Makers of "Bench Precision" Lathes
- defined as: plain-turning (non-screwcutting), high-precision lathes intended
for toolmaking and light production work -
Almost all makes of what are commonly refered to as "Precision Bench Lathes" can be divided into three types,
each sharing the same bed - and often headstock - but designed for different operations.
(a) toolroom: fitted with screw-feed cross and top slides, a screw-feed tailstock spindle and often a headstock collet system with
a simple draw-tube to hold them in place, this type being intended for one-off jobs of a simple nature
(b) second-operation: set up for fixed operations as part of a production process where quickness
of operation was important. These versions were equipped with lever feeds to the slide-rest assembly and
tailstock and a quick-action lever closer to hold collets in the headstock
(c) production: fitted, instead of a slide-rest assembly and tailstock, with a bed-mounted 6-station
indexing capstan unit and a lever-operated cut-off slide with front and back toolposts (in the USA referred to as
"forming slide") and a lever-operated collet closer.
Sometimes each version shared the same stand and drive system, but those from more established and successful makers were often
offered in a variety of different configurations designed for specific proposes. In addition, several variations of the stand or drive were
listed to meet even more detailed requirements - for example, the Swiss Schaublin company offered their 102 models in an almost bewildering variety
of choices and combinations including standard V-belt drive, infinitely-variable speed units, speed-reducing mechanisms for extra slow r.p.m.,
combined brake and clutches to reduce slowing down and speeding up times, mechanical reversing systems to save motors from burning
out and a number of special control devices to make life easier for the operator including pedal and knee-operated reversing switches – and
swing-out chairs….Versions designed and built especially for use in watch, clock and instrument factories were also listed together with others intended
for much heavier-duty tasks in ordinary workshops.
Headstocks, too, were often available in a number of different versions with, for example, the English Smart & Brown Company
listing, for their Model “L” lathes, the types PLH, PRH, PSH, PDH, PGH and PFH - each produced in four models, A, B, C and D
to suit a particular production process and equipped with the most appropriate drive system, spindle speed range and
collet capacity. Amongst other makers, Schaublin and Mikron also listed a wide range of options: the latter providing
a choice of over thirteen different types (with some, like the large-bore versions, listed in four additional varieties)
and Schaublin over twenty - with some of these appearing never to have been listed in the maker's sales catalogues.
Most headstocks on bench precision lathes were driven directly by a smooth-running flat-belt driven but, occasionally,
ones are found with a conventional backgear system or even - most desired and sought-after of all - with epicyclic
reduction gearing neatly encased within the diameter of the largest spindle pulley. Links on lathes.co.uk
http://www.lathes.co.uk/pratt & whitney
http://www.lathes.co.uk/sloan & chace
other known US makers few details survive,
these including: Ballou (sometimes found badged as
"Waterhouse Electric & Mfg. Co.), Ballou & Whitcombe, Moseley (Elgin),
Engineering Appliance Co. (Jamestown, N.Y.), Sawyer Watch Tool Co.,
Fenn-Sadler. and the "Cosa Corporation of New York"
http://www.lathes.co.uk/Beswick (C.H. Joyce)
http://www.lathes.co.uk/Smart & Brown Model L
http://www.lathes.co.uk/Lorch (Lorch Schmidt)
http://www.lathes.co.uk/carstens (branded "Swisten" in the UK)