Pfeil were a firm established in the 19th century and based at 145, 147 and 149 John Street in the Clerkenwell district of London - with an associated company, Pfeil, Stedall & Son in Broad Street, Bloomsbury. By the end of the 1800s they had grown to become a major supplier of home-produced and imported engineering equipment (all illustrated in a large, beautifully-produced, hard-back catalogue) and also agents for several English and foreign machine-tool makers. They also "bought in" a range of shapers, small planers, drills and simple, plain-turning lathes which were sold under their own name and of which , dating from between 1870 and 1900, are shown on this page.
Supplied for either bench mounting or on cast-iron standards (legs) the smaller Pfeil lathes were available in at least two forms: one with a 3-inch centre height and 22 inches between centres, the other with a 3.5" centre height and 27 inches between centres. Both were built along identical lines and were priced, in 1901, at ? : 15 : 0d for the smaller and ? : 10 : 0 for the larger. However, the compound slide rest was extra and added a substantial ? : 17 : 6 to the price of the 3-inch lathe and ? : 4 : 0 to the 3.5-inch, so nearly doubling the cost. The solid headstock spindle (a charge of ?: 12 : 6 was made for one bored through) with a nose threaded 3/4" x 10 t.p.i and a backing register of 3/32" x 3/4", ran in a single bearing - a hard-steel, conical bush (although later models may have had phosphor-bronze bearings) - while the other end was supported against a hardened-steel adjuster screw which passed (in traditional early-lathe style) through the left-hand headstock upright. The 4-step drive pulley was intended to be turned by a round leather belt (a "gut" drive) from the stand-mounted flywheel. The front face of the headstock, like that on so many small lathes of the era, was machined flat. The stand legs were 361/2" high to the bed surface, and the flywheel 20" in diameter with belt grooves of 19", 18" and 10" diameters.
Typical of its age and type, the compound slide rest was fitted with awkward-to-use crank handles, lacked micrometer dials and was fitted with a simple "clog-heel" toolpost that carried the inscription "PFIEL & CO LONDON". Surprisingly many surviving examples retain the original round tool-clamping bolts with their Tommy-bar holes.
Larger "Plain Foot Lathes", as Pfeil called their more substantial stand-mounted machines, were available in centres heights from 3 to 6 inches with the smallest (3-inch) machine having (like it's bench-mounted companion) flat bed ways but with the other models, from 3.5-inch and above, available with a V and a Flat - or, to special order, with double flats.
If you have a Pfeil machine tool of any description the writer would be interested to hear from you.