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      email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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      Midwinter Lathe


      William Midwinter (and the Midwinter Engineering & Cycle Stamping Co) were, in all probability, typical Birmingham jobbing engineers who could turn their hands to anything. Based at James' Foundry at 21 Cumberland Street, Birmingham, England,  it is known (from a reference in Peck's Trades Directory of Birmingham, 1896-97) that they were resident there in 1896.
      How many and what variety of machine tools they made is unknown, but this example of a crude, not to say ugly plain-turning centre lathe would have been offered at the bottom end of the market.
      Although the bed was of a good weight and depth, the headstock was of lightweight construction with small, "box" bronze bearings and no backgear for slow speeds. It would originally, of course, have carried a three or four-step pulley for flat-belt drive from a remote countershaft. By contrast the compound slide rest was almost an object of artistic beauty, having what must have been when new, a decent cosmetic finish in addition to proper square-thread feed screws. Driven by typical of-period crank handles, the feed screws were left-handed, meaning that a turn to the right resulted in the expected forwards movement of the slide - a bonus when so many competitors used right-hand threads that resulted in a "cack-hand" movement in the opposite direction. Unfortunately the top slide screw, together with the slideways, were left completely exposed to the wearing effects of swarf and dirt.
      Interestingly, the slide assembly had one or two odd features, including the fitting of two triangular 'ears' on the front of the top slide base casting, a radiused front to the cross-slide casting, a number of holes drilled though the top surface just inboard of the end face and a rectangular recess machined into the top face at the back. All these arrangements suggest something is missing - though what is open to speculation The toolpost mounting is yet another puzzle (the toolpost itself is clearly a later addition) with a rectangular pin passing just in front of - and level with the bottom of - a hole into which, presumably, the tool holder sat. A broached rectangular hole is something best avoided in production - unless it was part of a system whereby the tool height could be adjusted quickly, as on, for example a Swiss Mandrel lathe..

      Interestingly, the slide assembly had one or two odd features, including the fitting of two triangular 'ears' on the front of the top slide base casting, a radiused front to the cross-slide casting, a number of holes drilled though the top surface just inboard of the end face and a rectangular recess machined into the top face at the back. All these arrangements suggest something is missing - though what is open to speculation The toolpost mounting is yet another puzzle (the toolpost itself is clearly a later addition) with a rectangular pin passing just in front of - and level with the bottom of - a hole into which, presumably, the tool holder sat. A broached rectangular hole is something best avoided in production - unless it was part of a system whereby the tool height could be adjusted quickly, as on, for example a Swiss Mandrel lathe.



      email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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      Midwinter Lathe
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