Stedall lathes and milling machines were marketed by Stedall & Dowding from Clerkenwell in London, an area well known for its close association with watch, clock and fine-quality machinery makers. Although in pre-WW2 years Stedall & Dowding simply re-badged Lorch lathes (some were dual marked, others appear to have had the Lorch marking either absent or removed) recently found literature dated 1941 (together with the discovery of machines with name plates proclaiming a UK-based manufacturer), confirms the company's later claim that these were indeed British-made machines - by the "McLaughlin Machinery Ltd.". The date on the paperwork is significant for, being during WW2 when supplies of German-made precision plain lathes were unavailable, it is unsurprising that demand for them had to be met by a domestic maker. However, although built in the UK, the Stedall was still a straight dimensional copy of the German machine - indeed, at the same time other German machine tools were also cloned, amongst them the BCA miniature jig-borer and driller and the BTM watchmakers' lathe.
Almost identical in appearance to the Lorch Models BVII, C, B and BVI, the sturdy Stedall Model AV was typical of the bench precision plain-turning lathe as first produced by Stark in the USA. With a centre height of 4 inches, and a between-centres capacity of 13 inches, Stedall claimed the machine had an ability to run at exceptionally high speeds when using diamond-tipped tools and offered a self-contained countershaft unit, with a two-speed fast-and-loose countershaft, that gave a range of: 570, 800, 1140, 1600, 2280 and 3200 rpm when using a 2800 rpm motor and 285, 400, 570, 800, 1140 and 1600 rpm with a 1400 rpm unit. The 5/8"-bore headstock spindle was ground on its bearing surfaces and ran in adjustable bearings of hard bronze lubricated by spring-loaded wicks (that could lift only oil, not dirt) from reservoirs beneath the spindle line. Following established precision plain-lathe practice, the top slide had a long travel, the tailstock had its barrel fully supported for the full length of its travel and a casting cut away at to reveal engraved ruler graduations spaced at intervals of 0.1". The micrometer dials were of reasonable size and graduated so that one division represented a 0.001" reduction in the radius of the workpiece. However, if you have one of these lathes and access to a digital vernier calliper, it would be worth winding the cross slide handle through ten turns and checking to see if the slide movement corresponds - it not being unknown for dealers (and even some manufactures) to simple replace the original metric dial with an inch type for the UK market.
Following traditional design principles Various countershafts were offered, including a unit designed to be mounted under the owner's own bench and another fitted to a cast-iron stand that incorporated a 2-speed fast-and-loose pulley system with the belt shifter operated by a lever pivoting from the top of the left-hand stand leg.
Offered as a basic unit for bench mounting at ?9 : 0s : 0d in the early 1940s, it was supplied complete with a hand T rest (with 2 lengths of T rest), a catchplate, a pair of male and female centres, a tailstock drill pad and the necessary spanners. While an underdrive bench countershaft added a relatively modest ?, the lathe complete with the maker's stand and built-on countershaft came to a total of ?12 : 0 : 0d - at a time when the average wage for skilled tradesman was between ? and ? per week and the same sum would have bought, just pre-war in 1939, a new Austin 7 or Ford Prefect car.
A wide range of accessories was available including a thread-chasing system using a sliding headstock spindle at an expensive ?0 : 0 : 0d without the necessary star nut (? : 0s : 0d) or hobs (? : 10s : 0d each).
If you have a Stedall machine tool, or any of the manufacture's publicity material, the writer would be interested to hear from you.