email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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W. Gale Lathe

A previously unknown maker with no known surviving historical data, W.Gale was (according to the stamp on his lathe) based in Cow Cross Street, London ECThis road (now named Cowcross Street)  is in Clarkenwell, an area famous from the late 1700s to the 1950s for its concentration of light industry including many makers of watches, clocks and fine-quality machinery.
Built circa 1830 to 1880, the Gale lathe was typical of the light type offered for amateur and small workshop use - and almost identical to other London-built light lathes, the R.A.Lee and Pfeil There was no screwcutting facility and, as discovered, no form of tool-holding slide rest that would have allowed metal turning. Common at the time on such lathes in both Europe and America, the headstock had a smooth, polished front face with a flat top and waisted sides; it held a spindle of the simplest kind with the front running in a single bearing and the other end supported against an adjustable, hardened centre (amongst many others, contemporary examples of some lathes by  Bottun, WeisserGoodwin and George Hatch all used  the same system). The 3-step headstock pulley was not intended to use a V belt - it would be 1930 before they appeared on small machine tools - but a round leather "rope", often referred to as a "gut drive" (as in cat gut). The rest of the lathe was also entirely conventional with the bed, supported on slender feet, having a flat top, narrow sides set at 90 and a slot down the middle that formed a location for the headstock and tailstock. Components, including the slide-to-set T-rest assembly, were all clamped to the bed by through-bolts that ended in elegant, full-circle, oval-shaped handles.
On the back of the lathe were two cast brackets used to support the then-common rear-mounted wooden tool board, just like the one fitted to the Pfiel, a handy fitting now missing from small lathes.
It's possible that the maker offered a stand with treadle drive, though if not, a compact and less-expensive "foot motor" might have been available to power the lathe when mounted on the owner's own bench; examples of "foot motors" are shown at the end of the page..

Typical "Foot Motors" as supplied for Portass lathes

email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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W. Gale Lathe