Eclipse - Peace & Sons - Portass Lathe
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Three models of Eclipse-branded lathes are known, all produced for sale (presumably) by either the Sheffield-based hand-tool makers James Neil & Sons (using their Eclipse brand name) or by Fry's (London) Ltd of 24-26 Water lane, Queen Victoria Street, E.C.4 who were known to have offered such models during the 1920s. The smallest of the three (shown in the first picture below) is a very rare version of what appears to be an early 21/8" x 10" plain-turning Portass (or a copy of it) with the other two known types both being much heavier screwcutting models of around 4-inch centre height. Of unknown origin - though marked as "British Made" - research indicates that the latter pair may not have been by Portass but Samuel Peace & Sons Ltd, of Well Meadow Steel Works, Sheffield a firm able to undertake crucible (high-quality steel) casting and who made various products including such diverse items as sets of files and complete machine tools.
Manufactured from 1926 onwards, for an unknown length of time, the smallest Eclipse was manufactured when Portass was trading as the Heeley Motor & Manufacturing Co., If the lathe was by Portass, Eclipse, being a maker of high-class engineering and wood-working tools - must have insisted upon certain refinements, for the machine was altered in considerable detail from the standard version and had a far better finish than the rather casual one applied to most early Portass models. The headstock, instead of being cast as-one with the bed, was a bolt-on unit and, in place of a spindle running direct in the cast iron of the headstock (with simple clamp-down splits for adjustment), proper two-bolt caps and bronze shells were used. However, this may have been an owner's modification, for the other known example has the standard (and easily-damaged) split bearings of the ordinary Portass. A 33/8-inch diameter faceplate would have been supplied as standard, as was a simple, but well-made compound slide-rest. Further details of these early Portass-built lathes can be found here.
Of the two larger Eclipses models - both shown lower down this page - one was screwcutting but without backgear while the other, a more sophisticated lathe - had both screwcutting (with drive to the leadscrew through tumble reverse gearing) and backgear. The non-backgeared version looks rather like the Australian Keen lathe with its deep bed casting and a leadscrew running down its centre line - though the British machine incorporated a dog clutch at the headstock end in a manner identical to that employed by Drummond on their 1902 1942 3.5-inch flat-bed models..