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

Cuthbert/Warner/Reffells
& TW Monoturn "Lathe"
If you have a Reffell or Cuthbert, the writer would
be interested to hear from you


Not really a lathe, but actually a con-rod boring machine made for use in the engine reconditioning trade, this machine was built originally by a London Company, Warner Engineering. At some point during WW2, having being bombed out of their premises,  they relocated to Guildford in Surrey, to a factory opposite  Reffells Engineering, who specialised in the rebuilding of IC engines. From there they moved to Godalming, in Surrey, becoming Cuthbert Machine Tools of Guildford  and finally, in 1956, to Chichester in Sussex. For some time it was believed that the first machine discovered (and shown below) had originated from Reffells - in 1946 Harry Taylor, the foreman of that concern, had offered the machine to the father of the present custodian in exchange for a worn out Myford/Drummond lathe that Harry wanted for model making. Upon handing over the machine, Harry said, "I think we have enough castings around to put another lathe together"; however, he did not mean Reffells, but Warner Engineering, where he had previously been employed  and from where he must have obtained the machine. Just post-war, in a time of great shortages, anything that resembled a small lathe was greatly sought after, and so it comes as no surprise that it was adapted for other than its original purpose. However, another branding that has come to light is "TW Monoturn" - a name that certainly suggests use as a lathe rather than a specialised machine for use in engine reconditioning.
In summary, the Cuthbert 'Lathe' lathe is strictly a Warner Engineering Ltd. (Guildford) con rod boring machine - the tailstock, which was bolted to the bed in its original incarnation, had no means of feeding the poppet and no guiding tongue and the 3-jaw chuck fitted is mounted on an adapter in the headstock taper.
Of simple but rugged construction the headstock carried a spindle with a 1.125" bore, a No. 4 Morse socket and a 1.5" x 8 t.p.i. nose. The spindle ran in sump-lubricated taper-roller bearing with its drive pulley mounted in an overhung position outboard of the left-hand bearing. Fastened to a plate, the motor was hinged from the back of the cast-iron chip tray and drove, via a 3-step pulley, to a matching pulley on a countershaft behind and below the headstock. Final drive to the spindle could be by belt or chain - the former providing high speeds and the latter low. For chain-drive a small gearbox was positioned inboard of the countershaft's 3-step pulley, with engagement of the gears by a turning a forwards-pointing knob positioned to the left and under the headstock. Before the chain-drive could be used the belt drive had to be disconnected by unscrewing a large knob on the left of the countershaft pulley - an action akin to releasing the bullwheel from the spindle on a conventional lathe. The spindle- bearing lubrication system was interesting: the oil in the sump level was set just above the inner lip of the bearing with shaped aluminium plates, pressed outboard against the bearings, in an attempt to  retain the lubricant inside the headstock. Inevitable, oil leaked from the outboard end of the spindle but, as there no oil-level sight-glass, when the leak stopped the operator knew it was time to top up.
Of typically English construction the (very heavy) bed had a flat top and 60 degree sides; running along it was a carriage of the simplest possible design with the saddle and (minimal) apron cast as one and a single, non-swivelling cross slide (with front and rear toolposts) set to its extreme left-hand side with no supporting arms to take tool thrust between it and the headstock.
Continued below:

Continued:
The speed-reducing gearbox also doubled to provide a power feed along the bed. The drive shaft passed through the box and had a worm gear machined on its end - this being used to turn the drive through 90 degrees from whence it passed through the bed to a pair of bevel gears, one of which was connected to the end of the leadscrew. The handwheel to operate the leadscrew was provided with a concentrically-mounted knob that, by being screwed in and out, engaged and disengaged the power feed. Although the leadscrew provided a sliding power feed, there was no way of varying the ratio of headstock spindle to leadscrew revolutions, and so no way of generating threads (nor, in its original from, was there any need to do so) Another Cuthbert has been found with just a simple countershaft drive to the headstock and no power feeds.
Of a simple design, tailstock had a spindle with a No. 3 Morse taper spindle with around 6 inches of travel driven by a rack-and-pinion feed. Most usefully, the spindle could be very firmly locked by, two levers, one to the left and another to the right.
Ideal for its original purpose, the design of the Cuthbert included a system that was to become popular amongst the makers of small lathes during the 1950s, drive to an overhung pulley on the left-hand end of a well supported spindle. The system allowed makers to realise the considerable cost savings to be made by not having to position the drive pulley between the bearings - and while the combination of a separate "backgear" assembly and a chain final drive might well have been unique, it was not really intended for lathe use.
The present owner (2002) writes:
I learnt to turn on the Reffel at the age of about 13; I was initially puzzled because all the books I borrowed from the library refereed to a "top slide" which it did not possess. It is an excellent general purpose lathe, very good for making washers collars pins & bushes; the tailstock is a joy to use when drilling or tapping being very sensitive but powerful on the rack feed; the chain drive is noisy & the "backgear" very noisy. The large pulley on the extreme end of the headstock spindle is very useful for pulling round when tapping or setting up work in the 4 jaw, etc., and if I could have my ideal lathe it would have this feature & the rack-feed tailstock. The lathe is quite robust for heavy feeds & parting off. It spent most of it's life in a garage workshop but is now retired, along with it's owner. It has had a fairly easy life and some of the original scraper marks are still visible in places. I am afraid that I now use a large Taiwanese Lathe for most of the things it once did.


The simple carriage with saddle and minimal apron cast as one and a single, non-swivelling cross slide with front and rear toolposts.

The motor drive rose from a platform hinged from the back of the cast-iron chip tray to a 3-step aluminium pulley on a countershaft behind and below the headstock. The large knob in the centre of the pulley was used to disengage the chain drive whilst the forward-facing handwheel can be seen to connect to simple toggle-like mechanism by which means the separate "backgear" assembly could be brought into action.

A view showing the chain final drive and the alignment of the large headstock-mounted pulley with the smallest pulley on the countershaft; it was by this means that the drive from the speed-reducing gearbox (mounted on the countershaft) was transmitted to the headstock.

The Cuthbert

Yet another branding--as the "TW Monoturn"


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

Cuthbert/Warner/Reffells
& TW Monoturn "Lathe"
If you have a Reffell or Cuthbert, the writer would
be interested to hear from you