Roberto Gernetti s.s.s of Samarate-Varese, Italy, had been manufacturing shapers for over forty years when, in the early 1960s, they introduced their final models the 500 mm to 850 mm stroke "New Line" range. Even though these were serious industrial class machine tools, albeit of a most prosaic function, they still managed to exhibit a remarkable degree of Italian design flair.
Designed around a centralised control system - where just one lever was made to operate both the normal and rapid feeds - the machines incorporated a hydraulically operated infinitely-variable speed drive system that included a brake and safety overload clutch, the latter acting as an automatic stop in all four directions of feed. Both vertical and horizontal feeds could be engaged at once by operating a separate lever placed on the cross rail. Feed rates horizontally varied from as slow as 0.118" per minute to a rapid return feed of 90"/min - and vertically between 0.059"/min and 46"/min rapid.
A complex, internally ribbed casting, the main body was bolted to a separate base plate and carried a ram (designed without the traditional central slot) with hardened and ground sliding surfaces and including a mechanism that allowed its stroke to be changed whilst under power. The swivelling tool holder was fitted with an automatic feed - which operated in both directions - and tool lift was obtainable in every position of the ram and inclination of the head.
Mounted within the main column, the drive gearbox held hardened and ground gears running on high-tensile shafts; the ram-drive bull wheel was a one piece casting, with helical teeth and supported on adjustable roller bearings.
Particularly well designed, the box table consisted of a central component formed as a massive hub that was locked to the column by four tie bolts. The table, equipped with both T and V-slots, revolved on the hub, supported by an adjustable support that (to accommodate the table's lateral movement) slid on the base casting.
A centralised lubrication system was fitted - it used the same oil as the hydraulic system - supplied from a sump in the base of the column; two adjustable taps regulated the supply to the ram.
The smallest machine in the range had a stroke of 500 mm (nearly 20") and was fitted with a swivelling T and V-slotted box table 13.75" x 14.75" and 14.75" high. The maximum clearance under the ram was 17" and the table travel was 24" horizontally and 14" vertically. 6 speeds were available that powered the 36" long ram at stroke rates from 16 to 160 per minute. The 6-inch travel tool head was fitted with a choice of 8 automatic feeds - and accepted tools up to 1.5" x 0.5" in section. The 5 hp motor ran at 1420 rpm and the whole machine weighed 4960 lbs - or 2.2 tons. In comparison, the largest machine in the range, the substantial Type 850NS, had a ram just over 45 inches long, a 10 hp motor and weighed 4.7 tons ?..