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G. BOLEY Model L.E. (later-type 4L) Lathe
Boley Home Page   

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




A sub-species of the ever-popular 4L, the G. Boley Model 4L.E. was manufactured from the late 1930s into the 1970s and displayed numerous improvements over earlier versions. While the top slide was given a greater travel, and the tailstock provided with a longer and more robust casting, the most significant alterations were to the bed and saddle - with the latter being thicker over its centre section and with very long arms added to its left-hand side. In conjunction with the alterations to the carriage, the bed was modified so that the ways ran on past the front and back of the headstock to give greatly improved support for the cutting tool as it neared the spindle nose. That part of the bed abutting the headstock was braced by the addition of a large triangulated section on the underside, the headstock given a more robust spindle, running in larger diameter bearing, and the backgears increased in size to cope with heavier work. The 3-step pulley was reversed, to bring the largest diameter to the left, and the arrangement for engaging backgear - previously rather fiddly - redesigned for simpler and more certain operation. The 4L illustrated immediately below is fitted to an underdrive stand, the cost of which (if other Boley price lists are a safe guide) would have nearly doubled that of the basic machine.
Although early models were mounted on traditional-for-the-time stands - a cast-iron chip tray supported on simple standards to which was affixed, and completely exposed, the motor-drive system - by the 1940s some improvements had been made with a motor flange-mounted to the outside face of the headstock-end leg and some perfunctory shielding of the lower belt run. By the 1950s a cabinet more suited to modern use had been devised, with the motor again flange mounted to the left-hand outside face and with complete (and safe) enclosure of all the workings. In this form the lathe stayed in production until at least the mid 1970s--and possibly a little longer.
During its long production life the 4L was never offered with a screwcutting gearbox, instead a very large set of changewheels was provided and, by the mid 1950s if not earlier, the option of a belt drive from the end of the spindle to a worm-and-wheel reduction gearbox that gave an exceptionally slow rate of carriage feed. A second accessory was also offered that did much the same job at lower cost - an extra changewheel bracket bolted to the ordinary one that could accommodate another pair of compounded changewheels. 
Copies were made of the L.E. version of the 4L by VEF in Latvia (and used by them to manufacture parts for their famous Minox miniature camera) and by Smart and Brown in England, during and after WW2, as the Model M in Mk. 1 and Mk. 2 forms. A much more modern Boley, the 5LZ was introduced during the late 1960s - but even so the long-established and popular Model L continued to sell..

Probably built in the mid 1930s this Boley L.E. is of the under-drive type with a neat, self-contained and easily-adjusted countershaft system

Circa 1940s G. Boley Model 4L (in this case a 4LE) mounted on a semi-enclosed underdrive stand

Final form of the Boley 4L on a completely-enclosed, underdrive cabinet stand. In this form it was to be manufactured from the mid 1950s until the mid 1970s--and for possibly a little longer

Although mechanically unchanged on late models, the "swinging bracket" tumble-reverse system was at last provided with some perfunctory safety guarding.

A powerful lock was provided to hold the spindle when changing chucks and faceplates  - a very useful fitting and one so often neglected by lathe

On the front face of the headstock the backgear engagement lever - at the back a lever to clamp the setting

Helical backgear assembly. Engaged and disengaged by a single lever the gears could be locked in place by a clamp lever at the back of the headstock. However, in normal use, the gears remained in position without this precaution

A view showing the enormously extended wings of the late-model 4L saddle. Note the early design of quick-set toolpost

The carriage feed could be disengaged by an adjustable wedge carried in a T-slot machined into the lower front edge of the bed.

A view from the rear of the heavy casting used to join front and rear aprons and carry the leadscrew clasp nuts

Leadscrew clasp-nut engagement lever and button-trip control for quick release by hand.

Leadscrew clasp nuts

No micrometer dial on the tailstock barrel--but the design followed long-established precision lathe practice by locating the nut inside the barrel, so allowing it to be fully supported no matter how far in or out it was extended.

Graduations on the top-slide base extended to 45 each side of zero

Neat turn-buckle adjustment to set the final-drive belt tension

Substantially constructed the countershaft provided two drive speeds from the motor and three to the headstock. Combined with back gear the twelve speeds produced spanned a very useful spread from around 40 to 1500 r.p.m.




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 Model L.E. (later-type 4L) Lathe
Boley Home Page     

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