email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Fortuna (Klaeger-Fortuna ) Mechanical Hacksaws


Based in Deacon Street, Leicester, the Fortuna Machine Company were incorporated in 1908 and listed amongst their products patent leather skiving machines, hacksaws, measuring and testing instruments and patented internal grinding attachments - obviously a firm that could call upon a good range of design and manufacturing skills. However, Fortuna were not a home-grown company but one of many that received, during the period 1871 to 1914, direct German investment in the United Kingdom. A German Company, Fortuna-Werke in Stuttgart-Bad, Cannstattthe, held a number of patents with regard to leather skiving machines and mechanical hacksaws, but had no presence in the UK market - nor to the much larger one of the British Empire. Accordingly, after some discussions amongst the board (who felt that production volumes from the UK would be insufficient and profits too small) it was decided to go ahead and structure the arrangements (though this conclusion is open to interpretation) so that items made cheaply in volume in Stuttgart would be exported to the UK and the machines (with some local input) built up there. Interestingly, and rather seriously (and very late in the day), in June, 1917 during the First World war, the Board of Trade made an order under the just-revised "Trading with the Enemy Act" of 1916, that the: Fortuna Machine Compnay Limited, Deacon Street, Leicester, manufacturers of machinery and Machine Tools. Controller Charles J. Pain, 18, Low pavement, Nottingham." - be compulsorily wound up.
Although claimed in their advertising literature as "British Made", the Fortuna range of mechanical hacksaws was identical to those made by
Fortuna-Werke - this German end of the operation becoming Klaeger-Fortuna when, on the 1st of January, 1928, one Hermann Klaeger, then Operations Manager at Fortuna-Werke, took over the hacksaw part of the business and founded the Fortuna Cold Saw Factory, based in nearby Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. Despite their forced closure during the war, by 1920 Fortuna were back in business, their sales literature liberally sprinkled with the words, "British Made".
Sold at what would have been the bottom end of the industrial market, the saws were all of relatively light construction and obviously intended for use in general workshops rather continuous production. The British machines were to be offered in a range that eventually expanded to at least seventeen types and sizes, these being available with the option of line-shafting, countershaft or self-contained electric drive - and even with "hand drive" - though details of how that mechanism was arranged are unknown. The first motorised self-contained saw was introduced in 1914, an unusual departure for the time when such built-on motor installations were not common, especially on such prosaic machines as a hacksaw. One feature of the Fortuna range was the option of a special time-saving V-jaw vice that, clamped between the standard flat jaws, allowed a quantity of bar stock to be cut in one operation. A Fortuna press release of 1914 stated that:
The Fortuna Machine Co., Ltd.' Leicester, the maker of the well-known patent Fortuna power hacksaw machine, is putting on the market a new type of hack-saw, which embodies several new and interesting features. A variety of different kinds of cuts of material up to 6 ins. by 6 ins, is made by means of simple, but ingeniously designed devices, so that the machine can be worked by unskilled labour. The new " Fortuna" power hack-saw machine fills a long-felt want wherever material of any 'shape or form' is to be cut, as it is possible to saw quickly and accurately to any angle required. The vice used in the machine is perfectly guided by means of square slides in the machine bed of the saw. The spindle with right and left-hand threads always brings the work automatically between the two jaws central to the saw's reciprocation. The gripping surface of the vice jaws is exceptionally wide, and reaches quite close to the saw blade, so that no spring or chatter takes place while the material is being cut. The vice jaws can easily be swivelled at any desired angle between 90 and 45 degrees, and can be set to an exact graduation scale which is engraved on the front jaw. A special arrangement is made for sliding the whole vice when working angular cuts, in order to bring the work central with the cutting stroke, thus allowing the full length of the saw-blade to be used. For cutting short pieces it is often necessary to pack one side of the vice with material of equal thickness, which is very troublesome, but in the Fortuna a special spacer does away with the packing piece. Pieces down to 1-inch in length can be safely and accurately cut in a short space of time. The driving shaft rotates in the cylindrical extension of the swivelling bracket independently of the bearing of this bracket. Exceptionally long and wide adjustable V-slide bearings guide the saw frame, and these will not be affected through wear on the running shaft. Our illustration shows the Fortuna power hacksaw machine for belt drive, but we understand that it can be supplied as a self-contained unit, fitted with an electric motor, and can be easily transported from place to place. An ordinary plug connected to any source of electric supply is all that is needed to start the machine. A starting lever and a two-jaw clutch operate the machine, and, as soon as the cut is finished, the saw stops automatically. All working parts are exceptionally strong, interchangeable, and of first-class workmanship, so that the hack-saw is, therefore, a really modern and reliable machine tool suitable for machine shops and general engineering works..


An improved, more modern-looking Fortuna from the late 1930s

What looks to be a Fortuna Type W.L (wet cutting) model with coolant drain pan cast as part of the main bed and its original flat-belt pulley replaced by twin V-belt and a crudely built-on motor arrangement

Detail of the "two-jaw" ratchet-like start-and-stop mechanism

Standard vice less the multi-holder unit

The early Fortuna saw has even survived with an early 3-phase motor


email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Fortuna (Klaeger-Fortuna ) Mechanical Hacksaws