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Volman Lathes - Czechoslovakia
Marketed in the UK by SELSON

Models N, L & T Lathes of the Late 1930s & 1940s

Heavier Volman Lathes

A mainstay of the pre-WW2 Czechoslovakian industry was Volman Machine Tools, a company founded in 1910 by Joseph Volman in a country town, Celákovice, 16 miles east of Prague in what is now the Czech Republicn - the original Czechoslovakia being a post WW1 combination of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovensko. Still in existence today as TOS-MET the company's first products were humble drills, knives and manual presses - items similar to those already made by Volman's brother Frantisek, since 1872, in a factory at Žebrákx. It was not until 1925 that the newer Volman enterprise had sufficient expertise to become the first CZ manufacture of centre (USA-engine) lathes. Once started, progress was rapid and, within 10 years, a vast range of lathes was being manufactured and exported widely with machines for the UK market being handled exclusively by the Selson Machine Tool Company (a large dealership with many interests and agencies) then with offices at Abbey House, Victoria Street, London S.W.1. Selson, besides being manufacturers, often commissioned batches of machines - generally lathes, millers, grinders and shapers - with their either name cast into the bed or appearing on some easily-changed cover.
During 1935 and 1936 the number of Volman employees doubled when a large extension was added to the factory, a range of milling  machines introduced and the brother's original works (today a separate concern, still making machine tools) incorporated into the group and its product range expanded to include new and heaver drills. However, the Celákovice area was not Birmingham, England (with dozens of jobbing foundries crowding the market and ready to offer the keenest prices) and the company was thus obliged to operate its own in-house casting operation; this did give them the advantage, however, of not only a secure supply but also complete control over costs, material specifications and quality. The foundry still exists today and is a world leader in advanced casting techniques being responsible for many interesting items including the hub and other components of the "London Eye" wheel.
After WW2 and a take-over by communist forces, the Czechoslovakian industry became entirely centralised and state-controlled - and largely devoted to supplying the Soviet Union and its satellite Eastern Bloc countries. After freedom from Russian control, firms were returned to private hands broken into many smaller units with 80% of production exported to countries within the EU, America and Canada. Although the well-known "TOS" brand is thought of by many Western engineers as one company in its homeland the description translates loosely as: "machine-tool builder," and the initials were once applied (under state control) to many diverse industries; with privatisation legal negotiations allowed only some firms to keep the valuable "trademark" but even those who failed often adopted a variation on the theme to get around the restrictions - Toshulin, for example using "TOS Hulin" as a workaround.
Today (2004) "ZPS Zlin" is the largest Czech machine-tool builder with "ZPS" the parent company and "Zlin" the city in which they are located.  By concentrating on a low-cost and popular range of vertical machining centres ZPS Zlin manufactures more machine tools every year than the total output of all other Czech makers combined. Other Czech machine-tool companies include:
Cetos Hostivar  Cylindrical grinding machines
CKD Blansko  CNC-controlled Vertical Boring Machines
Intos Zebbak  Milling machines
Kovosvit Holoubkov  Radial Drilling Machines
Metal Press  Power Presses
Retos Vanrsdorf  Horizontal Boring Machines
Skoda Heavy-duty Lathes and "floor borers"
Smeral  Power Presses
Stanko  Metal-cutting and Metal-forming Equipment
Strojimport  Metal-cutting & Metal-Forming Equipment
Strojtos-Lipnik  Milling Machines
Toma Trnava  Power Presses
TOS (Celakovice)  Lathes
TOS (Galanta)  Lathes
  TOS (Kurim) Milling Machines, Drilling Equipment, Machining Centres, Transfer    Lines
Toshulin Vertical Lathes
VSS (Kosice and Zdas) Power presses
From the beginning all Volman lathes were sturdy, no-nonsense industrial types and a range soon developed that covered virtually every requirement of an engineering company from light production and repair work to the heaviest demands of the armaments' department. By the mid-1930s the company's products were thoroughly modern in design with an exclusive use of geared headstocks and, apart from a few special models built for the economy end of the market like the "ROBOT" (a special low-cost 6-inch "special" with a chain-driven power-feeds mechanism) even the smallest enjoyed a decent specification with screwcutting gearboxes, separate power shafts to drive the sliding and surfacing feeds fitted as standard across the range. Unless the customer specified otherwise, and wished to drive from an existing overhead line-shaft system, an electric motor was mounted on the back of the headstock, or headstock-end bed leg, and drove up to the headstock input pulley by one or more V belts.  In the mid and late 1930s the standard catalogue lathes could be divided into three groups: two classified as general-purpose workshop machines and the third as  heavier duty version of a more sophisticated design, made from better materials and with a choice of 6, 12 or 18 speeds; these latter models continued to be built into the war years of the 1940s.
Continued below:

A lighter-type Volman lathe Model JDN/2  (61/2" x 30") with flat-belt
pulley for drive from line shafting or countershaft

Volman general-purpose lathes were divided into 8-speed lighter and 18-speed heavier types; six different models of 8-speed lathe were offered (some illustrated on this page) arranged in pairs with shared components so that each used the same bed, headstock, carriage and tailstock - yet with slightly different centre heights effected by using a thicker base to the otherwise identical headstock and tailstock assemblies. The two smallest lathes, the 6.5" centre height JDN and 71/8" centre height JZDN had a 91/2" wide bed, 17" long saddle, 15 3/4" long headstock and tailstock. The JDN had a centre height of 6.5" the JZDN, with just thicker bases to its headstock, tailstock and top slide, and the diameter capacities in the gaps were 191/4" and 201/2" respectively. The headstock internals were identical, with a 1.2" bore spindle, and the same 40 to 470 rpm speed range. The screwcutting gearbox was of common design across the range (but of different sizes) and generated, in conjunction with a 4 t.p.i leadscrew, identical ranges of English threads from 4 to 60 t.p.i and metric from 0.25 to 7.5 mm pitch.
The next pair of lathes in the range (JRN and JZRN) shared the same 11-inch wide bed and common carriage, bed and headstock components but, with centre heights of 7
7/8" and 71/8" - the latter being identical to the model (JZDN) immediately below it. Of course, with its heavier built (it was some 31% to 34% heavier depending upon bed length) it was able to perform at faster rates of metal removal.
The two largest lathes in the series were the MKN and ZMKN; again, they shared beds, this time 11
7/8" across and common 201/2" long headstocks and 207/8" saddle castings with the smaller of the two (MKN) sharing the same 77/8" centre height from the pair beneath (the JZRN); this time, however, the increase in weight was insignificant with an increase in mass of only 2% to 8%.
Whether driven from line shafting or a built-on motor all versions carried a single input pulley that drove into an all-geared, splash-lubricated headstock  through a combined reversing friction clutch and automatic brake; the stop, start and reverse were operated by a shoulder-high rod that ran from headstock to tailstock. Headstock spindles were in "
special steel", ground finished with plain bronze bearings; spindle speeds were controlled three levers on the front face of the headstock with a fourth to reverse the drive to the screwcutting gearbox.
Continued below:

Volman JRN/1  71/8" x 40" with self-contained electric-motor drive

The bed carried ground-finish V ways and, though not hardened, was made from a tough iron. A detachable gap piece was standard and, when in place (secured by 4 bolts) completely filled the space between bed and headstock. In line with many other makers Volman saved money by reducing the depth and hence stiffness of the bed as it moved away from the gap area; this leant the machines something of that lightweight look so common amongst pre-WW2 lathes.
All lathes in the range had a screwcutting gearboxes of the same basic design and generated the same range of pitches; but, although the makers claimed that every gearbox could produce both metric and imperial threads by the simple expedient of moving a single lever, some boxes, on certain models are shown without the third lever to perform this function. It can only be assumed that, for markets other than the UK and USA, single-range versions would have been produced and it is these machines that found themselves, by mistake, incorrectly described in the catalogues.
Of "semi" or full double-wall construction, the aprons all had an independent drive by a slotted shaft to power the sliding and surfacing feeds; the apron design varied with the size of the lathe with the smallest having the selection of power feeds by a three-position quadrant lever that had, mounted concentrically with its pivot point, a wind-in-and-out knob to operate the engagement clutch. Whilst this design provided a degree of safety in the event of an overload, it did not allow the feeds to be "snapped" in and out of engagement. The larger machines had a quicker push-pull selector arrangement and a separately mounted knob for the clutched engagement - but still no method of instantly disengaging the feed
The saddle was strongly built but, because it could not slide past the front of the headstock, had the cross slide off-set towards its left-hand edge. The top of the saddle wings were fitted with three short T slots front and back so that it could be used as a boring table, or to mount special tools for unusual jobs. The cross slide was, unfortunately, the short type, guaranteed to wear its ways in the middle and, of course, without the ability to carry a rear toolpost for parting off or forming work; fastened to the rear of the slide was a long cover that guarded the feed screw against chips and turnings. Whilst some models had, protruding through the top of the rear right-hand saddle wing, a good-sized, knurled-finish handle to operate the carriage-to-bed lock others made do with a simple bolt head on the right-hand front saddle wing.
The lathes were all fitted to cast-iron stands arranged as a large box under the headstock and, on the lighter machines, a simple leg at the tailstock end. As an indication that Volman took their machines seriously the larger lathes with longer beds were all supplied with a third led under the centre of their beds, a feature that a good number of their well-known contemporary competitors failed to provide.
Supplied with each lathe on delivery was: a very large faceplate of a rather old-fashioned kind that came complete with 4 hardened and individually screw-adjustable jaws to convert it into a chuck; a driver plate and a spare chuck backplate; fixed and travelling steadies, a set of changewheels to convert the gearbox to cut metric pitches, either a cast-iron single toolholder or an all-steel 4-way type, a thread-dial indicator and two centres for the headstock and tailstock.
A two-speed electric motor, to give a total of 16 spindle speeds, was available as an extra-cost option..

Volman JRN/1  71/8" x 40" with large faceplate-cum-4-jaw
chuck. The T-slotted saddle is clearly shown.

The Celákovice factory in the 1980s

Models N, L & T Lathes of the Late 1930s & 1940s

Heavier Volman Lathes

Volman Lathes - Czechoslovakia
Marketed in the UK by SELSON
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