email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Drummond Hand-operated Shaper

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Drummond Lathes


First built when Drummond Brothers were still operating from the home address of Arthur Drummond in Pinks Hill, Wood Street, Guildford, the Drummond 7" stroke hand-operated shaping machine was a splendid examples of late Victorian engineering. Protected by patents (GB) 24772 and 24773 dated November 5th 1908 together with 25262 and 25263 of November 9th 1908, it was a very well-made, rugged little machine with an automatic feed in both directions and made in early and late forms. Both types were very similar but with the former (a very rare model) having a table 6.5" x 4.5" with 7 inches of horizontal travel, 4.5 inches vertically and - an instant identification point - no T-slots in the table top with holes tapped 3/8" Whitworth being provided instead. Other differences noted include: the bracket that carried the table feed lever was not cast in to the main body of the machine but bolted on; the tool slide was locked by a nut on the end of a long stud that passed down the length of the ram and the bracket that carried the table's feed lever was not cast in to the main body of the machine but bolted on; the clapper box had a slot that straddled a male tennon and the moving jaw on the maker's vice was longer
Much more common version, the later version had a distinctly different clapper box with two square-headed bolts to retain the cutting tool and a simple bolt through the rotating part to lock it in place. The table had a top surface of  8" by 9" with two longitudinal T-slots and a circular T-slot that allowed the standard-fit, degree-graduated base vice to be rotated. However, these cost-saving improvements came at the price of a reduction in table travel to 6" horizontally and 3" vertically. One notable and very useful feature was the inclusion of a circular hole through the body of the shaper - below and in line with the ram - that allowed long work to be passed through from the back and very long keyways cut, or machining work carried out part way along the length. The tool post could be swivelled, was marked with degree divisions - and had a travel of 1.5".
Costing 7 : 10s : 0d (delivered) when new in 1902 a vice, three cutting tools, a spanner and tommy-bar were included with the machine.
Some newer information from the Drummond Shaper User Group is that a 6-inch stroke shaper was also made, though these appear to have been - from the records - just a batch of twelve destined for the Admiralty. The ledger dates for the shapers in question were from October 1914 to November 1916, with serial numbers from 1 to 12. It seems they were installed in light cruisers of various classes being built by various shipyards. If you have a 6-inch Drummond shaper, the writer would very much like to include pictures of it in the Archive. 
Drummond 7-inch Shaper serial numbers extracted from the Work's records
1902 to 1918 no records survive for the 7-inch version
1919 to 1920 Serials 469 to 533

  1. Serials 534 to 599
    1920 to 1921 Serials 600 to 665 (the majority sent to India)
    1921 to 1925 Serials 666 to 730 (No. 757 dated at 19-9-1922)
    1925 to 1928 Serials 731 to 794
    1928 to 1934 Serials 795 to 860 (No. 799 dated at 21-1-1929)
    1934 to 1939 Serials 861 to 875
    The last example was sent to Owen Wallis & Co. on 13-2-1939
Although today largely replaced by the small vertical milling machine, there is still a place in the enthusiast's workshop for a small shaper. As the writer never tires of pointing out, in the hands of a more knowledgeable and skilful enthusiast and, with sharp tools, it is quite astonishing what a variety of useful work these little machines can do.  One might imagine that using a hand-operated shaper, even a little one like the Drummond, is hard work, but this is not the case - though there are three basic points to get right: the first is tool sharpness, the closer to razor-sharp the better, with frequent attention to the top edge by an oil stone to maintain it; the second is to resist the temptation to move the handle too quickly, while also taking time taken to establish the best rate for the job in hand. For example, fifty to sixty strokes a minute by hand on a 5 to 6-inch stroke machine might feel comfortable but, allowing for lost time at the end of each half stroke, this gives a tool speed of over 60 feet/minute - which is 30% greater than that recommended for high-speed steel on cast iron. Experimenting with slower strokes will, surprisingly, often produce better results. Finally, the third consideration, which is two rolled into one, cutting depth and feed rate: it is possible, if you have the patience, to obtain an almost mirror finish with a very fine cut and the slowest possible feed - but, it does take time.
Other small hand-operated shapers available during the 20th century included the AdeptAlexanderArrowBensonBoyntonBradleyE.W.Cowell, FlexispeeedGeorge-Adams-Pittler, GravesLiverpool Castings & Tool SupplyOmerodPerfectoPolygonPortassRapid-LimeRobblak, and Tom Senior.

Very rare Mk. 1 Drummond shaper with tapped holes in the table top

Early model: the clapper box had a slot that straddled a male tennon and the moving jaw on the maker's vice was longer

Early model:  the tool slide was locked by a nut on the end of a long stud that passed down the length of the ram

Early model: the bracket that carried the table feed lever was not cast in to the main body of the machine but bolted on


Drummond Mk. 2 Shaper. Note the traditional shaper cutting tool, designed to allow its cutting edge to be exactly in line with the base of the "clapper box". If the tool edge was positioned in front of its support surface there would tendency for it to "dig in" and increase the depth of cut whilst, if allowed to sit behind the edge, exactly the opposite would happen.



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Drummond Lathes

Drummond Hand-operated Shaper
email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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