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EW Lathe
- by J.F. Stringer -

A copy of the rare EW sales catalogue is available

Conceived, designed and manufactured by John Frederick Stringer, the 2.5" x 8" EW lathe was first built circa 1946/47, just after the formation of his first company, J. F. Stringer & Co. Ltd.
Due to the economic strictures that prevailed during the early 1950s, the EW was cleverly designed and marketed as the "
Convertible", being available as a basic plain-turning model less backgear and screwcutting that could then be upgraded, as the owner's finances permitted, with parts that simply bolted on to effect the desired improvements. For the better healed, or those with the opportunities for extra overtime, it could also be had as a complete machine with countershaft and motor ready to tackle a wide range of model and experimental engineering jobs. A typical advertisement of the period appeared in "The Railway Magazine" for June, 1952 titled "A lathe for the Model Railway Enthusiast" and showing the model B lathe priced at 14 : 17s.: 0d. - this at a time when a skilled man could earn around 9 a week.
Constructed in an absolutely straightforward manner, the EW had a 19.5-inch long, 2.5-inch wide bed of hollow box section (an arrangement that required no corebox), ground on the top surface and the feet - and with three bracing ribs up the back face. It was designed for ease of manufacture on a limited range of machine tools - for the original works had only two South Bend lathes, a mechanical hacksaw, an ordinary pillar drill and a small horizontal miller.
Of unusual design, the headstock carried a 0.75-inch diameter spindle, bored through 1
3/32" with a No. 1 Morse taper running in plain bearings carried on two entirely separate, box-form, cast-iron posts that were jigged so as to be interchangeable between machines. The top of each post was bored, split and honed to form the headstock bearings (the spindle running directly in the cast iron) and the base clamped to the V-edged (dovetail) bed with a transverse through bolt. A spindle carried a narrow 3-step Z-section V-belt pulley.
A rather fine, cast-aluminium changewheel guard was shown in the maker's publicity pictures, but this feature was an extra, and all the examples seen by the writer have been without it. Because a "full nut" was fitted to the apron, the operator was involved in much twirling of the leadscrew handwheel to move the carriage along the bed. Both top and cross slide were fitted with micrometer dials (which could not be zeroed) calibrated at 0.001" intervals and with the top slide marked to show rotation every 5 degrees.
A limited number of accessories was available including a miniature vertical milling slide, a T-slotted 6" x 4" boring table, bed-raiser feet, a changewheel guard and a neat countershaft unit with the belt tension set by a simple push-bar with a knurled-edge, round nut running on a threaded rod.
Despite its humble origins and modest price, the lathe was finished to a very high standard in a beautiful crackle-black finish (as used at the time on many high-quality instruments and their control gear) with the bed and all the compound slide-rest surfaces finish ground (these jobs, initially, being put out). Although at first a gap was not provided or offered, from 1951 onwards, for an extra seven shillings and sixpence, this option became available and allowed 7-inches in diameter to be turned on the faceplate. However, it is unlikely that many were thus equipped, the makers pointing out that, for work under five inches long, a straight bed was preferable.
EW's background is interesting - the firm began by renting space from an established engineering firm based in the "
Express Works" (from which the lathe's name was derived) in Orleston Road, Islington, London, N7. Although the machine was to the design of Mr. Stringer, the company was under the control of a senior partner, Mr. Murphy, a businessman with an interest in the fiscal, but not the technical. When the inevitable falling out took place and they finally parted in 1954, Mr. Stringer recovered what he could of his tools from Orleston Road and, utilizing his wife's life savings, paid the deposit on a Colchester Student lathe, a Denbigh 42-inch horizontal milling machine and an Abwood vertical-spindle surface grinder. A fresh start was made in upstairs premises at Pavement Square, Lower Addiscombe Road. However, the new business involved gruellingly hard work for several years, with considerable sacrifice and little return for either the effort or extra capital that had to be invested. By the early 1960s, and realising that the business of manufacturing small lathes presented little opportunity for profit, the company redirected its efforts as the "EW Tool Company" into an entirely different field and began producing piercing and blanking (punch) tools for the up-and-coming printed-circuit board industry. The very last lathes made may well have been completed at EW's subsequent address in Fernhurst Road, Addiscombe. After production ceased, tooling for the EW was stored for some years at the home of the designer and then purchased, along with the drawings and manufacturing rights, by the well-known model engineering supplier "Bonds O' Euston Road", who had previously been involved in the lathe's distribution. The material was delivered to a private address, thought to be in or around Midhurst, Sussex c1966. However, Bonds never resumed production themselves but, in turn, sold the facility (in 1970) to "Janap", a firm of sub-contract precision engineers with a sales office in Basingstoke, Hampshire. An initial batch of 50 lathes was laid down, to be made at Janap's well-equipped converted railway workshop in Tregaron, Wales. Unfortunately, as with all sub-contractors, Janap was not at the top of the corporate feeding chain and when a major customer defaulted, the company was forced into liquidation. Although a number of lathes had been sold, the short-lived EW revival was over and, before it could be salvaged, the tooling was scrapped.
In contrast to the fortunes of Janap, the EW Tool Company, by now operating from larger and better equipped premises in Portland Road, South Norwood, had become very successful, completing substantial contracts for, amongst others, ITT Televisions. Although the company ceased full-time production in 1981, Mr. Stringer continued small-scale operations from his home until his death in 1985. He always remained reticent about the EW project, possibly seeing it retrospectively as a commercial folly, and it seems unlikely that he was ever aware of the ill-fated revival attempt by Janap.
Continued below:

Resplendent in its crackle-black finish, this is the maker's original publicity photograph of the later 2.5" x 8"  Model D with ball-ended feed-screw handles, gap bed, backgear, screwcutting, guarded changewheels and motor-countershaft unit

Happily, many examples of the EW are still in use today and their owners report that, although a small machine, it is an accurate lathe capable of giving years of sustained hard work within its capacity limits.
The various types of EW were: 
Model A: a simple, plain-turning lathe with the compound slide rest clamped to the edge of the bed (12 : 0s : 0d)
Model B: as the Model A but with the carriage hand-driven through a 1-inch long full-nut in cast iron by an Acme thread, 8 t.p.i by 5/8" diameter leadscrew (13 : 10s : 0d)
Model C: as the Model B but with a 5.76 : 1 ratio backgear (15 : 10s : 0d);  Model D: a top-of-the-range version with backgear, screwcutting and ten 16 D.P. changewheels (18 : 0 : 0d) consisting of: 20t, 25t, 30t, 35t, 40t, 45t, 50t, 55t, 60t and 65t to cut threads with pitches of: 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24, 26, 32 and 40 t.p.i. 
A gap-bed model was also offered and, late in the closing years of production, a couple of shortcomings were addressed: to give more capacity between centres the bed was extended slightly by adding a section cantilevered out from the tailstock end foot and an improved tailstock fitted - recognisable by its extended casting - with a longer-travel barrel.
In 1951 the specification of a recently examined and particularly original EW was as follows (and at variance somewhat from the maker's own figures):
Serial no: 228
Headstock mandrel bore bored: 10 mm
Head stock mandrel o/d: 0.625 inch
Head chuck thread diameter: 1.00 inch
Tail stock taper fitting: 1 Morse
Lead screw: 8 t.p.i. 5/8" diameter
Top slide travel: 1.5 inches
Cross slide travel: 2.5 inches
Motor speed: 1425 r.p.m.
Motor V-pulley nominal 1.75 inch diameter: 1.5 inch effective diameter..
Countershaft motor V-pulley 7 inch diameter.
Motor belt ratio: 1.5/7 = 1/4.7
Final belt ratios: 2 : 1, 1 : 1 and 0.5 : 1
Backgear ratio: 1 : 5.76
Speeds direct r.p.m.: 606, 303, 151
Backgear r.p.m.: 105.2, 52.6, 26.3
Changewheels: wheel shaft diameter: 0.625 inch
Gear thickness: 0.302 inch
Teeth centre diameter: N * 3.72/60 = N * 0.0620 inch corresponding to 1/0.062 = 16.13 teeth per inch p.c.d.
Diameter of pins to fasten changewheels together: 0.1 inch approx
Pitch radius of pin location: 0.42 inch approximately
Pin hole depth: 0.15 inch
Minimum possible size of changewheels: 18 teeth
The maximum distance from headstock spindle to leadscrew: 4.8 inch max. (155 teeth) 
Maximum diameter of a changewheel mounted on the leadscrew 5.4 inch diameter (89 teeth)
Maximum distance from a stud mounted on the banjo to the leadscrew: 3.35 inch (108 teeth)
If any reader has copies of EW advertising literature, or photographs of lathes in original condition, the writer would be pleased to hear from you..

Another picture of the Model D with a clear view of the gap bed

"Express Works" - the original premises of J. F. Stringer & Co. Ltd." in Orleston Road, Islington, London N7. Remarkably only a very limited number of simple machine tools were employed: two South Bend lathes -  on the left a 9-inch "Workshop" Model and on the right a South Bend "South Bend 14-inch" - a mechanical hacksaw, pillar drill and a small horizontal miller.

John Frederick Stringer - designer and manufacturer of the EW lathe

EW's 14-inch South Bend lathe - securely grouted into the floor

The EW was designed so that an impecunious owner could easily upgrade their machine as and when finances allowed. This official works picture shows an early "plain"  model, with the cheap-to-produce full-circle handwheels, together with all the components necessary for the conversion to a full backgeared and screwcutting model. From left to right: the changewheel bracket and its mounting plate that was screwed to the end of the bed; 3-step pulley for use with backgear; the two spindle-mounted backgears and the sliding backgear assembly on its slotted arm that bolted to the back of the headstock

Simple but effective countershaft system using propriety Picador pulleys

EW had an 19.5-inch long, 2.5-inch wide bed of hollow box section with three bracing ribs up its back face

The EW leant itself to home modifications with this example sporting a two-stage worm-and-wheel drive from headstock spindle to leadscrew

A later slightly longer-bed version of the EW (with a section cantilevered out beyond the tailstock end foot) and an extended tailstock

EW advertisement from 1952

A particularly fine and original example of a standard EW

EW Lathe
- by J.F. Stringer -
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A copy of the rare EW sales catalogue is available