Cowells ME lathe

Since looking for my first lathe back when I purchased a unimat 3, I always wanted a cowells but funds didn’t allow. I’ve finally managed to pick one up at a great price and I’m more than pleased with it. Rigid, well made and a true precision machine; I hope this will be with me for many years to come.

This actually is a very early cowells. In fact, after a couple of brief chats with the director over at cowells, he is pretty sure that this is one of the first cowells just after the transfer from Perris lathes. The big give away is the absence of the cowells casting “stamp” on the bed. In actual fact, my lathe is likely to be a Perris made bed sold under the new name of Cowells. All fairly immaterial since the design has not changed.

The lathe came with very little in the way of tooling and accessories but for the price I could afford, I’ll have to add these as I go. Cowells is still going strong and so all parts are readily available, but sadly at a price! – check out their website for more details.



The lathe came with a 3 jaw chuck but no key and I’m really really struggling sourcing a key!


I have also added an ER16 collet chuck since it is a good scale size for this lathe and I already have a set of collets.


The standard ME lathe came with the change wheel set for the auto traverse gearing but not with the suitable gear cutting change wheels so obtaining these was first on my “to do” list. I now have a full set of gears including some teeth count that should give me imperial BA threads on this metric lathe.



The tail stock is a zero morse taper. I was lucky enough to pick this threaded original cowells arbour and original cowells sold chuck off eBay very reasonably priced.


Just a couple more things I want to do now. Firstly I’d like an independent 4 jaw as soon as I can afford one. Secondly and perhaps less urgent would be a quick change tool post but I am considering making this. For completeness, I’d like a fixed and travelling steady at some point.

From what I’ve done on it so far, I wouldn’t be without it!

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3 responses to “Cowells ME lathe”

  1. Don bath says:

    I am currently making the gearless clock,so your experiences have been very interesting.Currently I am looking at purchasing a small lathe for small components.
    My big lathe is simular to yours a Wabeco D6000, was the bed wear a problem close to the spindle/ chuck on the cowells?
    Any advice?

  2. Raynerd says:

    Hi Don, have you my pics of your gearless clock, would like to see them! No, the cowells has been great, no issues.

  3. Don bath says:

    Thanks for the reply,currently I am making the escape wheel arbour and back cock plate ready for the next phase of testing .Your comments regarding the count wheel were most helpful and the tests were ok in the end,after a lot of adjustments!
    My project started with an interest in pendulums the magnetically driven versions.I have drive coil at the base of the pendulum with hall effect triggered monostable driving the coil. The interesting thing was that you could observe the different friction levels in the count wheel testing.
    My pendulum very heavy , in lead poured into a stainless steel tube. I will try to send some pics as requested , but I am not very computer literate but I will have go if it is of interest. Do I sent them to your e-mail address?

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