Hector Page 2 Hector Page 3
With a 2-inch centre height and around 9-inches between centres the Hector lathe was made (or marketed) by the Wexler Machine Tools of Norfolk. Wexler was a concern who may, at one time, have been involved with (or succeeded) the Perris Company - itself a descendent of firms involved in the manufacture of the Flexispeed, Simat, Meteor, Norfolk, Perris and then Cowells lathe--the latter still in production today.
Although the general design of the Hector departed from the well-established Flexispeed/Simat layout, the compound slide rest was almost certainly that used on the Perris and included a high-quality, cast-bronze handwheel on the full-length, T-slotted cross slide, neat micrometer dials and correctly formed finger grips - though the feed screw threads were simple and inexpensive Whitworth-form and not the more suitable Acme or square. Clearly inspired by the design of the Unimat 3, the layout of bed, headstock and drive system was very similar to the Emco, though the bed had two flat ways with narrow vertical guides and not the front V and rear flat of the Austrian lathe. Decently wide, the bed was well braced with cross webs and carried a rigid, box-section headstock with the spindle running in ball races. Unusually for a British-built miniature lathe, a built-on motor was supplied (complete with integral switchgear) driving to a pulley overhung on the end of the headstock spindle. It's possible that the drive pulleys were actually from a Unimat 3, but the mounting plate was slightly different and not all versions were so equipped, with the possibility that some were offered with just one speed - or a variable-speed motor. When fitted with the Emco-derived set-up with its intermediate jockey pulley, four speeds of 240, 700, 900 & 2200 r.p.m. were available. It is also believed that a 2-speed motor (probably sourced from a sewing machine) may have been offered as an option. On most examples found, no screwcutting or power feed was provided - instead the carriage was driven up and down the bed by a micrometer-dial-equipped handwheel turning a Whitworth-threaded leadscrew. Unfortunately, as there was no release for the leadscrew nut - and hence no quick-action rack-feed for the carriage - much twirling of the handwheel was necessary to advance and retract the cutting tool. As most Hector lathes are been found with a changewheel cover and an inner guard pierced with a hole for the leadscrew to pass through, it seem obvious that the it was intended to be sold in a basic form with the owner upgrading as funds permitted. However, the Hector can only have been made in very limited numbers and, if any reader has an example of any model or further information about the company, the writer would be interested to hear from you..