New (to me) Axelson lathe
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  1. #1
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    Default New (to me) Axelson lathe

    Hello all,
    I have been lurking on here for a little while and am very impressed by the wealth of knowledge here. Well, I just bought a 16x54 Axelson from the TVA at auction. I ran several engine lathes in a "past life" my favorites being two American Pacemakers. This machine reminds me of them to a degree. I am wanting to figure out what year it was built as well as any history on it. No one at the shop where I picked it up knew a whole lot about it other than it has clutch problems. They were using a bungee cord to hold it in engagement. It has been out of service about two years and has some minor rust. Any tips or advice would be appreciated. Thank you!
    Peyton
    P.S. I will post some pictures, once I figure out how.

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    "They were using a bungee cord to hold it in engagement."

    Ouch. Last piece of machinery I saw that done to was a clutch operated engine driven pump. They ruined the clutch and the forks on the clutch due to wear. You may have some serious part replication ahead of you. That said, the Axelsons do indeed appear to be in the same class as Pacemaker, Monarch and L&S. Super heavy duty, well made lathes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boatwrench View Post
    Hello all,
    I have been lurking on here for a little while and am very impressed by the wealth of knowledge here. Well, I just bought a 16x54 Axelson from the TVA at auction. I ran several engine lathes in a "past life" my favorites being two American Pacemakers. This machine reminds me of them to a degree. I am wanting to figure out what year it was built as well as any history on it. No one at the shop where I picked it up knew a whole lot about it other than it has clutch problems. They were using a bungee cord to hold it in engagement. It has been out of service about two years and has some minor rust. Any tips or advice would be appreciated. Thank you!
    Peyton
    P.S. I will post some pictures, once I figure out how.
    Been a few years, but right here on PM we discovered one of the "Grand Old" lathes used a bought-in clutch from a third-party maker of ... well "clutches".

    Lathe maker was long-gone. Clutch maker was still in business, and still in the USA.

    The parts - or a complete clutch - were actually very reasonably priced.

    Bit of luck, Axelson had too much else on THEIR plate to be bothered designing their own clutches as well, and you'll just need more research-time than fab-time.

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    I saw the after effects of " fixing " a slipping on/off selector lever on a big pillar drill with some string a while back. The operator reached past a running 7/8" drill and it grabbed his sleeve. He'd tied the lever up with a length of string and somebody had to eventually find and then throw the isolator to stop the drill.

    The guy very nearly lost him arm and he never returned to drilling.

    Fix the clutch and ditch the bungee.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    I used to have an axelson and if I remember correctly, Lawrence Machine Service out of Houston Texas specialized in axelson parts.

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    I worked on and with an Axelson for a short time. What I discovered was that when the oil sump in the headstock got dirty, the clutch did not work well at all. We flushed it out and changed the filter and made it act like a new lathe. Eventually it got enough dirt in it to stop working well again, but another flushing and filter would have fixed it. The powers that be excessed it instead.

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  8. #7
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    I am wanting to figure out what year it was built
    State serial, which will be part of the info on the QC gear box tag (if I remember correctly) and I'll date it

    Here is a 20" in Houston - blow up photo of gear box tag and you can make out serial bottom center - this one happens to be from '57

    Lathe Machine - heavy equipment - by owner - sale

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    I just got finished going through my new 20 by 78 axelson.like the one posted above.mine was dated to 1956.

    Lawrence Machine service in houston has everything you need.

    Mr Norman has a vast wealth of knowledge and all the drawings for all sizes. He was extremely helpful and nice.helped me with taking apart a couple things and always returned my calls.

    He sent me the parts and history of my lathe,along with some history of what had been replaced in the past.

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    That's a nice lathe in post No 7 but for 1957 it's looking a bit old fashioned. I always thought American machine tools led the world in terms of styling but that one looks almost British in appearance. If you'd have asked me I'd have said that was more like 1947. Just saying John, I'm sure you are right regarding the date of manufacture.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Not me that gets the dates right or wrong Tyrone, its the Serial Number Reference Book For Metalworking Machinery

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    That's a nice lathe in post No 7 but for 1957 it's looking a bit old fashioned. I always thought American machine tools led the world in terms of styling but that one looks almost British in appearance. If you'd have asked me I'd have said that was more like 1947. Just saying John, I'm sure you are right regarding the date of manufacture.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnoder View Post
    Not me that gets the dates right or wrong Tyrone, its the Serial Number Reference Book For Metalworking Machinery
    Putting the reference book down for a moment what would you have thought regarding the age of that lathe ? Just asking. The styling is a bit "clunky" to my eyes although it may well be a really well put together lathe.

    From another point of view $7k seems a lot of money for a 60 year old lathe.Plus it's only in " good working condition " just as long as you don't actually want to use the feed gear box.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Axelsons are nice lathes. The clutch repair is pretty deep in the headstock, you will likely need to remove the spindle motor which isn't a bad thing (check on the motor coupling).

    My two manual lathes are a 1951 Axelson 14x30 and a 1967 American Pacemaker 14x102. I prefer the Axelson hands down. The American is a very nice machine, but I think if you really get inside both and use them you can tell the Axelson was made to work hard. The Pacemaker was made to get the job done and look pretty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    Putting the reference book down for a moment what would you have thought regarding the age of that lathe ? Just asking. The styling is a bit "clunky" to my eyes although it may well be a really well put together lathe.

    From another point of view $7k seems a lot of money for a 60 year old lathe.Plus it's only in " good working condition " just as long as you don't actually want to use the feed gear box.

    Regards Tyrone.
    To me, an Axelson with fair paint and shiny handles looks pretty good, but when you use it you can tell it's nice. See there are two clutch handles on them? One on top the headstock and one on the apron? Both are in very convenient places, but the thing that always gets me is how complex the linkage is between them, yet there's virtually zero play in them. That apron clutch handle runs through a set of bevel gears. Every Axelson has instant clutch reverse. Every Axelson ever made has a 2 speed tailstock. With one hand you can switch speeds in a heartbeat. Every one of them has a tensioned lead screw. Every single shaft in an Axelson has a ball or needle bearing and roller or ball thrust bearings. The castings are all perfect. The castings sound (ring) and feel different from typical gray iron. Overall there was no corner cut by Axelson.

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    You are right. But then this was about the time the sales organization was flexing its muscles industry wide to make them a little more flashy to the eye. A great example was Lodge & Shipley taking the top of the line Model X, giving it a new suit of clothes and dubbing it the PowerTurn - but the model was still 2X.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    Putting the reference book down for a moment what would you have thought regarding the age of that lathe ? Just asking. The styling is a bit "clunky" to my eyes although it may well be a really well put together lathe.

    From another point of view $7k seems a lot of money for a 60 year old lathe.Plus it's only in " good working condition " just as long as you don't actually want to use the feed gear box.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    Putting the reference book down for a moment what would you have thought regarding the age of that lathe ? Just asking. The styling is a bit "clunky" to my eyes although it may well be a really well put together lathe.

    From another point of view $7k seems a lot of money for a 60 year old lathe.Plus it's only in " good working condition " just as long as you don't actually want to use the feed gear box.

    Regards Tyrone.
    We are getting to the point where a modern western made manual lathe is 50 years plus

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    Quote Originally Posted by pressbrake1 View Post
    We are getting to the point where a modern western made manual lathe is 50 years plus
    A slight exaggeration but if you said 30 years you wouldn't be far wrong.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pressbrake1 View Post
    We are getting to the point where a modern western made manual lathe is 50 years plus
    It is at my place.

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    Thank you all for your replies. I got the lathe off the trailer and on the ground in my shop okay today. Boy, that thing is all there! I won't have much time to spend on it for the next several weeks, but at least it is inside and will be taken care of. I found the serial number, it is 2440.
    I got a 4 jaw and a 3 jaw chuck as well as a very nice service and parts manual with it, but no other tooling unfortunately. One thing that puzzles me is the spindle speeds, the specs in the manual say 13 to 1137 RPM but mine is 13 to 849. The shift levers are the push-pull detent style, not spring loaded balls, and cast ways. I am guessing it is from the early 50s?
    Thanks again everyone!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boatwrench View Post
    Thank you all for your replies. I got the lathe off the trailer and on the ground in my shop okay today. Boy, that thing is all there! I won't have much time to spend on it for the next several weeks, but at least it is inside and will be taken care of. I found the serial number, it is 2440.
    I got a 4 jaw and a 3 jaw chuck as well as a very nice service and parts manual with it, but no other tooling unfortunately. One thing that puzzles me is the spindle speeds, the specs in the manual say 13 to 1137 RPM but mine is 13 to 849. The shift levers are the push-pull detent style, not spring loaded balls, and cast ways. I am guessing it is from the early 50s?
    Thanks again everyone!
    Toolsteel ways started after WWII. The shift handles are all the same regardless when it was made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boatwrench View Post
    They were using a bungee cord to hold it in engagement.
    The 30" Summit I run sometimes at the shop I work in has clutch problems too. Have a a large threaded bearing lock ring that we hang on the clutch lever. And even with that, it's easy to stall the spindle out.

    I like the "older" looking styling of these lathes. Not a fan of the stack of boxes look with nonsensical speed/feed charts like "modern" lathes seem to all have.


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