Of unknown background, surviving "Rawco" lathes - stamped on the tailstock end of their "bevelled-faced" beds as "Rawco - London" - were almost certainly manufactured by the famous German Company of G.Boley. Offered from the late 1800s onwards alongside their already very successful WW (Webster Whitcombe) and "Geneva" types, the Boley had a bed constructed from a round steel bar but with the top section formed as two triangulated faces to locate the headstock, tool rest and tailstock. Although - judging by the numbers surviving - it must have been made in some numbers, it proved to be a design that did not find lasting favour and vanished from later catalogues. However, the "bevelled-bed" must have generated some interest - for it has also been found marked not only as the "Rawco" but also "Telco", the latter sold in a fitted box by Bannister Bros. Watch, Clock, Tool and Material Dealers of Hockley Hill in Birmingham. In addition, another has been found inscribed "T.C. & M. Co. Ltd. together with at least two other versions believed to have been re-branded and sold in Europe by watch and clock dealers. However, details of the latter are, at the moment, uncertain.
If there was any possibility that either the Rawco or Telco had been made in England, then this would have been during WW1, when supplies of German-made machine tools were, of course, unavailable - just like the essential Bosch magnetos used on I.C. engines that had to be widely copied. However, replicating a basic lathe is one thing, making all the many and varied accessories is another and, as the Telco boxed kit contained a very wide range of expensive accessories - including a compound slide rest, pump-centre faceplate, high-speed grinding and milling spindles, collets of various kinds, runners and other minor fittings - the WW1 story does seem unlikely. In addition, inside the lid of the box was a label with instructions about tailstock adjustment - but the Telco name was in parenthesis, a sure sign that this was a re-branding exercise. One Telco has also been found equipped with a beautifully made dividing head which - though not of the horological pattern - was perhaps intended for the engraving of radial lines on the faces of mechanical instruments. Another Telco-branded lathe has been found carrying the markings "T. C. & M. Co. Ltd", together with what may have been a serial number: "210". Unfortunately, all the only known Rawco lathes are just of the basic type with a simple T-rest for hand turning and a few collets; so, if they were ever supplied complete with a proper accessory kit including, for example, items such as a screw-feed compound rest and a pump-centre faceplate, is unknown.
All versions have an overall length including the headstock draw-bar thumb wheel of approximately 320 mm, a bed length of 273 mm, a centre height of 42 mm (sometimes with a second bed in the boxed units, equipped with a gap able to take work 144 mm in diameter) and a capacity between centres approximately 156 mm. The spindle accepted standard G.Boley 6.5 mm collets retained by the usual draw-bar and all threads - except those on the various clamps (holding parts to the bed) and the tool post - were a mixture of fine and coarse metric. Oddly, the clamp screws measured on a Telco appear to have been either 10 x 24 UNC or 3/16" x 24 t.p.i. Whitworth.
All versions of the "bevelled-bed" Boley had the largest face of their headstock pulley drilled with 4 circles of holes, a spring-loaded indent arm allowing the spindle to be indexed through a large number of divisions.
If any reader has an example of the lathe below, or a similar type re-branded, the writer would be interested to hear from you..