Van Norman were, at one time, a leading USA manufacturer of high-quality milling, die sinking and engraving machines. They also made a number of expensive precision bench lathes (that closely mirrored the design of the original Stark and similar makes*) and a variety of small bench milling machines. The lathes were built in three sizes: Nos. 3, 3 1/2 and 5 - the latter appearing to be the most popular. As was usual with this type of machine a wide variety of extra was available including a horizontal milling attachment carried on an extended plate outboard of the headstock (the headstock spindle provided the drive) and screwcutting. A small, self-contained horizontal milling machine for bench mounting was also offered; very rare (few can have been sold) like those from other makers of similar models such as Ames, American Watch Tool, Cataract, Stark, Pratt & Whitney, Sloan & Chace and Waltham) it used a headstock (or the internal components) taken from of one the Company's precision lathes.
In the last decades of the 20th century the Company turned to specialist products for the automobile repair trade. In the UK the name Van Norman was always associated in the popular mind with a portable cylinder re-boring apparatus and their machine tools were little known outside a circle of professional people involved in machine-tool procurement. Van Norman used a simple numbering system for their products, with lower values denoting the smaller machines.
If you have a Van Norman precision bench lathe, a small milling machine or any company literature featuring these machines, the writer would be delighted to hear from you.
*High-class American "Precision Bench Lathes" as made by such manufacturers as:
*Levin, Bottum, American Watch Tool Company, B.C.Ames, Bottum, Hjorth, Potter, Pratt & Whitney, Rivett, Wade, Waltham Machine Works, Wade, Pratt & Whitney, Rivett, Cataract, Hardinge, Elgin, Remington, Sloan & Chace, W.H.Nichols, Crystal Lake and (though now very rare) Bausch & Lomb, Frederick Pearce, Van Norman, Ballou & Whitcombe, Sawyer Watch Tool Co., Engineering Appliances, Fenn-Sadler, "Cosa Corporation of New York" and UND..