Manufactured to the south-east of Paris by Melcer S.A. of 4 Rue du Général Leclerc 77170 Brie-Comte-Robert, France (a company thought to have been specialists in medical equipment), the Melcer E3 was designed by one Igor De Palatine. Produced during the 1980s or 1990s it was offered at a respectably high price - FF33,563, at the time just over ?000. Melcher also made a number of other lathes: the MC3 (in two forms with maximum speeds of 2000 and 4000 r.p.m.), the ME3 and KBF-750. The latter (also possibly badged as the E5), retailed in 1994 at 57,000 FF (about ?700), at which there can, surely, have been few takers.
Of most unusual and economical construction - bed, headstock and tailstock being formed from extruded aluminium sections in the same manner as the original Clisby and then Sherline lathes - the E3 had a centre height of 105 mm and a capacity between centres of 410 mm (though the option of 600 mm, at an extra FF3735, was available). With a 20 mm bore and No. 2 Morse taper nose, the spindle ran in roller races and was driven by an overhung pulley from a 400W variable-speed motor that gave speeds in low range from 70 to 750 r.p.m. and in high from 280 to 2900 r.p.m. Instead of a rev. counter the E3 used a digital read-out, positioned on the front face of the headstock. Unfortunately the controlling electronics are know to give expensive trouble and so, before buying one, check that everything works as it should. A simple solution might be to swap the 1-phase motor for a small 3-phase type controlled by a variable-speed inverter.
Screwcutting was fitted, using changewheels, the standard set giving metric pitches from 0.4 to 3 mm available and carriage feed rates from 0.09 to 0.18 mm per revolution of the headstock spindle. The cross slide had a travel of 100 mm and the top slide 55 mm.
Of unusual design, the tailstock casting was split down the length of its top face with the fit of the spindle being adjustable by a row of four clamping bolts.
970 mm long, 520 mm front to back (including the rear-mounted motor) and 300 mm tall, the E3 weighed approximately 48 kg.
All Melcer lathes are rare and, should any reader have details of the Company or its products, the writer would be interested to hear from you.