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Setting up my new to me Rivett 504

Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Hello all,

Recently I was gifted a Rivett 504, which is now my first proper lathe. For the full story go check out rivett608's "A Gift of a Rivett Lathe" thread which has all the details of how this came to be.

So we got it back to Tulsa Saturday night and then Sunday spent the day cleaning it and reassembling it. Nothing has been screwed down yet, its all just sitting loosely in place. I chose to do this as the drive system I'm going to be doing have to be mounted first before the lathe is bolted down. The drive system consists of the original countershaft, which will be connected to a Baldor DC motor and speed system much like a VFD.

Photos coming soon.


Douglas
 
I have not seen a picture of the countershaft you have, but I do know about what Rivett used. Decades ago, I bought an old Rivett (maybe 505) at a General Electric surplus auction. I kept the Rivett three-speed countershaft and sold the rest of the lathe. I designed and built a bench for one of my Hardinge Cataract bench lathes using the Rivett countershaft. VFD's and big DC motors and controls were not the thing back then, so I incorporated a 1 HP single phase motor driving the jack shaft. Rivett and Hardinge both sold three-speed countershafts with their lathes in the days before underneath V-belt drives. Hardinge used three foot pedals to operate their countershafts and Rivett used three hand levers under the front of the benchtop. I designed and built foot pedals operating the three control cables that connected to the belt shift forks. The cables can be latched to keep a belt engaged without standing on its pedal. Here is a picture of the drive, which has worked so well for over forty years that I never put a three phase motor and VFD on it once they became cheap.

Tony has a page with several catalog pictures of Rivett bench lathes with the motor and jack shaft under the benchtop and the three-speed countershaft above. You can see the three belts passing upwards behind the lathe through a big hole in the benchtop surrounded by a metal shield that could keep some of the flying chips out of the motor compartment. That feature is why my bench has the jack shaft at the top. I use the space below the benchtop for a Kennedy rollaway full of tooling. Note the three control levers on the front of the bench. Because my jack shaft is above the Rivett countershaft, I had to turn it upside down, with the belt shifters pointing upwards. That made it necessary to have pulleys to reverse the direction of the three shift cables. I also changed the countershaft bearings from plain with drip oilers to sealed ball bearings. Still, a Rivett collector would know it was made by Rivett.

The three speeds are high forward, low forward and low reverse (crossed belt).


Larry

59 flat belt 2.JPG
 
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I have not seen a picture of the countershaft you have, but I do know about what Rivett used. Decades ago, I bought an old Rivett (maybe 505) at a General Electric surplus auction. I kept the Rivett three-speed countershaft and sold the rest of the lathe. I designed and built a bench for one of my Hardinge Cataract bench lathes using the Rivett countershaft. VFD's and big DC motors and controls were not the thing back then, so I incorporated a 1 HP single phase motor driving the jack shaft. Rivett and Hardinge both sold three-speed countershafts with their lathes in the days before underneath V-belt drives. Hardinge used three foot pedals to operate their countershafts and Rivett used three hand levers under the front of the benchtop. I designed and built foot pedals operating the three control cables that connected to the belt shift forks. The cables can be latched to keep a belt engaged without standing on its pedal. Here is a picture of the drive, which has worked so well for over forty years that I never put a three phase motor and VFD on it once they became cheap.

Tony has a page with several catalog pictures of Rivett bench lathes with the motor and jack shaft under the benchtop and the three-speed countershaft above. You can see the three belts passing upwards behind the lathe through a big hole in the benchtop surrounded by a metal shield that could keep some of the flying chips out of the motor compartment. That feature is why my bench has the jack shaft at the top. I use the space below the benchtop for a Kennedy rollaway full of tooling. Note the three control levers on the front of the bench. Because my jack shaft is above the Rivett countershaft, I had to turn it upside down, with the belt shifters pointing upwards. That made it necessary to have pulleys to reverse the direction of the three shift cables. I also changed the countershaft bearings from plain with drip oilers to sealed ball bearings. Still, a Rivett collector would know it was made by Rivett.

The three speeds are high forward, low forward and low reverse (crossed belt).


Larry

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Larry, here’s a photo of my countershaft. It uses an original Rivett casting to support to the cone pulley, but is held up on giant steel angles fabricated by the previous owner. The v belt pulley has a mate on the motor of a smaller diameter. The high obtainable speed should be 1800 while the lowest about 200 rpm.

Douglas
 

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With that pulley set, a variable speed motor will be a good thing. Keep in mind that slowing a DC motor electronically will also reduce the horsepower. And it is power that is needed to cut metal at a useful rate. Slowing the motor to get the work peripheral speed to something that does not quickly dull the cutting tool can get you to a point where the motor will stall. I like to use a motor with excess power at rated speed so that there will still be sufficient power at, say, half speed.

A useful accessory for that type of lathe is a T-rest. Rivett made them for your lathe. You can use high speed steel or carbide-tipped wood turning tools with a T-rest to turn metal. It is the best way to do curved contours like crank handles. I also use a hand-held knurling tool with my T-rest to knurl curved surfaces.

Larry
 
With that pulley set, a variable speed motor will be a good thing. Keep in mind that slowing a DC motor electronically will also reduce the horsepower. And it is power that is needed to cut metal at a useful rate. Slowing the motor to get the work peripheral speed to something that does not quickly dull the cutting tool can get you to a point where the motor will stall. I like to use a motor with excess power at rated speed so that there will still be sufficient power at, say, half speed.

A useful accessory for that type of lathe is a T-rest. Rivett made them for your lathe. You can use high speed steel or carbide-tipped wood turning tools with a T-rest to turn metal. It is the best way to do curved contours like crank handles. I also use a hand-held knurling tool with my T-rest to knurl curved surfaces.

Larry
Fear not, the motor is connected to a variable speed controller for DC. I'll look into getting a T-rest, I do a lot of freehand turning of brass so probably would be quite helpful.

Douglas
 
Turning metal with a graver and t-rest is alot easier than you might think if you haven't tried it. 1144 stressproof is particularly nice to turn by hand. Just a brief safety tip- I would only turn by hand with stock held in a collet, not a 3 jaw chuck because I like my knuckles the way they are.
 
Hi Douglas,
Congratulations on the fine lathe, I hope it serves you well for years to come. I love freehand turning brass and O-1 tool steel for on my watchmakers lathe with steel handheld gravers. The flip-down tool post is especially helpful for allowing the measurement of pivots in horology.

General question for the 608 crowd:
Unfortunately my new 608 only has the compound rest and I'm guessing it might take years to find an original plain or hinged T-rest. Can anybody provide a drawing or clear photos with a scale of the two styles of T-rests and notes on connections or materials? Fabricating one from some cast-iron bar stock shouldn't be too difficult assuming Rivett didn't machine the plain rest from a casting or from one piece of CI like they did the back-gear.

Thank you, Andrew
 
Here's a photo of making last year's Christmas presents (turned pens, in wood and acrylic), on my Hardinge Cataract - A similar purpose lathe. The high speed of the lathe works fine for wood, etc.
I had to fabricate a tool post mount, to fit a purchased wood lathe tool rest, but it was no big deal. I've also used this lathe to turn brass this way - Just make sure the tool overhang is minimal.
2021 christmas presents.jpg
An example of a simple part made like this - Prop nut for vintage Mercury outboards. I made a bunch of these for a friend - He didn't want them "highly polished"
I turned the basic angles with the compound, and then finished by hand.
nut sm.jpg
 
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Hi Douglas,
Congratulations on the fine lathe, I hope it serves you well for years to come. I love freehand turning brass and O-1 tool steel for on my watchmakers lathe with steel handheld gravers. The flip-down tool post is especially helpful for allowing the measurement of pivots in horology.

General question for the 608 crowd:
Unfortunately my new 608 only has the compound rest and I'm guessing it might take years to find an original plain or hinged T-rest. Can anybody provide a drawing or clear photos with a scale of the two styles of T-rests and notes on connections or materials? Fabricating one from some cast-iron bar stock shouldn't be too difficult assuming Rivett didn't machine the plain rest from a casting or from one piece of CI like they did the back-gear.

Thank you, Andrew
I'm not sure what happened to the Rivett 608 group(groups io?) But they had a large collection of factory drawings you could get on a CD. I have a lot of paper copies that were taded back and forth with 608 fans before the internet. I can look but I don't think I have a T rest. Try and find that group, that would be your best bet. Another avenue would be Wm Smith's design. He drew it up for an article in Home SHop Machinist. Sherline sells a version of it, maybe you can adapt that? https://www.sherline.com/product/2110-w-r-smith-t-rest/#description
Lastly George Thomas designed one for the Myford lathe, that would be about the right size. Plans and parts are available for that here:http://www.hemingwaykits.com/acatalog/Hand_Turning_Rest.html
 
I'm not sure what happened to the Rivett 608 group(groups io?) But they had a large collection of factory drawings you could get on a CD. I have a lot of paper copies that were taded back and forth with 608 fans before the internet. I can look but I don't think I have a T rest...
I've scoured all of the old drawings I could find, and unfortunately there are no T-rest drawings.

In addition to the trove of information on groups.io, the old CD's files are all up on the NEMES webesite here:

I can certainly just make or adapt another T-rest, but I was hoping for a clearer image of what the Rivett original looks like. My first thought would be to use size a t-rest for a standard 5/8" diameter toolrest post and then order a tool rest from Robust lathes. I use Robust toolrests on my wood lathe and it's the most comfortable rest I've ever tried.

Thank you for your suggestions.
 
Well after a lot of head scratching and lifting of heavy objects, the Rivett is up and running. I’ll leave it in this condition for a while but eventually it’ll get repainted.

It’ll make parts for this, my model of a GWR Rover class locomotive made using contemporary tools including this lathe.
 

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