When it comes to carpet sweepers, there is really only one name which springs to mind here in the United Kingdom; Ewbank. Ewbank is one of the very last British manufactures who still produce mechanical sweepers and upon recently new additions to the range, a rechargeable battery powered light weight stick vac and a similarly designed sweeper which has been on the market for over a year. Recently though, this company have been acquired by Earlex who are still producing this very model in Britain so for stalwarts out there who look for British made goods, look no further. Ewbank trust their Classic sweeper so much, they even apply a free 2 year guarantee with it! My granny had a Ewbank and it seems everyone I know has used one or has been given one passed down by generations of families who come to trust them.
** Why Bother With A Mechanical Sweeper? **
Largely the biggest justification at the moment is where emissions are concerned - mechanical sweepers don't use electric power or electric charges - it is all done by the owner.
Consumers these days are faced with so many different models on the market where cleaning up dirt is concerned, it seems that the mechanical sweeper is now mainly outdated. At times though the Ewbank can also be a lot quicker to use than having to undo a power cord on a normal vacuum cleaner and more reliable thanks to its all mechanical blueprint and lightweight gliding action. You can simply grab it, roll it over the carpet a couple of times and take it back to the storing area it came from. What could be quicker than that? A rechargeable stick vac with a moving brush for one Ah but even the humble mechanical sweeper still has power from its owner and you can still be as gentle or rough as you like with Ewbanks thaks to its metal handle and body on the 1200 Classic models.
** Variations, Sellers & Price **
Available currently in British Racing Green or Burgundy, my sweeper although still carries the "Classic" tag is actually a Royal Blue colour which I bought a few years ago at Argos for £29-99. Now that's a hefty price for what seems to be largely something fairly outdated, but prices are dropping all the time for the sweeper models as consumers are buying electric or rechargeable sweepers which supposedly do a better job.
Amongst the many stores of Argos, I've found kitchen ironmongers such as Robert Dyas to be the best for Classic sweepers by Ewbank. Largely the prices at RD stores seem to be lower, which is a great boon if you are after a mechanical sweeper which offers ease of use and longevity.
** How Does It Work? **
Mechanical Ewbank sweepers (and mostly other sweepers which use human power) all work on the same principle. A series of two rolling brushes move between toothed rollers which supply the rolling principle, which is then additionally aided by moving wheels under the machine. On the Classic sweeper, there are 4 main wheels which provide assistance and are rubber coated so not to damage floor surfaces. An additional brush comb which is fitted permanently before the double flip down bins literally comb and brush the debris off the roller brushes which then directs the dust into the bins. Or so they are supposed to with every use.
** Build Quality & General Look **
Most Ewbank sweepers consist of a plastic/metal mix, but the Ewbank Classic model is for the most part, sheer metal build which is no wonder to why my sweeper has lasted so long!! Of course there is a bumper, rubber in feel which runs around the whole bottom surface of the sweeper but whilst this retains the natural finish of the body and shininess, the bumper does a better job at withstanding general scratches and scrapes than Ewbank's other models in their sweeper range. This is one of the reasons to why the Classic model still sells. Not only does it gleam for a long time, but it actually keeps its metal construction relatively rust free. The metal chassis also enables a longer life than most mechanical sweepers where plastic has replaced much of the older more preferred, and heavier metal componentry. But at less than a kilogram, the Classic model could hardly be described as heavy in use.
The general look is timeless; I remember my Gran had a 10 year old Classic model which was orange and yellow but against the Classic sweeper that I have bought for the school since my stick vac is now back and safely at home where it belongs, her model had an all metal body which had to be thrown away because it rusted. Even if the sweeper boldly displays its name tag in gold or silver writing; the Classic model has barely dated against its "Multi Sweep" cousins where they offer a squarer and flatter appeal and manual dial for height adjustment. The newer Classic models have a plastic metal mix top head and body which for longevity means that the metal is hidden away under the plastics for longevity.
** In Use **
Sweepers in general have a habit of having to be pushed and pulled across a carpet surface many times to ensure that it picks up, but as I have found many owners of sweepers hardly ever touch the brush rolls which limits pick up if they are clogged up. It's a bit like your normal upright vacuum cleaner; if you don't clean the brush roll regularly, then pick up performance can fail.
The Classic sweeper however has the advantage of having a quick release mechanism located on the base of the sweeper which allows the brushes to literally fall out. I find that it's easier to clean brush rolls which don't have this feature as you have to spend ages rolling the brushes around to get rid of clung hairs and other dirt which gets stuck into the brush roll.
And whilst it has long life natural bristles, the brushes are quite long and hit any level surface of carpet surfaces because the Classic has a natural sprung suspension unlike other sweepers which have to be adjusted for height in Ewbank's range. Therefore the Classic has an automatic height adjustment which is great for quick and speedy clean ups. The harder you push for example on the main long handle, the more inclined the brushes will pick up harder to pick up dust on some carpet surfaces, but in general there is a good gliding factor here with is lighter than other machines I've sampled in the past. At times it can appear bulky in small homes or small spaces which have actual limiting floors, but the Classic does what it says on the label and it is relatively fuss free.
Aided by the long steel screw in handles (2) which has a comfortable rubberised end (but not curved like a vacuum) the Classic is easy to push and pull over carpets and various other surfaces, but sometimes there is more of the "sawing" action required to pick up loose threads with a couple of sweeps as opposed to one or two with a normal vacuum cleaner. That for me, is a great disappointment and proves that a sweeper with pure mechanics doesn't always clean on contact the first time around. The general 25cm width of the roller brushes enables expanses of carpet to be swept in very few sweeps though, so for normal carpet sweeping the Classic excels but I'd rather have my stick vac instead!
Using the Classic under tables and chairs poses no problem, although under low lying furniture, such as low lying coffee tables and other furniture's, I found that the Classic struggles to get under the furniture in the first place. At home, although the Classic managed to get under my parents bed, I wasn't fully convinced that all the dust underneath apparent on the carpet pile had been fully brushed free and indeed after vacuuming with our lie flat Sebo upright, the greyness of dust was gone within seconds. On hard flooring, dust doesn't get picked up well although the wheels are coated in soft rubber so as not to cause damage.
And the Classic cleans very well if you maintain it regularly. The points on the base of the machine don't need oiling as all the mechanicals have been self oiled and lubricated. Over three years of ownership I have only ever had to apply 3 in 1 oil once to the mechanics to stop one of the roller brushes from squeaking!
** Emptying the Dust **
One of the worst jobs to do is emptying any kind of device which picks up dirt, but in the Classic's case, the sweeper can be lifted up over a bin, pull the plastic catch which is located on the right hand side of the sweeper at the top, and this releases the two metal bins underneath the sweeper. Some owners I know have broken the catch by pulling it too abruptly which is a downside to the Classic's design. It does have a weak feeling plastic catch and Ewbank have replaced them over the years with a metal catch instead of plastic, so it's best to be gentle with the catch rather than pulling it up abruptly if you get a model which has the plastic catch as opposed to metal.
The bins have suspended arms on them, so it's best to do it over an open bin rather than a flip up bin which has a small diameter. Both bin doors open at the same time, so if you don't have a bin large enough for the Classic's main 25cm floor head diameter, I find tilting the Classic over a bin at an angle just as easy.
Sometimes however, depending on what the sweeper has been used for, the bins don't always allow dirt to fall out. Dirt such has pet hair for example can attach themselves to the hinges and seals on the bin door and unfortunately you have to go in with your fingers to pull out excess dust. Whilst this can be a bit of a bind, the side edges of the bin door can be sharp, so it's best to do this slowly so not to cause injury!
** Conclusion **
In a world where consumers these days are buying machinery which needs electric power or at best a rechargeable battery to consume and recharge power, it seems that a mechanical sweeper still has a more positive environmental reason for its utter existence. This is one of the reasons to why mechanical sweepers are probably still on sale today.
But there are too many downsides for my liking. The bins on the base of the sweeper could be improved to just incorporate one small flap as opposed to two; the brushes don't always clean the first time around, and the weak plastic catch on the top fascia of the sweeper feels weak and won't last long unless you are gentle with it.
Has time finally caught up with the old fashioned mechanical sweeper then? For the price brand new, there are finer and more up to date alternatives out there which can pick up dirt faster and are more compact. Certainly for use on hard flooring, I'd stick to a normal dust pan and brush, or a vacuum cleaner which is mains powered with an appropriate brushed tool for use here. At the end of the day at least you still have the choice of using traditional means or cheaper to produce electric source gadgets.
The reason to buy could well be staring you in the face if you have a cylinder vacuum cleaner which only uses pure suction alone to lift main dirt in your home. If you are a traditionalist, then the Ewbank Classic will fit your lifestyle happily. I use mine to clean the floor in our garage as well as using in the loft to get rid of cobwebs and general dust from the roof lining when it falls onto the floor. My Ewbank just keeps going and perhaps that is the key to its success. Finding one however is not as easy as it used to be. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007.
Short name: Ewbank 1200