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Weisser
Precision Bench Lathe 1874
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Sculptural in appearance--and beautifully constructed with an outstandingly clean finish to the major castings--the Weisser bench precision plain-turning lathe of 1874 had a centre height of 70 mm (2.75"), took 250 mm (9.8") between centres and had an overall length of 595 mm (23.4").
Made some twelve years after the appearance of the American Stark bench model (Stark's claim as originators of this type, in 1862, was bold and unequivocal and printed on all their sales catalogs) the lathe used a form of headstock where the spindle was carried in a bearing at the front but with its rear supported against an adjustable hardened centre at the back, an arrangement typical of early 18th to early 20th century practice for small lathes. Instead of being screwed on, or held by a draw-in collet, fittings on the spindle nose equipped with a 56 mm long taper, secured in place by a tall, square-head bolt that passed through the spindle just in front of the pulley. To ensure that the taper did not slip, a key was provided at the larger end that engaged with a slot cut into the spindle nose while to remove the taper a cross drilling was provided (outboard of the locking bolt) that allowed a drive-out taper to be inserted. The arrangement gave Weisser lathes of this type a headstock with a very distinctive appearance, the 2-step pulley being placed centrally between the well-spaced bearings. Oddly, only two speeds were provided when there was ample room to engineer in three - the maker's interpretation of what the machine was likely to be used for no doubt governing this decision. As on all light lathes of the time, the pulleys (with diameters of 75 and 105 mm) were intended to take a round leather "gut" rope drive.
Flat-topped, the bed had a central slot into which the headstock, compound slide assembly and tailstock registered, each having a central tennon and being pulled down by a T-handled bolt. Two cross screws were provided to adjust out slack, though they did not push against a plate but bore directly against the surface of the bed slots. However, in contrast to a number of later makers, including Pratt & Whitney, Wade, Derbyshire, Cataract, Lorch and Boley, the lathe was equipped with a compound slide rest where the feed screws were completely covered - the others having, if not completely open screws, a slot left down one edge of the slide through which swarf could fall. Fully machined on their outer surfaces, and having an almost delicate appearance, the slides had a unique design of feed-screw supporting flange - a circular recess being formed in the end plate into which a round boss was secured by two slot-headed screws. The feed-screws, of ordinary not square-thread form, ran through detachable nuts that appear to have been made of steel. No micrometer dials were fitted - they were yet to be introduced on small lathes of this era - with the handles of the cumbersome-to-operate crank type, again a common fitting that proceeded the much improved "balanced" design (a handle at one end and a compensating weight at the other) that offered far finer control. Able to be swivelled, the top slide was fitted with a very watch-lathe-like degree pointer, the range of movement being limited to 50 each side of central. One very unusual feature of the slide rest was the design of the gib strip, in this case more a "gib block" and machined with a full-length rectangular tongue that fitted into a matching slot on the inside face of the slide to act as an (unnecessary) form of location.
Even the tailstock displayed an artistic flair, being set atop a rectangular plinth and with the central section of the horizontal component being heavily faceted on the sides and gracefully widened to take an semi-circular through-clamp tightened by large wing nut. The barrel movement was controlled by an unusual handle, again showing the designers flair for appearance yet economy in material, being a cross between a crank handle and a balanced handwheel..



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Weisser
Precision Bench Lathe 1874

email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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