Lathes for Watchmakers
Discovered at a flea market in Finland in 2015, the first example of a Gamma 8 mm lathe on this page is in remarkable fine original condition and complete with its fitted accessory box and inspector's alignment report. Manufactured by the Elektroimpex Company in Budapest, Hungry, during 1948 and stamped with the serial number 53359, these lathes are seldom found. It's known a small number was exported to the UK, the agents being declared as English Exporters (London) Ltd. of 9 and 10 Marble Arch, London W1.
Not an original design, the Gamma was an exact copy of a Leinen (Boley & Leinen) "Reform" lathe, itself based on the traditional Webster-Whitcomb American design with a heavy, bevelled-edge bed and a 50 mm centre height. Most Leinen and Boley & Leinen watchmakers' lathes had a spindle bore of 8 mm (maximum pass-through 7 mm), the collets specified being U8 DIN 6341 Cat.-No. a31/1-3 with a largest through-bore of 4.4 mm and a maximum blind-bore of 7.0 mm
Nickel-plated - even the support plate and clamp were so finished - the Gamma had a 51 mm centre height and 260 mm long bed with a flat top and 30° prismatic sides to located the headstock, slide rest and tailstock.
Held in a headstock whose traditional shape might be described as "elegantly unusual" and running in larger-than-normal plain cone bearings, the spindle took the usual 8 mm diameter collets retained by a drawtube. A 3-step pulley was fitted, designed to be driven by a round belt, with three circles of indexing holes drilled into its larger face - these being engaged by a sprung arm pivoting from a swivelling boss below the front spindle bearing.
Seldom found on a watchmakers' lathe, the bevelled edges of the bed were finished by hand scraping, though from its appearance this was likely to have been just a cosmetic adornment.
No doubt several different boxed sets were available, from basic to comprehensive, with the one shown a mid-range type, the box neatly made with a stout over-centre closing latch and holding several accessories including: 22 wire collets for the headstock, 5 tailstock collets, 10 sinking tools, two T-rests, three carrier chucks, a bed-mount rest, a bell chuck, collet draw tube, what was described as a "Live faceplate for the tailstock with wire spanner and double pulley. Pulley 16.5 mm and change pulley 12 mm"
If you have a Gamma lathe the writer would be interested to hear about it.