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      email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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      Hesketh-Walker "Alligator"
      Planing Machine
      - and the "Liverpool Castings & Tool Supply Co."
      hand-operated shaper -


      An interesting small planing machine, obviously from the late 1800s and thought to be by Hesketh Walker Tool Maker, Liverpool, England. Hesketh-Walker had an obvious connection to Arthur Frith (and later Tom Senior) of Cleckheaton and Liversage, the planing machines produced by the companies being either very similar or, in some cases, identical. However, who made exactly what, for whom, is unknown. However, an identical machine was featured in the Model Engineer and Electrician Magazine for March 30th , 1905, where it was described as being by the Liverpool Castings Co. (a firm described in later years as the Liverpool Castings & Tool Supply Co. who also produced the small 6-inch stroke hand-operated shaper shown below). A number of different versions have been identified, early and late, with that described having a table travel was 14 inches, driven by proper square-section screws, and a capacity of 6 inches (in width) by 4 inches high.
      On page 20 in Volume 2 of the long-running Newnes
      Workshop Series (black covers, not blue) the same machine appears referred to as an Alligator-type planer, presumably from name cast into the machine's side and derived from the jaw-like swinging action required to operate it (to warm up in a freezing workshop during mid January, what could be better? The perfect cardio-vascular workout combined with a profit or fun-making activity). The Newnes picture - together with the lowest illustration on this page - shows an earlier model with a less-well-braced cap section joining the uprights and a simple hand-screw feed to the cutter head - the tool having to be advanced manually across the table as work proceeded. However, in the colour photograph immediately below, the automatic ratchet system fitted appears to be original.
      Should any reader have a similar machine, of any make, the writer would be interested to hear from you..

      Above an immediately below an early Hesketh Walker planer inscribed
      The Alligator, Hesketh Walker Tool Maker. Liverpool

      A neat, 6-inch stroke hand-operated shaping machine by the Liverpool Castings & Tool Supply Co.
      Made in steel (the makers claimed that this gave maximum stiffness with the minimum of friction) the ram appears to have been equipped with two locations into which a fulcrum pin could be inserted - the idea, presumably, being to change the amount of leverage available. Secured by bolts held in two vertical slots on the front face of the main casting, the knee carried a table with a cross travel of 4.5". From the single sutrviving illustration it is unclear if the toolbox could be rotated, but the maker's did list the maximum clearance beneath a tool -  3.75". If the shaper was correctly mounted so that the vertical, T-slotted face of the table overhung the front of the bench, it became possible to accommodate long jobs that would have hung down in front, so allowing their end faces to be machined. According to the description that accompanied the machine (words almost certainly taken from the maker's publicity blub) the table: "is guided on the cross-feed slide by means of an accurate circular bar of large dimensions, and is actually under three-point pressure. Adjustment for wear is rendered simple by means of the adjusting screws at either end of the slide frame". This most unusual arrangement - the table carried on a bar -  must surely have been unique. Included with each example sold was a slotted table extension piece and a small machine vice with jaws 7/8-inch deep by 1 3/4" across that opened to take work  23/4" wide.
      Can any of these shapers have survived? Should any reader have one, the writer would be interested to hear from you.

      An earlier version with a slender cap casting and hand-feed to the tool post


      email: tony@lathes.co.uk
      Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools Sale & Wanted
      Machine Tool Manuals   Catalogues   Belts   Books  Accessories

      Hesketh-Walker "Alligator"
      Planing Machine
      - and the "Liverpool Castings & Tool Supply Co."
      hand-operated shaper -

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