Germany has been, and remains, home to a huge number of machine-tool makers, some world-famous, others known only locally. Into the latter category falls one Alfred Eriksen who, in 1916 - in the middle of World War one - founded his machine-tool company in Hamburg. By 1926 he was established in Luhdorfer Road, the premises being occupied, it is believed, until 1977. Jewish-owned, in 1934 Hitler nationalized the factory, and the builder's plate, with a "Star of David" at each of the word "Hamburg", would probably have been quickly dropped. After 1945, and behind the Iron Curtain in Russian hands, the factory was put under government control, the nominal owners being the workers, their organisation being termed the German Labour Front.
Eriksen made both lathes and shapers and, presumably, other machine tools, the shaper shown on this page being from around 1934 and currently resident in the United states where its owner, Glen Linscheid, undertook a complete and very attractive restoration. It seems that a number of these shapers made their way to the USA, though when the badge from almost any shaper goes missing, identification can be particularly difficult and it may be that many more are out there, undiscovered and unappreciated.
Of absolutely conventional design, the Eriksen was dimensionally similar to the English Alba 1A with its doors, reports an owner of both, being identical. Indeed, the Eriksen had certain other similarities, though lacked a clutch and a table that could be swivelled, the designer obviously taking inspiration from a number of machines then in production. Using all-bronze bushes - there were no anti-friction bearings at all - the shaper had a ram stroke of 10 inches and was mounted on a cast-iron stand complete with chip tray. Able to be rotated 90 degrees in either direction from central, the swivelling tool slide had a travel of 2 inches and was provided with a rather small micrometer dial together with a clear degree scale around the end of the ram.
With three substantial T-slots in its top, the 8" x 10" box table also had two more down the side facing the controls and, on the opposite face, a V-slot together with four tapped holes to take securing bolts. While cross and vertical travels were a reasonable 11 inches and 9 inches respectively, unfortunately, like many shapers intended for lighter work, the front of the table lacked support. Driven by a 6 t.p.i. screw, the table's cross travel was both by hand (using a detachable crank handle) and under power in both directions - the drive coming from the usual shaft, connected to the main internal drive gear, with a full-diameter T-slot across its outer face. Sitting in the slot, and adjustable along it, was the end of a crank arm connected, at its other end, to a ratchet and pawl assembly. By adjusting the arm's position the stroke length could be altered - the drive pawl being engaged by another common fitting - a lift-twist-and-drop spring-loaded plunger. Power vertical drive was also fitted - a separate plunger indexer being provided to start and stop the drive - with a neatly arranged quadrant ratchet connecting the end of cross-feed screw with a shaft that ran parallel to it across the front of the table. Instead of the expected pair of bevel gears, final connection to the lift screw was by a particularly smooth-turning worm and wheel. Typically, for a machine of its age and size, there were no micrometer collars fitted to either the vertical or horizontal feeds.
Ram drive was by a large gear wheel on the inside of the machine, the gear being machined with a slot in which sat an arm pivoted at its base and connected to the ram at the other end, the arrangement being referred to as a "scotch yolk". The position of the arm could be adjusted to vary the ram stroke and so arranged to make the non-cutting return stroke faster than the cutting - an invention of the English engineer, Joseph Whitworth. A video, showing this clever mechanism in action, can be seen here.
Almost certainly fitted in its original form with flat-belt drive from either a rear-mounted electric motor or ceiling-mounted factory line-shafting, at some stage in its life this Eriksen was fitted with an effective and compact Turner "Drive All" 4-speed gearbox, complimented by the original built-in 2-speed drive, the arrangement giving, with a single-speed motor, 8 rates of ram travel. Instead of a lever control, like that on the Alba mounted at the side within easy reach of the operator, the 2-speed gearbox was operated by a short quadrant arm, positioned inconveniently on the machine's rear face. The gearbox control was being similar to that on a contemporary but little-known Swedish shaper that was branded as, but probably not made by, "Torpex".