Burchhardt Lathes - Germany
Burchhardt Maschinenbau was a small manufacturer, active during the 1950s and 1960s based in what was then the Western Sector of Berlin. Little known outside their native land - though exports were made as far afield as South America - the company offered a range of lathes from miniature precision types to conventional geared-head and bigger "Leit and Zugspindel" models (with a 180 mm centre height) together with several metal-sawing machines.
Shown below (and probably from the 1950s ) is one of the company's smallest types, the 50 mm centre height Model DU-01 bench lathe. Arranged for underdrive, it was mounted on a vertical bar that socketed into a cast-iron plinth - with tunnels front and back to allow clearance for the round drive belt. The 10 mm bore headstock spindle ran in adjustable bronze bearings with the M20-threaded nose taking made 10 mm collets with an 8 mm thread. The 300 mm long, cantilevered bed was formed from an almost square-section steel bar turned to present bevelled faces to front and rear. As was common with this class of lathe, two tailstocks were provided, one for ordinary centres and the other for the use of collets - in this case from the headstock - and one of them would originally have been lever-operated. Although intended for watch and clockmakers' use, detailing on the compound slide rest looks to have been comparatively crude with the micrometer dials having widely-spaced markings and coarse knurling around their periphery.
Lower down the page is a large "backgeared" Burchhard lathe of modern, clean design with a capacity of around 6" x 36"; this is a type of which several examples have been discovered. Carried on a notably wide and very deep V and flat-way bed, the headstock was driven from a 3-phase motor, held in the base of the cabinet stand. Flange mounted to the motor was a mechanical variable-speed unit known in the UK as an "Ainsworth Drive", after its Victorian inventor. Similar drives have been made by a number of manufacturers including the still-active Hi-Lo Manufacturing of Minneapolis, Browning, Gerbing, Lewellen, Lovejoy, Maurey, Reeves, Speed Selector and T.B. Woods. The assembly was a self-contained unit, very heavily built and carried on a cast-iron frame bolted into a sheet-steel cabinet. A handwheel on the front of the stand controlled the mechanism through a universally-joined shaft and screwed rod that moved the vari-speed pulley assembly up and down a pair of vertical bars positioned between a fixed motor and fixed final-drive shaft. Forcing the unit in either direction caused the tension of the two belts to simultaneously open and close their pulleys and so vary the drive ratio. From the expanding and contracting pulleys the drive passed up to a shaft, mounted in bearings on a swinging plate, that carried a single pulley from which the headstock spindle was driven by a wide flat belt. Tension of the final drive belt could be adjusted independently by a right-and-left-hand-threaded turnbuckle.
To save the expense of a electric revolution counter, the handwheel boss was provided with marks to indicate spindle r.p.m in both direct and geared drives. It is also possible that, for lathes intended for training purposes - as used on some Delta-Rockwell lathes - a mechanism could have been incorporated to limit maximum speed.
Electrical control was by the expected and convenient "third-rod" system with stop, start and reverse controlled by a lever pivoting from the right-hand face of the apron.
The lathe was also fitted with an unusual, fully-enclosed screwcutting and feeds gearbox, this having on its front face two small dials with, between them, a large-diameter drum - marked on its drum and face with coloured bands and numbers showing the pitches and feeds available - and a concentric knob with an attached metal strip showing the pitch or feed selected.
"Tumble-reverse", to select right and left-hand pitches, was built internally into the headstock, the selector lever being mounted concentrically with another that gave feed rates eight times the normal.
If you have a Burchhardt lathe of any type, sales or technical literature, or know anything about the company, the writer would be interested to hear from you..