Dixi, of Le Locle, in Switzerland, was a high-precision machine-tool company who specialised in meeting the requirements of watch, clock and mechanical instrument companies. In addition to many specialised, one-off machines built to perform some special part of a production process they also offered a range of lathes, miniature millers in vertical and horizontal types. jig-spotting machines and, in later years, jig borers.
With a centre height of 110 mm and accepting 400 mm between centres, this very rare Dixi plain-turning precision lathe differed from the usual type in having a fully enclosed headstock. Even though it was built until the 1960s, the Dixi bore some resemblance to those other, late-model bench precision lathes made during the 1940s and 1950s by Ames/Stark - these being the last in a long line by numerous makers* and as originated by Stark in 1862.
Dixi offered a choice of two headstocks, one with direct drive by flat belt and the other incorporating a 5 : 1 reduction backgear that allowed screwcutting and other slow-speed jobs to be carried out with greater efficiency and safety. Running in bronze bearings (tapered on their outer surface to allow them to be drawn into their tapered seats and so adjusted for clearance), the headstock spindle was bored through 20 mm and fitted, on its left-hand end, with a large wheel that allowed the operator to turn it as desired when setting up a job. Final drive was by a V-belt, the pulley for which ran in its own ball race bearings, thus relieving the spindle of the effects of belt pull. To transmit the drive from pulley to spindle, a simple peg-and-slot arrangement was used.
Unlike similar machines from European and most American makers, the 960 mm long bed (braced on its underside like some Schaublin models that spanned the late 1930s to 1940s) used conventional V-ways instead of a flat top with bevelled edges. The compound slide rest featured particularly large diameter micrometer dials, possibly the biggest ever offered on this class of lathe.
Designed to be driven from either beneath or behind, the lathe could be supplied for bench mounting as the Model 4/42e with a separate all-V-belt countershaft-motor assembly that gave (with a 2-speed 144/2800 motor) revolutions from 260 to 2060 r.p.m. with the plain headstock and, as the backgeared Model 4/42ER, 52 to 2060 r.p.m. The maker's stand for this model resembled those superior examples made pre-WW2 years for most American bench precision lathes having a large, flat top, upon which jobs could be trial assembled, and a number of drawers beneath. Alternatively, as the Model 4/42S, it was fitted to an underdrive metal cabinet stand that held a handwheel-operated variable-speed drive unit (variateur de vitesse) that gave 125 to 2250 r.p.m. ungeared and, as the Model 4/42SR with backgear fitted, from 25 to 2250 r.p.m. However, other motor options were listed for all Models, including 2-speed 700/1400 r.p.m and 700/2800 r.p.m. types.
Although not as wide as that listed by Schaublin, the Dixi was offered with a good range of attachments including both chase and top slide screwcutting (the former with master threads that incorporated, on their end, a hob with which to cut replacements; collet sets retained by either a draw-bar or two types of lever-action collet closer; an overhead drive system; a high-speed (17,00 r.p.m.) double-ended grinding and milling spindle; spherical turning attachment; a variety of hand rests; fixed steady; vertical milling slide; microscope centering unit; faceplates with either T slots or tapped holes; raiser blocks for headstock, compound slide and tailstock; various combinations of screw and lever-feed compound slide; lever and screw-feed tailstocks; spindle indexing unit; coolant equipment; boxed sets of carbide-tipped turning tools, 3 and 4-jaw chucks (the latter a being the usual thin type based on a modified faceplate) and, for production work, a 6-station bed-mounted capstan unit and a cut-off slide.
If you have a Dixi lathe, or any Dixi literature, the writer would be very interested to hear from you.
*Levin, Bottum, American Watch Tool Company, B.C.Ames, Bottum, Hjorth, Potter, Pratt & Whitney, Rivett, Wade, Waltham Machine Works, Wade, Pratt & Whitney, Rivett, Cataract, Hardinge, Elgin, Remington, Sloan & Chace, W.H.Nichols, Crystal Lake and (though now very rare) Bausch & Lomb, Frederick Pearce, Van Norman, Ballou & Whitcombe, Sawyer Watch Tool Co., Engineering Appliances, Fenn-Sadler, "Cosa Corporation of New York" and UND..