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Manufactured at the factory of Rheinmetall-Borsig in what was then the DDR (the former communist-controlled East German DeutscheDemikratisheRepublikan) the Gerat-Unispan multi-function lathe had been proceeded by the simple plain-turning Unispan 110. Intended, as a matter of economy, to be driven by an electric drill, it appears to have been introduced during 1954, at an Autumn Fair of machine tools in Leipzig and was described as the "Hobbyist lathe for the people". It was built in a Government-controlled factory - "VEB Zahnschneide-maschinenfabrik 'Modul', Karl-Marx-Stadt" - which translates as: "VEB Gear Cutting Machines Factory 'Module', Karl-Marx-Road" - obviously a place that had the skills necessary to produce accurate machine tools. Following the Unispan came a very much more rather remarkable and complex machine and one closely modelled on the unusual and ingenious West German Hommel UWG1 and UWG2. Referred to in a flyer by the makers as the Gerat "DBF" it was listed by the manufacturer being a "allzweck-kleinwerkzeugmaschine" or "DBF" type - this standing for Drehen, Bohren und Fräse: in English: Turning, Drilling and Milling - in German vernacular this type of lathe is often referred to as an "Eierlegende Wollmilchsäue" or, literally translated, "egg-laying wool-milk-pig".
The machine was also branded and advertised by the communist export organisation WMW as the WMW-Modul DBF.
Several examples of the lasthe have been found, all looking rather neglected but complete with a number of accessories including items such as a slotting attachment, screwcutting changewheels, a hand T-rest, standard and tilting rotary tables, T-slotted boring table, fixed and travelling steadies, sets of collets, machine vices, chucks and a T-slotted faceplate that doubles a light-duty 4-jaw chuck. Unlike some of the other copies, the Gerat was fitted with conventional screwcutting, a train of changewheels from the headstock spindle passing through a tumble-reverse mechanism to drive a leadscrew mounted centrally beneath the underside of the bed.
Two versions appear to have been manufactured: an early model with typical of its era 'rounded" styling of the castings and a later model, possibly from the early 1960 with more a modern-looking, angular design; both are illustrated below.