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Swift Lathes
More Model L Lathes   Post WW2 Model L   Model V & SV3   
Models "A/SA"  "B/SB" & "F"
Early Swift Lathes   Swift Delivery Truck

George Swift and Sons were once a well known English machine-tool company based at the Claremont Iron Works in Halifax, Yorkshire. The company was founded in 1884 and had a long and successful history supplying a wide range of not only lathes, for which they were probably best known, but also numerous different kinds of conventional, multiple-head and radial-arm drills, slotting, shaping, planing, roll grinding and fluting machines as well as twist drills, rotary and box table and other engineering accessories.
The Model L Series lathes, shown below and here, were current during the 1930 and 1940 and designed with a speed and feed range such that they could not only handle the high-speeds and fine feeds required to get the best out of the then current of tungsten-carbide tools but also be capable of the lower speeds and heavier cuts possible with ordinary high-speed steel. The result was a roller-bearing machine, with a large capacity gap bed, that was just as capable of turning small shafts at high speed as handling the largest casting that could be bolted to an oversize faceplate running in the full depth of the bed's gap. After World War 2, the Company's model designation was changed with two sizes of the Model L3 continuing to be built (with minor modifications) as the V3  with swings of 18.5 and 22.5 inches. The lathes were all fitted as standard with a large flat-belt input pulley which could be driven from overhead line system or, if required, adjustable rails could be supplied fitted to the back of the bed able to accept a suitable electric motor; in this latter case the input pulley was changed for one with V belts, the short distance between the motor and pulley being judged insufficient to allow a good wrap-around for the flat belt to transmit full power. A further addition supplied as standard with the V-belt drive lathes was a combination multi-disc clutch and Ferodo-lined brake unit, controlled from a handle fitted to the left-hand face of the apron and operating through a long control rod set parallel to the leadscrew and powershaft. The position of the operating handle was unusual, for most other makers chose to fit it to the right-hand side of the apron, to take the operator's hand away from red-hot turnings spiralled from the cutting tool and out of the way of large, heavy and potentially errant lumps of unbalanced material fastened to the faceplate. Perhaps the workmen of Yorkshire were made of sterner stuff than others, and could not be bothered to consider such trifling matters.
The apron was a model of simplicity and ease of use with a patented single-lever control to select, interlock (against leadscrew engagement) and engage the power sliding and surfacing feeds. As the Swift company pointed out, a few seconds saved during each change of operation might not seem to matter but, multiply the number of changes made each working by the number of lathes employed in the factory and the seconds turn to minutes, the minutes to hours and the profit on the now larger pile of parts on the floor will mean that you have either gained a workman for free - or can afford to employ one extra. Various other aids to faster production were also offered including duplicated electrical controls mounted on the apron.
Tailstocks were all fitted with bored-through barrels and generously-size capstan handle operation; although in some ways a clumsy design to use, this system did allow a decent length of travel to be obtained with good support when the barrel was fully extended.
Because many purchasers required special features on their lathes, Swifts offered a customising service and were able to build machines which differed from standard in a number of ways and which might have had, for example: longer, shorter, straight, gap or even sliding beds, automatic trips and stops to the carriage drive, increased or decreased centre height,  rotating capstan heads on the cross slide for production work or adapted as special-purpose surfacing, boring or roll-turning lathes where a dedicated machine might not have been economic..

Model 7L3:  with a 7-inch centre height (14-inch swing) and a capacity between centres of 30 inches (and a gap able to accept material 25 inches in diameter and 9 inches deep) this was the smallest of the L3 Type lathes. The 2.625-inch bore headstock spindle ran in taper-roller bearing and was driven by a (recommended) 5 hp motor; 12 spindle speeds were available that could be ordered as 13.6 to 500 rpm, 16 to 600 rpm or 27 to 1000 rpm.
For screwcutting, a limited-range box was fitted with 9 feeds, 9 English threads from 1 to 80 t.p.i and 9 metric threads from 1 to 10 mm. Alternatively, a full screwcutting Norton-type quick-change gearbox could be specified that generated 54 threads and feeds from 1 to 56 t.p.i, and 47 metric threads from 0.5 to 28 mm pitch.
Standard equipment comprised a 14-inch diameter T-slotted faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
The lathe weighed approximately 3808 lbs (1727 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 4144 lbs. (1880 kg).

Model 8L3:  an 8.5-inch centre height (17-inch swing) and a capacity between centres of 51 inches (and a gap able to hold material 30 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep) made this a larger-capacity version of the Model 7L3, yet one that managed to use many of the same parts. The 2.625-inch bore headstock spindle ran in taper-roller bearing and was driven by a (recommended) 7.5 hp motor; 12 spindle speeds were available that could be ordered as 13.6 to 500 rpm, 16 to 600 rpm or 27 to 1000 rpm. Whilst the bed depth remained the same at 12 inches, the width across the shears, at 14 inches, was some two inches greater.
For screwcutting, the same limited-range box and diameter of leadscrew (1.875") as used on the 7L with, again, the option of a full screwcutting Norton-type quick-change gearbox could be specified that generated 54 threads and feeds from 1 to 56 t.p.i, and 47 metric threads from 0.5 to 28 mm pitch.  .875
Standard equipment comprised a 14-inch diameter T-slotted faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
The lathe weighed approximately 5152 lbs (2337 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 5600 lbs (2540 kg).

Model 10L3:  with a centre height of 10.5 inches (21-inch swing) and a capacity between centres of 69 inches (and a gap able to hold material 35 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep) was the larger-capacity L3 that again managed to use the same 2.625-inch bore headstock spindle, running in the same size roller bearings (7-inch diameter front and 5-inch diameter rear) as the smaller models, but driven (through the same choice of speeds) by a 10 hp motor. Whilst the bed was increased in depth by 3 inches, and the width by 4 inches (and an additional support placed in the middle) the same screwcutting gearboxes and size of leadscrew were employed, offering exactly the same range of feeds and threads. 
Standard equipment comprised a 14-inch T-slotted diameter faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
The lathe weighed approximately 6160 lbs (2794 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 6608 lbs (2997 kg).

Model 8L6 - shown above with the optional 54-speed Norton-type screwcutting gearbox, 4-way toolpost, suds pump, tray and fittings, a heavy-duty roller-bearing rotating centre in the tailstock and an ammeter to indicate the load on the motor.
There were three L6 Types in the range, and this particular version, listed by the makers as an "Extra-heavy Duty" lathe, was, in effect, a short-bed  (48" between centres) version of the ordinary 17-inch swing 8L3 but fitted as standard with a built-on motor drive giving a total of 18 spindle speeds in a choice of two ranges: either  9.2 to 400 rpm or 14 to 600 rpm.  Besides the different design of headstock gearing, several components were modified to suit its extra work capacity of which the most significant were the larger spindle with a 3.625-inch bore, bigger 7.5-inch diameter roller bearings at front and rear and a bed made 2 inches wider and 3 inches deeper.
The lathe weighed approximately 6272 lbs (2845 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 6832 lbs (3099 kg).

Model 10L6:  This 10.5-inch centre height (21-inch swing) lathe was classified by the makers as a "Heavy Duty" machine and had a capacity between centres of 69 inches with a gap able to accept material 35 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep). The 3.625-inch bore headstock spindle ran in 7.5-inch diameter taper-roller bearing front and rear and was driven by a 12.5 hp motor; a total of 27 spindle speeds were available that could be supplied in any one of three ranges: 9 to 420 rpm, 13 to 600 rpm or 17 to 800 rpm.
The screwcutting arrangements were identical to the smaller machines with the same diameter of leadscrew (1.875") and a choice of either a limited-range box (able to generate 9 feeds, 9 English threads from 1 to 80 tpi and 9 metric threads from 1 to 10 mm) or a full screwcutting Norton-type quick-change gearbox with 54 threads and feeds from 1 to 56 t.p.i, and 47 metric threads from 0.5 to 28 mm pitch.
Standard equipment comprised the usual Swift range of a (20-inch) T-slotted faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
The lathe weighed approximately 6944 lbs (3150 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 7504 lbs. (3404 kg).
More Swift lathes can be seen here.

E-Mail Tony@lathes.co.uk 
Home    Machine Tool Archive    Machine Tools For Sale & Wanted
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Swift Lathes
More Model L Lathes   Post WW2 Model L   Model V & SV3   
Models "A/SA"  "B/SB" & "F"
Early Swift Lathes   Swift Delivery Truck