Some things happen by planning, others happen in a random manner and whether by planning or accident one day whilst on a seemingly reasonable, planned outing to acquire a Graduate lathe so I could "turn stuff that was a bit bigger" I met Wanda.
Wanda (what else would you call her!) is a Wadkin RU, she sat there in a yard looking pretty sorry for herself having been dragged out of a container and was destined for the scrap man - not on my watch!
The Graduate was instantly forgotten and the RU was acquired without even a second thought, the logic going something like "if you thought about it you simply wouldn't do it".... though I'm not really sure logic entered into the process at all.
What is a Wadkin RU ?
The RU lathes were made by Wadkin to handle the largest work, mostly destined for pattern makers shops where large wooden forms were machined to create moulds for casting metal parts. The best source of information about the RU is probably this one, other than that I have been able to find precious little official material, on enquiring at Wadkin (as it is now) I was told politely that Wadkin didn't make a machine called an RU. Obviously the 3 tons of cast iron I had purchased was a figment of my imagination!
Owning an RU is not something to be taken lightly and we have had to overcome some issues:
- The simple logistics of such a large machine, getting it into and out of workshops can be tricky plus a workshop big enough is an issue.
- The spindle size - not many things are made for a nose thread which is 2 inch by 4 tpi.
- The noise when working - she is quite loud by modern standards.
- The custom made variable speed control.
- Students are put off by the size initially and then, oddly enough, once they have "had a go" you can't get them to use a different machine.
All in all though it has been an interesting journey, she now spins every day and that noise...well its just a different kind of music...
Wanda accepts visitors by appointment, old friends are welcome any time!
Important Update !!
Wanda has always been missing a vital component, at some point in her history she was separated from her traversing carriage - this has always been a sore point but the chances of finding one are of course pretty slim to say the least.
Well, thanks to my young friend Arun we now have a fully working traversing carriage which he was kind enough to restore and deliver to Wanda so she is now complete once again!
So you see, this fairy tale does indeed have a happy ending!!