat belt.
Drive to the screwcutting and feeds gearbox came through changwheels and a tumble-reverse mechanism - the operating lever for this being of typical German (and especially Ehrlich). Although the gearbox was a proper tumbler type, from its appearance (similar to that on other Ariston lathes) the threading range would have been limited - though both a screwcutting leadscrew and power shaft were fitted, the latter driving, though the usual worm-and-wheel arrangement in the apron, to give power sliding and surfacing feeds. A pull-push button on the face of the apron selected the feed direction with a lever on the gearbox to engage and disengage it.
Of ordinary design, the compound slide rest had a cross slide of the short type (that would lead, eventually, to wear in the middle part of the way on which it ran) and a top slide whose stout appearance gives a clue as to the maker - being a typically Ariston design
The bed, with a wide detachable gap piece, was rather unusual in using four sets of V-ways, two for the saddle and two more for the tailstock.
Max Niedermann, from Germany, has been kind enough to contribute the following interesting research and observations about the Ariston company: "Ariston" were based in Dresden and Berlin, the library of the Deutsches Museum having some material about ARISTON AG Dresden/Berlin. However, there was another firm, Ariston ELKA, also from Dresden who produced printing machinery - the following unattributed quotation states:
Little is known about Ariston ELKA. The Commercial Address Book for Dresden notes an R. Frister AG located at "Chemnitzer Str. 28" in 1924/25. However, in the following year, 1925/25, the "Werkzeug-Maschinenfabrik Ariston AG" is given at the same location, the name of its chairman being Mr. Robert Horn. In 1926/27 and 1927/28 Mr. Moritz K. Bartsch is quoted as chairman while in 1929 the name of the company was changed to "Ariston-Elka Maschinenfabrik AG" with the chainman a Mr. Franz Schwabach. This entry then remains unchanged until the publication of the last address-book in 1943/44.The companies found written in two Dresden address books for 1925 and 1929 are: Ariston Werkzeug-Maschinenfabrik Aktiengesellschaft
Dresden, Chemnitzer Str. 28 (Germany)
Ariston - Elka Maschinenfabrik Aktiengesellschaft
Dresden, Chemnitzer Str. 28 (Germany)
Die beiden Gesellschaften wurden in zwei Dresdener Adressbüchern von 1925 und 1929 gefunden.
Diese Maschine muß zwischen 1933 und 1945 gebaut worden sein.
Der WA(Waffenamt)-Stempel läßt dies vermuten.
Aus Geheimhaltungsgründen gibt es kein Typenschild oder irgendein Firmenlogo.
Das untenstehende Foto zeigt das Schild einer „zivilen" Drehbank.
Die Maschine zeigt Ähnlichkeiten zu „Fischer" und „Ehrlich" Drehbänken.
Es hat den Anschein, daß Gußteile vom selben Hersteller und Zulieferer stammen.
Auch Kreuzsupporte sind nahezu identisch.
Another company, R. Frister AG, was also located in Berlin, having being founded in 1906 to produce gas-fired cookers and heaters. In 1932 Frister was a shareholder of Ariston-Elka and, as one of the main shareholders in Ariston was a Mr. Frister, he may have been a former shareholder in Frister & Rossmann of Berlin, a company who made sewing machines, typewriters - and machine tools. The Deutsche Museum owns a Lincoln-type miller, made by Frister & Rossmann, the latter having some connections to Britain: http://www.deutsches-museum.de/en/collections/machines/machine-tools/milling/horizontal-milling-machine and http://www.sewalot.com/frister_rossmann.htm
A second quotation states: Frister & Rossmann was established in 1864, close to Berlin. In the 1880's the Company was awarded Medals at various International Exhibitions including Sydney, Crystal Palace, Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh, Adalaide, Melbourne and Berlin.
Frister & Rossmann became Germany's largest sewing machine manufacturer, a position it held until 1902. In 1925 the Company was taken over by Gritzner, who continued to produce machines under the Frister and Rossmann name. In circa 1870, the Company started exporting sewing machines to England, appointing an agent in London to act as the wholesaler. However, it wasn't until Hermann Loog took over the Agency from I. Nasch in 1876 that sales started to improve. Loog remained the Company's Agent until c1891 when he was replaced by S. Loewe, c1891 to c1898, followed by a W. Pierssene, c1899 to 1914 and, finally, O. Quitmann from1920 onwards. In addition to these Agents, Frister and Rossmann sewing machines were also sold by "...leading Drapers and Stores", one such being Harrods. Of course, it's not possible to say categorically that both companies belonged together or, indeed, if the Mr. Frister, is the person in both instances. However, it does see likely.
The second lathe shown below - in green before its restoration and grey afterwards - must have been built between 1933 and 1945 and quite possibly made during WW2, for the Germany arm stamping into the right-hand side of the bed - sWA (Waffenamt) - suggests as much. Perhaps for grounds of secrecy there is also no name plate or any other company logo to be found.
Interestingly, the lathe is similar to models from the makers "Fischer" and "Ehrlich" and it appears that the main castings might have been by the same manufacturer (or foundry) - the slide-rest assembly in particular being almost identical.