W. Cook Lathes
Manufactured in London, on Vauxhall Walk in the south-east of the city by W.Cook Engineer, Lathe and Tool Maker, lathes by W. Cook appear to have been of the lighter, combined metal and wood-turning type so typical of the mid 1800s onwards. Although all known four surviving examples lack screwcutting and backgear, it would be surprising if the company had not made at least a few that did have these desirable features - perhaps one will eventually be found.
One particularly interesting example by the company was a "front-way" machine, this having the carriage guided on ways formed not on the top of the bed, but along its front face. More often confined to lathes of exceptional quality, examples of the type include the American makers Rivett 8-inch precision and later 608, the very rare Pearce from New York, the Dwright-Slate and the unusual Porter-Cable. English examples have been found by Richards Roberts (a well-preserved example is in the London Science museum), James Spencer, Birch and Rolls Royce - with the Japanese Toyo ML1 being the only known modern example.
The W.Cook front-way lathe had a heavier headstock than the other models with two spindle bearings and the end thrust - in a typical arrangement for the time - taken on a plate supported on two posts outboard of the headstocks left-hand face. A compounded slide rest assembly was fitted, this being mounted on top of a simple angle plate running on the bed's front ways and able to be swivelled in both directions from central. In an act of excessive generosity, the makers also arranged for the top slide to swivel on the cross slide - so hinting that there might have been, just possibly, some other interesting attachments available for ornamental turning. Unfortunately, the original crank handle screw-feeds have been lost and the slide modified to accept large micrometer dials, balanced handwheels and a simple, 2-way toolpost. Although the cast-iron stand survives, the flywheel, treadle gear and original, rear-mounted tool board are missing.
Both the other two known example - of about 5" x 24" - have a much cheaper design of headstock with the solid spindle running in a single plain front bearing and its end supported against a hardened point. This design, widely used on small lathes both of high quality and for the amateur market, allowed an accurate, relatively high-speed assembly to be engineered with relative ease. The headstock pulley was intended to take a round leather "gut" drive rope, with the deep V-grooves allowing the belt to be pulled in and drive on the flanks. With no need for a carriage to slide up and down the bed under power, the bed, instead of traditional English flat ways with V-edges, had a good sized V at the back and a flat at the front.
If you have one of the few surviving W. Cook lathes, the writer would be interested to hear from you..