C.E.Parsons Capstan Lathe
Almost certainly a product of the late 1940s to early 1950s, the small and simply-constructed C.E.Parsons capstan lathe was by a known manufacturer based in Leicester - but of whom almost no background information has survived nor, as far as the writer is aware, any of their sales literature.
Of solid build - though with castings having a rough finish and the headstock and V and flat-way bed cast as one - the Parsons was supplied on an under-drive stand with the electric motor mounted on vertical rails to adjust the tension of the A-section V-belt. Just three speeds were provided, all directly driven, meaning that only a limited range of jobs would have been possible, the spindle speeds likely to have been around 700, 1400 and 2800 r.p.m.
Collets, of the dead-length type, were held in a screw-on nose piece with opening and closing being by a rather unusual arrangement, the lever-action collet closer being fitted immediately behind the collet chuck. However, although not confirmed, the spindle may have been fitted with a brake on its left-hand end - but how it operated is not known.
Rather oddly, the capstan head held only four tools instead of the more usual six, this perhaps indicating a machine built to handle a specific production job - and therefore built down to a price and offered to the buyer at the lowest possible cost. The makers had even economised on the number gib-strip adjustment screws with only four, well-spaced ones being fitted. The normal type of lever-operated cut-off slide was fitted, this having a useful three T-sots at the front and two at the rear. Contemporary alternatives to the Parsons would not have been few and far between and not included, for example, capstan versions of the very expensive Schaublin 102 or Mikron 90 - or even the smallest No. 0 Models in the Herbert, Timbrell & Wright and Ward ranges. Also able to be discounted are the production lathes by Murad, Exacta, Accuratool, Smart & Brown Model L, Taylor, Southwark and Raglan, all of which, even in their smallest and least expensive forms, were far more sophisticated and fitted to stands with complex drive systems. Indeed, so plain and simple was the Parsons that only a WW2-era Myford ML5, ML6 (or similar) would have been as cheap to buy and operate - though the poor operator might have bemoaned the fact that, lacking frills, everything (even spindle speed changes) had to be operated by hand.
If you have any additional information about the Parsons company and its products, the writer would be interested to hear from you