email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Harrison "Jubilee" & "Union"
(and Sagar & Cooksley)
Woodturning Lathes

Jubilee Wood Lathes Page 2

Graduate lathes Home Page   Harrison Home Page

A handbook and catalogue Set is available for the Jubilee 




The first Jubilee as shown in the 1939/1940 catalogue

Introduced in the late 1930s and shown in catalogues for that era (and not, as widely supposed, for the 1948 Golden Jubilee of the Harrison company ) the "Union" Jubilee wood-turning lathe had a 5-inch centre height and was available in versions offering 30", 42" and later 54" between centres. For a short time during the mid-1950s the lathe could also be had in what was described by the makers as a "heavy-duty" version with the centre height increased to 6 inches, the spindle fitted with a 1.5" x 6 t.p.i. nose, bored through 0.5 inches and running in Timken taper-roller bearings. Selling for 27 : 10s : 0d in 1939 (with an extra foot of bed costing and additional 1) it was designed to comply with factory regulations for guarded drives and described in the pre-WW2 brochure as being: intended for technical school use. Indeed, the lathe did subsequently proved enormously popular - not only with professional wood-turners, but also with educational and training establishments from its introduction until 1965 - by which time the superior, much heavier "Graduate" lathe had been on sale for six years. During its last two years of production the Jubilee was listed at 96 : 0s ; 0d, with the Graduate only some 16 more expensive - at such a small difference in cost one wonders how long the old Jubilee stock took to clear. A 27-year production run must have seen many thousands of the lathes sold and today examples are widely available at bargain prices.
Of heavy construction, the lathe used cast-iron bed rails tenoned and dowelled into the face of a headstock plinth constructed from very heavy-gauge, welded steel plate. The 3/8" bore, No. 1 Morse taper headstock spindle carried, a 1" x 10 t.p.i thread on both ends (though be warned, some have been found with a 1" x 8.t.p.i.) and ran in simple ball races. The bearings were lubricated by screw-down caps which, if turned once each day, required filling weekly. It was powered through its 4 speeds of 425, 790, 1330 and 2250 rpm by either a 0.5 hp or 0.75 hp Crompton-Parkinson motor mounted on a vertically-adjustable plate within the cabinet leg - where the moving parts were (almost) safely hidden from the curious fingers of schoolboys and apprentices. Later machines are sometimes found with a sheet-metal cover over the protruding motor to completely seal the aperture, the thinking being that if students could get their fingers in, they would. The lathe was always supplied complete with motor and switchgear, the latter comprising just a simple overload, no-volt safety starter. The considerable weight of the (original) cast-iron framed motor and its mounting plate, together with the lack of any mechanism to lift them, meant that spindle speed changes were both slow and difficult; however, a few examples have been found fitted with a very effective foot-operated ratchet arrangement that lifted and held the motor in an up position to allow the belt to be moved from pulley to pulley. Today, as an alternative, a small hydraulic jack under the centre of the mounting plate, would seem to be a good idea. On the first lathes the headstock cover was retained by two screws, later models being given a more convenient hinged cover - which wood-work teachers then had to find a means of bolting closed to prevent nasty accidents. Other pointers to very early examples include the lack of a large flange around the base of the main plinth, an almost vertical face to the front of the tailstock, a cast handle to lock and unlock the T-rest, a motor-support plate with curved sides and (it is believed) the bowl-turning assembly in cast-iron rather than fabricated from steel plate.
Of vast capacity (able to accommodate a block of wood 5 inches thick and up to 18-inches in diameter on the aluminium faceplate) the bowl-turning rest was fitted to the outer face of the headstock column - indeed, most examples appear to have been sold with this accessory already mounted. A version with a rack-feed carriage and compound slide rest was also offered, designed to allow the machining of, in the maker's description,  "non-ferrous metals" - in other words, light-duty metal turning. This is an exceptionally useful version, and well worth seeking out.
Fitted with a (too small) No. 1 Morse taper, some tailstock barrels have been found left solid - though most were bored right through and could be adapted as a handy guide for long-hole boring. Occasionally a tailstock is discovered with the very rare (and useful) lever-operated mechanism fitted. Oddly, the tailstock handwheel, though of a large diameter, was often left smooth on the rim and, to compound the felony, chrome plated as well--thus ensuring that the operator had the smallest possible chance of getting a grip on it. The Jubilee remains a highly-effective wood-turning lathe and, because there is so little to go wrong (and even one which has been abused is easily repaired), it remains a very popular second-hand buy. It can be quickly broken down into its component parts - headstock, bed and tailstock-end leg - and, with a reasonable weight of 480 lbs (218 kg), can even be moved to a new home in the back of a Brussels-approved, European standard-issue hatchback.
Two other versions of the Jubilee have been discovered: one, with a large, vertically disposed badge reading "SAGAR" and the other as a Cooksley - the latter a well-known maker of wood-working machinery. However, if these were just copies, or the original lathe the result of some marketing exercise, is unknown..

When motors were motors, my boy. The massive cast-iron frame of a pre-WW2 design 0.75 hp motor protrudes from the headstock pedestal of a Harrison "Jubilee" wood-turning lathe.

A Jubilee fitted with the optional rack-feed carriage and screw slide rest - a factory fitted extra only.
The large hole in the left-hand leg gave access to change the spindle speed.
The bowl-turning attachment allowed for the production of jobs well beyond the safety limitations of the educational establishments who were the main customers for this machine and it was common, even in the more relaxed 1950s, for boys to be allowed nowhere near these machines during lesson times. However, it was not unknown for the more enterprising students to manufacture a key for the craft room door and enjoy a  little (unofficially ignored) extra-curricular activity during the lunch hour.

Jubilee Saw-bench Attachment - driven from the headstock spindle.


The Harrison "Union" L1A treadle wood & metal lathe (4" x 24") was produced in various forms for over 30 years, with centre heights ranging from 3.5 to 6 inches, and eventually disappeared from the catalogues (though few can have been sold during the last years) only in the late 1950s.
Both simple plain turning as well as proper gap-bed, backgeared and screwcutting versions were built on the same bed and various "
combination wood and metal lathes" were also offered. Besides the self-contained treadle drive, wall-mounted and line-shaft options were also listed - as well as various accessories including a saw table and a selection of 3 and 4-jaw chucks and faceplates.

Jubilee with rack-driven carriage

A rare find: a Jubilee with carriage and both tailstocks, one with a screw-driven barrel the other lever operated




Jubilee Wood Lathes Page 2

Graduate lathes Home Page   Harrison Home Page

A handbook and catalogue Set is available for the Jubilee 

Harrison "Jubilee" & "Union"
(and Sagar & Cooksley)
Woodturning Lathes

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