Still in existence, the Benzinger Company is based in the Black Forest region of Germany and manufactures specialised machine tools for a variety of industries. With a factory in Unterreichenbach near Pforzheim (the jewellery and gold-smithing centre of Germany), Benzinger first appeared as a company in 1895, under the name Scheerle & Behner, but in 1917, after their name changed, their name changed and they concentrated their energies on supplying such items as presses, and chain bending and brass & wire-rolling machines to the local jewellery industry. They also manufactured a range of precision bench lathes, with, unusually for the type, a bed with a flat top and vertical edges, the location of headstock, slide-rest assembly and tailstock being by bevelled and vertical faces machined into the full-length central slot. Known types manufactured include the DN, EN, FN, DM, EM and FM, these being supplied either on stands or for bench mounting - in the latter case known as the Models D/Dr. E/Dr, F/Dr with a draw-tube collet closer and D/Er, E/Er and F/Er with lever-action assembly. All versions were built on the same bed and with a 110 mm centre height and could be had with between-centres capacities of either 500 or 1000 mm. The spindle bore (and hence collet capacity) was available as 15, 20 or 25 mm. As offered for some versions of the Swiss Simonet and Schaublin precision bench lathes, the Bensinger could be had with a particularly neat, self-contained motor and countershaft unit.
Like many of their kind these Benzinger plain-turning precision lathes were essentially simple but beautifully-made machines that would once have been an important machine in both ordinary toolrooms and those workshops dealing with the manufacture, repair and maintenance of instruments, clocks, watches and other finely-made mechanical parts. Like other European and American makers of similar high-class machines (of whom there were many including, amongst the better-known, Boley, Lorch, Mikron, Wolf,Jahn, Ames, Cataract, Pratt & Whitney, Stark and Hardinge) the Benzinger would almost certainly have been able to perform in the usual three distinct roles common to the type: toolmaker, second-operation and production capstan. The toolmaker's type, intended for one-off precision jobs by a skilled turner, was equipped with a screw-feed compound slide and tailstock (as shown), while the second-operation version (sometimes called a "finishing lathe") had a choice of screw or quick-action lever-operated slides with the production model fitted with a bed-mounted 6-station capstan unit and a lever or screw-operated cut-off slide. By the simple means of changing the fittings bolted to the bed, each version could be assembled in a matter of minutes and pressed into service with a minimum loss of time.
In the years around WW2 (1939 to 1945) the Company are known to have produced a number of special machines for cutting pocket and wrist watch cases. Although precision lathe production continued in post-war years their name failed - in comparison with other established German makers of similar equipment such as G. Boley, Lorch, and Leinen - to become as well-known. However, in the jewellery field they became justifiably famous for offering a range of specialised lathes designed to produce and modify wedding rings - machines that could also be adapted to a variety of other precision machining processes. The ring blanks were cut from a tube of silver or gold and carried on an expanding collet, the opening and closing action of which was lever operated. The lathes always had two top slides, one lever operated and usually fitted with a conventional toolholder and the other able to be swung in a radius to form the curves along the ring edges. Some high-speed automatic versions were also manufactured and found a ready home, even at their very high price, in the workshops of larger jewellery manufacturers.
If you have a Benzinger lathe, or indeed any other type (or any further information about company's products), the writer would be very interested indeed to hear from you.
Wenn Sie eine dieser Maschinen haben, wäre ich daran interessiert, von ihnen zu hören.