Originally manufactured by the Fritz Klaiber KG, Schwenningen / Neckar (frikla = FRItz KLAiber), for most of the production run machines were sold under the "Klaiber" brand - only early machines have "Frikla" instead of "Klaiber" cast into the door on the base. The company survived as an independent concern until about 1977, when their grinding machine line (which included both tool & cutter and surface-grinders) was sold to Lechler Apparatebau, Fellbach. In 1985, when Lechler gave up production, the parts and service section was sold to Zirsch and Baltrusch, Reutlingen (this information coming from an employee at Lechler who worked there during the period 1970 to 1980). However, if Ziersch and Baltrusch ever sold any complete Klaiber machines is not known - but it's unlikely and, quite possibly, they just concentrated on parts and service - as they did during the 1990s with Boley and Leinen lathes.
The range of Klaiber products included:
Tool and cutter grinders Models WS1 and WS1a (as shown below) and the larger WS2, a type available with an automatic feed. The "feature" of both these machines, right up to the 1970s, was the tool-post-grinder-like grinding unit. For both models, a wide range of accessories was offered.
Surface Grinders: Models HV, VS and HS: The basic layout of these machines followed that of the WS-type with the physical size in line with that of the WS2. The machines differed in the type of spindle fitted, these being horizontal (Type HS), vertical )Type VS) and with both (Type HS). However, unlike the WS machines, the pivoting tool-post-grinder-like grinding unit was not included, being replaced by the usual two fixed spindles.
Construction and quality of the Klaiber-made grinders were in what might be described as the "simple but fair" category - not comparable with more expensive models from the likes of Saacke, Walter, Deckel or Kuhlmann, but intended primarily for day-to-day use in the smaller professional workshop.
Some years ago (about 2005-2007 ) the German military (Bundeswehr) sold a quantity of unused Klaiber WS1 and WS1 machines, all in perfectly preserved and little-used condition.
Shown below, the 490 lb Frikla WS1 tool & cutter grinder was also intended for light horizontal surface grinding over an area of 10" x 2" and vertical surface work covering 12" x 4". Sold complete on a cast-iron plinth, the motorised head was carried on a fixed, round column that socketed into the base with the table and its controls elevated on a concentric post using a lift screw. The grinder stood some 62" high with its standard table able to accept 8" between the centres of the standard-fit universal diving head and tailstock. Table travel, through rack-and-pinion gearing and a crank handle, was just 12 inches - though with the extension table fitted (supplied as part of the standard equipment) this was increased by a further 8 inches. Formed in the usual two layers, the top of the table could be swung on the lower for taper work, though the adjustment from central seems to have been by hand only with no screw mechanism fitted to aid the process. Sliding adjustable stops, fitted with screws for fine settings, were carried in a T-slot machined down the length of the table's front face. Cross travel, by screw-feed with a rather awkward-looking castellated handwheel, was 4" with the maximum spindle centre to table surface clearance being 10".
Power came from an enclosed (dust-proof) 0.5 h.p. 3-phase 2800 r.p.m. motor (with integral switch) that turned the spindle with its 4" or 5" wheel at 5.600 r.p.m. - though the makers did offer alternative pulleys if the customer wished to vary this. In addition to mounting an external grinding wheel, the spindle was also equipped with a tapered socket into which was fitted a 1/4" collet to accept an internal grinding spindle.
Supplied with each machine was the equipment necessary to start work immediately: motor and switchgear, a universal dividing head with tailstock and centres, a universal tooth support, one plain grinding wheel, one cup wheel and a set of spanners.
Several extras were listed including a reduction gear to slow the rate of longitudinal travel, a motorised workhead to mount on the table and provide the facility for cylindrical grinding, a relief grinding attachment, a set of collets 1/4", 3/8" and 1/" to fit the dividing head and relief grind attachment, a catch plate, a 4" 3-jaw chuck, a swivel-base universal machine vice, diamond wheel dresser and alternative drive pulleys.
Should any reader have a Fritz Klaiber or "Klaiber" branded grinder, the writer would be interested to hear from you.
With thanks to Oliver Fischer for his input on this article