email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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R.O.F.B. Watchmaker's Lathe
Other Lathes for Watchmakers


Marked on the bed: R.O.F.B., this 8 mm watchmakers' lathe was manufactured during WW2 in the Royal Ordnance Factory in Birtley -  a town in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Royal Ordnance Factories was the name by which the United Kingdom's Government-controlled munitions industry was known until 1967. In addition to munitions, the organisation manufactured a wide range of high-precision mechanisms including such items as gun sights and range finders and, in peace time a diversification to such mundane items as parts for the textile industry, parts for band-saws, light wood working machinery, generators, gearboxes for Guy buses, printers guillotines and (from the Nottingham RO factory, forging dies for Raleigh pedal cycle cranks.
With wartime supplies of the usual German and Swiss-made lathes from the likes of G.Boley, Leinen, Lorch and Wolf, Jahn unavailable, British industry turned to making both their own designs, for example by Pultra as well as straight copies (the most widely produced and hence best known of these being the B.T.M.) and even a short-run (though post-war) of a special type by Rolls Royce
Like the B.T.M. , the R.O.F.B. seems to have been based on the G.Boley lathes of the lighter "Geneva" type - the bed having the flat section at the top rather than at the back (like those made by Lorch and Wolf,Jahn) and a very Boley-like toolpost. However, an owner of a R.O.F.B./ reports that he has successfully used accessories and collets from a Wolf-Jahn.
Numbers built must have been tiny, for few survive and are rarely advertised - though the one illustrated below did come with an interesting set of drawings showing that considerable care had been taken in its manufacture. The following (incomplete) set of measurements were included:

Spindle internal cone run true: 0.0001"
Headstock pulley end play: 0.003"
Tailstock "with lug" aligns to spindle vertically: 0.001"
Tailstock "with lug" aligns to spindle horizontally: 0.0015"
Tailstock "without lug" aligns to spindle vertically: 0.0015"
Tailstock "without lug" aligns to spindle horizontally: 0.0015"
Cross slide traverse at 90 deg. To spindle: -
Tailstock centres true with diameter male: 0.0002"
Tailstock centres true with diameter female: 0.0002"
Driver plate centres run true male: 0.0003"
Driver plate centres run true female: 0.0002"
Lateral slide traverse parallel with spindle axis vertically: -
Lateral slide traverse parallel with spindle axis horizontally: -
3-jaw chuck concentric: -
Headstock accessories fit spindle: -
Assembled and Test by H.C. Bevan 6/9/49


Interestingly, a rather different R.O.F.B. has been found, this being mounted on a self-contained base plate with a neat (if economically constructed) motor-countershaft unit and built-in switchgear. The use of an intgrated base plate was a development first found on this class of machine during the late 1940s with examples (of a trend towards greater neatness of construction) including contemporary lathes from Leinen, some models by PultraIME - and the later, rather special Boley F1. Could R.O.F.B. have been ahead of the competition. Pictures can be found at the bottom of the page..


A rather different R.O.F.B. mounted on a self-contained base plate with motor and built-in switchgear. The economical; arrangement of the combined motor-countershaft unit is interesting- and, the writer believes, original. The most interesting aspect of this example is the support plate, a development first found on this class of machine during the late 1940s with examples (of a trend towards greater neatness of construction) including contemporary lathes from Leinen, some models by PultraIME - and the later, rather special Boley F1


Other Lathes for Watchmakers

R.O.F.B. Watchmaker's Lathe
email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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