Although the name Tangye is synonymous with industrial Birmingham - and a famous makers of a vast range of industrial equipment - the maker of the Tangye lathes shown below carries the cast-in name: Tangys' Machine Tool Co. Ltd. Birmingham. Hence, this maker's precise relationship with the long history of Tangye Brothers, James Tangye and Brothers, Tangye Brothers & Price and finally, Tangyes Ltd. is not clear - but one must assume that it was indeed by this very successful engineering concern. Examples of the maker's ordinary workshop lathes so far found all seem to have come from the late 1800s to early 1900s, the designs being of a period no later than that. Some pictures are high-resolution and may take time to load
Discovered complete but neglected in an abandoned building and still driven by a wall-mounted countershaft unit, the first lathe shown is approximately 7-feet long with around 60 inches between centres and constructed using a typically English style of bed with a flat top, dovetail sides and a detachable gap piece. The headstock spindle thrust is taken - in a typically Victorian manner - by an outboard plate mounted on two posts; the backgear ratio is 10 : 1 and the chuck fitted a period 8-inch diameter Taylor with its three dangerous, protruding keys. At some point in the past the headstock pulley was changed to a 4-groove V-type to take an A-section belt and, from the relative narrowness of this fitting, the original fitting could well have been just a 2-step flat-belt cone pulley. With only four speeds available - two in open drive and two in backgear - the countershaft would almost certainly have been arranged to at least double the number.
Interestingly, the lathe is constructed to carry, at the tailstock end, a vertical milling machine, the bed at this point cast so as to form a mounting platform for the miller's main column to be bolted on. In front of the column is 10-inch diameter rotary table, turned by worm-and-wheel gearing; a dovetail, screw-feed slide is provided for the X feed but with the Y being by sliding the whole assembly along the bed under the control of a screw and handwheel mounted at the tailstock end of the bed. The drive is picked up from an extension to the lathe countershaft, a 3-step pulley mounted rotating a horizontal shaft with the motion turned through 90° by bevel gears to turn the spindle.
Another useful item is a "quick-retract" handle on the cross-feed screw, its aim being to provide a way of screwcutting at high spindle speed, the mechanism including a very coarse thread with the lever locking into notches in the handwheel and overriding the action of the cross-feed screw.
Happily, the lathe shown is now in the hands of a sympathetic owner who intends to restore it. Check back for future pictures of the finished job.
If you have a Tangye lathe or other machine tool (or any Company literature), the writer would be very interested to hear from you.