Better known for their superb milling machines, the French Vernier Company also made a limited range of high-class toolroom lathes of which just two models (so far as is known) were exported to the UK during the 1960s and 1970s. The smaller was the beautiful little 140 mm (5.5") by 600 mm (23.5") TV-280 and the larger a toolroom/production type, the T-190S.
Highly regarded, the Vernier company was eventually to be purchased by Emco, of Austria, who used elements of the Vernier design in their Maximat 13 lathe - the headstock internals being almost identical.
Of distinctive design, the TV-280 certainly looked a typically French product of the period, even to the central position of the carriage handwheel on the apron, a feature shared by some of the smaller lathes from other makers such as De Valliers, Lefebvre Et Martin, H. Ernault-Somua and C.H.E.M. The TV-280 was also built in the former Yugoslavia as the FAM-280 - a licensed copy identical in all respects to the French original - and also sold as the Voest DA160
Mounted on a fabricated stand with built-in coolant, a splash-back and a kick-stop switch on the front, the lathe was of high quality - and with an impressive specification. Running in expensive, English-made Gamet high-precision bearings (a double at the front) the No. 4 Morse taper, 26 mm bore heat-treated nickel-steel spindle had an excellent span of 16 speeds from 35 to 2500 r.p.m. Unfortunately, the spindle nose was an American-specification A1-4", an uncommon fitting in Europe.
All-geared, the splash-lubricated headstock held chromium-nickel, heat-treated gears hardened to "175 kg" and finish ground. Power was provided by a 2-speed 2.7/3.5 h.p. 3-phase motor 1500/3000 r.p.m. motor held within the stand.
Supplied as an all-metric specification lathe, screwcutting was though a sealed Norton-type gearbox, with all-dial-selection of the 18 pitches and feeds, to a 24 mm diameter 6 mm pitch leadscrew. Without dismounting any gears, threads from 0.5 to 5 mm pitch could be cut and feed rates, via a separate power shaft, varied from 0.056 to 0.56 sliding and 0.018 to 0.18 surfacing. As the carriage was being power driven it was possible to disengage the handwheel, a useful safety feature.
Hardened and ground, the very deep and wide V and flat-way bed was without a gap - to improve rigidity - and hardened to 220/240 Brinell.
The set-over, No. 3 Morse taper tailstock had a 120 mm travel hardened and ground spindle engraved with a mm ruler, though it lacked the micrometer dial essential on this class of lathe.
About the same size as a Colchester Triumph 2000 - and with a similar specification - the Vernier T-190S had a 7.5" (190 mm) centre height and was available with either 40" (1000 mm) or 60" (1525 mm) between centres. Running in high-precision Gamet bearings the 1.6" (40 mm) bore, A1/5" nose spindle had 12 speeds from 39 to 2000 r.p.m. driven by a 7.5 h.p. motor.
If any reader has a Vernier lathe - or other Vernier machine tool - the writer would be interested to hear from you.
A Yahoo group has been formed for users of these lathes: See: