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Dell of Bristol
English Mandrel/Swiss Universal Lathe

Other examples of this type can be seen over six pages here

Manufactured during the 1800s, when this type of watch and clockmakers' lathe was popular, the "Dell" was unusual in carrying a maker's name - only a tiny fraction of this type have been found being so marked. Despite being clearly engraved, it cannot be certain that Dell was the maker for it might, as with many machine tools of the era be, have carried the name of the distributor or dealer.
Almost entirely divorced from the development of industrial-sized machine tools, the evolution of small, high-precision watchmakers' lathes took some interesting turns - including this type of dead-end "Swiss Universal" and "English Mandrel" (an interchangeable term). This was a design introduced during the 1700s, possibly by the inventive watchmaker Vauscher, based in what was then the centre of the trade in the Swiss town of Fleurier. The example shown below is typical of its type with its headstock and bed cut - both of rather short and slender proportions - from one piece of a bronze alloy. Also a common feature of the English Mandrel, the spindle was supported in a single bearing at the front and against a hardened centre at the rear; this being a simple but effective arrangement also reflected in contemporary small-lathe practice for much of the 1800s - and as typified by, for example, by some versions of the Pfeil. To make the machine as compact as possible, and free it from the complications of a separate and complex rope-driven countershaft, the lathe was equipped with an integral drive system - in this case a hand-cranked, part-bronze, part-steel "countershaft" that used a round leather belt that wrapped around a 2-step pulley on the spindle. Also common at the time were two more expensive drive arrangements, these using the same sort of hand-turned pulley but with the drive passing (by a round belt) to a pulley-mounted gear that meshed with a gear on the spindle. In some cases, the periphery of the hand-turned pulley itself was cut with teeth these meshing directly with the spindle gear, These and variations on the same theme can be seen on these pages.
Instead of a screw-feed compound slide rest and toolpost as found on more sophisticated versions, the Dell had only a hand T-rest and so would have been limited to the turning of softer metals, wood and ivory, etc..