Founded by Roy Seeley, a precision engineer who had taken redundancy from Bristol Aircraft at Filton, Bristol, the Tyme Company's first lathe was introduced during 1976 as the "Model 17/37" and possibly, though not confirmed, as the "Model 17/67" Sold as kit of parts for home assembly, it was without motor or any other electrical equipment and can be recognised by the two wing nuts used to secure the spindle drive-belt cover and the pair of square tubes used as the basis of its bed. Some appear to have been adapted or modified to carry the standard Tyne solid-steel square-section bed rails - though details on this point are uncertain. Five spindle speeds were provided that, when using the recommended 1425 r.p.m. motor were: 530, 730, 1600, 2300 and 3325 r.p.m. While it is possible that the 17/37 was offered in a ready-to-run state (one has been found with proper Tyme badging and speed charts), the first built-up machine advertised as being equipped for immediate use was the "Cub", this being announced at the 1978 Wembley Wood-working Exhibition and followed, a year later, by the "Avon". These lathes were equipped with new, realistically-priced British-made single-phase motors equipped with safety NVOR switchgear.
It is known that two Avon versions with very long beds admitting 72 inches between centres and fitted with 1.5 h.p. motors were made. Braced by a pair of intermediate castings to stop the bed rails sagging, these were sold to a company in Basingstoke making stems for standard lamps.
One rare Tyme, possibly catalogued as the Model 941017, is a heavy, Taiwanese-built copy of the very useful American Shopsmith multi-function woodworker. Another seldom-encountered Tyme is the "Classic", a heavily-built lathe in cast iron with Poly-V belt drive. So far, just one example of the "Classic" has been found and if you have an example of this model, the writer would be pleased to hear from you.
Typical of the simpler, lighter wood-turning lathes made in the UK, the Tyme brand was eventually to be bought by Mahdu Dumani at Harlow, in Essex, then trading under the Multico banner and also the owner of the rights to the well-known and robust Harrison Graduate lathe. Production of the Tyme machines was put out to a sub-contractor, with all the production apparently sold for export. it being reported that Mahdu was sick and tired of the highly-critical, pernickety UK market.…
As far as is known, six models were to be offered by Tyme: the original 17/67, Cub, Avon, SL-750 and Gem - the Cub and Avon being relatively common and the others, especially the SL-750, rare. One other machine was listed, the Type 941017, a well-made, multi-function machine made in Taiwan between 1994 and 1996. A combined lathe and vertical drill saw table with a sanding attachment the unit had a 1.5 h.p. motor and infinitely variable speeds between 800 and 4700 r.p.m. If you have an example of this model, the writer would be delighted to have photographs for the Archive.
Well built in steel, cast-iron and aluminium the 5.5-inch centre height Avon could be had as the Model ATL300 with 24" (610 mm) between centres, the ATL301 with 36" (915 mm) or the ATL301 that admitted 48" (1220 mm) in bed lengths of 40", 52" and 62" (1016, 1320 and 1575 mm). Made economically from two off-the-shelf solid steel square-section bars, the bed was arranged so the front bar was set with its top surface horizontal while that at the rear had an edge facing upwards to provide a location for headstock tool rest and tailstock - this design being in contrast to the solid round bars used successfully by a number of other wood-lathe makers, notably those lathes made in Sheffield by Sorby and record Tools, the latter originally badged as "Coronet". Though inexpensively built, the Avon bed was easily able to cope with all work within the machine's capacity. Power came from a 0.75 h.p., 1425 r.p.m. 1-phase motor flange mounted against the rear section of the head's end face that drove directly to the spindle using a 4-step Polly-V pulley. Equipped with a push-button, no-volt release starter, the motor gave four speeds of 470, 750, 1150 and 2000 r.p.m. For bowl turning the headstock was arranged (like that on the Coronet Major) to swivel forwards through 90°, in which position work up to 19.5" (495 mm) in diameter could be turned on the (rather small) 4-inch faceplate over the bench surface; if turned through 180° so that work overhung the end of the bench, jobs up to 24-inches (610 mm) in diameter could be handled - though at this size some care would have been needed.
Robustly built, the headstock had a No. 2 Morse taper spindle running in deep-groove, sealed-for-life ball bearings and carried a nose threaded 2 mm x 25 mm - though the makers did offer the option of a Whitworth 3/4" x 16 t.p.i. Supplied with each new Avon lathe was a 3/4 h.p electric motor and switchgear (a 1 h.p. was listed as an extra-cost option), a 2-prong drive centre, a solid No. 2 Morse taper tailstock centre and a double-support, 10-inch toolrest.
Accessories included the usual tailstock chucks and rotating centres, a 3-point steady rest, a disc-sanding attachment, a centre ejector/thread protector for the spindle, a large-capacity bowl-turning rest, a free-standing, bolt-to-the-bench chisel rest and a second bed clamp to hold the second stem of three extra-long, 500 mm (20"), 700 mm (28") and 900 mm (36") T-rests. In addition to the standard 250 mm (10-inch) T-rest, two others could be supplied: 120 mm (4.75") and 300 mm (12").