LIP Precision Milling Machine LIP Watchmaker's Lathe
Beautifully made, the Fench LIP-515 must be considered the finest of all machines in that rare group, the miniature, bench-mounted surface grinder. Manufactured by Lipemec Machine Tools based at 13 rue de Contrevaux, 25290 Orans to the south east of Besancon, in the French Jura, the company appears to no longer in production, with one of their lasst grinders being the Model P200
Of the same capacity as the late version of the American Sanford, the SG-48, it had a longitudinal travel of 400 mm (8 inches) and in traverse of 100 mm (4 inches). Although the base, saddle and table were similar to those on the Sanford, it used a completely different, double-column upright to carry the grinding head - the solid steel bars being hardened, ground, protected by bellows and held into the base casting by large nuts on their threaded ends.
Few surface grinders of similar size and capacity to the LIP-515 have been offered, with the best known of the miniature type including the American Sanford and the Builders Iron Foundry (the latter a simple, fairly crude type with an oddly arranged hand-lever table feed). In Pre-WW2 years the English Herbert Company offered a somewhat larger "Ball-bearing Bench Surface & Die Grinder" (and later a floor-mounted hand-operated model) and EXE their very fine bench machine. A French Company, Lipemec, produced the beautiful LIP 515, this having the same capacity as the Sanford SG-48 at 8" x 4" (200 x 100 mm), a somewhat similar base, saddle and table - but with an entirely different, double-column upright to carry the grinding head - the solid steel bars being hardened, ground and protected by bellows. Grenby, an American machine maker better known for their cylindrical grinders, made a slightly larger table-top unit with the design (in a modified form) used as the basis for the Australian Macson. In recent years a version of the "Grenby-Macson" has been produced in China to be sold under various brand names including Harbor Freight and Tormach. The Tormach, manufactured to a higher level of accuracy and finish is, today, available with automatic feeds and has travels of 6 by 12 inches - travels for the hand-feed Grenby are not known. Made in Taiwan, the Richyoung was the product of a company now specialising in in CNC machine tools, while the high quality, superbly constructed unit from the Swiss Bulova watchmaking company - though this model might be considered (like the Richyound) as being too large and heavy for the description "miniature" to apply.
Other, larger, hand-operated surface grinders commonly found include the 2B and 2LB Brown & Sharpe models, the Capco, Eagle, Superior, Feinprüf, Jones & Shipman Model 540H and Norton Model TS.
A fascinating video of a LIP-515, including details of its rebuild and produced by Stefan Gotteswinter (his photographs are below) can be found here,