Slide lathe

Richard Roberts

Original slide lathe, by Richard Roberts, Manchester, Lancashire, England, 1817

This is an early and highly significant example of a true industrial lathe, made by a machine-builder of high repute. The lathe is capable of turning work up to six feet long, and uses back-gearing to give a wide range of speeds of rotation, a mechanism probably invented by Roberts. The lathe has a toolholder mounted on a sliding saddle which can be moved along the lathe bed by bevel gear as it rotated; the saddle automatically knocks itself out of gear when it has travelled far enough. Although the machine was not quite able to cut screw threads, it was very capable of turning surfaces. The machine represents a scaling-up process from earlier ornamental lathes onto an industrial scale appropriate for large scale engineering work.

On display

Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

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Hand and Machine Tools
Object Number:
cast iron, gunmetal, paint and wrought iron
lathe - machine
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
Beyer, Peacock and Co.

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