Wabeco machine tools are made by Walter Blombach GmbH, Am Blaffertsberg 13, D-42899 Remscheid, Germany, phone: 02191 -597-0, Fax 02191-597-40
It is reported that lathes and millers sold under the Prazi II Apollo label appear to be the same as the current Wabeco machines even to the series numbers.
The company, long established in the machine-tool field, currently makes a range of small lathes and vertical milling machine with both conventional and CNC controls. During the early years of the 21st century the lathe range consisted of two basic models, each with a different kind of bed: the series 2000 twin-bar type (in production since 1978) and the more conventional series 6000 in cast-iron with inverted V ways.
The bar-bed lathes, although heavily built and of excellent capacity for the amount of room they occupied on a bench, were of essentially simple construction and specification - there was no tumble reverse (although a pair of gears was available to cut left-hand threads), power cross feed or screwcutting gearbox available; all had a 110 mm (4.3") centre height with the cheapest example, the D2000, being limited to 350 mm (13.8") between centres compared to the 500 mm (19.7") of the more highly specified D2400E and D3000E variants.
All models were fitted with taper-roller bearing headstock spindles bored to pass 20 mm and equipped with a No. 3 Morse taper centre. The D2000 had, in basic form, a countershaft drive (of clever design) using smooth-running Poly-V belts to produce speeds of 90, 180, 310, 470, 900 and 1600 rpm from a range-standard 1.4 kW motor - a useful spread, but too fast on the lowest setting for successful screwcutting by the inexperienced.
Both fitted with a very quiet, electronically-controlled, variable-speed headstock spindle drive as standard, the D2400E and D3000E had a rather more useful range of 45 to 2300 rpm - and was offered as an option on the D2000. Despite the compact nature and economy of using a variable-speed drive, the makers decided to enhance the slow-speed capabilities of the lathe by mounting, under the headstock, a speed-reducing countershaft between the motor and spindle; one hopes that, at the lowest speed, there was still sufficient torque to tackle large-diameter turning and slow threading - although it could not, of course, have been be equal to that provided by a proper backgear assembly.
Protected by a simple top cover, the leadscrew, ran between the bed rails and was fitted with a direct-acting graduated handle at the tailstock end - although some versions included a right-angle bevel box that caused the operating handle to be brought out at a more convenient right angle to the bed and so face the operator.
Unless you can afford to buy a Hardinge HLV or HLV-H precision toolroom lathe, your chances of enjoying separate electronic control of the spindle and carriage travel are almost zero; however, that was exactly the system employed on the D2400E and D3000E models - separate, electronically-controlled motors allowed both spindle rotation and tool advance rates to be independently set. The carriage drive motor, combined with its speed-reducing gearbox in a unit that looked remarkably like a windscreen wiper motor assembly, was mounted at the headstock end of the lathe behind the rear bed rail with a toothed belt used to take the drive to the centrally-mounted leadscrew.
In use, if the "textbook" speed and feed setting for the particular combination of workpiece diameter, material and tool angles did not produce perfect results then, by experimentation, adjustments could made instantly to one, or both of them, until things improved (another important advantage of an independent, electrically-driven carriage is the reduction in the number of gears involved in the transmission of power; gear drives are bad news for surface finish, they induce vibrations which, whilst usually hidden in the "roughness" of ordinary turning, become much more evident in the finer finishes that high-quality machines are able to generate). Unfortunately, this ease of use came at the expense of a complication in the way that screwcutting was provided; if a full screwcutting gearbox had been fitted the problem would not have arisen - the price would simply be a lot higher - instead, realising that generating threads is an infrequently undertaken task, the designers settled on a system that used toothed wheels and belts. This unusual arrangement - in theory subject to variations in the thread pitch as the drive belts stretch - worked, in practice, perfectly well. It had the bonus of almost completely silent operation but, in comparison with a set of ordinary gears, was a comparative nuisance to set up.
Engagement of the power and screwcutting feeds was by a chrome-plated, ball-ended, 3-position selector lever on the lower front face of the headstock; in its middle position the lever put the drive into neutral while moving it upwards selected the screwcutting feed - and downwards the variable-speed electrical drive.
A useful option on all early Wabeco lathes was a vertical drilling and milling unit mounted behind the bed - the same head units being used on the company's self-contained milling machines. Various fittings to mount on the lathe bed were available to extend the unit's usefulness - a T-slotted boring table, vice and rotary table being amongst the most popular.
The D2000 measured 980 mm long by 400 mm wide and weighed approximately 59 kg; the other two bar-bed lathes measured 1250 mm x 36 0 mm and weighed 65 kg.
For detailed photographs of the Series 2000 lathes click HERE.
Details of the cast-iron bed Series 6000 lathes can be found HERE.