Little British Car Library

Sorry, but I have to recreate the site.

Bob (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Welcome to the Little British Car Library.  This currently based on my collection of British Car literature and my car projects.   Some of this material was originally published on the team.net website. 

Obviously, the site is currently under construction.  The initial content is a sample Joomla site that I will remove as I learn how to do so.


The main image is of our 1962 Austin-Healey 3000 tri-carb on the road returning from EuroFest at the BMW factory in South Carolina in 2007.  It looks pretty good from 100 yards :).  Picture taken by Jim Frakes.

Van Norman 1/2 Mill

Van Norman No. 1/2 Milling Machine

Since not many folks recognize this machine, I thought a web page would be of some use. Yes, it's a 1/2, not a 12. Here's what I know so far...


On the left side of the base there is a small panel that can be removed that gives access to the inside of the base. Don't know why, unless it's for removing the chips that accumulate inside. On the panel is the following:

Van Norman No. 1/2
Duplex Milling Machine
Van Norman Machine Tool Co
Springfield, Mass
PAT Nov 3 1896

Above the panel and the on/off switch is a dealer nameplate. It has:

H. Leach Machinery Co.
Machine Tools
Electric Motors
Belting - Transmission
387 Charles St. Providence 4 R.I.

There's a different business at that address now - Providence Personal Training. With the zone address ( Providence 4 R.I. ) the nameplate dates between 1943 and 1963. I've found one reference to Leach Machinery so far, it appears to have been dissolved in March of 1982. The reference was the summary of a court case - funny things that you can find on the web.

The serial number is apparently 5049. Several of the parts have this number stamped on them including the base between the column ways, near the top. Other parts include the (horizontal) spindle/arbor support arm, a shaft collar, and a gear. A couple of other gears have just 49 stamped on them.

On the right side of the ram is a small number plate with "L566" embossed on it. Don't know what it signifies.



It's not a large machine, someone once stated that it was about 5/8ths of a Bridgeport.

Table length (clamping) 27 1/4 inches
Table width (clamping) 6 3/4 inches
Table height 32 to 48 1/2 inches
X axis travel about 20 inches
Y axis travel 6 1/4 inches
Ram travel (Y axis) 8 3/4 inches
Tool centerline height
(horizontal configuration)
47 3/4 inches

The maximum table height of 48 1/2 inches may be of little use as the bottom of the ram is at 45 inches.

Spindle Tooling

The 1/2 uses the C style collets. This style is probably more commonly known as the 5V collet. At least that's what the 25th edition of Machinery's Handbook calls them. The Van Norman accessory catalog (the link is further on down) lists the round sizes as 1/64 inches to 5/8 inches, by 1/64 inches. Per the Machinery's Handbook, the maximum sizes are:

Round 0.563 inches
Hex 0.484 inches
Square 0.391 inches

There is a nice drawing with dimensions for the 5V collet on John Kasunich's Van Norman site.

Other tooling included adapters to B&S and Morse tapers, shell end mill abors and (horizontal) cutter arbors.


My machine is driven with a 1725 rpm replacement motor. There are two pulleys that the motor could drive, but I've always used the larger one. If I've measured the pulleys and done the math correctly the three spindle speeds are 63, 134, and 270 rpm.


Currently a short list...

  1. Some of the screws are 1/4 - 24 TPI (UNS).
  2. Most of the collets that came with the machine had bad threads. The threads looked like ocean waves, having been pulled that much. I've made a new draw bar and bought a set of end mill holders from .
  3. There is a drive for moving the table, but a belt is broken, so I've never tried it.


would be nice... I have a later attachments and accessories catalog. It appears to have been published in the late 30's or early 40's as the company was formed in 1888 and the catalog states on the first page "For 50 years, Van Norman has steadily developed the flexibility and efficency of tool room equipment". The No. 1/2 is mentioned as being an older machine.

Here are a couple flyers for the 1/2. The first one Ken Cope provided. Not sure where I got the second one.

I'd like to find a user's manual, lubrication and maintenance info, etc.

Other Sites

Wants and Desires

Things I'd like to find -


  • The age of the machine. It was probably built before World War II and obviously after 1896. John Kasunich has checked the 10th and 11th editions of the Machine Tool Serial Numbers and came up empty. He thinks it might be the 49th or 50th No. 1/2 built as Van Norman seems to have started serial numbers with 5000. Ken Cope told me that the Model 1/2 was introduced sometime after 1912 and was superceeded by the Model 10 by 1927.
  • Any literature that covers the care and feeding of the mill. An period accessory catalog would be neat too.

Whittling in Metal

My father-in-law was a tool and die maker in Rhode Island. Most of these machines are from his basement (HSM) shop.




Burlen Fuel Systems

Moss Motors



Austin-Healey Club of America

Austin-Healey Club USA


Dave Dubois