Made in Mills Drive, Newark, England, by D. Arundel & Co. (founded 1947) Arundel lathes were noted for their fine finish and smooth, vibration free running. Run personally by Mr. Doug Arundel and his brother, for a small company a surprisingly wide range of models was offered - not for them the Myford scheme of only ever offering two types. While some Arundel lathes were of very simple but rugged construction, like the E5 with its split-bearing headstock assembly, others, like the J4 and M300, were even more robust with enclosed cast-iron headstocks and a choice of plain or roller-bearing spindle assemblies (the M300 being upgraded late in its life from ball to roller bearings). The very best machine was probably their last, the twin-bar K series (elements of this design being incorporated in the very successful Record twin-bar bed lathes introduced by the Sheffield-based company to whom Dough Arundel had, on his retirement from business, became a consultant). The largest in the K range, the 600, featured solid-steel bed bars and drive by either V or Poly-V belts. The drive pulley was overhung on the end of the spindle with the 7-speed drive coming from a built-on countershaft and motor assembly (the 7th speed arranged by driving directly from the motor) - an unusually generous number for any type of wood lathe. Of neat appearance, the headstock end of the lathe had fully enclosed belts and the switchgear built into the lower section of the headstock's front face. The standard bowl turning assembly was a separate unit that, as on other lathes in the Company's range, bolted to the bench. However, in this case, because the overhung pulley prevented the mounting of a thread on the left-hand end of the spindle, bowl turning was achieved by sliding the complete headstock-cum-motor assembly to the tailstock end of the bed where the bowl turning rest could be mounted. All K lathes were built to order and it was possible to specify one of five metallic colours, the bed length as well as the type and size of thread on the headstock spindle. Elements of this design are recognisable in today's popular and very successful range of "Coronet" wood lathes machines manufactured in Sheffield, England by the Record Tool Company.
Probably the most popular (and affordable) Arundel was the 1960s to 1970s Model J4, made in Junior and Senior sizes and in Mk. 1 and Mk. 2 models. Although very similar in appearance, the Senior was of 6-inch centre height and the Junior 4.5". The Senior had an inboard spindle thread of M30 x 3.5 and an outboard of M25 x 2.5 (identical to the M300 Model) while the Junior used an outboard of M20 x 2.5 and inboard M24 x 2.5. Detail differences between the two models were evident in every casting - pointing to the two machines being built as distinct machines and not just a simple modification of one from the other. An unusual feature of this type was the clever arrangement of the bed rails - standard drawn square-section steel bar with the front rail arranged with an edge (rather than a face) upwards to give what Arundel called a "prismatic-guiding edge". The rail to the rear was set so that a flat surface was uppermost. A three-speed V-belt or 4-step Poly-V belt drive was available and the standard bed length was 31" - though any length could, in fact, be ordered. Bowl turning was an option, using either the separate bench-mounted unit as fitted to the K series machine or a more robust unit (probably reserved for the J4 Senior, that clamped to the bed rails outboard of the headstock.
Some models - confirmed for the J4 - were available with a simple tilting sanding table that clamped to the bed rails in front of the headstock. However, this appears to have been the limit of the Company's ambition in this direction and, unlike Coronet, no bandsaw, mortising or other bigger attachments appear to have been offered.
If you have an Arundel lathe the writer would be interested to hear from you.
Are Arundel lathes any good? A reader writes:
I was just browsing on Google at Arundel Lathes and came across your article--and very interesting it is.
I used to visit Arundel lathes in Newark in the mid 1970s for various parts - I was employed at the time by a firm turning standard lamps, very tedious but a good lesson in "getting an eye " for repetitive turning. Doug was the engineer and his brother (I cannot remember his name) did all the paperwork and painting of the castings.
In about 1987/8 I bought a K-Series lathe and bowl rest from them when I was employed in Lowdham, Notts making reproduction Georgian Furniture. I turned 33-inch table table tops over the end of the bed--and what a fearful job that was. It was like standing in front of a Spitfire propeller but the end result was very satisfactory. Health and Safety would not approve now….
We had the optional full-length 12-foot bed bars on the lathe - the first time they had done this - and, naturally with a bed that long, made up a removable support for the centre of the bed to stop the rails vibrating.
Later on I set up a company, The Highland Four Poster Bed Co. in Grantown on Spey, Scotland and we turned out hundreds of beds using the same lathe, though by then I'd cut the bars down to 8 ft so it would fit into the workshop. If you want to see the type of work we did , Google Dornoch Castle Hotel, Sutherland and their site shows one of our beds.
After all these years I still have and use the same lathe and have not an ounce of trouble with it and have replaced just ONE poly vee belt. That's quality engineering for you. All the best, Rob.