What's new
What's new

To scrape or not to scrape an antique lathe?

flkmrz

Plastic
Joined
Jul 9, 2023
Hi All,

My question is, would scraping the ways and cross slide back into true have a negative impact, no impact, or a positive impact on the value of an antique lathe?

I recently acquired a WF&J Barnes #6 metal lathe for a *very* reasonable price to use for a particular project I have in mind that was too big for my other lathes. I knew it was old, but I had no idea just how old it was until I got it home and started researching it. It turns out that it's on the order of 150 years old. Not surprisingly, it does have some wear. Based on its age, I estimate that it had somewhere between 6 and 20 or so previous owners. My thanks to those guys who took such good care of it. While the wear isn't bad enough to affect the project I'm working on, it would be better if it was redone.

During my research I found that a relatively small number of these were made, and even fewer have survived to the present day. Presumably, this means that it is probably worth some money. I have no plans to sell it (I'm going to use it and it is the perfect size to fit in my basement), but I don't want to do anything that will decrease its value. I have a minor repair to make (a missing tooth in the back gears) but there have been previous gear tooth repairs made prior to my acquisition.

I'd like feedback on what I should do, particularly from other owners of similar antiques.

Thanks for reading.

Don
 
Hi All,

My question is, would scraping the ways and cross slide back into true have a negative impact, no impact, or a positive impact on the value of an antique lathe?

I recently acquired a WF&J Barnes #6 metal lathe for a *very* reasonable price to use for a particular project I have in mind that was too big for my other lathes. I knew it was old, but I had no idea just how old it was until I got it home and started researching it. It turns out that it's on the order of 150 years old. Not surprisingly, it does have some wear. Based on its age, I estimate that it had somewhere between 6 and 20 or so previous owners. My thanks to those guys who took such good care of it. While the wear isn't bad enough to affect the project I'm working on, it would be better if it was redone.

During my research I found that a relatively small number of these were made, and even fewer have survived to the present day. Presumably, this means that it is probably worth some money. I have no plans to sell it (I'm going to use it and it is the perfect size to fit in my basement), but I don't want to do anything that will decrease its value. I have a minor repair to make (a missing tooth in the back gears) but there have been previous gear tooth repairs made prior to my acquisition.

I'd like feedback on what I should do, particularly from other owners of similar antiques.

Thanks for reading.

Don
It is likely an easy lathe to scrape in: simple bed ways and carriage. Not flame hardened. You can probably get it done with simple tools, a straight edge, a precision level, DTI, and tons of elbow grease. Ensure you know how to measure everything on the lathe to align it well.
 
Unless it was Thomas Edison's personal lathe or such then it's worth about $150/ton.

Fix whatever you need to fix to do the job and pass it on to the next guy or scrapyard.

If you have the energy and resources to rehab machine tools put it into something exceptional like Post WWII L&S Powerturn, Pacemaker, Axelson or 60 series Monarch.

Those machines are the ones that need preserved and used. They represent the culmination of 100+ years of American machine tool building.
 
My take: IF the ways were redone to match the original pattern/look....ok.....a half-baked attempt would definitely take what value you have away.
But as Garwood said, that's the only way it would have real value.
There might be some museum somewhere that would pick it up, course they wouldn't care if it was precise.
Not sure how much precision you are after?? Are you going to do metal or wood ??
 
Hanger queen, or a working tool? If the first, have at it. If the second, just use it. You're not going to change it's 'value' by doing, or not doing something to it. If you want to learn hand scaping, it's a good project, but maybe not your first one. How many machine parts have you scaped so far?
 
So you're concerned that putting $20k worth of labor into a $500 lathe is going to decrease it's value?

Just my opinion, scraping will increase the value if it's done well, and in the same way it was originally done at the factory. Moglice/turcite is not appropriate on an antique museum piece.
 
So you're concerned that putting $20k worth of labor into a $500 lathe is going to decrease it's value?

Just my opinion, scraping will increase the value if it's done well, and in the same way it was originally done at the factory. Moglice/turcite is not appropriate on an antique museum piece.
Uhm, not sure it would qualify as a museum piece if it needs a massive amount of reconditioning. Museums usually look for machines in pristine condition. Crapped-out old lathes do not qualify. No amount of scraping would improve the market value of that lathe. You might be able to make it into a lovely piece of precise machine that would fetch the same $500. But it is good exercise, and if that is the only way you can get an accurate lathe....go for it.
 
Last edited:
You have basically zero chance of getting your money back (or pay for your time) on reconditioning anything other than equipment that a commercial shop might want. That does not qualify.

Maybe also on something that is highly in demand by "collecting users" who would value a really good rebuild.

Museums are fine.... they welcome donations (!) Paying for items is a distant hope in many cases. A few well endowed ones may if they need a particular item at a particular time. Don't count on it otherwise.

If you want to do it go ahead. If not, don't.

As for ruining the value? Nah.... It was probably scraped to begin with, and a good job of rebuilding won't hurt it except for a few who have no intention of ever using the thing.

I re-scraped a Benchmaster, every slideway scraped to alignment. Didn't add a nickel to the selling value for a hobby person who might buy one. But a) I wanted to do a whole mill for practice, and it was a workable size b) I wanted a mill that size anyway, and got the thing practically for free, knowing it needed work.
 
I have something similar here. It’s a Kodak Showtime 8-mm. film projector from the 1950s. It just runs but very noisy and too slowly. From an other example I know that I’d need to completely disassemble it, foremost the motor, work up the Oilite bearings, clean the plastic gears from dried grease, and more.

The light-dark ratio of the Showtime 8 is 2.33:1 which puts it in the top third of its kind. The overall design however is horrible with the exception of one assembly. Too short a control radius that causes a relatively wide claw movement across the perforation hole edges, too narrow claw teeth that accentuate the harsh film acceleration (over 30 degrees of a cycle), poor cooling.

I had to come to a conclusion and that is not in favour of the Eastman-Kodak Co. who had stolen the mechanics from an Ampro patent that would elapse in 1957. The Showtime was released towards the end of 1956.

To investigate will help you decide. What spindle speeds can you attain? Is a faceplate feasible? Gears, centers, coolant?
 
I had to come to a conclusion and that is not in favour of the Eastman-Kodak Co. who had stolen the mechanics from an Ampro patent that would elapse in 1957.
Then it was not "stolen". The entire purpose of US patents was to encourage people to develop new products and processes which after a short period of time would be given into the public domain.

There is no such thing as "intellectual property" and never has been. The idea of patents was a tradeoff - to grant an exclusive for a period of time, in return for bringing new developments to the public.

See Jefferson, Thomas - the guy who created the US patent office.
 
First of all, I would do a proper evaluation of the overall wear of the lathe. How much wear o the most worn spot on the ways? How much wear on the saddle (likely much more than the bed)? Do you have/have access to a fully equipped workshop to do operations like milling/planing the underside of the saddle, machine new bushings, shafts, etc? Do you have/have access to a big-enough surface plate and long-enough straightedges?

Scraping is just one aspect of reconditioning a machine. However, it does not help much to have all the ways "back to perfection" (perhaps .020-.030" lower than original) and worn out/oval spindle bearings, excessive play in feed screws, etc.

I am not very familiar with the Barnes #6 and I could not find many useful pictures. However, keep also in mind that scraping well small V-ways is much more painful than larger ones.

Paolo
 
Over the years I have rebuilt / scraped several lathes plus I was a former VP of a used machine dealer. As Garwood said. If it was owned by Edison it might be worth more, if not scraping it won't help or deter in my opinion change the value of the basic machine. If it was a total worn out machine it's scrap iron. If it was like new, some hobbyist may pay more. As one of the writers said, do you have the experience and tools to do a proper scrape job? If not leave it alone and use it. Or learn to scrape before doing it. Is it useable now? take some pictures of the ways so we don't have to guess.
 
And when you were done it was nice, which is the whole point ... not how much it will be 'worth'.
Well, the "worth" was the "worth to me". I'm not going to sell it, nor even sell the parts that I am not currently using (the horizontal setup).

I'd never get the value of my time back selling it. But I CAN get the value of my time back by using it. Which was the whole idea.

That's the only way to get your time value back.
 
Yes....... There are different kinds of "worth", and I understood the point.

Side point: I deny that any object has a definite "worth". "Worth" is completely situational, almost by definition.

Example... the "worth" of a gallon jug of clean water.
 
Wow.

Thanks to everyone who weighed in.

While looking for a few parts for the lathe, I saw a couple listed on eBay for large sums (one for $9,995 and another for $4,800), hence my question about decreasing the value. Whether the seller will actually get that much is another matter. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to screw up a potentially valuable antique.

As dcsipo said: "It is likely an easy lathe to scrape in: simple bed ways and carriage. Not flame hardened. You can probably get it done with simple tools, a straight edge, a precision level, DTI, and tons of elbow grease." I agree.

I intend to keep and use the lathe. It's the perfect size for what I have in mind, so I think it is probably worthwhile for me to invest the time to scrape it in if needed. Everything else on it appears to be in very good condition, so it should be a (relatively) simple job. I'm not really worried about getting paid for time invested, other that getting use out of it. I've already invested time in making some accessories for it. The spindle and tailstock tapers appear to be a wildcat, or at least a taper I couldn't find specs for. Supposedly, the manufacturer used Morse tapers, but it must have been reamed out at some point. I made a couple of tapered adapters so I could use MT1 tooling. I also 3d printed a change gear that was missing, which works surprisingly well. Just for fun I also 3d printed a set of gears so I can do metric threading. Next on my list is a steady rest, then I have to fix the broken tooth on the back gears, at which point I'll see if scraping is actually necessary to do what I'm planning on doing. I'll probably also make a 1"-8tpi to L00 adapter so I can use the L00 faceplate I have.

Again, thanks to everyone who replied. I found *all* of the comments, both positive and negative useful and informative. They are much appreciated.

Picture attached.

Hmmm...maybe I should make it into a CNC...:LOL:
 

Attachments

  • mylathe.jpg
    mylathe.jpg
    5.3 MB · Views: 16
Last edited:
4 pads under the left and right side of the carriage on the front V way and a single pad under the rear flat way (assuming that is how your lathe is setup) will make a kinematic platform that is stable across the tilting and varying-height ways of a worn out lathe. if it is stable and it cuts well then don't mess with it until you better understand what you're getting into.

if your spindle is only 1"-8 then its effectively a toy.

i basically gave my southbend 9 to a friend as an upgrade from his atlas 6" he was trying to occasionally use. his 6" lathe has a 1" 8tpi spindle and journal bearings that would not be appropriate for a 1hp motor.

a friend of mine basically gave me a precision Mathews 1440 and its nearly an equally proportional upgrade, from the atlas to the southbend to something useful. you can take a descent cut out of 2" diameter stainless steel sticking 1 foot out of the spindle, unsupported. -you can't do that on the southbend because the 1.5"-8 tpi spindle isn't stiff enough.
 








 
Back
Top