Manufactured in Italy during the 1960s and 1970s by a company now known as Simplex Rapid, the AR5-E proved to a very popular grinder across Europe, In the UK sales were handled by an engineering supply company, Astra, and badged as such. In Europe and other parts of the world other names were used including Elite and Elite-GEMA - though usually with the prefix (or suffix) AR5-E in the title as well. It was developed from earlier versions (ones known include the AR5-C on a cast-iron stand) and was part of a family of "Universal" grinders, the AFC-2 through to AFC-5.
Though selling for rather less than established brands, it was a well-made machine, (all major components were hardened and ground) and highly versatile, with experienced users reporting that complex jobs were easier to set up and complete than on, for example, a Clarkson Mk. 2. Indeed, as it was part of a family of Universal grinders, in many respects it reflected their design and was able, if fitted with the right attachments, to tackle an unusually wide variety of work included surface and cylindrical.
Supplied complete, in a ready-to-run form, the machine could be pressed into service without further expenditure. Amongst the standard equipment was: a floor stand with fully-fitted electrical controls and coolant equipment; a universal dividing head (and tailstock) with a choice of a No. 4 or No. 5 Morse taper - or an American Standard No. 40; an attachment for grinding lathe tools; five index plates; a light unit; tooth rest; two grinding wheels; a swivelling tool tray and all the necessary wrenches. The AR5-E could also be fitted with an unusually wide range of accessories, so ensuring that any tool grinding job, no matter how complex, could be achieved with relative ease. Indeed, one of the advantages was that, once set up by the toolroom, such dedicated extras could often be used by less-skilled workmen for routine re-sharpening jobs.
Powered through its three speeds of 2,800, 500 and 7,500 r.p.m. by a 0.75 h.p,, 2,800 r.p.m. motor, the spindle ran in high-precision bearings and carried two grinding wheels. It could be rotated through 360° on its swivel base and tilted up and down. Controlled by handwheels on the front of the machine (working through a cable and spool mechanism) the table slid on "Nadella" needle-roller bearings with a travel of 300 mm (11.8") longitudinally, 135 mm (5.3") across and 210 mm (8.25") vertically. Both longitudinal and cross feeds were fitted with an automatic backlash-eliminating mechanism.
Fitted with its standard Universal Dividing Dead and tailstock work some 390 mm (15.5") long and 214 mm (8.4") in diameter could be ground - though the otherwise identical but longer table Model AR5-E/ET could take work 540 mm (21.25") in length.
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