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Help with unknown lathe

krhoover

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Location
Venango county NW Pa
Finally cleaned this. Can’t find any markings. Anyone know about it?
 

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I have no idea who the manufacturer of the lathe in the attached pictures might have been. The lathe has a very plain design, so offers no clues as to possible manufacturers or time period for the manufacture of the lathe.

There are a few clues which the pictures show:
-the cross slide appears to be an add-on, screwed to the saddle. More common lathe design is to cast the saddle and cross-slide dovetail in one piece. This suggests '
the lathe may have started out with some specialized function such as a production turning operation.

-the geared drive to the lead screw is unique. The fact the gears are enclosed is rare for most older machinery. What makes the geared drive unique is the fact it
uses two sets of helical gears. Fancy gearing for a very simple and plain lathe. It also establishes only one direction of feed and only one feed rate for the saddle.
The lathe does not have an apron, just the bracket off the saddle with the nut for the lead screw. To reverse direction of the saddle/tool travel, the operator of the
lathe would have had to crank the lead screw back by hand, working against the gearing at the headstock end.

Given these points, I tend to think that this lathe was originally built for a very light production operation. My thinking leans towards this lathe being built for some
production wood turning operation. Getting back to the fact the cross slide assembly looks to be added to the top of the saddle, there may have been some kind
of simple mechanism to cause the cutting tool to follow a template (i.e., a 'copy lathe'). To address the matter of returning the saddle to its starting point, the
countershaft for this lathe probably had two belts driving it, one being crossed to provide reverse spindle rotation. The countershaft may have had two 'loose pulleys'
and a center wide 'tight' pulley. A single lever and 2 sest of belt shifter forks would enable the lathe operator to quickly stop the spindle or start it in either direction.

The lathe construction seems too light for a metalworking lathe, though it might have been used on something like a brass turning operation requiring turning to a profile (such as turning candlesticks or ornamental work). Production wood turning of something small such as small 'spindles' for furniture or tool handles would be about the kind of job this lathe, if setup as a copy lathe, would run.
 
I have no idea who the manufacturer of the lathe in the attached pictures might have been. The lathe has a very plain design, so offers no clues as to possible manufacturers or time period for the manufacture of the lathe.

There are a few clues which the pictures show:
-the cross slide appears to be an add-on, screwed to the saddle. More common lathe design is to cast the saddle and cross-slide dovetail in one piece. This suggests '
the lathe may have started out with some specialized function such as a production turning operation.

-the geared drive to the lead screw is unique. The fact the gears are enclosed is rare for most older machinery. What makes the geared drive unique is the fact it
uses two sets of helical gears. Fancy gearing for a very simple and plain lathe. It also establishes only one direction of feed and only one feed rate for the saddle.
The lathe does not have an apron, just the bracket off the saddle with the nut for the lead screw. To reverse direction of the saddle/tool travel, the operator of the
lathe would have had to crank the lead screw back by hand, working against the gearing at the headstock end.

Given these points, I tend to think that this lathe was originally built for a very light production operation. My thinking leans towards this lathe being built for some
production wood turning operation. Getting back to the fact the cross slide assembly looks to be added to the top of the saddle, there may have been some kind
of simple mechanism to cause the cutting tool to follow a template (i.e., a 'copy lathe'). To address the matter of returning the saddle to its starting point, the
countershaft for this lathe probably had two belts driving it, one being crossed to provide reverse spindle rotation. The countershaft may have had two 'loose pulleys'
and a center wide 'tight' pulley. A single lever and 2 sest of belt shifter forks would enable the lathe operator to quickly stop the spindle or start it in either direction.

The lathe construction seems too light for a metalworking lathe, though it might have been used on something like a brass turning operation requiring turning to a profile (such as turning candlesticks or ornamental work). Production wood turning of something small such as small 'spindles' for furniture or tool handles would be about the kind of job this lathe, if setup as a copy lathe, would run.
I have no idea who the manufacturer of the lathe in the attached pictures might have been. The lathe has a very plain design, so offers no clues as to possible manufacturers or time period for the manufacture of the lathe.

There are a few clues which the pictures show:
-the cross slide appears to be an add-on, screwed to the saddle. More common lathe design is to cast the saddle and cross-slide dovetail in one piece. This suggests '
the lathe may have started out with some specialized function such as a production turning operation.

-the geared drive to the lead screw is unique. The fact the gears are enclosed is rare for most older machinery. What makes the geared drive unique is the fact it
uses two sets of helical gears. Fancy gearing for a very simple and plain lathe. It also establishes only one direction of feed and only one feed rate for the saddle.
The lathe does not have an apron, just the bracket off the saddle with the nut for the lead screw. To reverse direction of the saddle/tool travel, the operator of the
lathe would have had to crank the lead screw back by hand, working against the gearing at the headstock end.

Given these points, I tend to think that this lathe was originally built for a very light production operation. My thinking leans towards this lathe being built for some
production wood turning operation. Getting back to the fact the cross slide assembly looks to be added to the top of the saddle, there may have been some kind
of simple mechanism to cause the cutting tool to follow a template (i.e., a 'copy lathe'). To address the matter of returning the saddle to its starting point, the
countershaft for this lathe probably had two belts driving it, one being crossed to provide reverse spindle rotation. The countershaft may have had two 'loose pulleys'
and a center wide 'tight' pulley. A single lever and 2 sest of belt shifter forks would enable the lathe operator to quickly stop the spindle or start it in either direction.

The lathe construction seems too light for a metalworking lathe, though it might have been used on something like a brass turning operation requiring turning to a profile (such as turning candlesticks or ornamental work). Production wood turning of something small such as small 'spindles' for furniture or tool handles would be about the kind of job this lathe, if setup as a copy lathe, would run.
Finally cleaned this. Can’t find any markings. Anyone know about it?
Finally cleaned this. Can’t find any markings. Anyone know about it?
Thanks for the info. There aren’t any graduations on the hand wheels or tail stock. I’ll put a motor on it and see what happens.
 
I’m wondering if it wasn’t sold as a lathe for taking a skim cut off armatures in the automotive or electric motor repair trade.
I seem to remember seeing one like that in some magazine before but can’t remember where or what make of machine it was.
That would be a light duty operation as suggested by Joe Michaels.
There are other threads on this form
showing other armature lathes but I don’t remember any like this one.
Jim
 
I’m wondering if it wasn’t sold as a lathe for taking a skim cut off armatures in the automotive or electric motor repair trade.
I seem to remember seeing one like that in some magazine before but can’t remember where or what make of machine it was.
That would be a light duty operation as suggested by Joe Michaels.
There are other threads on this form
showing other armature lathes but I don’t remember any like this one.
Jim
You could be correct. As I said there is no real way to tell how much your cut would be without graduations to tell. I’m not familiar with armature lathes but understand cleaning up armatures ect.
 
I have no idea who the manufacturer of the lathe in the attached pictures might have been. The lathe has a very plain design, so offers no clues as to possible manufacturers or time period for the manufacture of the lathe.

There are a few clues which the pictures show:
-the cross slide appears to be an add-on, screwed to the saddle. More common lathe design is to cast the saddle and cross-slide dovetail in one piece. This suggests '
the lathe may have started out with some specialized function such as a production turning operation.

-the geared drive to the lead screw is unique. The fact the gears are enclosed is rare for most older machinery. What makes the geared drive unique is the fact it
uses two sets of helical gears. Fancy gearing for a very simple and plain lathe. It also establishes only one direction of feed and only one feed rate for the saddle.
The lathe does not have an apron, just the bracket off the saddle with the nut for the lead screw. To reverse direction of the saddle/tool travel, the operator of the
lathe would have had to crank the lead screw back by hand, working against the gearing at the headstock end.

Given these points, I tend to think that this lathe was originally built for a very light production operation. My thinking leans towards this lathe being built for some
production wood turning operation. Getting back to the fact the cross slide assembly looks to be added to the top of the saddle, there may have been some kind
of simple mechanism to cause the cutting tool to follow a template (i.e., a 'copy lathe'). To address the matter of returning the saddle to its starting point, the
countershaft for this lathe probably had two belts driving it, one being crossed to provide reverse spindle rotation. The countershaft may have had two 'loose pulleys'
and a center wide 'tight' pulley. A single lever and 2 sest of belt shifter forks would enable the lathe operator to quickly stop the spindle or start it in either direction.

The lathe construction seems too light for a metalworking lathe, though it might have been used on something like a brass turning operation requiring turning to a profile (such as turning candlesticks or ornamental work). Production wood turning of something small such as small 'spindles' for furniture or tool handles would be about the kind of job this lathe, if setup as a copy lathe, would run.
Joe, I think the star wheel at the head stock end of the lead screw is a clutch to release the drive so the lead screw could be moved easely by the hand wheel at the other end.
 
Ratbldr:

The star wheel working a clutch makes perfect sense.

Jim Christie:
You are most likely correct about this being a lathe for 'cutting commutators' on armatures. The fixed feed rate and light construction of the lathe would be consistent with the kind of specialized lathes made for automotive electrical shops or repair garages. These were fairly small capacity lathes meant to handle the armatures from automotive starter motors and generators (for those of old enough to remember when cars, trucks, tractors and industrial engines had generators instead of alternators). The fact the cross slide is fastened to the saddle with screws might have been something the lathe manufacturer did as per their original design. This would allow the cross slide to be removed and an 'undercutter' (for cutting the mica between the commutator bars on an armature) could be mounted in its place.

The normal method for running an undercutting attachment on a lathe is to use the carriage handwheel to feed the undercutter along each mica spacer. There are two types of undercutters. One uses a thin saw blade without any set to it. This is mounted on a pivoted arm which is mounted on the lathe cross slide. Some lathes had tappings in the side of the cross slide saddle. These were used for a follower rest, and could also be used to mount an undercutting attachment. The manual type undercutter relied on a short, thin sawblade and the motion of the carriage. The operator had to swing the lever with the sawblade down so it contacted the mica to be undercut, and then press down on the lever while cranking the carriage to feed it along. The other type undercutters were motor driven and used small diameter slitting saw blades. The motor with the saw arbor was mounted on a vertical slide with its own feed screw. This was mounted on the lathe cross slide or in the compound rest tee slot (depending on size of undercutter, size of lathe). The OP's lathe, relying on the lead screw to feed the lathe saddle, would seem a slow way to do undercutting. If the only armatures to be worked on were from automotive engine starters and generators (or other engines of that same general size), a commutator might only be maybe 1 1/2" long. Not much travel needed to undercut the mica, so the manual feeding with the lead screw/handwheel would not take too long.

The only thing that seems a bit of a contradiction to my eye is the cross slide. It looks a good bit heavier in design than the rest of the lathe. Possibly this was taken off another lathe and grafted onto the saddle of the lathe the OP has pictured.
 
I paid 75$ for this. Does it have any value for any other uses. When I saw it it was covered with a tarp sitting outside so I brought it home not knowing what it’s use was.
 
I should add that if you look at the tail stock it slides side to side and has a bolt for tightening when it’s in position. Also the bed is beveled on the bottom edge for the carriage to ride on.
 
Another one of these lathes on Facebook Marketplace in Ohio.
A little different in some of the details.
The top slide on this one is from a Delta slide rest.

I don't think these were commutator lathes.
They look rather crude in the castings. Could be shop made lathes from a school project.

The cross slide on the OP's lathe looks original.

Rob
 

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Another one of these lathes on Facebook Marketplace in Ohio.
A little different in some of the details.
The top slide on this one is from a Delta slide rest.

I don't think these were commutator lathes.
They look rather crude in the castings. Could be shop made lathes from a school project.

The cross slide on the OP's lathe looks original.

Rob
That sure looks like it.
 








 
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