Produced in the "Training Workshop for Mechanics" at Wettsteinallee 175 CH-4058 in Basel, Switzerland the 100 mm centre height by 450 mm between centres "Piccolo" lathe is built as an in-house project at the Polytechnic and manufactured in two versions, one with a gearbox drive to the headstock, the other with electronic variable-speed drive.
Although only limited details are available it is known that the lathe was designed to appeal to the amateur-segment of the market - "amateur handicraftsman, the do-it-yourself enthusiast and the hobby mechanic".
The bed is manufactured from a hard, grey cast iron with the ways polished and scraped. The eight spindle speeds of 66, 132, 265, 350, 530, 700, 1415 and 2830 r.p.m. are generated by a reversing electric motor through a "four-level gear-wheel transmission" that means no belt changes are necessary. The makers ascribe a long service life to this installation, claiming an oil change is necessary only every two years.
The variable-speed version has a lever to shift between Low and High ranges and, within those two, speeds of 30 to 300 and 300 to 4000 r.p.m. This very deep speed range allows safe threading and both very small and large-diameter work to be carried out successfully.
Like those of certain high-class Schaublin lathes, the leadscrew is arranged down the centre-line of the bed to minimise the twisting forces on the carriage and give the shortest load path from tool to leadscrew clasp nuts. A set of screw-cutting changewheels is provided and provides feeds from 0.05 to 0.2 mm and threads from M6 to M16. Unusually for a small, modern machine the carriage feed is fitted with that most useful of fittings, an adjustable knock-off.
Running on three adjustable high-precision roller and ball bearings, the headstock spindle has a diameter of 45 mm, a bore of 28 mm and is unusually strong in comparison with the lathe's capacity; the large bore allows the use of Schäublin W 25 collets.
Requiring a bench space of just over a metre in length and 300 deep, the Piccolo 450 weighs approximately 98 KG and is finished in an impact resistant, 2-part hard paint covered with a lacquer coat.