The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)
The Lathe And Specialisation
The Lathe And Specialisation.
The origin of the modern lathe is not far to seek. The lathe embraces a greater variety of types than any other machine tool. The class and quantity of work to be dealt with determines the type of lathe to be used. The lathe most common to the mind of the jobbing turner is the engine lathe. This particular lathe covers a very large range of work, and the tradesman who can thoroughly handle this machine tool can invariably be relied upon to get the best out of all other types.
The demand, however, for work in particular quantities has relegated the engine lathe to the tool room and millwright's shop. (Tool rooms to-day are usually supplied with what are termed page 37 tool room lathes, these lathes being merely a superior type of engine lathe that carry certain refinements essential for doing high-class and accurate work.)
The modern machine shop is divided into several groups of machines—the lathe invariably predominating. In that part of the shop where the turret lathes are placed all small batches of work are dealt with. To enable this particular group of machines to obtain a high standard of efficiency a wide knowledge of tool lay-outs is necessary. The machine operators in large shops do not determine their own lay-outs, neither do they set up their machines. Tool lay-outs are decided by members of the production staff and their setting up is done by a charge hand, whose job it is not only to set up these machines, but to keep the output up to a high standard of quantity and accuracy.
The turret lathe approaches the engine lathe in the wide range of work it is capable of performing, but exceeds it in output.
Just over thirty-five years ago the first turret lathes were introduced, and the cycle and gun trades were the first to take advantage of them and prove their efficiency. Like most new machine tools they were not well received by the rank and file. Time ultimately reconciled the operators to the inevitable, with the result that in the cycle trade, production multiplied, prices fell, and Great Britain, under a system of freetrade, not only held her home market but captured the world's largest share in the export trade, and provided more employment in this (then) new industry than any other country. British cycles and fittings became world famed, and up to this very day the British push bike still holds its own.