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Hobbymat MD65, MD120, Variant &
Prazimat Lathes & BFE Milling Machine
- also badged as the Saupe & Sohn and Proxxon - 
Prazimat Lathes

Lathe and milling machine manual can be ordered on-line here.
Please enquire by email for belts, spare parts and the
slow-speed attachment

Made originally in what used to be "East Germany", by VEB Prazisionsdrehmaschinen (now, Unitech) the Hobbymat MD65 Universal (as it was known in the UK) was also marketed in the USA as one of the Prazimat range and in parts of Europe as the Saupe & Sohn and Proxxon. It was also made as the MD120 wood lathe (described below) - this too being branded in a number of different ways. During the early 1980s the Chinese made an exact copy of the MD65, (even to painting it the same shade of yellow) that can easily be distinguished from the real thing by its use of a very heavy cast-iron base-plate, poor detail finishing and a lack of standard accessories. A neat, well-designed little lathe of 65 mm (2.6") centre height by 300 mm (12") between centres, the Hobbymat found great favour amongst the makers of smaller models, jewellers and watch repairers - and has long proved a very-popular second-hand buy.  While the bed was steel - and formed in the manner of a Geneva-pattern watchmaker's lathe being round with a flat section along its full length at the top - the supporting base-plate was in aluminium. There were four spindle speeds from 250 to 2000 rpm and, although provided with changewheels and a leadscrew, the high bottom speed rather mitigated against attempting to use the lathe for screwcutting - unless you employed the inexpensive third-party supplied "low-speed" pulley assembly. These are available from time to time - please email or phone 01298-871633 for details
Held in place by a  rather inconvenient 3-stud bolt-on arrangement, chucks are found with three different recess diameters: 55 mm and 56 mm each with M6 bolts, and 63 mm with M5 bolts. The most common is the 56 mm, originally fitted with a Polish-made 3-jaw chuck identifiable by a single key hole. The 63 mm recess units had a chuck of TOS manufacture while the rarest version, the 55 mm, was fitted only to very late-model examples. A very useful and well-made 4-speed  powered vertical milling head was also manufactured (it was mounted on back of the lathe bed) and turned the lathe into a compact "machining centre".
Like many other Eastern European products made under communist-control during the "Cold War" from the 1950s to the 1980s, it was effectively sold at a loss to obtain Western currency and was, therefore, something of a bargain - especially as it was so well equipped. Supplied as standard were: a compound-slide rest, 3-jaw chuck and guard, standard and rotating centres, machine vice, angle plate, tailstock chuck, changewheels (a set consisted of nine plastic gears of: 35t, 40t, 50t, 55t, 2 x 60t, 2 x 65t and a 70t) spanners and even a set of screwdrivers - but no faceplate. With German re-unification, and the arrival of the West German Mark, the company could no longer compete at the lower end of the market and production stopped for several years. It has recently resumed and both the lathe - now somewhat modified and known as the BFW300, together with its optional milling head - and a complete milling machine are once again available.
Fitted to a light baseboard with handles a Hobbymat can just about be lifted on and off a bench by one man - or very easily by two - making it ideal for situations where space is tight or the machine will be only be brought out for occasional use.
There are few problems with the machines, but the method of locking the carriage and tailstock to the bed, and the setting of the all-important "limit screws", must be understood if over tightening and cracked castings are to be avoided. An examination of the parts will show that each (carriage and tailstock) are split along their underside with two socket-headed screws, arranged side by side, passing through the slot. One of the screws (the
stop) is arranged to bear against the inside face of the slot - and so limit the amount the other screw (the compression screw) can close up the gap. Having established which is which, loosen both screws so that the casting slides easily along the bed; tighten, a little at a time, the compression screw until the casting locks to the bed. Now screw in the stop screw until it just bears against the inside of the slot. Slacken the compression screw to see if this allows the casting to slide--it should. Now tighten it again, without undue force, to check that the casting locks. If not, back of the stop screw 1/6th of a turn at a time until it does. It may be that in service, with the forces involved, the castings can still move a little; if so, back off the limit screw by one 1/6th of a turn and tighten the locking screw - that should solve the problem. The MD65 is a small, light lathe and it will not tolerated ham-fisted operation or the clumsy over tightening of fittings.
Prior to 1990, lathes were fitted with two rotary electrical switches with a rather sticky, stiff and imprecise action; subsequent models were improved with one rotary and two push-button controls.
BFE 65 Milling Heads
The same vertical milling head with its 315, 560, 900 and 1600 r.p.m. speed range was used on both the MD65 lathe and very useful compact stand-alone BFE vertical miller. When set up as an independent unit, a 160 mm x 450 mm co-ordinate table was employed, equipped as standard with rulers on each axis. Early heads were very reliable, with reports of them being in continuous service for over 25 years, Unfortunately, heads made after approximately 1992 were fitted with "improved" plastic gears in place of the earlier fibre type and theses can suffer from loose bushes that allow them to slip down and partially engage the face dogs of those beneath, so locking the drive. Fiddling with the control levers and twisting the spindle backwards and forwards usually enables the machine to start up again - and run in an apparently normal manner. Even if stopped and started several times the symptoms may not reappear so, if you are contemplating a used example, warm the miller up by running it for ten minutes on top speed and then do a stop-start test at least a dozen times on every speed. Only then should you accept it as satisfactory. However, should the fault be present it is not fatal and the bushes can be easily 'Loctited' back in place - though dismantling and reassembling the head is an awkward and time-consuming job. To keep the head in good working order regular greasing of the gears - and the selector forks - is vital. Two interesting points concern the mounting of the vertical head within the bracket that fastens to the back of the bed: the bracket bolts into place, and can be adjusted by two screws each of which bears against a dowel pressed into the bed, so as to tilt the column left or right, but not towards or away from the operator. Hence, should the column prove to be out of line in a fore and aft direction, the only solution is to shim the bracket mounting faces at the top or bottom.
Closed down onto the column by two cap-head screws, the support casting employs a third screw acting to spring it open slightly to aid removal (rather in the manner of the tailstock and carriage fitting to the bed). If these screws are mishandled the block will be cracked - therefore any adjustment should be approached with caution..

The Proxxon-badged Hobbymat MD65 was finished in green

Standard compound slide assembly

Underside of the standard compound slide assembly

Standard toolpost - take care not to over tighten the two central bolts and so crack the cross-slide casting

Hobbymat MD120 Variant dedicated wood-turning lathe

Two dedicated woodturning versions of the Hobbymat were produced - and advertised in the UK as the MD120 and MD150 Variant (they may also have been sold branded as thee "Al-Co Kober HMD 8502"). These differed from the metal lathe in having a greater centre height that matched in mm their model number - i.e. 120 mm and 150 mm -  a gap bed to turn a maximum of 300 mm in diameter (360 mm for the MD150) and a capacity between centres of 300 mm for the MD120 and around 650 mm for the MD150. However, supplied as standard with the MD120 was an extra bed section that gave an additional 350 mm of capacity--or even more if placed further away. The spindle, with a screwed nose, was driven directly from the motor and had three speeds of 950, 1450 and 2100 r.p.m.
The
Variant was supplied complete with a 6-piece chisel set, rotating centre, wood-drive centre, toolrest, faceplate with a woodscrew centre, egg cup chuck, the 350 mm bed extension and a tool kit of spanner, screwdriver and Allen key.
Copied by the Chinese, a version of the lathe was marketed as the Al-Ko (and possibly using other names). Seemingly identical in all respects to the original, it was sold on the British market for a short time during the 1970s

Hobbymat MD120 Variant dedicated wood-turning lathe with standard accessories including the bed-extension piece

BFE65 Milling Head fitted into a bracket on the rear of the bed and converted the lathe into a most useful milling and drilling machine. Included in the kit was a T-slotted table to replace the ordinary lathe cross slide and the head was also available on its own compound table as an independent mill/drill.
Before buying a second-hand, be sure to run the head through the entire speed range (315, 560, 900 and 1600 r.p.m.) several times to check for jamming gears - see the main article above.

The complete Hobbymat BFE vertical milling machine with its 160 mm x 450 mm table

Each table axis had a ruler fitted as part of the standard equipment

E-MAIL   Tony@lathes.co.uk
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This web site is part of the lathes.co.uk web site
Hobbymat MD65 & Variant Lathes
BFE Milling Machine & Prazimat Lathes

Prazimat Lathes

Handbooks, drive belts, accessories and spares are available for the
Hobbymat lathes and milling head
NOW AVAILABLE: a limited number of Hobbymat Slow-Speed Attachments email for details