From the 1940s to the 1970s the Elliott Machine Tool Group made and marketed a number of different lathes - but the most popular seem to have been the 7", 7.5" and 8" centre height Major, 8.5" Senior, 9" Prefect and the 11" Crusader, all produced by an Elliott manufacturing subsidiary, the "Cardiff Lathe and Tool Works" with a factory in Taffs Well, a village 6 miles north west of Cardiff city centre. Constructed during WW2 as the "Patons Works" for the manufacture of ammunition, the building still stands today (2010) painted white but with the original green beginning to re-emerge. The chief designer during the 1950s was Charlie Robinson who, like many of his kind, had been trained at Herbert, in Birmingham. Until about 1954 the beds were unhardened, but after that the factory was equipped with flame-hardening equipment, though the process caused much trouble and proved a difficult process to master. Beds were hand scraped until the early 1960s when, at last, a full-length grinder was installed.
Most frequently encountered of these lathes is the 7.5-inch centre height Major a model that was also produced in a rare 8-inch and well as an unpublicised 7-inch. All three types were available with between-centres capacities of 30", 40" and 60". The two longer versions could be ordered with a gap bed, with the 30-inch capacity, non-gap type called, by a piece of meaningless advertising hyperbole, the "Chip Flow". This had a straight section of bed in front of the chuck with the centre opened up to allow swarf to fall through more easily. The bed was enormously wide, one-and-a-half-times the centre height, a figure better than many toolroom lathes whose beds only equalled or slightly exceeded it. The drive system was interesting and reflected, again, a practice normally reserved for toolroom and better-quality lathes where, in order to prevent the transmission of vibration-induced "gear-tooth" marks to the turned surface, the main transmission gearbox was mounted in the cabinet base next to its (3 h.p.) electric motor. The 9-speed gearbox was a very heavy-duty affair, oil-pump lubricated and containing forged-alloy, hardened and ground gears; the speeds were changed by two concentrically-mounted levers on the front face of the stand. The drive up to the headstock was by triple V belts that wrapped around the headstock spindle between its bearings; the belt tension could be altered by changing the position of the (patented-design) eccentrically-mounted output pulley on its gearbox shaft. The headstock itself contained a conventional backgear assembly situated immediately behind the front bearing, so producing a total of eighteen spindle speeds from 27 to 757 R.P.M or, fitted with the optional high-speed pulley set, 35 to 1000 RPM. An American long-key taper size L0 (or alternatively a plain flange) was fitted to the hardened and ground, 5-Morse taper spindle which was bored 117/32" (39 mm) and ran on twin opposed precision taper rollers at the front and a parallel roller race at the rear.
Double-walled, the apron had its gears lubricated from with the selection of feeds by well-thought out, patented snap-action controls; the electrical stop, start, forward and reverse of the headstock spindle could be controlled by two levers, one mounted immediately in front of the headstock the other on the right-hand side of the apron. An oil pump forced oil around the screwcutting gearbox, a box that was able to generate either 45 English or 20 metric threads at the flick of a lever whilst additional gears of 30T, 66T and 21T were supplied as standard to extend the threading range to pitches below the 23/4 to 80 t.p.i (and 0.1875 mm to 5 mm) range offered as standard. A variety of Diametral and metric module pitches were also available and listed, together with their required changewheels, on a comprehensive chart above the gearbox. The shear-pin protected leadscrew was mounted in tension and could, claimed the makers, be reversed end for end to prolong its life. Unlike its Colchester equivalents, the Cardiff was mounted not on a heavy, sheet-metal stand, but on large cast-iron boxes between which was a useful slide-out chip tray. If you have to install a heavy lathe in an awkward place, or several floor up in a building, the fact that a Cardiff can be broken down into smaller parts relatively easily makes it an ideal candidate for the job.
The set-over tailstock was held down by one central clamp, fastened by a single nut for which the maker's provided the usual self-hiding spanner. The barrel had a travel of 4.75" and carried a No. 3 Morse taper.
A strong, no-nonsense and easily-operated lathe, the Cardiff Major was capable of sustained hard work and popular with both self-employed engineers and larger jobbing shops.