All models had massive beds with the "trade mark" Lodge and Shipley elliptical webs between the front and back walls. According to factory tests the design was superior to conventional "saw-tooth" or rectangular webbing and, having been patented, was an exclusive feature of the company's lathes for many years. However, an examination of a Colchester bed will reveal a design not altogether dissimilar. The hardened and ground outer bed ways were in hardened steel but, being tongued and grooved into the bed, and retained by bolts, could be replaced with relative ease. The ways were not the traditional American V-type, but of rectangular form with the front having an "inner" V to absorb tool thrust.
Massively constructed, the carriage had a deep and rigid saddle with long, equal-length at each side. This construction placed the cross slide on the saddle centre line, where it was best supported - the bed ways being arranged so that the carriage could slide partially past the headstock to bring the toolpost right up to the spindle nose. The saddle was aligned to the bed using what the makers termed "sustained alignment" - meaning simply that the full length of the saddle was in contact with both front and rear bed ways - with adjustment of the sliding fit by long tapered gib strips against the front outer vertical bed surface together with a tapered gib under the rear of the saddle to eliminate lift. In order to reduce twisting and other misalignment forces, both the rack-and-pinion carriage hand drive, and the leadscrew clasp nuts, were aligned with the front bed way. Made in two halves spigoted together - and with the front section removable without further dismantling, or even removing it from the lathe - the apron used heat-treated alloy steel gears running on shafts supported at each end and turning in ball races. Instead of the usual friction clutches to engage the power sliding and surfacing feeds "X" lathes employed ones with positive "saw-tooth" engagement, a design claimed by the makers to be free from sticking, maintenance-free and yet able to give an easy yet positive engagement. In order to reverse the sliding or surfacing feeds on the Engine and Toolmaker lathes it was not necessary to alter the direction of rotation of the changewheels; instead, a lever on the apron accomplished the same task by engaging one or other of a pair of pinions set at each side of the apron-mounted crownwheel.. On models not fitted with the apron-mounted reverse a lever-operated mechanism was built into the headstock. Control of the carriage stop and start was through a square-section control rod with two operating levers - one on apron and the other by the screwcutting gearbox. All Model "X" lathes had two adjustable automatic length stops, one for each direction of carriage travel, that operated both when screwcutting and using the power sliding feed. However, the "Manufacturing" model was fitted with a special system, able to stop the power-sliding drive (but not screwcutting) in up to 5 positions one after the other when the carriage was moving towards the headstock. The trips slid on a separate bar, bolted to the bed, and when one trip had operated the turner was able, if very accurate results were needed, to move the carriage a little further by hand against a second positive stop before re-engaging the drive. A most useful standard fitting on the Toolmaker version was "reverse to the leadscrew", a system that allowed the spindle to continue running and the clasp nuts to stay engaged - hence completely obviating the need to refer to the thread-dial indicator when screwcutting. Although limited to spindle speeds under 400 r.p.m. leadscrew reverse was not only useful when cutting standard threads, but a tremendous help when it was necessary to generate metric or odd threads and leads - or on similar occasions when the thread dial could not pick up the engagement point. The mechanism was simple and involved an additional control rod, parallel to the leadscrew that, when partially turned by its operating handle, shifted a single-tooth "dog-clutch" mechanism contained within the changewheel drive to the screwcutting gearbox. Of course, on lathes without leadscrew reverse it was still possible to cut odd pitches and metric threads by the usual method of leaving the claps nuts engaged, withdrawing the cutting tool, and then electrically reversing the machine back to the starting point of the thread.
A four-way power-feeds rapids unit was available and used a separate motor driving, through worm-and-wheel gears and a multi-disc overload clutch, a reduction gearboxes bolted to the tailstock end of the bed. A separate shaft, running down the back of the bed, passed through left and right-hand bronze nuts carried in a housing attached to the back of the carriage. An independent control unit, operated by a lever on the front face of the apron, enabled either nut to be restrained and rapid traverse of sliding and surfacing feeds selected in either direction. Pressing the handle operated the feed whilst releasing it caused an instant return to neutral and immediate disconnection of the drive.
Lubrication of the apron was automatic with a built-in plunger pump operated by cams on the cross-feed and longitudinal-feed clutch shafts during any movement of the carriage or cross slide. A supply of filtered oil was distributed not only around the apron internals but also to the front and rear bed ways and the cross and top-slide ways. The pump could also be operated manually by a lever, a useful fitting when the carriage was stationary and the top slide in continuous use - or if the lathe had stood unused for some time.