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Vigor Super Mini-Lathe LA1100
& "Matt" Lathe
Vigor was originally a Swiss company making tools and equipment for watchmakers - but are now part of the American Grobet group, suppliers of high-class miniature precision tooling of all kinds to technicians, scientists and hobbyists.Some high-resolution pictures - may be slow to open
Looking to have been constructed along the lines of the Unimat DB200/SL1000, the Vigor Super Mini-Lathe Model LA-1100 was made in Japan (further confusion) and handled in the United States by B. Jadow & Sons of New York. Of simple arrangement, both its bed and slide rest assembly were constructed from twin steel bars - in the photograph below the bed ways are covered by a sheet of black steel. The carriage, driven by a hand-turned leadscrew running down the centre line of the bed, carried a cross-feed screw covered by a protective tube - though that for the swivelling top slide was left completely exposed and so at the mercy of swarf and dirt. Both feed screws, as well as the leadscrew, were fitted with small but clearly engraved micrometer dials.
Overhung on the end of the headstock spindle, a narrow 3-step V-pulley took its drive direct from a fan-cooled motor bolted to a horizontal plate at the rear of the headstock. Instead of an ordinary spindle with a threaded or collet-holding end, that on the Vigor was most unusual - being tapped with three holes around its periphery to mount a 3-jaw chuck while, apparently, being bored to accept a No. 2 Morse taper plug - one being provided with a thread on its end to carry other fittings.
A vertical milling slide with an integral vice was also included with this, like the top slide, being constructed in a simple, built-up fashion with screw-on caps replacing the usual fully-machined, V-edged ways. Also in the kit of standard parts was a neat, height-adjustable toolholder (of a design that would scale up to be useful on a larger machine) and possibly a tailstock chuck.
Should any reader have a Vigor, the writer would be most interested to hear from you.
Another lathe sometimes found branded Vigor is equally as unusual, the Vigor Matt 305 Lathe & Milling Tool. Intended for the turning of wax and advertised as being suitable for the Jewelry Model Maker, it is still in production and is, according to the makers: A versatile hand-held lathe, powered by a flexible shaft motor, designed to turn rods of carving wax. Includes precision gauge for measuring exact dimensions and thickness of work. Easily produce bands, bezels, settings, coin holders, chess pieces, etc. Set includes a cutting tool, 2 extra cutting tool blanks, 3 collets to hold wax, sample wax instruction book, and a 3-pc. stainless steel double-ended blade set. The six different ends create a cut-off tool, a channel cutter, a half-round band hollower, a frame shaper, and a cup former. Blades are .025" thick, 1/4" wide, and 4" long, and can be bevelled to increase the number of designs.
Supplied in a fitted case 8.75" x 12.5" x 2.5" thick the Matt is intended to be held in the left hand with drive comes from a small electric motor through a flexible shaft - though oddly neither of these, nor the essential Jacobs-style drill chuck which is held in the headstock, are included in the set. Of the simplest possible construction, headstock and toolholder are constructed from chrome-plated pressed steel and the bed from a square-section steel bar.