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A Gift of a Rivett Lathe


Oct 25, 2002
Kansas City, Mo.
When curiosity, teamwork and generosity come together amazing things happen. Some times all the lucky stars line up and they did for Douglas. This young engineer, model builder and antique machinist/horological tool connoisseur was in search of his first real lathe as he quickly was growing out of his Unimat clone. After weeks of searching eBay for a small lathe within his budget a possible candidate was found near the famed PLUMIER FOUNDATION @plumierfoundation . After discussions between the Machine tool guru Frank Dorian @frank.dorion and David Lindow @david.lindow this lathe was rejected. Frank had a better idea, he had a RIVETT 504 purchased years ago, that was never set up and offered to gift it Douglas! The lathe was nicely equipped with a DC motor with controller, 3 jaw chuck, collet set, drill chucks, tool holders and bits. David’s daughter was planning a road trip visit from the Midwest to east coast and could get the lathe to Kansas City. Next Kelsey Watson @kelsey_watson42 offered to repair the broken cross slide and ended up donating an even better one. So this Lathe traveled over a 1,200 miles to ended up in miniature builder and Rivett aficionado Bill Robertson’s (me) garage where it got a few more things added. The last step was for Douglas and his dad to drive the hours to collect his new lathe.

You just have to imagine how excited this guy was because I don’t have the words to describe it. We spent the day teaching him how this lathe works, adjusting the bearings, mounting tool bits and turning different metals. Since his Rivett 504 wasn’t under power we put the cross slide on my 608 so he could get a feel for it. Love the B & W photo, almost looks 60s, next time we’ll get out the vintage safety glasses.

This is what can happen when a younger person’s curiosity catches the attention of a group of guys that can work together and each pitch in a little, or a lot like Frank, to make dreams of owning a Rivett Lathe come true. The common thing that brought this whole thing together is the PLUMIER FOUNDATION, which one of its goals is to encourage younger craftsman to learn about ornamental turning and fine antique lathes. THANK YOU ALL.

BTW.. If anyone has any extra Rivett 5NS tooling or chuck mounting / drive plates that are 1.850" x 10 TPI please let us know, Thanks.


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