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Coronet Lathes
Miniature Precision Lathes   Flat-bed Wood Lathe   Minor 10-in-One 
Coronet No. 1, 2 and 3
A Complete Data Pack is available for all versions of early and late Coronet
Major, Minor, CMB500, etc.
Other Coronet Technical Literature here
Sought for research - any early Coronet Advertising or Technical Literature

Founded in 1945 by Charles Parker, who acted as both designer and Managing Director, Coronet produced a range of well-engineered and robust machines that covered markets as diverse as clock-making and woodworking - though it is for the latter field that the company became best known. Announced during June, 1946, immediately after the end of WW2, the Company's first offering was the "Home Cabinet Maker", a 2-speed wood-turning lathe with a swivel headstock for bowl turning and saw-bench and  sanding attachments (a machine that was the direct forerunner of the famous Major, Minor and Minorette models). The lathe was offered at 7 : 2s : 6d in basic form and 10 : 18s : 3d for a version equipped with a saw bench and a "long nose" to carry a polishing mop. Advertisements mentioned the imminent release of a bandsaw attachment (the lathe machined ready to accept it) with delivery in six to eight weeks.
At the Model Engineering Exhibition of 1946 Coronet displayed four new small precision lathes, three of which were plain-turning types and one backgeared and screwcutting. The plain lathes were the "Diamond" (with a flat-topped bed and swivelling headstock) and a pair with round, solid steel bar beds; the "Jewel", "Ruby" - both taking 8 mm collets. The screwcutting lathe was the "Tiara" of which, unfortunately, no technical details are known and with any surviving paperwork yet to be discovered. However, such was the demand for small lathes that it was not until October, 1946 that advertisements appeared for them, the price being, at first, 27 : 17s : 6d for the Diamond and 18 : 15s : 0d for the Ruby - collected, ex-works. It is likely that another design of wood lathe would also have been introduced at around the same time - a simple flat-bed machine of 6.75-inch centre height and 32 inches between centres though (judging by the rarity with which the model is encountered), it could only have been made in very limited numbers. The Company's initial direction seems to have been uncertain; were they intending to produce high-quality, miniature precision lathes to compete with the likes of Pultra, Boley and Lorch - or to tackle the less-profit-per-unit but much larger wood-machinery market? By the late 1940s the decision had been made, and work was concentrated exclusively on wood machines. By the early 1950s, and evidently enjoying considerable success, the number of models on offer had expanded to include the
Major, Majorette Elf, Minor and Minorette wood-turning lathes, as well as versions of those built as universal wood-working machines including the popular and long-lived "Minor Ten-in-One". Also made in some numbers were the Consort Universal Woodworkers, the Imp Bandsaw and the Capitol and Sovereign Planers.
Always of a distinctive pattern, and exemplary quality, Coronet's wood-working machinery had all casting poured and machined in-house and no cheap die-cast, MAZAK or plastic components were ever used in their construction (even the models built by Record Tools from the 1970 onwards continued the tradition) . Of all the machines they made the most famous was the 4.5" centre height "Major", a model introduced in the late 1940s as the ambitiously-specified Twelve-in-one Universal Combination Woodworking Machine and Lathe. At first it was offered, confusingly, in four versions - with the best-equipped being the 540 lb. Major General. This differed from all other variants in having widely splayed, triangulated bed feet that carried long stiffening bars at front and rear so giving, in conjunction with the bar-bed, a structure rigidly triangulated in two planes. It was supplied on a stand constructed from steel legs braced by twin, longitudinal bars running the length of the lathe at floor level. Amongst its features were: a swing headstock for large-diameter bowl turning; a generous between-centres wood-turning capacity; a 4-inch planer; 8-inch saw with tilting table and a mortising attachment. The Major was, in essence, an identical machine, but without the stand, whilst the Major Standard also lacked a stand but came with the same equipment as the Major General though with simple "foot-type" splayed bed feet. The cheapest model, the Major Majorette, whilst retaining all the equipment of the more expensive models, had its bed length cut down to 27-inches and no between-centres turning capacity. Confusingly, in later years, the Major was to be fitted with bed feet not unlike those used on the original Major General, with a strengthening strut cast in at bench level - but without the long end-to-end bracing bars.
Continued below:

Charles Parker in the early 1950s

Coronet Home Cabinet Maker - first of a famous range of single-bar bed wood-turning lathes

Coronet "Major General"

Continued:
Finished in bright maroon, the original lathes were all fitted with chrome-plated handles and a  3-speed, V-belt drive from a 1 H.P. 2,800 rpm double-shaft "Gryphon" motor that gave spindle speeds of 2,000, 3000 and 4,000 rpm. For school and training school use, or where large diameters were to be turned rather than spindles, the makers recommended a 1425 rpm motor that gave speeds of 570, 1040 and 2500 rpm. The motor platform was built onto the back of the headstock and the whole assembly could be pivoted on the bed casting to allow large bowls be turned facing the operator. The standard bowl-turning rest was arranged to cantilever off the end of the bed and deliberately restricted the diameter that could be turned to 24". However, if the lathe was correctly mounted work could be arranged to overhang the front of the bench and, by employing one of the two slow-speed systems offered - a supplementary all-V-belt countershaft or a motor with a reduction gearbox on its spindle - speeds of approximately 500, 750, 1000, 2000, 2300 and 4000 rpm could be obtained and bowls of a larger diameter turned in safety. In later years the company introduced a "backgeared" headstock (it could be retrofitted to earlier examples) that allowed even larger diameters to be turned - though there never seems to have been a factory-produced, floor-mounted rest available that would have able to handle these very large jobs. The backgeared headstock is very rare, the writer never having seen one. The 7/8" x  16 t.p.i headstock spindle had a No. 1 Morse taper and ran in a "draw-in" adjustable bronze bearing at the front and a ball race at the left. One unusual fitting found on some Major, Home Cabinet Maker and Minor lathes was what the makers called their
Super Swivel Platform. This was a special headstock-end foot that incorporated a circular casting machined so that a motor-mounting platform could be fitted over it and clamped in place. The arrangement allowed the motor to be swung into the most convenient position for between-centres and bowl turning or for the mounting of accessories.
A solid steel, 2-inch diameter bar, the Major's bed was machined with a slot down the back into which spring-loaded "alignment plungers "on tailstock and tool rests could engage. The Mk. 1 had, as standard, a capacity of either 24 or 33 inches between centres and the Mk. 2 33 inches. However, because of the simple construction, beds of any length were available to special order and machines have been seen with the ability to accept work over 5 feet long. The machine weighed 162 lbs in basic form when equipped with the standard twin T-rests.
In 1962 the headstock was modified with the spindle nose altered to a 3/4" x 16 t.p.i. and the bearings slightly modified. In 1976 a Mk. 2 model was introduced with an improved 5-speed Poly-V drive, a 1 H.P 2850 rpm (or 3/4 H.P. 1425 rpm) motor sitting on a hinged plate, a distinctive "dimpled" blue paint finish and stiffer bed feet. Because the Poly-V drive machine had a much wider speed range than the previous model the makers (unwisely) did not consider that a speed-reduction device was necessary for bowl turning. It was possible to retrofit the Poly-V drive system to all post 1962 machines and it is known that several hundred kits were sold for this purpose. With a 3/4 H.P. 1425 rpm motor the spindle speeds were: 425, 750, 1100, 1500 and 2000 rpm; when fitted with the more useful 1 H.P. motor speeds became: 750, 1100, 2000,  3000 and 4000 rpm.
Tailstocks were always of the simple type with full-circle handwheel and a captive screw driving a No. 1 Morse taper spindle, the centre being either ejected automatically as it was drawn backwards or, on some versions which had a shorter screw, having to be removed by using a spanner on two flats to twist it out.
A wide range of accessories was always listed for the
Major including a vertical band-saw, horizontal band-sander, disc sander with tilting table, flexible-drive attachment, metal-turning compound slide rest with a 4-way tool post, long-hole boring equipment and the (very rare) speed-reducing backgear assembly to assist when turning very large diameter bowls. The previously-mentioned Planer-thicknesser, mortising attachment and tilting saw table were all improved in later versions with added capacity and strength. The last machines to be designed at the Derby works were the Mk. 3 Woodworker and a development of it, the International Woodworker, a very much more heavily-built device with a powerful 3 h.p. motor driving an expanding and contracting variable-speed drive unit. How many of this final; model were built is uncertain but the unit consisted of a Major-based wood lathe together with a 45-degree tilting 23.375" x 23" saw bench with panel supports, a planer with a 33-inch by 7.25-inch bed (with rebating table and thicknesser attachments) and a slot mortiser unit.
By the late 1970s the Coronet Company had been absorbed into the Sheffield-based Record Tool Group and finally lost its identity when a new range of well-designed, robust and inexpensive but confusingly-numbered (and confusingly-specified) twin-bar bed wood-turning lathes was introduced. Under Record ownership the Coronet multi-purpose machines were eventually dropped but, even so, with a few more minor changes including a distinctive chrome-plated bed bar and adjustable quick-release handles on tailstock and tool-rest, the Major was to continued in production until 1988..

Major Standard - this, the best-selling Coronet lathe, had a 4.5-inch centre height and 32 inches between-centres. Later listed as the Major CM500,  it is shown above fitted with some of its many accessories: long-hole boring attachment, circular-saw with tilting table and rack-and-pinion rise and fall (version CM502a), 4.5-inch wide planing and rebating machine (CM507) and a mortising attachment. Besides the items illustrated below, several others were available including a flexible drive unit, a thicknessing attachment, band sander, face-sander, a double-length turning rest and an all-belt countershaft to reduce speeds for large-diameter bowl turning. Because the bed was a solid steel bar (with a single slot down the back to locate the tailstock and tool rests) it was a simple matter (assuming some sort of central support can be rigged up) to extend the lathe's between-centres capacity to almost figure desires.
By the 1970s the original
Twelve-in-one Universal Combination Woodworking Machine and Lathe had developed into the  Mk. 3 Woodworker and "International Woodworker" machines that, with longer and  wider planers, deeper-cutting saw benches and stronger mortisers better approached the capacity and versatility offered by a proper wood-machining centre..

The cheapest model in the original Major Universal Woodworker range was the Major Majorette with its bed cut down to 27-inches long and no between-centres turning capacity.

Late-model basic Elf as marketed by Record Tools in Sheffield
Coronet Elf, Minor and Minorette Lathes
Modelled on the Major, the Elf  and very similar Minor and Minorette were Coronet's smallest wood-turning lathes. During the 1960s the Minor was heavily promoted as a "Universal" machine able, in a small space, to become a complete wood-working centre. It was available as a short-bed machine, the Minorette, with an emphasis on woodworking rather than turning, or as the more popular Minor, with a bed allowing a generous 36-inches to held between the No. 1 Morse taper centres. For a short time the factory offered the "Minor Ten-in-One", a unit that had the facilities of a lathe - with a motor, single and double length tool rests, faceplate, standard and revolving centres - and the following range of optional extras: planer and thicknesser attachment; sawbench with standard and wobble blades; bandsaw, mortiser with a set of tool bits; combing jig, speed-reducing drive countershaft for large bowl turning work; tilting sanding table with sanding faceplates and sandpaper; flexible drive unit; grindstone attachment with guard and rest; long-hole boring equipment; a combination table; moulding block; a set of turning tools, centres and spanners.
All the smaller models were just as well made as the larger - and reflected the company's philosophy of offering a high-quality product at a reasonable price.

The Major Mk. 111 "Woodworker" - one of the last machines, together with the later and heavier "International Woodworker", to be developed by the Derby works. The saw table on the Mk. 3 was increased in size to 16" x 21" (with a 3" depth of cut), a longer and wider  7-inch capacity planer fitted together with the stronger twin-clamp mortising attachment. Note the braced bed legs, not unlike those fitted to the Mk. 1.

Bowl turning on the swing headstock (with circular saw attachment)
When the headstock of the Major was rotated it exposed a tapped hole in the end of the bed to which  a bowl turning rest could be attached. Because the head, motor unit, saw bench and planer unit could be swivelled and locked in any position it was possible, claimed the makers, to saw and plane very long pieces of wood in a small workshop by arranging the timber to pass through a door or window .
The object in the foreground is the Mk. 1 mortising attachment and, just inboard of it, the long-hole boring attachment.

Long-hole boring attachment.
Note how the tailstock is swivelled out of the way - it had a spring-loaded indent to ensure that it returned to its original alignment.

Panel support attachment.  The fenced support can be seen at the right hand side of the operator -and was adjustable to any bed position.

Band sander (CM508) and circular saw (CM502) fitted to an early 3-speed Major.

Swivelling compound slide rest (CM506) for metal and precision wood turning.

Bandsaw attachment
CM504

Circular saw, planer and tilting sanding table - all running from one motor - a very compact and versatile combination.

The "backgeared" speed-reducer unit for safely turning large bowls. A rare and originally very expensive accessory. The gears are in fibre.

Bowl-turning rest on the models with triangulated bed feet. In this illustration the headstock has been rotated to face the front allowing work up to 24-inches in diameter to be accommodated.
With the standard bowl rest removed, and the lathe mounted close to the edge of the bench, bowls of enormous diameter could be turned - but only if one of the speed-reducing units was fitted to the headstock and a suitably robust floor-mounted tool-rest rigged up.

A late version of the major with saw bench, planer-thicknesser, horizontal sander, mortising attachment, etc. mounted on the maker's stand

E-Mail   Tony@lathes.co.uk 
Home    Machine Tool Archive    Machine Tools For Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Machine Tool Catalogues   Belts

Coronet Lathes
Miniature Precision Lathes   Flat-bed Wood Lathe   Minor 10-in-One 
Coronet No. 1, 2 and 3
A Complete Data Pack is available for all versions of early and late Coronet
Major, Minor, CMB500, etc.
Other Coronet Technical Literature here