View Full Version : The end of Beaver M/c`s

Mark McGrath
01-25-2009, 12:25 PM
Thought this might interest some of you.I had read somewhere that Beaver was the largest manufacturer of turret mills in the world one year having sold 800 machines.I cannot find this though so not too sure.



01-25-2009, 12:37 PM
Reads like they've had one foot in the grave for 20 years. Lacking enough customers to make a profit, receivership is a natural end. But why did they lack customers? Is there no market for the machines or is there no market for machines of that quality and expense? Or???

01-25-2009, 04:33 PM
The move to a new facility likely burned reserve capital at the same time that it increased operating costs. So to survive, they needed to increase their sales significantly, which often looks much easier than it is.

From the numbers (~11m revenue) it also sounds like they were comparatively a very small player in a market with a lot of big guys. Big companies as a whole tend to be better at the sales-and-marketing game, while small companies tend to be better at building a very good product relative to price, or serving a niche market (like Sieg's hobbyist machines).

It looks to me like this was a time when the industry was "gapping up" in terms of complexity and sophistication of manufacture, and perhaps to keep up they needed the new works. This type of growth, however, is always fraught with peril. The farther out you stick your neck the easier it is for it to get cut.

Mark McGrath
01-25-2009, 05:10 PM
You seem to have missed the bit that they outsold all other manual milling machine manufacturers including Bridgeport and Cincinnati.They had got past the Japanese onslaught of the early/middle eighties and had orders.I think it was the usual British problem.Father builds business up,next generation comes along and has not known the struggles of building a business from scratch,pennies not quite so important to them as they didn`t have to earn them.
End of business.

Here`s a bit more background

01-25-2009, 05:18 PM
Well when i apprenticed in 1974 I used a Beaver Mill. It was a nice size bigger than Bridgeports, also ran slick with a pendant type controller. I really liked it. My Trainer a David Rodriguez was a big fan of the Bridgeportsm He said often they (beavers) were the BEST MILLS available.

01-25-2009, 05:48 PM
Canadians Love Beaver

John Stevenson
01-25-2009, 05:56 PM
Note in the lathes.co.uk text the two tapered head locating pins.

No pissing about having to tram the head and when left in the locked position no change of knocking it out of tram.

The average Bridgeport user would have a spare day per week if he had one of these :D :rolleyes:


01-25-2009, 06:20 PM
those Beavers seem to be clone of the TOS FNK 25, or vice -versa. I had one of these TOS's. It was much more robust and rigid than a Bridgeport, but had none of the touch and ergonomics of a Bridgeport. The head on the TOS was really miserable to tilt, especially going uphill.

oil mac
01-26-2009, 07:37 AM
I have a friend had both a Beaver & Bridgeport , Both are fine machine tools, Although i think the Beaver had the edge on production ,Seemed to me to be a heavier built machine capable of hard work,
Another sad day for British machine tool building, Where is the west going?
dont think i could eat a whole Canadian Beaver, Fur would be a problem :D

01-26-2009, 07:53 AM
I have one of these, which I reckon is a pretty good compromise machine for the small shop:-


Image pinched from here, but Tony got it from my manual to begin with ;)


Basically an established design of horizontal mill (Sir John has one) adapted to take a turret head.

Sadly mine spent time before I got it as a production horizontal mill working with cast iron, which had done the table slides & feeds no favours.
My other gripe is that the vertical head has a smaller taper than the horizontal spindle, when it looks meaty enough that they could have made it for the bigger size. I believe they did a later turret-only mill which used a variant of the same head with a 40 taper spindle.


(edited to say I may have put this in the wrong thread. Oh well...)

01-26-2009, 07:56 AM
Yes, the TOS head is heavy... and unlike the Beaver they hid the nuts at the back! PITA when the head is tipped to get a spanner on them.


John Stevenson
01-26-2009, 08:35 AM
Tim, I used to have a vertical Elliott with the INT 30 spindle.
Funnily enough I bought it from the local boat yard [ Tim has a dry dock ] with a broken power feed.
The power feed on these are about 6 speed but if you held it in mesh the other way it moved in rapids, the gear ratio was a bit too high and they were prone to shedding a few teggies.

Fix was strip and clean and replace the large gear with all the teeth turned off so it acted as a spacer and do away with the rapids.

Whilst it was waiting for me to collect it a friend got shat on by his company [ long story ] and decided to set up on his own. He had little money but managed to rent some premises.

I shipped this mill up to him with a small surface grinder and large power saw free of charge to help him but they stayed my property. After about a year we did a deal over some parts and he kept the machines.

Over the years until he retired he put 1,000's of pounds worth of work my way so good deeds do pay off.