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      E-Mail Tony@lathes.co.uk 
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      Swift Lathes
      Post WW2 Models L & RL   Model V & SV3   Models "A/SA"  "B/SB" & "F"

      Swift Post-WW2 Models L & RL Lathes   Early Swift Lathes   

      George Swift and Sons were once a well known English machine-tool company based at the Claremont Iron Works in Halifax, Yorkshire. The company was founded in 1884 and had a long and successful history supplying a wide range of not only lathes, for which they were probably best known, but also numerous different kinds of conventional, multiple-head and radial-arm drills, slotting, shaping, planing, roll grinding and fluting machines as well as twist drills, rotary and box table and other engineering accessories.
      The Model L Series lathes, shown below and here, were current during the 1930 and 1940 and designed with a speed and feed range such that they could not only handle the high-speeds and fine feeds required to get the best out of the then current of tungsten-carbide tools but also be capable of the lower speeds and heavier cuts possible with ordinary high-speed steel. The result was a roller-bearing machine, with a large capacity gap bed, that was just as capable of turning small shafts at high speed as handling the largest casting that could be bolted to an oversize faceplate running in the full depth of the bed's gap. After World War 2, the Company's model designation was changed with two sizes of the Model L3 continuing to be built (with minor modifications) as the V3  with swings of 18.5 and 22.5 inches. The lathes were all fitted as standard with a large flat-belt input pulley which could be driven from overhead line system or, if required, adjustable rails could be supplied fitted to the back of the bed able to accept a suitable electric motor; in this latter case the input pulley was changed for one with V belts, the short distance between the motor and pulley being judged insufficient to allow a good wrap-around for the flat belt to transmit full power. A further addition supplied as standard with the V-belt drive lathes was a combination multi-disc clutch and Ferodo-lined brake unit, controlled from a handle fitted to the left-hand face of the apron and operating through a long control rod set parallel to the leadscrew and powershaft. The position of the operating handle was unusual, for most other makers chose to fit it to the right-hand side of the apron, to take the operator's hand away from red-hot turnings spiralled from the cutting tool and out of the way of large, heavy and potentially errant lumps of unbalanced material fastened to the faceplate. Perhaps the workmen of Yorkshire were made of sterner stuff than others, and could not be bothered to consider such trifling matters.
      The apron was a model of simplicity and ease of use with a patented single-lever control to select, interlock (against leadscrew engagement) and engage the power sliding and surfacing feeds. As the Swift company pointed out, a few seconds saved during each change of operation might not seem to matter but, multiply the number of changes made each working by the number of lathes employed in the factory and the seconds turn to minutes, the minutes to hours and the profit on the now larger pile of parts on the floor will mean that you have either gained a workman for free - or can afford to employ one extra. Various other aids to faster production were also offered including duplicated electrical controls mounted on the apron.
      Tailstocks were all fitted with bored-through barrels and generously-size capstan handle operation; although in some ways a clumsy design to use, this system did allow a decent length of travel to be obtained with good support when the barrel was fully extended.
      Because many purchasers required special features on their lathes, Swifts offered a customising service and were able to build machines which differed from standard in a number of ways and which might have had, for example: longer, shorter, straight, gap or even sliding beds, automatic trips and stops to the carriage drive, increased or decreased centre height,  rotating capstan heads on the cross slide for production work or adapted as special-purpose surfacing, boring or roll-turning lathes where a dedicated machine might not have been an economic proposition..


      Used during the 1950s and 1960s - the Swift delivery truck on a wintry morning

      Model 7L3:  with a 7-inch centre height (14-inch swing) and a capacity between centres of 30 inches (and a gap able to accept material 25 inches in diameter and 9 inches deep) this was the smallest of the L3 Type lathes. The 2.625-inch bore headstock spindle ran in taper-roller bearing and was driven by a (recommended) 5 hp motor; 12 spindle speeds were available that could be ordered as 13.6 to 500 rpm, 16 to 600 rpm or 27 to 1000 rpm.
      For screwcutting, a limited-range box was fitted with 9 feeds, 9 English threads from 1 to 80 t.p.i and 9 metric threads from 1 to 10 mm. Alternatively, a full screwcutting Norton-type quick-change gearbox could be specified that generated 54 threads and feeds from 1 to 56 t.p.i, and 47 metric threads from 0.5 to 28 mm pitch.
      Standard equipment comprised a 14-inch diameter T-slotted faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
      The lathe weighed approximately 3808 lbs (1727 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 4144 lbs. (1880 kg).

      Model 8L3:  an 8.5-inch centre height (17-inch swing) and a capacity between centres of 51 inches (and a gap able to hold material 30 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep) made this a larger-capacity version of the Model 7L3, yet one that managed to use many of the same parts. The 2.625-inch bore headstock spindle ran in taper-roller bearing and was driven by a (recommended) 7.5 hp motor; 12 spindle speeds were available that could be ordered as 13.6 to 500 rpm, 16 to 600 rpm or 27 to 1000 rpm. Whilst the bed depth remained the same at 12 inches, the width across the shears, at 14 inches, was some two inches greater.
      For screwcutting, the same limited-range box and diameter of leadscrew (1.875") as used on the 7L with, again, the option of a full screwcutting Norton-type quick-change gearbox could be specified that generated 54 threads and feeds from 1 to 56 t.p.i, and 47 metric threads from 0.5 to 28 mm pitch.  .875
      Standard equipment comprised a 14-inch diameter T-slotted faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
      The lathe weighed approximately 5152 lbs (2337 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 5600 lbs (2540 kg).

      Model 10L3:  with a centre height of 10.5 inches (21-inch swing) and a capacity between centres of 69 inches (and a gap able to hold material 35 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep) was the larger-capacity L3 that again managed to use the same 2.625-inch bore headstock spindle, running in the same size roller bearings (7-inch diameter front and 5-inch diameter rear) as the smaller models, but driven (through the same choice of speeds) by a 10 hp motor. Whilst the bed was increased in depth by 3 inches, and the width by 4 inches (and an additional support placed in the middle) the same screwcutting gearboxes and size of leadscrew were employed, offering exactly the same range of feeds and threads. 
      Standard equipment comprised a 14-inch T-slotted diameter faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
      The lathe weighed approximately 6160 lbs (2794 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 6608 lbs (2997 kg).

      Model 8L6 - shown above with the optional 54-speed Norton-type screwcutting gearbox, 4-way toolpost, suds pump, tray and fittings, a heavy-duty roller-bearing rotating centre in the tailstock and an ammeter to indicate the load on the motor.
      There were three L6 Types in the range, and this particular version, listed by the makers as an "Extra-heavy Duty" lathe, was, in effect, a short-bed  (48" between centres) version of the ordinary 17-inch swing 8L3 but fitted as standard with a built-on motor drive giving a total of 18 spindle speeds in a choice of two ranges: either  9.2 to 400 rpm or 14 to 600 rpm.  Besides the different design of headstock gearing, several components were modified to suit its extra work capacity of which the most significant were the larger spindle with a 3.625-inch bore, bigger 7.5-inch diameter roller bearings at front and rear and a bed made 2 inches wider and 3 inches deeper.
      The lathe weighed approximately 6272 lbs (2845 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 6832 lbs (3099 kg).


      Model 10L6:  This 10.5-inch centre height (21-inch swing) lathe was classified by the makers as a "Heavy Duty" machine and had a capacity between centres of 69 inches with a gap able to accept material 35 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep). The 3.625-inch bore headstock spindle ran in 7.5-inch diameter taper-roller bearing front and rear and was driven by a 12.5 hp motor; a total of 27 spindle speeds were available that could be supplied in any one of three ranges: 9 to 420 rpm, 13 to 600 rpm or 17 to 800 rpm.
      The screwcutting arrangements were identical to the smaller machines with the same diameter of leadscrew (1.875") and a choice of either a limited-range box (able to generate 9 feeds, 9 English threads from 1 to 80 tpi and 9 metric threads from 1 to 10 mm) or a full screwcutting Norton-type quick-change gearbox with 54 threads and feeds from 1 to 56 t.p.i, and 47 metric threads from 0.5 to 28 mm pitch.
      Standard equipment comprised the usual Swift range of a (20-inch) T-slotted faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
      The lathe weighed approximately 6944 lbs (3150 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 7504 lbs. (3404 kg).

      Model 12L6 - a 12.5-inch centre height lathe (25-inch swing) illustrated here with the optional 54-speed Norton-type screwcutting gearbox, 4-way toolpost, suds pump, tray and fittings, a heavy-duty roller-bearing rotating centre in the tailstock and an ammeter to indicate the load on the motor. 
      This machine, the largest L6 variant, was classified by the makers as a "Medium Duty" lathe and shared the headstock internals, spindle-speed ranges, 12.5 hp motor and screwcutting gearbox options of the smaller L6 models - although the leadscrew was increased in diameter from 1.875 to 2 inches and the bed widened by two inches to 18 inches and the depth by a significant 7 inches to become 20 inches deep.
      The capacity between centres was 72 inches and the gap as able to accept material 43 inches in diameter and 14 inches deep.
      Standard equipment consisted of 24-inch faceplate, drive plate, travelling steady, a set of screwcutting changewheels, two centres and a high-pressure grease gun.
      The lathe weighed approximately 8400 lbs (3810 kg) or, with a self-contained motor drive, 9184 lbs. (4166 kg).

      Model 12L5,  15L5 and 16L5
      The three "L5" models had centre heights of, respectively, 12.5 inches, 15 inches and 16.5 inches. Strangely, as the size increased, the ruggedness of the machines appeared to decrease for the makers described the 12L5 (81 inches between centres) as an "Extra Heavy Duty" lathe, the 15L5 (105 inches between centres) as a "Heavy Duty" and the 16L5 (123 inches between centres) as a "Medium Duty". All shared a common headstock design, with 18 speeds from either 3.5 to 215 rpm or 5 to 300 rpm, and a spindle (bored 4.125 inches) which running in taper roller bearings 8.75 inches in diameter at the front and 8 inches at the rear.
      The usual Model L thread-generation facilities were provided  - a limited-range box with 9 feeds, 9 English threads from 1 to 80 tpi and 9 metric threads from 1 to 10 mm or, at extra cost, a full screwcutting Norton-type quick-change gearbox could be specified that generated 54 threads and feeds from 1 to 56 t.p.i, and 47 metric threads from 0.5 to 28 mm pitch. The lathes did have different beds, the one used by the 12L5 being 21 inches wide and 28 inches deep whilst that on both the 15L5 and 16L5 were 3 inches wider, but no deeper.
      The approximate weights were, in order of capacity, and with and without a built-on motor drive: 14560 lbs/15232 lbs (6604 kg/6909 kg);  18256 lbs/18928 lbs (8281 kg/8586 kg);  15792 lbs/16464 lbs (7163 kg/7468 kg).

      Models 18L10,  21L10,  24L10 (above) and 27L10 (below)
      With, as the maker's nomenclature might suggest, centre heights of  18 inches, 21 inches, 24 inches and 27 inches the "L10" Series were serious machines with weights varying from 12 to 19.5 tons. The distance available between centres, in order of centre height, was: 126 inches, 162 inches, 192 inches and 224 inches (18 feet 6 inches/5690 mm) - and with such great lengths to traverse, the option of a quick-power return to the carriage was a welcome addition to the options' list.
      The roller-bearing headstock, with a 6.125 inch bore spindle running on a 13-inch diameter bearing at the front and an 11.5 inch at the rear, had 27 speeds from either 3 to 300 rpm or 4.5 to 450 rpm driven by a 25 hp motor in the case of the two smaller lathes, and a 30 hp in the case of the two larger. Again, the maker's description flew in the face of apparent logic with the smallest machine being described as "Extra Heavy Duty", but the other two as  "Medium Duty".
      An unusual feature was the provision as standard of power feed to the top slide - and (because of their great length) the 3.5" diameter by 1/2" pitch leadscrew, the powershaft and the spindle control rod were each supported by travelling brackets connected to the carriage.
      The screwcutting gearboxes could generate only 9 feeds - and the same number of threads - without resorting to the extra changewheels supplied as standard.
      The beds of all four lathes were of substantial size - all were 26 inches deep with the width of the smaller two 30 inches, and the larger two 36 inches.

      Model 27L10
      The largest of the L10 Series lathes, the 27-inch centre height by 16 feet between centres (686 mm x 4877 mm) model weighed 19.5 tons complete with a self-contained, 30 hp motor drive and 6 V-belt drive. Besides the features shared with the other L10 models, this version was fitted with compound slides at the front and rear of the cross slide; in order to allow operator the greatest freedom in setting up and then moving tools for two cuts on traverse the front slide was of the "triple-type" where the cross slide carried a swivelling, power-feed top slide itself topped by a third, short-movement non-swivelling slide; the slide at the rear of the cross slide was a simple, non-swivelling ninety-degree compound type.
      The heavy tailstock was fitted with a gear drive, working though a bevel box onto the carriage traverse rack.


      Post WW2 Models L & RL   Model V & SV3   Models "A/SA"  "B/SB" & "F"

      Swift Post-WW2 Models L & RL Lathes   Early Swift Lathes   

      Swift Lathes
      E-Mail Tony@lathes.co.uk 
      Home    Machine Tool Archive    Machine Tools For Sale & Wanted
      Machine Tool Manuals   Machine Tool Catalogues   Belts   Accessories   Books




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