email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Eclipse - Portass Lathe
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Portass Model C    Shaper   Portass Junior   Portass Model X & XL
Eclipse Portass   Portass Round Bed   Portass Mk. 5 (Mk. V)
"The Big Dreadnaught"     Portass "Window" Model



Three models of Eclipse-branded lathes are known, all produced for sale (presumably) by either the Sheffield-based hand-tool makers James Neil & Sons (using their Eclipse brand name) or by Fry's (London) Ltd of 24-26 Water lane, Queen Victoria Street, E.C.4 who were known to have offered such models during the 1920s. The smallest of the three is a very rare version of what appears to be an early 21/8" x 10" plain-turning Portass (or a copy of it) and the other two much heavier screwcutting types of around 4-inch centre height. Of unknown origin - though marked as "British Made" - research indicates that the latter may not have been by Portass but Samuel Peace & Sons Ltd, of Well Meadow Steel Works, Sheffield a firm able to undertake crucible (high-quality steel) casting and who made various products including such diverse items as sets of files and complete machine tools.
Manufactured from 1926 onwards, for an unknown length of time, the smallest Eclipse was manufactured when Portass was trading as the
Heeley Motor & Manufacturing Co., If the lathe was by Portass, the re-sellers  must have insisted upon certain refinements for the machine was altered in considerable detail from the standard version. The headstock, instead of being cast as-one with the bed, was a bolt-on unit and, in place of a spindle running direct in the cast iron of the headstock (with simple clamp-down splits for adjustment) proper two-bolt caps and bronze shells were used - though this may have been an owner's modification for the other known example has the standard (and easily-damaged) split bearings of the ordinary Portass. A 33/8-inch diameter faceplate would have been supplied as standard, as was a simple, but well made compound slide-rest. Further details of these early Portass-built lathes can be found here.
Of the two larger Eclipses models, shown lower down this page, one was screwcutting but without backgear while the other had both screwcutting (with drive to the leadscrew through tumble reverse gearing) and backgear. The non-backgeared version looked rather like the Australian Keen lathe with its leadscrew running down the centre line of the bed - though the British machine incorporated a dog clutch at the headstock end in a manner identical to that employed by Drummond on their 1902 1942 3.5-inch flat-bed models..

This Eclipse with the ordinary split headstock bearings, a type that wore quickly and, if over-tightened, would crack the headstock casting through the oil hole--as shown in the picture below

Cracked headstock casting

The very rare 4-inch centre height Eclipse. This example has been converted by a precious owner to V-belt drive.
Another, probably later version was also offered: this had a longer bed with a foot at the tailstock end and a headstock where the two bearings were braced by an overhead bar. So far only one incomplete example of this type has been found. Should you have one, or any literature about Eclipse lathes, the writer would be interested to hear from you

Later, braced headstock Eclipse backgeared and screwcutting lathe


email: tony@lathes.co.uk
Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Catalogues   Belts   Books  Accessories

Eclipse - Portass Lathe
Portass Home Page   
Heavy Duty 4-inch  Portass PD5   First Portass Lathes
Portass Model C    Shaper   Portass Junior   Portass Model X & XL
Eclipse Portass   Portass Round Bed   Portass Mk. 5 (Mk. V)
"The Big Dreadnaught"     Portass "Window" Model