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Wade 8A #707


Jan 2, 2024
I recently brought home Wade 8A #707 from PM member @Halcohead. From what I've been able to uncover, the machine was auctioned by the Navy in 2002 and has seen little use since. Thankfully it was properly prepped for long term storage and everything is covered in a heavy layer of cosmoline. Underneath there seems to be a machine that is still in great condition. I'm starting down the process of brining her back to full running condition.


Over the past few days I've managed to get her converted over to running from single phase 220V with a VFD. This is the original electrical cabinet:


And converted over to VFD:


The VFD is a 3hp LAPOND K100, mounted in the original cabinet with a 3D printed bracket. So far I'm impressed with this VFD - the documentation and customer support have been excellent and the drive seems to be very fully featured. I was able to use the existing drum switch to control the VFD. The drum switch is connected to a lever on the front of the lathe and is configured to provide the original 3ph reversing contactor with a "run" signal that was closed in both forward and reverse, and then a momentary signal to start the motor in either forward or reverse directions. This mapped directly onto one of the supported control input modes of the VFD making the conversion straightforward.

The next step is to address the rest of the drive system to the spindle. There is a fair amount of noise coming from the variable speed drive. After taking a closer look the belts are toast. After 20+ years of storage they have significant set and deterioration, and I'm pretty sure they were incorrectly sized to being with. Now I'm on a hunt to find the right replacement belts.

Question for Wade 8A owners: what is the correct belt size for the variable speed drive?

The manual shows the same Wade part number for both upper and lower belts (#335), however the countershaft pulley seems to be sized for a 1" belt whereas the motor pulley seems to be sized for 1-1/8". Currently the upper belt is a 1828V370, i.e. 1-1/8" wide, 28 degree 37" belt and seems too wide for the 1" countershaft pulley. The lower belt is unmarked and chewed up but it is about 1" wide and 35" outer circ. It seems to be bottoming out on the 1-1/8" motor pulley.

Could these belts have been inadvertently swapped in the past? I'm also confused about angles for variable speed belts. A crude measurement of the pulleys shows them at closer to 30 deg. Should the angle designation of the belt match the pulley?

Original sale thread: https://www.practicalmachinist.com/forum/threads/for-sale-wade-8a-lathe.419610/
Congratulations on acquiring a great lathe. I hope the condition matches the photos posted in the Craig'sList ad.

I recently rebuilt a Wade tachometer (see this thread). Your lathe was probably made in the mid-50s. The copper oxide rectifier in the tachometer is way beyond it's 'good until' date. If you can wire up the VFD, you can refurbish the tachometer.

My Wade 8A is an earlier model without the variable speed drive. Several forum members have the variable speed units so they can provide more accurate information.

Were you able to acquire a full complement of accessories with the lathe?

Thanks Tom, I read through that thread with great interest. The tach is working but I noticed it's under reading by a fair amount. Now I have the countershaft out I can feel the little generator driving the tach feels rough when spun and makes a loud ticking noise - I'm guessing that isn't normal. I'm debating whether to try to restore the generator or to replace the generator with a microcontroller and a hall effect sensor that outputs a signal to the original meter movement. I'd like to retain the original look but I'm not a purist by any means. Anyway, that's a project for further down the road.

In terms of tooling it was as pictured. I have the taper attachment, turret, a small collection of oddball collets, the micrometer stop and a dog driver plate. Halcohead had already made up a locking ring for the thread-lock spindle and was kind enough to help make up a chuck backing plate. We were able to use a South Bend P/N SB1392 D1-3 backing plate blank that has the correct taper and the right depth and diameter boss to accommodate the locking thread, making it a fairly simple job. After threading the backing plate it was drilled and tapped for the drive pin to the correct clocking for this machine. I'll post some pictures of the backing plate shortly.
Congrats- looks you dove right into it!

From my 8a - no markings on the VS drive to spindle belt, but the motor-to-drive belt is a Gates Multi Speed RVS284 47. I believe it's original. Obviously an old part number, but Gates should have a modern equivalent. It's a bit over 1" wide and I suspect 47 is the length in inches.
Congrats- looks you dove right into it!

From my 8a - no markings on the VS drive to spindle belt, but the motor-to-drive belt is a Gates Multi Speed RVS284 47. I believe it's original. Obviously an old part number, but Gates should have a modern equivalent. It's a bit over 1" wide and I suspect 47 is the length in inches.
Great clue! The RVS284 cross references to the 1828V370 I have so that corroborates the theory my belts got switched. Now to ID the upper belt…
Glad to see that went to a member. I'm a bit jealous. :) If needed, I used https://albinoindustrialbelting.com/ for the flat belt on my earlier model 8a. A bit pricey but it works well. The hardest part was measuring belt length needed. I used the string method with a wire to minimize string stretch. Measure twice, order once. :)

Looking forward to seeing your progress and first chips.
Good progress over the past few days. I have the drive tower and cabinet all cleaned out, and I replaced the motor bearings. The motor was fairly noisy even with no load - now it's running extremely quietly.

Here are a few pics of the motor and bearing swap:



The motor is a heavy Peerless 1-1/2 HP dual speed with two independent sets of windings for the two speeds. It takes 6206 bearings on both drive and non-drive ends. I elected to swap in NSK 6206-2RS sealed bearings. I also took the opportunity to touch up some minor nicks in the insulation with insulating enamel (similar to the old "Glyptal").

A couple more questions for the Wade experts:

1) Is it worth pulling the spindle to clean it up? I'm inclined not to as its running smoothly with very little runout and I'm concerned I might mess something up. However there is a lot of belt dust, dried oil and cosmoline around the spindle and it'll be hard to do a thorough clean-up with it in the machine. The spindle belts are also shot but I was planning to use link belts if I don't pull the spindle. I'm thinking they should work fine despite not being "matched".

2) Should the spindle oilers have wicks? On my machine one does have a wick and the other does not.
2 speed, eh? That's a new one on me. There must be some switches available to take advantage of that. Single speed 1200 rpm motor in mine.

Relevant, perhaps, to your drive belt situation. At the highest spindle speed, a 1750 rpm motor would most likely have a smaller drive pulley (and prob a shorter drive belt) than a motor running at 1200. Obviously, I'm speculating, but it does present some doubt as to the proper drive belt length and the apparent belt switch.

FYI, no wicks in mine.

Running the spindle and monitoring spindle temp and finish on turned parts can be informative. If the finish is good and spindle temps are acceptable, extra work could be avoided. And we like avoiding work, .....uh, don't we?
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If that head stock is like my #407 I wouldn't even attempt pulling the spindle. Again, that's just me. A few years ago I tried to price replacing the bearings in the head stock. Came out to about $1500. Glad mine are good to go. :)
What you've been able to accomplish so far looks REALLY good.
My lathe came with a two-speed motor, but that was a feature of the earlier machines (tag image below). My motor is 11" diameter and 12" long. For 1-1/2 hp it's a beast.

1) Pulling the spindle from the headstock isn't the hard part. Getting the spindle back into the headstock sucks. If you need to replace bearings you don't have a choice (my back bearing was toast). Just for cleaning, it's not worth the effort. Unless you really need extra torque, a single link belt should work just fine.

2) My lathe did not have wicks in the oilers. When I first disassembled the headstock, I thought the back oiler was filled with felt. In reality, the oiler was plugged with hardened grease (which kept oil from reaching the back bearing). There are no felt wick part numbers listed in the owner's manual.

Keep in mind, our lathes are at least 65 years old. They have not existed in a time capsule. Previous owners/refitters/bubbas have worked on them. Some of the work was good. Some was not. You will have to use your judgement on the proper way to reassemble your machine.


More good progress... I have the drive system up to and including the countershaft rebuilt now. I'll keep on with the verbose documentation in case its helpful to someone in the future.

As I dug into the rest of the drive its clear most of the bearings are due for replacement. They are "sealed for life" but after 70+ years most of the seals had failed or had evidence of having ejected their grease.

Reeves Drive:

This is a really nicely engineered example of a Reeves drive. The center part of the pulley slides on a bronze bushing and the whole shaft floats laterally on a set of ball bearings. The rotational bearings are 2x 6206. The ball bearings for lateral movement ride on the inner race of the rotational bearing and are held captive on the internal shaft in 6 pairs of slots. Behind each bearing is a snap ring. I wasn't aware of them and pressed out the internal shaft which overcame the snap ring, but I believe the correct disassembly order would be to press pulley that has the aluminum hub and set screw down off the bearing so the snap ring can be accessed.


The Reeves drive arm is actuated by a worm gear. I did not find replacements for the worm gear thrust bearings but they aren't critical. If needed a modern 1/2" thrust bearing would work with appropriate shims.



The countershaft looks worse than it is. They key is each end hub is retained by tapered pins down a deep hole. Once these are removed disassembly is straightforward. The spindle drive pulley takes inch size bearings and although I couldn't find a match for the original part number, they are the same dimensions as an R14 bearing (7/8 x 1-7/8 x 1/2) which seems to be a common automotive size. I could only find a source for no-name import bearings but these ones aren't critical as they are only spinning when the clutch is disengaged.

IMG_5041 2.jpeg

The clutch unit is a Carlyle-Johnson MD model clutch. It seems almost identical to their current model MMS size 21 for which they have parts and diagrams available. Some of the wave spring washers were cracked and they were willing to sell me replacements but they are a bit pricey. I think I'll see how I get on with it as is for now as I don't think the cracks will prevent them from working.

IMG_5051.jpeg IMG_5012 2.jpeg
The main countershaft bearings are 88504s which are still available but at a high price and only with felt seals. I discovered they are the same dimensions as a regular 6204 but with a wider inner race (17.75mm vs 14mm). The gap can easily be made up with some spacers... if only I had a working lathe! For now I 3D printed some crude spacers which I think will work fine until I can turn some proper ones.

With everything back together the drive system is running really smoothly and the clutch is working great. It was popping out of engagement before but now it locks with a very positive action.

Following up on the belt issue I fitted 1828V368 belts for both the upper and lower belt. This seems to be working well but the upper belt may indeed be slightly too wide for the countershaft pulley. I'll post some more picture of the assembled drive in the coming days.

I'm going to leave the rest of the headstock alone for now and move onto cleaning up the carriage and cross slide and then hopefully some first chips.
Wow I’m impressed this is beautiful work! I hope i get to hear how much better the drive sounds.

As usual, if you’d like to turn those spacers for those bearings you’re welcome to swing by my shop; I’m there a lot these days working on the new project.

You might already know or their prices too high, but have you checked Lee Spring for the clutch springs? I’ve used them a lot for wave springs in prior lives. Misumi might also have some options.