Vektor & Mecana "Speed Lathes"
Very similar in appearance, both the Mecana and Vektot speed lathes were made in Switzerland, the latter by Vektor AG of Genferstrasse 11 in Zürich, during the 1950s and 1960s. This very high-quality machine used a Landert Motoren, 2-speed reversing motor able to run at 840 and 1680 rpm. With a centre height of 110 mm and a spindle bore of 36 mm, it was intended for the simplest kind of turning work on small components and polishing jobs.
Fitted with an Amar 3-jaw chuck of 135 mm diameter on the right-hand facing spindle, on the left-hand end of the motor shaft (which was bored clear through) was mounted a Veritas 10 mm capacity precision keyless drill chuck of German origin. The compound slide was from a Schaublin 102, secured in place by a 12 mm T-bolt that could be quickly released and relocked by the action of an eccentric cross shaft turned by an adjustable-position lever.
Fitted with a unidirectional clutch able to alter the speed ratio, the 3-jaw chuck could rotate in only one direction (with four speeds of 220, 315, 440 and 630 r.p.m.) but the drill chuck in either at the direct motor speeds of 840 and 1680 r.p.m.
Appearing to be otherwise identical, the Mecana was equipped with a much larger T-slotted table and offered as two models, the NB1 and NB1S. These differed only in the motor fitted, the NB1 having a 2-speed motors 0.25/0.35 PS running at 700 and 1400 r.p.m. and the NB1S a 2-speed 0.4/0.6 PS running at 1400 and 2800 r.p.m. Spindle speeds for the NB1 were 175, 250, 350 and 500 r.p.m. and for the BN1S 350, 500, 700 and 1000 r.p.m.
Unfortunately, the lathe might not meet the requirements of all turners involved in precision work for an experienced users reports that he found the machine a wonderful idea in principle. but lacking in practicality. He discovered that the combination of spindle speeds, the size of the chuck, the capacity of the through bore, the short spacing of the spindle bearings in their housing, and a lack of rigidity in the cam the slide rest made it mostly useless for his work. He commented that the two t-slots on the cross slide were improperly spaced to mount the top slide - the inner one being too close and creating clearance issues with the chuck jaws while the outer T-slot also left the slide badly placed. In use the lathe displayed a lack of overall rigidly and had a tendency for chatter to develop.
He did like the unique addition of the drill chuck able to be spun at much, higher speeds and appreciated it being a through-bore keyless type that allowed long, thin rods to be used through the entire housing - but he could find no real practical use for it. He summed it up by declaring that while it was a quality product and well engineered, he could not understand what real purpose it served..