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British machine tools

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Ian Parkin03/08/2014 16:25:06
995 forum posts
235 photos

My son in law was admiring my colchester student lathe and asked do we as a nation make any lathes now such as this?

How much was a student lathe when it was new? and how much would a british made lathe be now


john swift 103/08/2014 17:07:40
318 forum posts
183 photos

A good question not enough people ask

just had a quick search and Boxford and BSA Machine Tools don't make it obvious on their websites

( and )


KWIL03/08/2014 17:22:13
3477 forum posts
66 photos

Dean, Smith and Grace for a start

NJH03/08/2014 18:08:31
2314 forum posts
139 photos

Have a look HERE Ian.

Hope you have deep pockets!


thomas oliver 203/08/2014 19:53:25
107 forum posts

In 1961 the price of the Boxford AUD Gearbox Lathe was £225. The BUD - no gearbox, was £200.

A common misconception is that Myfords offered more accessories than Boxford. This was not the case and Boxfors offered excellent 40 accessories.

NJH03/08/2014 20:15:25
2314 forum posts
139 photos


By a quick and dirty calculation that would put the inflation corrected price of the AUD today at around £3900 disgust


Phil Whitley03/08/2014 20:49:01
1394 forum posts
147 photos

Colchester and harrison are now parts of the 600 group, and still make a range of lathes,

JasonB03/08/2014 20:53:54
21999 forum posts
2539 photos
1 articles

I thought the 600 groups beds were cast and finished in the far east so maybe just British assembled.


Edited By JasonB on 03/08/2014 20:54:12

Neil Wyatt03/08/2014 21:11:22
18894 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

>By a quick and dirty calculation that would put the inflation corrected price of the AUD today at around £3900 disgust

Just more than half the price of a Myford Connoisseur. An interesting comparison.


Ian Parkin03/08/2014 21:55:00
995 forum posts
235 photos

So does anyone have any idea how much a new colchester lathe is or a dean smith and grace?

Michael Gilligan03/08/2014 22:02:41
19589 forum posts
997 photos


There's a price-check link on this page.

... it appears to just send them an eMail


Lathejack03/08/2014 22:26:43
310 forum posts
329 photos

Our company bought a new Colchester Triumph 2500 variable speed lathe with 1500 between centres around five or six years ago. This is just a rebadged modern Harrison design and is made in China with a bit of work done in the UK.

It's not made to the same standard as the original Colchester machines and has some grubby detailing typically found on some budget Chinese machines. It arrived with a slightly misaligned bed gap piece, a few screws missing and the odd few bottomed out before they were tight. The plain bushes supporting the gearbox input shaft wore out prematurely, and just recently a very small selector fork in the gearbox broke and the headstock started lifting off the bed by a couple of millimetres after the rather small securing bolts came loose.

After the tiny bronze gear selector fork for the leadscrew and feedshaft reverse mechanism failed early on, the headstock cover was removed to check the internal condition. It was as clean as a whistle with no swarf or foundry sand inside, but a magnetic probe dipped inside pulled out an M6 cap screw and a 30mm diameter washer. The correct location for these inside the headstock was already occupied by identical items, so the fitter must have dropped them inside and simply fitted some more instead of fishing them out.

It is not used as a production machine but gets regular light to medium use. It does however, machine superbly and is as solid as a rock with an extremely hard bed. I cannot recall at the moment how much it cost, I will have to check.

The geared head lathes that have long been supplied by Boxford are unique to them and do not seem to be offered by anyone else, so maybe Boxford do make them, somewhere.

Some of the lathes offered by BSA Machine tools are quite good Far Eastern copies of the original Colchester lathe design from the 1970's, such as the Student 1800 and the larger models.



Edited By Lathejack on 03/08/2014 22:28:51

Edited By Lathejack on 03/08/2014 22:34:13

Bazyle03/08/2014 22:36:22
6178 forum posts
222 photos

Since 1961 house price inflation has been around 200x (outside London), but cars maybe 10 fold (and much better quality). Average salary then was £1000 and petrol just 5p a litre. So the AUD was 25% of average salary. Now that would be £7.5k.

I think it is reasonable ot assume that a lathe should, like a car, benefit from improved industrial techniques so putting the AUD at about £2k or rather more than the imported equivalent. I think this might be possible in the UK if it weren't for the property value putting up the factory rent and wage inflation being 25x

Equiping schools with lathes must have cost a fortune back in the '60s when many were getting Boxfords and Colchesters. But actually that was probably weay less that the current requirements for computers in schools.

Saxalby04/08/2014 10:31:26
174 forum posts
23 photos

Re the price of Boxford lathes.

I have the 2009 price list and for a Boxford model 280 (11" swing, 30" BC) it was £10,000 plus vat. So I guess its now about £13K.


Ian S C04/08/2014 12:53:27
7468 forum posts
230 photos

When I got my Taiwanese 1326BH lathe, I was told by the owner of the company I bought it off, who had just come back from the Taiwan factory, he found a great pile of lathe beds marked Colchester England in the yard behind the foundry, and the Taiwanese CEO said OH yes we make all there smaller lathe beds, they make the rest of it, same bed as the ones you are buying.  I think I paid around $NZ1100.

Ian S C

Edited By Ian S C on 04/08/2014 12:58:58

Stephen Benson04/08/2014 14:26:28
203 forum posts
69 photos

I have a Cowells and I believe they are the only wholly British made lathe available today my Lathe with a Newton tesla conversion **LINK**

Cowells Website


Ian Parkin04/08/2014 14:29:59
995 forum posts
235 photos

So really in answer to my original question we dont actually completely make a single manual lathe in this country ?

and even cnc or so lathes are made from far eastern castings

Are new myfords made completely in the uk? if indeed there are any new ones (other than old stock)

DSG are making 1 lathe for stock so they are hardly a big player for smaller lathes

Raymond Anderson04/08/2014 17:08:06
785 forum posts
152 photos

As far as the Harrisons are concerned , the manual ones are all made in the far east now, only the cnc ones are made in the uk.

Russell Eberhardt04/08/2014 18:04:12
2726 forum posts
86 photos
Posted by Ian Parkin on 04/08/2014 14:29:59:

So really in answer to my original question we dont actually completely make a single manual lathe in this country ?

Come to that, are any manufactured products made completely in the UK? Like it or not we live in a global market and manufacturing companies that want to survive must buy their raw materials, components, and sub-assemblies on the world markets. The alternative is protectionism and decline.


Phil Whitley05/08/2014 14:04:20
1394 forum posts
147 photos

Not only that Russel, we are being trained to accept poor quality and generally a dumbed down experience of what things used to be like. Apart from machine tools, look at the audio people accept today as good, without exception, anyone under 30 used to listening to phone/player quality audio is blown away by the sound quality of my 1970's stereo system playing vinyl! It is all very sad, but the people who profit from industry can make more profit from cheaply made third world goods, made where there is no health and safety regs, and working conditions are poor, as long as we can be persuaded that the vastly reduced quality is " the very latest thing" and also that it is better than anything that came before it. I well remember a comment on one of these machinery sites made by a tech school instructor when someone noticed that his shop had two distinct areas containing different eras of machinery. He said " I start the new kids off on the crap modern machines made after 1970, and when the have made all their mistakes, I let them use the good stuff that was made before, that way I don't feel really bad if they crash a machine and wreck it"

It is all very sad, as in a few generations, not only the machinery, but also the skills to use it could be lost, and this process is speeding up, it is very noticeable that almost anything you buy today to replace something made even ten years ago is of inferior quality, poorer performance, and more expensive. Things are marketed under "brands" that have no connection to the item, Since when did Caterpillar make power tools? of course, they don't, they are chinese sourced tools marketed under a brand that gives them a fake association with a name synonymous with a tough quality product. To see the names of Harrison and Colchester going down this route ( though perhaps not as far, yet) is sickening. Mind you think for a moment of the virtual immpossibility of getting any sort of foundry past the health and safety police nowadays and you begin to understand some of what is going on.

Phil, East Yorkshire

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