Made in Denmark by the Kramper Company based in the city of Horsens - and probably on sale from the late 1940s to early 1950s, the robust-looking ZKN lathe shown below appears to be virtually unknown outside its country of origin. As is often the case with lathes of this type, it was also badged as the "ZKD" - this magical badge engineering being carried out - again in the usual way - by casting an easily changed part, the door on the face of the headstock-end support plinth, with the required lettering.
Originally named Kramper og Jørgensen, the company was founded at the beginning of the 20th and was, for many years concerned mainly with the building of stationary engines, mostly of the diesel but also for other fuels as well. The engines sold into a variety of fields, including one-cylinder 30 h.p. and two-cylinder 60 h.p. models for use in workshops, light industry and such locations as flour mills.
Mr. Rud. Kramper, the founder, died after WW2, and it appears that the manufacture of lathes, built initially for the company's own use, would have started before he passed away. Upon his death, control passed to his daughter, Miss Edit Kramper, with the manufacture of diesel engines continuing and lathes being made for sale.
With a highly skilled workforce able to built high-quality IC engines, the Kamper company was well placed to offer a particularly well-built and accurate lathe--one easily capable, it is reported, of matching or exceeding the quality of competing German and Swedish models. However, the price was high and, as a consequence, sales must have been limited. One version that the writer has yet to encounter is a wood-turning lathe, has from reports by users, a considerable reputation.
Although after Edit Kramper had died in the late Seventies the manufacture of lathes ceased, the company continued to existed for several more years building plastic wrapping machines - but closed in the late 1990s.
The example shown below is an older version, later models being modernised with the headstock redesigned for an independent central drive, a built-in motor, and a screwcutting gearbox able to switch from metric to inch pitches.
With a centre height of around 175 mm and taking approximately 900 mm between centres the ZKN illustrated used a bed with flat and V ways, its depth being considerable, even when cutaway towards the tailstock end. Of a useful length to spread wear, the saddle had the cross slide mounted on its centre line with both it and the top slide fitted with tapered gib strips. All-geared, the headstock looks to have had twelve speeds - and, judging by its charts, a comprehensively specified screwcutting and feeds gearbox. Power sliding and surfacing feeds were driven by a separate power shaft and electrical control of the lathe by the "third-rod" system - it being likely that, instead of the more normal duplicated control levers with one just to the right of the gearbox and the second duplicated on the apron, a single lever on the face of the gearbox was used instead.
If you have a ZKN or ZKD Kramper lathe, the writer would very much like to hear from you..