email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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G. Boley "Revolver" & Precision Capstan
& Production Lathes

Boley Home

Reproduction G. Boley Manuals & Sales Catalogues are available
- an especially fine example being the superb 86-page
Lathe & Watchmakers' Tools Catalogue




G.Boley became heavily involved in the manufacture of specialist, high-precision production lathes from around 1900 - when the company introduced a special lathe that ran in "reverse" with a cutter-support system where a hardened steel rail was positioned directly under the cutter's leading edge with adjusting screws for fine setting. The lathe could run either backwards or forwards - the latter for threading or reaming - with the direction of rotation being achieved by the operator leaning left or right, his movements being translated through a lever system connected to a pair of arms that partially encircled his hips. This system was later adopted by Boley & Leinen, Fleck and Präwema, by Britan in England for their small - and rather unusual -  capstan lathe and a similar form by Schaublin with their knee-controlled speed change on the 102 and other models.
The simple tooling system - of the cutters abutting against an edge for support - was reminiscent of "chasing" on a watchmaker's lathe and was later adapted (from the mid-1920s) to fit the company's smaller No. 1 and No. 2 precision bench lathes - pictures of which can be seen below.
Besides dedicated repetition machines Boley also manufactured precision bench lathes adapted for production duties - these lathes branded "Size 1" (50 mm centre height) and "Size 2" (65 mm), being particularly popular when so fitted and enabling a small workshop to quickly modify their standard toolmaker's lathes for short-run batch work. Later versions of the "1" and "2" from around 1940 were provided with built-on motors and switches integrated into the headstock-end bed foot and these models made especially useful dual-purpose machines. They were available with a variety of headstocks and used simple draw-in or more sophisticated quick-action lever collet closers. Compound slide rests were made with screw or lever feeds though, unlike those from some competitors, could not be converted from one type to the other, each being of a dedicated design. The larger plain-turning Size 3 and 4 lathes were also available equipped for production duties - and with the additional provision of headstock-mounted chase screwcutting..

Boley capstan lathe of the early 20th century (circa 1924) with spindle reverse operated by the operator leaning to the left or right. A simple gravity-fed bar-feed system is also fitted.

A view that clearly shows the hip large hip arms connected to the reversing mechanism

Rear view of the instant-reverse capstan lathe

Smallest of the Boley capstan lathe was this bench-top model with a 10 mm spindle bore. The machine shown in the photographs above and below was manufactured prior to 1924, models after that date being fitted with the longitudinal movement operated by the same sort of hip cradle shown in the first two pictures at the top of the page. The lathe was normally arranged to run at high speed using the left-hand pulley and at slow speed from the right--changes in speed being a function of the usual factory-installed, roof-mounted lines shafting or a wall-mounted countershaft. For production work the remote drive system was often controlled by foot-pedal operated wires - these being arranged to engage and disengage clutches built into the hubs of the countershaft pulleys.
Mounted on a compound slide, the capstan head was able to be moved along the bed and also across and, by loosing the L-shaped handle to the right of the ground plate, the complete unit could be swivelled for taper work. Indexing of the capstan head - often referred to as a "revolver" in Germany - was by a vertical lever moving a ratchet plate. Each of the six turning toolholders was carried on a stout metal bar of square section, with, protruding from the periphery of the capstan plate alongside each one, an adjuster screw that came up against a thick steel plate held in a clamp positioned between tailstock and headstock,  Longitudinal travel was limited  by long adjusted screws, protruding forwards from the forward face of the capstan head and impinging against a steel plate screwed to the front face of the headstock. The swivelling tailstock consisted of two parallel sockets that took a collet-carrying spindle - for which the makers are known to have supplied special left-hand spiral drills.
Should any reader have one of these interesting lathes, or literature about them in German or English, the writer would be interested to hear from you.
Sollte ein Leser eine dieser interessanten Drehmaschinen oder Literatur über sie in Deutsch oder Englisch haben, wäre der Schriftsteller interessiert sein, von Ihnen zu hören.

Boley Model 2HN 65 mm centre height miniature precision capstan lathe as made from the mid 1920s with a simple hand-operated turret and  the cutting tools resting against a ledge. Further pictures lower down the page.

Boley Model 2HN 65 mm centre height fitted with the ordinary compound screw-feed slide

Boley Model 1AM 50 mm centre height as made from the mid 1920s - another model with the simple hand-operated turret and  the cutting tools resting against a ledge

Boley Model 4PQ Special-purpose miniature production lathe

A G.Boley No. 2 size lathe (65 mm centre height) as made from around 1940 with the switch contained inside the headstock-end foot. It is fitted with the rare "hand-operated revolver toolholder", an idea adapted from the very early Boley repetition lathes of 1900 and adapted, from around the mid 1920s, as a means of providing the company's smaller precision bench lathes with simple production capabilities. The turret was turned by hand and each tool rested against a ledge, the holder of which could be angled for the cutting of tapers.  The picture shows the capstan head advanced. Another version of the No. 2 is shown here

The tooling and method of operation limited the attachment to just simple tasks.

The capstan head retracted and able to be turned

The rear of the unit showing the swivel base that allowed tapers to be turned




email: tony@lathes.co.uk
Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools for Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Machine Tool Catalogues   Belts   
Books   Accessories


G. Boley "Revolver" & Precision Capstan
& Production Lathes

Boley Home

Reproduction G. Boley Manuals & Sales Catalogues are available
- an especially fine example being the superb 86-page
Lathe & Watchmakers' Tools Catalogue