Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Colchester Chipmaster Continental

Goodbye Emco, Hello Colchester
I ended up selling my Maximat V10 which I refurbished so I was latheless. I was on holidays in Australia when I found a Colchester Chipmaster in Sweden. This to me was one of the "holy grail" lathes. The list of lathes I was looking for were:
  1. Emco Maximat V13
  2. Weiler Primus
  3. Weiler Matador
  4. Colchester Chipmaster
The problem with the Emco and Colchester is that since they are no longer in production, finding examples that are not worn out is difficult. When I came across a Chipmaster advertised in Stockholm, I rang them and asked for details. The funny thing is that I waited for 2 weeks and watched it in case it sold. I experienced this with my lathe. It sat for sale for 2 weeks and then I was contacted by about 10 interested parties. Since it hadn't sold I rang from Oz and asked for a run down of it's condition. It seemed to be in good order so I asked them to hold it and assured them I would buy it providing it checked out as they described. I rang again when we were in Singapore on the way home and again when I arrived in Norway to make sure they knew I was serious.

The exchange rate from the Norwegian to Swedish Kroner was 1.21 so it was heavily in my favour. Arriving home from Australia on the Wednesday, I had organized to be in Stockholm on the Saturday to check out the lathe. The jetlag was not fun but I made the drive, staying over in Säffle to break up the trip since I didn't want to risk driving tired.

I arrived in Stockholm and checked out the lathe. It was actually in better condition than I thought, and came with a full set of change wheels, a travelling steady and 7 tool holders for the Dixon quick change tool post. With all things considered, it was an excellent price so I grabbed it. On the long trip home, it started to rain. This in itself wasn't a big problem since I wrapped the lathe in plastic after heavily oiling it. The issue was that the road had been salted previously and the fine spray kicked up by the wheels got into everything. I arrived home at 11:30 pm that night which made it a 18 hour round trip. As tired as I was, the metal was starting to discolour. I had to put a dry tarp over the lathe, and start spraying everything with WD40. After that I lightly went over the bare metal with OOOO steel wool and then oiled everything with engine oil. I then placed an oil heater under the tarp to heat the lathe and drive out the moisture. I ended up getting to bed at 1:30 the following morning. My driveway looked like a shanty town:

Finally in the Garage
I was itching to get the lathe off the trailer however our tenant had parked in front of the garage and I couldn't access it until morning. I needed to go over the entire lathe again. This time I could do it in the comfort of my garage. For a 48 year old Colchester Chipmaster, she was in suprisingly good condition.

The Dilemma
Now I have some issues to resolve with the lathe before I can use it. One is to change the electrical to 230 volt 3 phase. In order to do this I have to change the motor to Delta configuration, and swap out the magnetic switch and overload protection for a 230 volt unit. I have the unit but I am waiting on some engineers at work to give me the final go ahead on the configuration. The next issue is related to the lousy service in Norway. I have tried no less than 6 different places to find the required shell oild for the headstock, and variator. I have been told repeatedly by the people in these stores that, "the amount you need is so small, I will not bother to help you". Literally, this is what I have been told. Those that smiled and said that they would contact me, have not.

Rearranging the Garage
After moving the lathe in, I need to do a re-shuffle of the garage. I have gotten things fairly well sorted out now. I have not taken the lathe off the pallet yet though since it is much easier to move as it is.

So now things are in stasis until I can get the oil and magnetic switch wired in. If needs be I will have to order the oil from the UK, but I am avoiding that due to the cost. I have only needed to spend a little more than I sold the Emco Maximat for to buy the Chipmaster so I don't want to blow the budget now. I'll be sure to update the blog when I get things moving along.


  1. That is a nice looking lathe. I have seen very few Colchesters in the US

  2. Thanks Bill. Yes, they are getting rarer and finding them in good condition is pretty difficult. I was lucky to stumble onto this one.