email: tony@lathes.co.uk
Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Catalogues   Belts   Books  Accessories

George Adams of London
Watchmakers' Lathes

Watchmakers' Lathes Page 2   Watchmakers' Lathes Page 3

George Adams Home Page
GA Lathe Model 21/2  

G.A. Watchmakers' Lathes 

G.A. Round Bed Lathe

3.25" & 4.75" Screwcutting Lathes Models D, E, F, G & H

4" & 5.25" 4" & 5.25" Screwcutting Models A, B, L, KF1 and CL

3.25" & 4.75" Precision Lathes Models D, E, F, G & H

2.75" Screwcutting Lathe Model CS

Advertisements 1930

GA 21/2" Precision Plain Lathe

Watchmakers' Lathes

Portass-built Mk. 5 Lathe Photo Essay


George Adams made, or marketed, both the European "Geneva" (sometimes called "Swiss") and the American WW (Webster-Whitcomb) styles of watchmaker's lathes; the American design, being a heavier and more robust machine, cost some 30% more. A wide range of additional fittings was available and the lathes could be had in a basic form, or cased together with various selections of collets and accessories - a WL Geneva-pattern lathe, for example, rose in price from 3 : 10 : 0 to 6 : 6 : 0 when presented in a lockable wooden box containing: a handrest with 2 Tee rests, a single chuck to carry 4 cement plates, a set of 12 wire collets, a single "8-screw" bell chuck, a taper-hole collet with male and female centres, driver plate, emery wheel and mandrel, circular-saw mandrel, guide pulley on eccentric arm, hollow runner No. 34 - complete with its 14 accessories - and two collet-mounted fine centres..

A "Swiss" or "Geneva" pattern light-duty watchmaker's lathe made by Lorch and sold under the George Adams label. The lathe was available in two Models: the "WL" took Size L collets of 6 mm shank whilst the "V1" accepted an 8 mm collet. In the early 1930s the smaller capacity machine cost 3 : 15 : 0 whilst the smaller was 'five-bob' cheaper at 3 : 10 : 0. The weight was 5 lbs.

George Adams AA Precision on a single foot with 12" long bed, plain runner tailstock and a headstock spindle to take Size A 8 mm collets.
Although the catalogue does not mention the fact, the lathe was constructed to American Webster-Whitcomb standards with a 1.968" centre height. The finish was in nickel plate and, at 10 lbs, it weighed twice as much as the "Geneva" pattern model shown above.

George Adams AA Precision with a 20" long bed on twin feet and fitted with a compound-slide rest,  3-jaw chuck and a heavier, screw-feed tailstock.

George Adams WW-pattern lathe with screwcutting attachment (including 14 changewheels) compound slide rest and screw-feed tailstock.
Whilst the basic WW lathe cost (in 1931) 4 : 10 : 0 this version, with a 20" bed and nickel-plate finish. was (at 16 :  1 : 0)  very nearly four times as expensive.
Unusually for such a tiny lathe the screwcutting gears were driven through what, in the UK, is called a "tumble-reverse". This clever mechanism, first used in the early part of the 19th century, consists of a pivoting arm fitted with three shafts arranged to carry gears so that two of them form an "upper pair" - one of which is meshed with an 'output' gear on the stud below. The arm moves through an arc and has three indented locations; placing the arm in its upper position causes one gear of the upper pair to engage with the headstock spindle gear and, with the spindle running "forwards", the output gear revolves in a clockwise direction. When the lever is moved so that its locating plunger locks into the lowest hole, the other gear of the upper pair is swung into engagement with the spindle gear and the direction of rotation of the drive - and hence the 'hand' of the thread being generated by the leadscrew - is reversed. In the middle position neither gear is engaged - and the spindle is able to run freely and quietly.
The output gear is often twice as long as the others - and usually divided so that the outer part can be changed to alter the drive ratio.

Tumble-reverse detail

George Adams Type GA 11/2  lathe. This model was designed for heavy-duty where it would be subjected to the rigors of production or very high-speed use. The headstock, which accepted Size L 6 mm collets, was of the "all-hard" kind with spindle and bearings manufactured from high-speed tool steel and able to run continuously at very revolutions. Although built on the WW pattern bed, the centre height was reduced to 1.5" and the accessories were the same as those designed for the lighter WL Geneva-Pattern lathe illustrated at the top of the page. Although illustrated with a simple T rest, the machine was supplied as standard with a compound slide. It cost, in the early 1930s, 8, making it more expensive than all but the best equipped of the longer-bed WW types.


George Adams Model AAA enlarged-pattern WW-type (Webster Whitcombe) lathe with a 23/8" centre-height and standard 16" bed.
For this heavier style of Watchmaker's lathe the increase in centre height from 1.968" to 2.375" brought an entirely different set of more robust headstock and tailstock castings, a longer standard bed, a range of slightly larger, strengthened accessories and a japanned finish  - but no unfortunately no increase in the size of collets that could be used .

George Adams AAA 23/8" centre-height watchmaker's lathe complete with a rather ugly and out-of-proportion 17/8" wide gap that allowed work up to 8" in diameter to be swung.  Mounted on the lathe are a variety of accessories: lever and screw-feed tailstocks, 3-jaw chuck, compound slide, hand rest with short T,  large dividing plate and pointer, vertical slide and a high-speed spindle.

Circa 1907 - a neatly-arranged (and expensive) bench and countershaft assembly driving a WW pattern watchmaker's lathe. It would be many years before similar self-contained, motorised assemblies were available for small screwcutting lathes.

The larger pattern AAA lathe on a self-contained stand with a ball-bearing countershaft. The electric motor is of the type first used on industrial sewing machines where a clutch was carried on its output shaft. These units are well-worth seeking out and rebuilding; they were designed for continuous and arduous use in garment factories and were of the very highest quality.
A similar motor and clutch unit was used in the 'Mardive' stands supplied for Pultra precision lathes in the 1950s and 1960s - Mardive being an English maker of industrial sewing-machine drive systems based in Stockport, near Manchester.

The tall stem (A) was used for tensioning the drive to ancillary equipment - high-speed milling and grinding heads for example - the middle unit (B) provided a total of 16 speeds (assuming a 4-step pulley on the motor and lathe) whilst the two-speed unit in the background (D) was listed as a "Foot Wheel" and available in two weights (24 lbs and 38 lbs) - both of which could be mounted either underneath the bench, or on the floor.

Typical of the bench countershaft made by many companies to drive their watchmakers' lathes this Lorch, or Lorch inspired unit, had a double swivel base and a choice of three pulleys to accept or transmit the drive. Used in combination with a tension-adjusting post (as illustrated above) and quickly-joined plastic - or round leather belting - this type of countershaft could be set up to drive the headstock and any type of toolpost-mounted spindle that the user cared to arrange.


Watchmakers' Page 2   Watchmakers' Page 3

George Adams Home Page

GA Lathe Model 21/2  

G.A. Watchmakers' Lathes 

G.A. Round Bed Lathe

3.25" & 4.75" Screwcutting Lathes Models D, E, F, G & H

4" & 5.25" 4" & 5.25" Screwcutting Models A, B, L, KF1 and CL

3.25" & 4.75" Precision Lathes Models D, E, F, G & H

2.75" Screwcutting Lathe Model CS

Advertisements 1930

GA 21/2" Precision Plain Lathe

Watchmakers' Lathes

Portass-built Mk. 5 Lathe Photo Essay

George Adams of London
Watchmakers' Lathes
email: tony@lathes.co.uk
Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Catalogues   Belts   Books  Accessories