ROLFE Lathe - Australia
Known to be Australian in origin, the first Rolfe lathe shown below was rescued in 1968 - in a very neglected state - from a factory where it had previously been in use for many years. The headstock, with its spindle running in a single front bearing and the end supported against a hardened centre, is typical of the type commonly found on smaller amateur machines throughout the 1800s (but also on a few lathes into the 1920s) while the compound slide rest assembly looks to be of a more modern design with chrome-plated handles - though the feed screws lack micrometer dials. The twin-bar bed, still a popular design for both wood and metal lathes today, carries a leadscrew between the rails driven from a set of changewheels running on what appears to be rather larger-than-usual studs.
Both lathes have survived with their original countershafts, these having V-Type aluminium pulleys and of a pattern and built quality not seen on small lathes until the early 1930s. Hence, asked to hazard a guess as to in what period the Rolfe might have been manufactured, the writer would suggest from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s.
In 2021 a further Rolfe came to light, saved by being donated to a friend before being thrown out. This second example had survived in very much better condition but had lost its changewheels and their simple mounting bracket - though, thankfully, these items are not too difficult to make up by using gears from a Hercus, or similar.
Should you have one of these now seldom-seen Rolfe lathes, or any literature or advertisements featuring them, the writer would be pleased to hear from you.