Sold originally in the UK by Scot-Urquhart of London, the CST miller was badged as an "Astra" in the UK with versions of the machine remaining in production today (2017). The Italian maker, CST of Milan http://www.cst-snc.it/, last sold their machines in the UK through, Scot Urquhart/Hartle MTE Ltd. Arthur Street, Lakeside, Redditch, Worcestershire, B98 8JZ - though today sales appear to be direct from the factory.
Machine-tool manufacturer CST began life in 1961 as a sub-contracting machine shop, before moving, in the mid 1960s, to the production of radial-arm drills and then a small range of simple, manually-operated milling machines. The latter were remarkably similar in variety and size to the range offered by the long-established English maker Tom Senior. While CST have continued to their simpler, conventional millers aimed at the small professional, amateur and training markets, they have also developed a number of automatic and CNC controlled types.
Most frequently encountered of the basic machines in the UK is the L2 and very similar but larger and better specified L4 and L5 "Seniors" that had, amongst other improvements, longer tables with a better range of power feed rates and, on the L5, a 2-speed motor for the spindle.
Two tiny horizontal stub-milling horizontal machines, the L1 and L2 were also listed - though the UK catalogue from the makers had these described as the F/1 and F/2 - and these still made to special order today. Both have always been supplied for either bench mounting or on the maker's neat, welded sheet-steel stand - but, for such a simple offering, sales must always have been slow and examples are seldom encountered on the used market
All "L" models are of the horizontal type with their motor held within the casting of the main body and drive by V-belt. A handle, protruding though the left-hand side of the casing, allows the motor-table clamp to be slackened, and the table raised (so slackening the belt) and the spindle speed changed.
All models appear, in the past, to have been supplied as standard with a plain vertical head that was bereft of either quick or fine feeds. However, today this head appears on the accessories list together with a very much more useful and larger V-belt-driven powered unit, with a rapid-drilling quill, a No. 2 Morse taper spindle, a 0.5 h.p. motor and either four speeds from 620 to 1850 rpm or (with a 2-speed motor) eight from 300 to 1800 r.p.m.. However, as this is a very expensive items (at one time it was almost the same as the one of the smaller millers) it's rarely found. The same head is also available for mounting on the Company's "Zero", "Zeromatic" and "FG1" types.
With a screw-operated rise and fall to its knee (the lift wheel encloses its screw to give the cheapest possible arrangement) the L1 has a 13" x 4.375" table (though also listed as 12.5" x 4.42), a lever-operated longitudinal travel of 4", a screw-driven cross feed of 3.125", a vertical travel of 6.75", four spindle speeds of 620, 900, 1260 and 1850 r.p.m. - and its 1" diameter horizontal arbor held in a No. 2 Morse taper socket and supported by a dovetail overarm. The L2 (A/2) was built in both Standard and Junior versions, the former being for stub milling and the latter equipped with an overarm. Both were (at one time) equipped with the refinement of a ratchet lift to the knee and both lever and screw feed to the table's horizontal travel - but were otherwise identical in specification.
Fitted with a larger 16" x 5.125" table, the L4 "Senior is a much more appealing and useful machine - as is the top-of-the-horizontal-range L5, this being fitted with a 2-speed motor and proper, more easily controlled screw-feed knee elevation.
Still in production, though with updated styling and imported to the UK in very limited numbers, the Astra Model "0" Universal (horizontal) was originally listed as two Models, the "A" and "B". Each had a 35" x 8" table able to be swivelled through 45° in both directions from central with drive from a 1 h.p. motor that gave the Model A power longitudinal and traverse power feeds and the Model B vertical as well - the feed rates varying from 0.4" to `9" per minutes. Rapids were available as an extra on both versions, being set at 39" per minute for, apparently, all directions of travel. The hardened and ground chrome nickel steel spindle, fitted with a 30 INT taper nose and running in high-precision taper roller bearings, was driven through a speed-change gearbox and multi-disc clutch by a 2 h.p. 3-phase motor. With eEach lubricated by its own oil bath, the spindle and feeds' gearboxes held hardened and ground gears on splined shafts that ran in ball races.
One great advantage of an owing an "Astra" milling machine is the availability of spare parts and accessories - the only European-built small miller for they can still be obtained.
Although the maker's web site is annoying simple - with very limited details of the machines available - the following (if still active) offers far more http://www.hellotrade.com/cst-milan/product.html