Introduced in the mid 1950s the 7-inch stroke South Bend shaper was an elegant and compact design. Normally supplied from the factory on a neat, fabricated sheet-steel stand with two or three locking drawers it was also possible to order one for bench mounting. The shaper was built in early and late models, the latter (easily recognised by the splayed foot casting under the box table) being the more desirable of the pair with a sturdier base and built-in, centralised lubrication system. The oiling arrangement (it's suspected that it might not have been fitted to every Mk. 2 made) had a sump in the base and a pressure pump to supply lubricant, via tubes, to the most highly-stressed parts: the ram dovetail (eliminating the need for a row of oilers along the ram), bull-gear and pinion, pinion shaft and rocker arm. However, not all parts were so connected and it was still necessary to attend to some by hand.
Although the table had only the same 5" of height movement as the competing Atlas machine, the automatic cross feed (which worked in both directions) had just a little more travel at 9.5" and was allowed, for safety reasons (on some if not all examples produced), to run off its nut at the end of the travel - a feature other many other shaper makers could, with advantage, have copied.
65/16-inches long, 5-inches wide and 53/8-inches deep, the box-form table was provided with parallel slots on both its top and left hand sides and tapped holes and a single V-grove on its right. It was supported by an adjustable jack-screw that slid along a cast-iron support plate fastened to the top of the stand - so stiffening the front of the work table and eliminating, to large extent, the flex caused by taking heavy cuts. The usual South Bend attention to detail was evident with well-finished castings, crisply engraved micrometer dials and the toolpost and its tightening screw in hardened steel.
Simple but effective, the self-contained, plain-bearing, V-belt countershaft system was neatly hinged on the rear of the machine and carried a 1725 rpm single or three-phase 0.33 or 0.5 hp motor that provided four stroke rates of 42, 75, 120 and 195 per minute - which translated into cutting feeds of approximately 3 to 114 feet per minute. Speeds were changed by lifting a slotted belt-guard cover on the right hand side of the machine, releasing the belt tension with a long, ball-ended lever, and moving the belt from pulley to pulley. As a finishing touch proper 'balanced' ball-handled levers were fitted to the vertical, cross and tool-head feed screws and a well-made, swivelling-base vise with steel jaws 4-inches across and able to accommodate work 4 inches wide by 1-inch deep, was supplied as standard. In addition to the stand, the makers also offered a set of indexing centres able to take work up to 5-inches in diameter and 6-inches long (the drive centre was turned by worm-and-wheel gearing through a hand crank with graduated collar and the large dial graduated to show 360°; a 4.5-inch rotary table with three T slots (one set at 90° at two parallel ones); swivelling control handles; a 4.5" x 3" x 2" angle plate;standard and extension tool holders, various motors and their control gear and a plastic dust cover.
The South Bend shaper was copied - with modifications and an inch-longer stroke - by Boxford in the UK with two versions being made: a now seldom-found Mk. 1 that retained the rear-mount countershaft of the South Bend and the common Mk. 2 with improved mechanical detailing and an enclosed underdrive stand designed to be safe for use in schools and colleges. Both versions of the useful little Boxford retained the parallel sides of the Mk. 1 South Bend.
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