EPEX Horizontal Milling Machine
Of unknown origin, this tough little "stub" horizontal milling machine with its No. 2 Morse taper spindle is currently resident in New Zealand - with another example reported to be in the United States.
"Stub" refers to the fact that this was a machine of essentially simple design for simple tasks, with the cutter (a side-and-face, slot drill or end mill) held on a short arbor protruding directly from the spindle nose. Unlike a conventional horizontal milling machine, it lacked an overarm, drop bracket and horizontal, cutter-holding arbor - all of which would have allowed much larger jobs to be machined and a greater variety of work undertaken. In use, the miller might typically have been part of an assembly of different, jig-equipped machine tools with a job being passed from one to another until complete. In addition, as a basic and rugged tool it would doubtless have also come in handy to save larger machines from being tied up on simple tasks - but not for a toolmaker to undertake "creative" work. A further drawback to its design was the impossibility of fitting a vertical head - a facility provided, for example, on the somewhat similar and hence much more useful Swiss-built Mikron and Italian CST (Astra) F1 and F2 stub millers.
Obviously intended to absorb heavy used, the machine was carried on a massive cast-iron stand and fitted with an all-hand-feed table approximately 12" x 5". However, table travel was very limited, the longitudinal (by lever-feed only) being reported as just 2.3" (59 mm) and in traverse, by a feed-screw and balanced handle, 2.2" (55 mm). Elevation of the knee and table assembly was by a most unusual feature - indeed, it may be unique - a rack machined vertically into the inside face of one of the forward-facing knee-bracing webs. Attached to a shaft operated by a crank handle was a spur gear that meshed with the rack - the whole assembly looking far too fragile for its task. However, the machine had a secret, the weight of the knee, saddle and table was balanced by a weight within the column, so only the lightest force was needed for operation. In use, if an alteration of cut depth was needed, the crank handle was pressed to elevate the knee slightly, a small, vertically adjustable screw stop turned in the desired direction, and the assembly then lowered back down. This simple though frustratingly slow arrangement was to be found on many similar contemporary models (though usually with an even simpler lever-lift of the knee) and for repetitive production work with cheap labour, would have proved entirely satisfactory.
It appears that the original drive would have been by a side-mounted motor and countershaft assembly - the hinge bar is still in place - an arrangement no doubt similar to that found on the early Centec No. 2. The model featured below now has the motor bolted to a crude angle bracket fastened to the back of the machine.
From where might the machine have come? From its general appearance and design it's difficult to say, the only clue being, perhaps, the similarity of the table's cross-feed screw micrometer dial to those larger ones used on English Adcock & Shipley No. 0 and No. 1 machines made from the mid 1930s onwards..
Should you have further details of this rare make, the writer would be pleased to hear from you..