email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Kelson Lathe

Probably manufactured by the well-known maker of small lathes based in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire, Winfield, the 3" x 13" gap-bed, backgeared and screwcutting Kelson lathe was a badge-engineered model for the long-established Liverpool firm of Robert Kelly & Son. Founded in 1875, Kelly traded until 1976 and, having good relations with edge-tool makers in Sheffield, stocked many of their products including engineering and woodworking tools, cutlery, gentleman's cut-throat razors and precision instrument and inspection tools for engineers. Later diversifications included gardening equipment and, after WW2, larger as well as a few smaller machine tools - the latter being such as the amateur's lathe shown here.
R.Kelly & Son were particularly successful with acquisitions of other firms in Liverpool, Manchester and London - in 1930 they took control of the established machine tool and engineering supplies firm of R.Melhuish of Fetter lane and Holburn. Kelly, like many similar dealers, published rather fine, hard-back books showing their regular stock items, these publications often being bulk printed with much identical content but branded for each trader.
The Kelson lathe, with its distortion-resistant cantilever-style bed cast as-one with the headstock, appears to have taken incorporated design clues from not only Winfield but also from both early and late versions of the Myford ML1 and ML2 - and perhaps a leavening of input from Grayson. Features included the use of tumble-reverse gearing to the leadscrew with a snail-cam lever to engage the clasp nuts; changewheels were of the Myford type being 20 D.P. with a 14.5-degree pressure angle, 3/8" thick (0.375") with a 5/8" bore (0.625") and pins to hold pairs of gears when set-up in a compound train; the No.1 Morse taper headstock spindle ran in simple, plain parallel headstock bearings with each adjusted by a slot closed down by a pinch bolt at the front; a T-slotted cross slide was provided, this being fitted with a simple flat plate to support the outer end of the feed screw end together with a plain-disc, acid-etched micrometer dial.
The usual rather perfunctory, single-sided apron for this class of lathe was used, the carriage hand-traverse handwheel being geared directly to the rack and making for a rather rapid travel for just a slight turn of the wheel.
Backgear for slow speeds and screwcutting was clustered just behind the front headstock bearings and the tailstock, so similar to many other contemporary small lathes, used a No.1 Morse taper spindle bored clear through and machined with a thread on its external surface. Unlike the original tailstock fitted to the Myford ML1 to ML4 lathes, with their inadequate side support, that on the Kelson was mounted on a much more robust base and, like those on the Myfords, able to be set-over for the turning of slight tapers.
As the only known surviving Kelson is mounted on a cast-iron chip tray complete with a deep cut-out for a flat belt to rise from beneath, it must be assumed that one option was a treadle stand. However, Myford used a similar stand on one their ML2 and ML4 lathes but with a countershaft bolted to the underside of the tray and with the drive arranged to come from behind.
When the Kelson was marketed in uncertain, but the writer would guess from the early 1930s onwards, the use of tumble reverse and a cover over the changewheels point to a time when these fittings were becoming far more common.
If you have a lathe branded "Kelson, the writer would be interested to hear from you..

High-resolution pictures - may take time to open


A 3-inch x 13" backgeared and screwcutting Kelson in as-found condition.
Now in the hands of an expert restorer and being returned to working order



The changewheel with the keyway slot is from a Series 7 Myford, the others are matching ones from the Kelson

lathes.co.uk
Kelson Lathe
email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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