Manufactured in Skopje during the late 1960s and 1970s, in what was then Yugoslavia, the 140 mm (5.5") by 600 mm (23.5").FAM TV-280 lathe was a licence-built copy of a French G.Vernier model. It certainly looked a typically French product from that period, even to the central position of the carriage handwheel on the apron, a feature shared by some of the smaller tool-room lathes from De Valliers, Lefebvre Et Martin, H. Ernault-Somua and C.H.E.M.
Mounted on a fabricated stand with built-in coolant, a splash-back and a kick-stop switch on the front, the FAM was of high quality - and with an impressive specification. Running in expensive, English-made Gamet high-precision bearings (a double at the front) the No. 4 Morse taper, 26 mm bore heat-treated nickel-steel spindle had an excellent span of 16 speeds from 35 to 2500 r.p.m. Unfortunately, the spindle nose was an American-specification A1-4", an uncommon fitting in Europe.
All-geared, the splash-lubricated headstock held chromium-nickel, heat-treated gears hardened to "175 kg" and finish ground. Power was provided by a 2-speed 2.7/3.5 h.p. 3-phase motor 1500/3000 r.p.m. motor held within the fabricated cabinet stand.
Supplied as an all-metric specification lathe, screwcutting was though a sealed Norton-type gearbox, with all-dial-selection of the 18 pitches and feeds, to a 24 mm diameter 6 mm pitch leadscrew; without dismounting any gears, threads from 0.5 to 5 mm pitch could be cut and feed rates, via a separate power shaft, varied from 0.056 to 0.56 sliding and 0.018 to 0.18 surfacing. As the carriage was being power driven it was possible to disengage the (centrally-positioned) handwheel, a useful safety feature.
Hardened and ground, the very deep and wide V and flat-way bed was without a gap - to improve rigidity - and hardened to 220/240 Brinell.
The set-over, No. 3 Morse taper tailstock had a 120 mm travel hardened and ground spindle engraved with a mm ruler, though it lacked the micrometer dial essential on this class of lathe.
If any reader has a FAM TV-280, or an original G.Vernier version, the writer would be interested to hear from you.