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

Purcell Lathes
"Visby", "New Visby", "Conemaster" and "Record"
Conemaster & Record   New Visby Mk. 3   South Bend Copy   10.5" & 12.5"

Other Australian-built machine tools here




Purcell lathes were manufactured in Australia by Purcell Engineering Co. (1940) Pty. Ltd. and distributed by the well-known Demco Machinery Co. Pty. Ltd. of Sydney. Beginning in the early 1920s, the company first offering was a general workshop and light-duty production machine, the "Visby", made in a wide range of capacities. By the late 1930s the original lathe had been updated, as the 8-inch New Visby and, in this form, proved to be a popular, long-lived model with both Mk. 1 and Mk. 2 versions stretching production into the 1950s. Both had "rounded" styling with the Mk, 1 being fitted with a flat-belt final drive from an underdrive countershaft and the Mk. 2 (with only minor alterations) available with the option of an all-geared headstock. In addition, a "heavy-duty" 8.5-inch version of the latter was also manufactured, the main differences being concentrated in an apron equipped with revised and much safer controls. As an addition to their line at some point in the late 1930s, Purcell introduced the heavier 8.5-inch Conemaster and otherwise identical but geared-head Record. By the late 1950s a thoroughly updated and quite different Mk. 3 New Visby was on offer - a machine with very much more modern, angular lines - and sold as both the "Record" 17/26 11" and "New Visby" 17/26 111. A popular smaller lathe was the company's direct copy of the American South Bend 9-inch, though in Australia this was in competition with two other clones, the Hercus and Sheraton. A prolific manufacturer, Purcell also undertook the building of various special-purpose machines including railway wheel turning, long-hole-boring and facing lathes

For its time the original Visby was an utterly conventional lathe and resembled, in some regards, the popular German Ehrlich sold in the United Kingdom as the IXL. Initially the name covered a wide range lathes varying in centre height from a smallest of 6" though 6.5", 7", 8", 9", 10", 11.5", 13", 14.5" and 16".  However, it appears that production was eventually concentrated on two models, both of nearly identical mechanical specification save for their capacity in the gap, centre height (one being seven inches and the other eight) and diameters and width of their 3-step headstock cone pulleys. By combining the (helical) backgears with the maker's standard two-speed countershaft (200 and 260 r.p.m on the smaller lathe and 180 and 230 r.p.m. on the larger) six spindle speeds were available. With 1.75-inch wide headstock pulleys varying in diameter from 4 to 6.75 inches, the smaller lathe, using a 1 h.p. motor, had speeds from 23 to 297 r.p.m. whilst the larger, with 2-inch wide pulleys from 4.5 to 7.5 inches in diameter and a 1.5 h.p. motor, could run from 26 to 330 r.p.m.
Continued below:

The original Visby lathe as advertised during the early 1920s

Continued:
Manufactured in what was still referred to as "crucible" steel - small-batch production of high-quality metals originally being confined to this process until the advent of the mass-production Bessemer process - the ground-finish, 1.5625-inch bore, main spindle ran in parallel-bore, phosphor-bronze bearings with lubrication through felt wicks - this system ensuring that only oil, not dirt, was drawn in. Seated in conical housings, the bearings could be adjusted by ring nuts to set the required clearance.
10.25-inch wide bed (9.5" on the 7-inch version) the bed used four ground V-ways. The Vs at front and back guided the saddle (that at the front being made wider to better absorb wear) with the inner pair used for the tailstock. A 4-bolt gap, dowelled in place, was fitted as standard and allowed a disc of material some 21" in diameter and 6.5" thick (23" and 7" respectively for the 8-inch version) to be turned on a faceplate. Fitted with long T-slotted arms, the saddle was secured by keeper plates at front and rear and carried a compound slide assembly of conventional design with balanced handles, tapered gib strips and the usual infernally-small micrometer dials that, in this case, read only to within 0.004"
Unlike many makers of similar machines, it appears that, at least on early models, Purcell offered three different screwcutting and power feed arrangements. The basic "plain" non-screwcutting model had 8 changes of feed by power shaft; the screwcutting model used changewheels to give 62 pitches and feeds whilst the top-of-the-range Norton quick-change gearbox version gave (without changing or dismounting any gears) 36 inches pitches and the same number of feeds. All types drove from spindle to screwcutting gearbox through a tumble-reverse assembly - carried on the inside face of the headstock's left-hand wall - and used proper double clasp nuts in bronze used to grip the 4 t.p.i. leadscrew. Later machines, which were offered only with the Norton box (this combined the usual tumbler selector with a three-range box controlled by a quadrant lever to the left of the main box) could generate pitches from 4 to 60 t.p.i. with sliding feeds (from a separate key-way type feed shaft) varying between 0.001" and 0.0295" and surfacing from 0.000375" to 0.015" - all per revolution of the spindle. A metric conversion changewheel set was offered that gave 26 pitches from 0.25 to 7.5 mm. One especially useful facility was an adjustable knock-off fitted to the power shaft - though this could be set only when a cut was working towards the headstock. Power feeds were selected by a three-position, quadrant lever with engagement by a friction clutch engaged by screwing in a star wheel on a shaft concentric to that for the lever. Although the mechanism precluded an instant engagement and, more importantly, instant disengagement of the feed (and would have "wound up" under load) at least that for the sliding could be released immediately by the knock-off mechanism.
Well equipped as standard, the makers supplied with each machine a 4-jaw independent chuck-cum-faceplate (a common offering at the time), a fixed steady, travelling steady, a set of changewheels, coolant equipment with tray and fittings, a 4-way toolpost, a catch plate, a spare chuck backplate, two Morse centres, an adaptor sleeve for the headstock spindle (down to 2 Morse), a complete 2-speed countershaft unit and the necessary spanners for routine maintenance and headstock bearing adjustment.
Continued below:

Purcell New Visby Mk. 1 8-inch lathe. Note the light, upright tailstock

Continued:
Introduced at an uncertain date, but most likely in the very late 1930s, the
New Visby was a modification of the original fitted with an integral drive system. This, as on South Bend lathes of the same class, was totally enclosed within the headstock-end plinth. However, the main dimensions, mechanical design and detailing remained much the same as before  - though guarding of gears and belts was improved and just one length of bed offered - with a capacity of 49 inches between centres. In summary the specification of the new models was: a 10.25-inch wide bed with an 11.5" centre height into the gap (with the ability to turn a disc some 7 inches thick on the standard 14-inch faceplate); a spindle bore of 1.5625", a Norton-type screwcutting and feeds gearbox able to generate 36 inch pitches from 4 to 60 t.p.i. and 26 metric from 0.25 to 7.5 mm, sliding feeds (from a separate key-way type feed shaft) varying between 0.001" and 0.0295" and surfacing from 0.000375" to 0.015" - all per revolution of the spindle - and a 4 t.p.i. leadscrew.
Although now fitted with a neat, compact and efficient integrated drive system that gave six speeds of 21, 52, 94, 144, 240 and 420 r.p.m.- and retaining its 2-inch wide flat leather belt for final drive to the spindle - it was still possible to specify the lathe for drive by a separate countershaft, or from line shafting in a factory. However, the new arrangement ensured that the lathe met the competition head on for no longer was it necessary to spend a day installing an unwieldy wall or ceiling-mounted countershaft and motor assembly, belt strikers and motor platform, instead the lathe could be plugged in and used immediately. Mounted within the headstock-end plinth, the drive system was carried on a large cast-iron plate, the motor - either 1 to 2 h.p. - being slung beneath and driving a ball-bearing countershaft above by multiple V-belts. The mounting plate was in two parts, one being arranged so that the V-belts could be tensioned (and the setting locked) and the whole assembly hinged so that an externally mounted lever, closely resembling the type used on South Bend lathes, could be used to raise and lower the assembly when a change of speed was required.
Fastened to the left-hand face of the saddle was a long aluminium cover that protected the front V from the wearing effect of swarf - and it's possible that some examples would also have been fitted with a similar over the back V. Certainly by the time of the Mk. 3
New Visby, in the  late 1950s, all four saddle wings were thus equipped. The compound slide rest was unaltered, save for larger micrometer dials and rather inelegant, full-circle handwheels.
Continued below:

Purcell New Visby Mk. 2 with flat-belt drive

Continued:
Although precise dates are unknown, it is likely that the New Visby Mk. 2 was introduced just after WW2 in 1947 or 1948. Changes to the belt-drive model were few - though the model was instantly recognisable by the use of a much heavier tailstock, with its barrel housing leaning forwards to improve the minimum centre-to-centre distance, a countershaft lifting lever hinged from top left-hand corner of the plinth door (instead of the main casting) and a reversing switch mounted on a tall post that bolted to the back of the bed. However, the main difference was the option of an all-geared, 8-speed clutched headstock with a 1.875-inch bore spindle and identical in general layout to that used on the company's contemporary 8-inch Record lathe based on the 8.5-inch Conemaster. Driven first by a 1.5 and then a 2 h.p., 960 r.p.m. motor fastened to vertically-adjustable rails on the back of the headstock plinth, speeds ran from a low of 30 to an inadequate maximum of 340 r.p.m. and - unlike the Record- there was no option to fit a 2-speed motor to improve matters..

Purcell New Visby Mk. 2 with an all-geared headstock

Rear view of the Purcell New Visby Mk. 2 with all-geared headstock

Confusingly named, this is the New Visby in its heavy-duty Record form. Note, in comparison to the ordinary New Visby,  the entirely different apron and the altered changewheel guard.

A slightly different view of the New Visby in its heavy-duty Record form


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

Purcell Lathes
"Visby", "New Visby", "Conemaster" and "Record"
Conemaster & Record   New Visby Mk. 3   South Bend Copy   10.5" & 12.5"

Other Australian-built machine tools here