In 1937, Federal and State Governments provided substantial grants totalling £11,000 to Collingwood Technical School for what became the Youth Employment Scheme, part of the strategy to overcome the impact of the Great Depression.
Out of this, came the production of what became famous as the COLTECH centre lathe. This was a 5.25” swing lathe designed at the School by teachers. It had over 70 components and because of this, it became a useful training exercise for students to put it together.
When the war broke out, manufacture of the lathe continued. The lathe had been approved by the Commonwealth Department of Defence, an engineer from the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, and by the Education Department. As part of the Defence program, the lathe was manufactured in substantial numbers with component parts being made at many technical Schools in Victoria. It was enlarged to 6” and twelve were used by the Ammunition Factory at Footscray, to ream dies for the making of bullet cartridge cases.
Design drawings for constructing the COLTECH lathe were sent to the Central Drawing Office in Maribyrnong where it was to be modified and so could be used for other purposes; drawings were supplied to other States and New Zealand.
Scott, Ian D. ‘COLTECH: a story of technical education in Collingwood, 1870-1987.’ Melbourne, Collingwood College of TAFE, 1988.
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