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New to Me Lathe and Intro

Kevin T

Jan 26, 2019
I recently found a lathe for sale locally and decided to buy it for my garage. I initially wasn't sure I wanted such a large machine in my garage but I have spent a few days thinking it over and decided to pursue the beauty. These things are so rare out here in Hawaii. I made an initial post in the General Forum.


Now that I have a deal with the previous owner it makes more sense to post in here. What a nice place you guys have here. I am looking forward to becoming familiar with the machine and trying to learn how to best utilize it. I have had a 24" Micro Mark lathe for 15 years or so but I outgrew it a long time ago and it gets used for polishing jobs. I sort of shelved the idea of ever getting a real machine until recently when one just fell into my lap! The money changes hands tomorrow so I hope I am not jinxing the deal by talking about it before but I can't contain the excitement!

Oh what's that? Stop gabbing and talk about the machine...As best as I can tell it's a 40's era 16" Toolroom Precision Lathe Model 8117C. It was a military surplus machine that the owners father bought in the 70's. He said that at the time the Navy converted the entire shop where it was into a more modern one with modern machines and that they just sold them all to clear out the shop. The lore is that it looked almost new at the time.

I just returned from having the owner run me through it and it seems like a good machine. Not that I would be able to say for certain. I have been around a lot of machine tools in my life (retired from Aerospace) and it passed the smell test and condition appears that it has been well cared for. I didn't do any measurements for wear but did check for any spindle slop (couldn't detect any) and extended the tailstock spindle all the way and gave it a wigggle. Some small amount of play at full extension but I expected some of that. I looked at the ways for any obvious sign of wear and didn't see any.

As far as I can tell it has every piece that it should have come with and a ton more of extras that I cant wait to go through. I was too excited to notice that my camera dial had changed and it was in some type of artistic interpretation mode when I snapped a few pics. I am very disappointed with that but I did get one of the serial number and some markings. I want to learn the full story of my machine and I have seen some references in here of delivery cards with specs and details.

Perhaps someone can point me in the right direction after looking at the picture of the markings. Of course in the dim light I totally missed the stamp below the serial that I partially exposed of a wing or a torch or ??

As found...

Really strange how the serial numbers arent predictable for the year yeah? I am guessing this has been discussed in detail somewhere. Mine is two back from one that says 1943 with a card and a that one and mine are in the middle of a bunch listed as 1941. I ordered the card for mine and grizzly says its available so I'll wait to see.
Surely the Ordnance Corps "flaming bomb"?

Yep - for sure. Once upon a time I was one of those (wore that insignia)- before I went on to other things.

Will be interesting to see what the card says as that would indicate it was accepted for purchase by the Army. Should have an anchor if bought by the Navy in that time frame. My January 1945 Heavy 10 has a US for a stamp, went to the Army. At some point during the war they got a little more efficient it would seem.

My 1943 16" was an Army Ordnance Corp machine. No telling what the OP's machine witnessed if it's been in Hawaii since it was delivered.
My 1943 16" was an Army Ordnance Corp machine. No telling what the OP's machine witnessed if it's been in Hawaii since it was delivered.

I keep checking my mail to look for that card! The machine has a painted serialized number on the pedestal end that must have been used for a shop ID. I will look for historical pictures as it starts to come together. I almost backed out of the purchase when I combed through your restore thread thinking I could never be worthy of it. Then I looked at it again and told myself that using it... being the steward of it and maintaining it is a worthy pursuit! I found a guy to haul it to it's new home with a double axle tilt bed trailer with a winch and now I am busy trying to source some machine dollys that will help the process. I found a couple that are large that I can borrow but at 4'x 4' they are bigger than I want and I am not sure if I want to use them . If you know of any useful places that I can study on the web to help me work the logistics end please share!

I don't have a cherry picker in my shop so I think I am going to end up rolling the lathe into place off the tilt bed trailer and then I am not sure how to get it off the dollys and make adjustments to it's position after! I have a car jack and lumber and a hand truck but....the rest of the plan is unclear. lol
Maybe a clue to the stamped bed on my lathe?
I found some dollys to move the lathe onto a low boy tilting bed trailer and winch it on, and hopefully tilt it off at the garage. Is there a good place in here to discuss lessons learned by others who have gone before me. My initial thoughts are to put some lumber on the top and place the lathe on this setup with a forklift. That is problem one. Then when I get it home and the truck drives away it will be on this setup on the garage and I need to figure out big problem 2 "How to get it off these dollys".


These 2 x 8 are not as long as I like so I will cut some to a better length on site. Do you think the lathe should be bolted to the wood resting on the dollys? I have 4X6 lumber also available and can fab up a frame out of it with lag bolts and all that but is that necessary?
It says the machine was delivered 5 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Well I saw that ship date, but wasn't sure where that was from or when it was received. Shipped by Rail to West Coast and Sailed out to Hawaii maybe? If it was in transit when Pearl Harbor was attacked I wonder if it sat somewhere along the way.
On Dec. 2nd it was shipped from South Bend Indiana to Raritan Arsenal in Metuchin, N.J. That's pronounced Meh-touch-in. There isn't any info on when or how it was shipped to Hawaii. Catalog number of your lathe is 8117E...that's a "toolroom" 16" lathe with an 8 ft. bed..E=8ft...C would be 6ft,D would be 7ft. etc. "toolroom" means it had a precision leadscrew, more accurate than standard. Most "toolroom" lathes shipped with a taper attachment, as did yours,according to the serisl card. It was shipped with a 1.5 h.p., 3phase, Allis electric motor. That's really about all the relevant info. Hope this helps with understanding the card. PB
Maybe a clue to the stamped bed on my lathe?

Kevin -

Raritan Arsenal (and other arsenals as well as some other types of installations) was under the Chief of Ordnance at that point in time. Symbol of the Ordnance Corps has been the 'bomb' (or 'flaming piss pot' to some) since the 1700s. When items like lathes were purchased for whatever reason at that point in time the Chief of Ordnance had oversight and the inspector used the 'bomb stamp' to indicate final acceptance. This procedure has changed many times over the years and I can't remember all the twists and turns. Somebody probably did a study on the history of it all but I don't recall ever tripping over it.

In today's procurement world DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency) is the acceptance authority for all of DOD and the final acceptance is with an 'eagle stamp' on the DD 250. Of importance in my former life as that is what triggered getting payment for the finished helicopter system we built. Had to keep the money coming in so the paycheck would not bounce!