Manufactured by Herman Beichle of Heidenheim-Schnaitheim, in Germany, the massively-built Combined Universal Die Milling Machine was to be made in both early and late versions. However, although many examples are found with "Beichle" badges, some are marked "Patent Kölsch, Pforzheim", followed by the serial number - the machine actually being an invention of Reinhard Kölsch, of Pforzheim and described as "Werkzeugmaschine, insbesondere Fraesmaschine, zur Herstellung von Stempeln, Matrizen". The German patent was granted on April 8th, 1935 and in the United Kingdom on May 17th, 1934 - the official description reading, "Machine for universally milling, grinding and drilling workpieces of all kinds".
Interestingly, one version of the earliest model was first offered in Britain as early as 1931 by Excel the Company also, apparently, arranging for copies to be made in the UK - though how this was organised or agreed with the patent holder is not known (Excel were a company who badged and badge engineered other high-quality machines from both continental Europe and the UK) . In the late 1930s more modern examples of the machine were imported, with one going to the Alcan (aluminium) factory in Banbury where it manufactured the dies used to make the aluminium extrusions used in Spitfire fighter. The one used for this work, or possibly a British-made copy, is on display in Tooleys Boatyard Museum. A revised version, probably introduced during the early 1950s, had a rather more robust construction with updated, more angular styling and could be had as an even larger model, the 1.4 tonne W.F.4. Remarkably, the die miller was kept in production until the late 1960s, when UK prices prices ranged from £2552 to £3904.
As far as is known, the first model was produced in three sizes, W.F.1, W.F.2 and W.F.3, with each mechanically identical save for weight, overall dimensions, diameter of the rotary table and the travel of the various slideways.
The general work capacity of the various models was:
W.F.1 20" x 16" x 10" (500 mm x 406 mm x 254 mm)
W.F.2 24" x 17" x 12" (610 mm x 432 mm x 305 mm)
W.F.3 28" x 18" x 13" (711 mm x 457 mm x 330 mm)
W.F.4 32" x 19" x 16" (812 mm x 483 mm x 406 mm)
Arranged along the lines of a horizontal borer, the machine carried, on the left, a built-in dividing head and T-slotted rotary table carried on a slide that could be rotated (by worm-and-wheel gearing) through 360° while also being moved through around 10 or 11 inches of linear travel. On early models the large wheel gear was in bronze, on later models in steel To help the operator, the head could be turned directly, or by a large wheel on the face of the machine connected to the worm-wheel hand by a V-belt that ran over the edge of the worm-gear's graduated handwheel. Thus, whilst positioned to inspect the action of the cutter, the operator could still rotate the table. In addition, for quick, direct dividing, 24 notches were cut into the perifery of the wheel and indexed by a spring-loaded plunger. On the right, the high-speed milling head was mounted on a triple, slideway sitting on top of a rise-and-fall post controlled by a large handwheel mounted on the end face of the knee; this arrangement allowed the whole assembly to be raised and lowered, moved horizontally towards or away from the workstable and swivelled (by the use of the upper, lathe-like top-slide assembly). The practical result of this arrangement was that, at one setting a job could be machined on several sides in a number of angular positions - and even radial surfaces that transformed into planes could be completed in one operation (i.e. both circular and straight milling was possible in one continuous operation) the makers claiming that the transition from one to another would be invisible on the finished article. All feed screws were cleverly protected against the ingress of swarf and dirt with the micrometer dials calibrated (on Imperial machines) in 0.001" graduations - while some slides (all of which appear to have been hand scraped) carried precision-engraved rulers for coarse settings.
Intended for relatively light work (making tools, jigs, patterns, templates, embossing tools and moulds, etc.) the machine could also be pressed into service for 1/1 copy milling, die sinking and basic turning, boring, milling and shaping - various accessories, at extra cost, being available for these operations.
Made from a special grade of high-quality steel, the milling spindle was hardened, ground all over and bored through to accept milling cutters and a set of ten collets in steps of 1./16" - a hardened step-down sleeve with an outside No. 4 Morse taper being used to hold the latter (though other spindle fittings have been found). At the front the spindle ran in a long, tapered bronze bush two journal bearings behind the bush to absorb thrust and a taper roller race at the rear. This arrangement would have allowed the very accurate setting of the front bush clearance to allow oil to be wicked in by capillary action. Interestingly, the maker's pictures show a simple flip-top oiler above the bronze bush, but a drip-feed unit may have been available or could have easily (and wisely) been fitted by any owner.
Driven by a 1.3 kW 3-phase motor in conjunction with a 4-step V-belt drive and a "backgear" assembly (with hardened, quiet-running helical-tooth gears running in an oil bath) it might be expected that eight speeds were available, yet the sales literature listed only six (possibly a misprint) from 95 to 2000 r.p.m. However, an example has been found with 8 speeds having the same span: 95, 136, 210, 335, 500, 820, 1270 and 2000 r.p.m.
Fitted as standard was an electric-pump coolant system built into the heavily ribbed cast iron base. The fluid was returned to the tank via a chip collector and then through a fine filter.
General lubrication was taken care of by pressure nipples; these being marked with either a triangle or circle - the former indicating a need for grease, the latter for oil.
In 1967 prices in the UK were:
If you have a Beichle-Koelsh, the writer would be interested to hear from you regarding your machine's specification.