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Thread: Shop Tour #3 - Monster lathe

  1. #1
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    Shop Tour #3 - Monster lathe

    Hello fellow WW's

    Here is shop tour #3
    It will take me a few more tours untill I have shown all of my shop to you all. Now you might ask why is lou dragging this out? The reason I want to present this information in the way I do is so that as you continue to advance into your hobby or business venture, that some of what I have found out might be of help to you. BTW I am still learning about all of this. I have met a couple of guys that I bounce things off before going forward and this has been a big help.

    What I wanted to show you all today is one of my most pleasurable tools to use in my shop.
    It is a early 1900's "American Woodworking Machinery #9 patternmakers lathe"

    It was completly original when I bought it, and I have since made some modifications that are worth looking at. The Lathe was originally leather belt driven, but with an electric motor and gear box setup. It seems that "Drive All Corp" developed a motor / gear box and foundation kit that could be simply bolted on to lathes such as this if the end user was going to power it by electricity and not use "overhead line shafts". What American and other early machine builders seemed to have done is buy this "electric motor and gear box kit" and bolt it on to their existing set of lathes.

    Now you REAL old timers know what a pattern shop is, but I ( only 47 old ) had no idea up until a few years ago. Pattern shops are still around, but they are in the decline because much of our casting and foundry work is going to China. The pattern shop would build wooden patterns of the particular casting which would be used to form the negative image in the sand mixture in which molten metal would be poured. I realize that some of you creekers know much more about this and maybe worked in a foundry, so please forgive my feeble attempt at explaining this.

    Well pattern shops had the best type IMHO of woodworking equipment that is suitable for traditional cabinet makers and ww's like us. True furniture factories had some, but much of their equipemnt was meant to just spit out one particular item ( i.e. straight line rip saws are always in furniture factories and never in a pattern shop... that is where you will find the northfield and oliver table saws ).

    In order to optimze this lathe for today, I have made a few simple modifications.

    1. I removed the "cross ways" on the machine. Patternmakers lathes really look like a metal lathe, with the traditional geared cross ways and tool holders. They can't thread to my knowlege ( could be some that do ).

    2. I only use the more traditional tool rest on my lathe

    3. The entire head stock was retooled to use modern timing belts and sprockets as opposed to the leather belts. It passes the nickel test!!!

    4. The original motor was replaced with a reliance "Super Heavy Duty Inverter grade 3 hp motor", along with a VFD that is really quite nice.


    As you can see there are a couple of real nice features on this machine
    1. It has very large babbit bearings that really run pretty true. Babbit is a problem when you want to go higher than 3000 rpm, but they are great for a wood lathe and can take unbelievable abuse. They have an oil cup that you give a squirt of oil to once in a while.
    2. It weighs about 2500 lbs and has a very wide stance. In fact of all of the pattern lathes I have looked at this is about the widest stance I have found.
    3. It can turn 7 feet between centers and can also turn outboard as well ( the lathe is about 11 feet long ) .
    4. The 4 speed oil bath gear box has ratio of 1:1 all the way down to 4:1. With the VFD drive that gives me a range of about 3000 rpm to 15 rpm with excellent regulation.

    Finally, there is another American comming up for sale in about 15 days. If you are interested in it let me know and I will pm you with the info.

    Thanks for looking and please feel free to ask questions about this or other machines as I post them in the up comming weeks

    lou
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    Last edited by lou sansone; 03-20-2005 at 3:31 PM.

  2. #2
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    couple more photos
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  3. #3
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    Lou
    Now that is a lathe. How did you move it into your shop? I'll bet you will never ware it out as long as you lube the babbits.
    Those who sense the winds of change should build windmills, not windbreaks.

    Dave Wilson

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Wilson
    Lou
    Now that is a lathe. How did you move it into your shop? I'll bet you will never ware it out as long as you lube the babbits.
    It was a pain because I used a big backhoe and it had all it could do to lift the beast. It might be heaver than I think. Once inside I used pipe rollers to move it around .
    Last edited by lou sansone; 03-20-2005 at 5:34 PM.

  5. #5
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    Wow - now that's a lathe. It's nice to see old iron like that restored, taken care of and used. A lathe strikes me as a good example of a machine where there really haven't been a lot of changes over the years. Sliding table saws and the like have changed, but what's a good lathe other than lots of mass, a good motor and true bearings?

  6. #6
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    Hi Lou, Great pictures of that lathe. Amazing that thing is still going strong. Does the coffee mug have any connection to the running of the lathe?
    A friend of mine has worked in the pattern shop of GM for the last 25yrs or more. I think they mostly do the mockups for car designs.
    take care,
    John

  7. #7
    That is just about the coolest piece of old iron I have seen. So, make any pens on it?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Renzetti
    Hi Lou, Great pictures of that lathe. Amazing that thing is still going strong. Does the coffee mug have any connection to the running of the lathe?
    A friend of mine has worked in the pattern shop of GM for the last 25yrs or more. I think they mostly do the mockups for car designs.
    take care,
    John
    hi John and Rob

    Well I don't drink beer, so coffee is it! Actually, I put the coffee mug in the photos thinking it would provide some sense of scale.

    Rob makes the point that I believe is often overlooked today. Listen, oneway and PM as well as woodfast and other modern high quality lathes have nothing to apoloigize for. they are excellent machines, but they do run into the $5000 range, and if you want one with 7' centers try doubling that. The exception is the no-longer made conover lathe ( sp ) which was a real neat idea. The point I want to stress, is that for some folks, buying old iron makes more sense than buying new. There are exceptions. I think planers are one of them. I had looked at a vintage northfield #2 24" planer. It was not very well engineered and more modern machines were in fact much better. The same can be said for band saws. I had a real old iron spoke one prior to the laguna and it was really quite junky. IMHO if you are going to look for old iron Bandsaws, you really want to look for designes that originated from about the 50's to the 70's. Planers, I would say from the 50's onward, and Wide Belt sanders from the 70's onward.

    lou

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Sontag
    That is just about the coolest piece of old iron I have seen. So, make any pens on it?
    Hi tom

    Believe it or not, you can turn very small items on this, including things the size of a pen. If you look at an earlier post of "making tapered fluted spindles" you will see what I mean.

    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=17843

    lou
    Last edited by lou sansone; 03-20-2005 at 5:35 PM.

  10. #10
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    Finally we get to see inside your shop, Lou. Looking past the lathe (not any easy thing to do), the floor and walls are quite in keeping with the outside. Great ambiance! I am looking forward to seeing more.

  11. #11
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    As a retired patternmaker I have seen some lathes in my time. What you have would be considered a medium sized lathe. My grandfathers shop had one that was coverted from overhead belts to an overhead mounted motor (still ran the flat belts though). On the outboard side you could turn over 8' diameter! If I remember right it had a 30" swing over the bed. I believe the lathe was over 20' long. My father took over the company and sold it when I was about 12. I remember seeing it in operation, the operater stood on a platform and I remember the shavings being about 3' deep.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Damm
    As a retired patternmaker I have seen some lathes in my time. What you have would be considered a medium sized lathe. My grandfathers shop had one that was coverted from overhead belts to an overhead mounted motor (still ran the flat belts though). On the outboard side you could turn over 8' diameter! If I remember right it had a 30" swing over the bed. I believe the lathe was over 20' long. My father took over the company and sold it when I was about 12. I remember seeing it in operation, the operater stood on a platform and I remember the shavings being about 3' deep.
    yea...... I know chris, I wish I had room for an oliver #22 as well. The American #9 has a 20" swing inboard and about 80" swing outboard
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  13. #13
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    I'd say it is pretty obvious that Lou does NOT mess around! I'm waiting with baited breath for the next installment. I love the old iron and you've done a good job with it.
    I could cry for the time I've wasted, but thats a waste of time and tears.

  14. #14
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    Impressive machine, Lou. And your shop really looks like a comfortable environment to work in...it has a lot of pinaché!!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker
    Impressive machine, Lou. And your shop really looks like a comfortable environment to work in...it has a lot of pinaché!!
    Jim

    thanks for the complement. Your right the shop is very comfortable to work in. Until I found the Creek I had not thought of showing any of my work or my shop. There really seems to be a great set of ww's here that don't snipe at each other and are in it for the fun and learing how to do things. It is because of that welcoming atmosphere that I have decided to let others see my place. You all should be commended for keeping a tight ship!

    As I have said in earlier posts, I wanted to let others see how I tried to take what I had learned from reading and watching others and turn it into reality. I continue to find ways of improving my shop so that it is the most comfortable place to work. One thing that I hope folks notice is the combination of natural light and color balanced light, and lots of it. I have seen pictures of your shop and I believe that you also follow this philosophy. For those who are basement dwellers there are still things that one can do to make it more confortable.

    lou

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