Seldom found on the UK used market this handy little wood lathe was ideal for turning small spindles and other delicate work. Based on the MD65 metal-turning lathe two versions were offered, the Variant MD120 and MD150, they were also sold branded as the"Al-Co Kober HMD 850", a Chinese copy that might have used other names, such as "Farmer". Seemingly identical in all respects to the East German original both were sold on the British market for a short time during the 1970s.
Instead of a simple "stripped-down" conversion of the metal lathe, the makers went to some trouble to make the lathe genuinely useful and both increased the centre height (that matched in mm their model number - i.e. 120 mm and 150 mm) and provided 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, also supplied 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.
One significant improvement over the metal-turning Hobbymat was a tailstock locked by a lever-operated cam - this removing the opportunity for the operator to snap the casting by putting the Allen key into the wrong cap screw on the back of the unit.
Like all Hobbymat machines the Variant was a considerable bargain being supplied complete, ready to use - in this case 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.
Like those on the metal lathe, both the electric motor and its switchgear left something to be desired - but these are snags easily overcome, the simplest solution when the motor does eventually disappear in a could of smoke being to mount a suitable replacement behind the lathe and connect it with a longer belt..