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08-07-2007, 04:17 PM #1
Hello. I have an old lathe with "P Blaisdell & Co" cast into the legs.
The bed is about 4 feet long, with integral V ways.
It was fed from line shafting with a flat belt about 3" wide. The belt from the countershaft to the lathe is a little narrower. A third belt feeds from the spindle to the gear shaft that drives the horizontal drive rod.
There is no horizontal leadscrew -- there is only a rack mounted onto (cast into?) the main casting.
The tailstock is long, with the usual horizontal offset.
The cross slide does not have a compound slide, but does have a screw that changes the angle of the cross slide with respect to the ways -- possible to adjust the tool height?
There is a taper attachment on the back.
It has a back gear.
The apron also, unfortunately, is completely disassembled.
The lathe may have come from a shop where my grandfather worked. We are certain that it has been sitting unused for at least 50 years.
Need I say that it is heavy? The bed is about 12" square by 4 feet long. With a block and tackle, and two people, we were able to get it into the back of my minivan.
Do you have any suggestions for where to find more information about this lathe?
cmm @at@ alum.mit.edu
08-07-2007, 04:22 PM #2
Good photo posting info at bottom of main page of forum.
08-07-2007, 07:56 PM #3
Disassembled is not a problem. You'll have many an enjoyable night putting it together backwards and upside down, and then the next night putting it together backwards, and then finally on the last night getting it right.
A book you can read in the meanwhile is "English & American Tool Builders" by Joseph W. Roe. Available from Lindsay Publications it is a pocket history of English first, then American tool building. It's amazing to see how few people actually came to contribute to what we now recognize as a metalworking lathe.
Charts within the book show the "ancestral history" of tool making particularly in the Central Massachusetts area. For instance, the chart shows the predecessor of P. Blaisdell to be Wood, Light & Co. and the successor to be Currier and Snyder and the Whitcomb-Blaisdell Machine Tool Company.
The range of P. Blaisdell lathes runs from 1865 to about 1905 when they were reorganized as Whitcomb-Blaisdell.
Most of what appears in Roe's book also appeared in the book "Industrial Worcester" by Charles Washburn, but the IW book is EXTREMELY rare and you're unlikely to find it outside of major city or university libraries. I've seen one on www.abebooks.com in the years I have thought to look for such things.
The Worcester Historical Society is real good about getting catalog cuts. They've found me things on Shepard Lathe & Co. (a competitor of P. Blaisdell early on) and some of the stuff they have is unique.
I saw a P. Blaisdell lathe in Hudson Falls New York. About 24 inch swing by 16 foot bed. I was green with envy. The owner used it to machine tractor trailer truck brake drums.
Surprised you don't have a leadscrew. A lathe without one is either a modification or a special purpose machine.
You're fortunate if you have the overhead countershaft. The electric motor drive has been so much more convenient for upwards of 75 years now that most of the old line shaft stuff has been lost to make Toyota Camreys. I've paid more for a suitable lineshaft than for the lathe beneath it. But I'm one of those 19th century sort of guys.
It's an interesting thought to think that this lathe likely was delivered to it's first shop of use by a horse and wagon.
08-08-2007, 12:59 AM #4
08-08-2007, 09:35 AM #5
Speaking of Wood, Light & Co lathes, Kevin Blaho in PA has one under wraps- didn't look at it closely but it seems to be all there. Maybe 14" swing IIRC.
08-08-2007, 10:53 AM #6
if you have a taper attachment, then by definition there must have been origionally a lead screw. That assumes you really have a taper in the back and not the split nut for engaging a rear mounted screw for threading. Somehting too go back and look for. I would guess the lathe broke and the lead screw and apron were disasembled and now you will have a project on your hands. You might improvise a lead screw from a scrap yard lathe with necessary modification.
I will second the advise on worcester historical scoiety. You live in mass. they like a call ahead and will treat you well. You can sit all day and read. they will copy any pages you want, they will copy a complete catalog front to back. Copies are reasonable 25 page i think. Or you can call and ask them do do research for you; but a visit is much more rewarding. They even have a couple metal working machines on display. A P. Blaisdel Planer in fact!
And do please consider a retunr trip and look for more parts.
Edit: I think I read to fast, you do have the feed rod and were saying it did not have tread cutting capability (leadscrew). I mixed up the terminology. my bad. I think I have some photos of two or three blaisdel lathes at home if you want to send me a PM or I can ask they be posted here if you plan to post photos here as well.
08-10-2007, 01:26 PM #7
I've put some photos on flickr. The URL below should get you there.
Eric, The shopswarf.com site seems to be mostly gone. From the options, I'd guess I have the smallest lathe, the 14" one. I guestimated about 7" from the center of the spindle to the bed. It certainly isn't must larger than that, and could be smaller.
I'll be going back to get the running gear (headstock, tailstock, apron, tooling, etc.) next weekend. The lathe hasn't been reassembled in over 50 years, but it has been moved from one building to another, so there has been some opportunity for parts to be lost. I will have a sharp eye for anything that looks related.
I will keep looking for any photos which might clue me in to special things to look for.
Peter, if you email be photos to cmm @at@ alum.mit.edu, I'll post them with my pictures on flickr. Thanks.
08-10-2007, 01:33 PM #8
Judging by the short bed, it may have been made for production and have never had a lead screw.
08-10-2007, 06:22 PM #9
I will send some images from home this weekend. you might also send me a pic of the back of the machine and side with headstock or post them. I am curios too see the taper attachment.
08-10-2007, 08:01 PM #10
I think I may have used the wrong words to describe the lack of a "leadscrew".
What I was trying to say is that there is a shaft driven by the spindel through a leather belt and some gears. This shaft does not have threads. It has only a keyway which engages a gear in the apron which does something.
The shaft is visible in the third and fourth pictures I posted, setting under the lathe. It actually bolts onto the front of the lathe, but wasn't connected. A gear which rides along the shaft is attached to the shaft.
I don't know if there is only feed along the bed, or if there is a power cross feed as well.
I'll have the rest of the parts in hand next weekend, and will post more pictures then.
08-10-2007, 08:53 PM #11
Most engine lathes of the period have both feed rod and leadscrew. Feed rods were mounted typically on the front of the lathe and driven by a belt. Leadscrews could be either front mounted, rear mounted, or even mounted between the shears as in Philadelphia machines and are driven by a gear train.
If it's a lead screw lathe, you should have a plate somewhere near the headstock with the words, "Spindle", "Stud" and "Screw" at the top. Underneath are a series of numbers which indicate the gears to be used for cutting various TPI threads.
A mechanic would refer to the chart, look up his desired TPI and then set up the gearing to make the thread according to the chart.
Spindle indicates the gear on the headstock spindle. Screw indicates the gear to be used on the lead screw. Stud indicates the gear(s) to be placed on a movable stud between spindle and screw.
If the "Stud" entry is filled on the chart, he would have to make up a combination gear from two of the loose gears which serve to step up or step down the gear ratio so that the correct TPI results by the chart.
If a stud entry on the chart is unfilled, it was understood by the mechanic that any unused gear of the set could be placed between stud and spindle provided it properly spanned the distance. The adjustable arm the gears were mounted on could typically be moved to allow more than one size intermediate gear to be used or even a couple of gears in the case of forming left handed threads.
For most common threads, thirteen gears are required to cover the entire chart.
Anyway, hope this helps. Looks like you got a little project underway.
08-10-2007, 11:24 PM #12
I am sorry to say I misplaced some photos. I found a scan of Blaisdell labeled #3. But I cannot find #1 and #2. The one I have is just a closeup of the id plate. This came from the Brink auction in kansas a few yars ago. Several PM members were there perhaps they can check thier old pics too.
The other lathe was one I had a few years ago and turns out that was an old whitcomb. You cna have a look, but it different.
I think you get the idea me and joe both looking for pics that show the back.
edit: Ok, I found one pic, I had some problem understanding your email. if you dont get the pics, then you can email me via this site and I will reply back with the pic. This one has a lead screw.
08-11-2007, 12:22 AM #13
08-11-2007, 09:09 PM #14
Thanks for the help, and the info.
Peter send me a picture that shows the feed rod and the lead screw. From the front of the apron, I can see that (when I get the parts and reassemble them), I have about the right number and locations of holes. I'll search again for a lead screw -- I stopped looking when I found the feed rod since I didn't know that machines had TWO ways to drive the carriage.
I've got the bed out the my van, and the legs attached, and found that the legs aren't semetrical -- there are two holes drilled on the outside of one of the legs. Unfortunately, my photos don't help me know which is which. More care with photos is needed!
08-11-2007, 10:02 PM #15
good. If you come up short in your parts search, that blaisdell lathe in the pic I sent you might still be available?
08-13-2007, 11:47 AM #16
Another question for foxkid,
Do you have the ceiling mounted countershaft with drive pulleys and clutch? I ask on the outside chance the above mentioned lathe which I sent a photo is still around. If you needed parts, like lead screw and gears, name plate for head stock, etc. There was an origional countershaft with that machine, when i saw it. I left a phone message today and if i get a return call, what should i say?
08-13-2007, 01:25 PM #17
I have some form of countershaft, but nothing I've identified as bearings -- or where bearings would ride on the shaft. I have the countershaft in my garage now, so I'll take a closer look for a clutch mechanism. The countershaft assembly is about 3 feet long, with one cone pulley, two other pulleys, and some some smaller castings about 4 inches diameter near the two pulleys.
I'm interested in bring this lathe back to operating, and I realize that I have plenty to learn and a multitude of mistakes waiting for me to make. I'm interested in the lathe you sent a picture of -- at least to examine. It is similar to the lathe I have, but not identical. The bed is longer, and the tailstock end of the bed is round rather than square. Clearly the lathes share some common design elements.
My interest in owning the other lathe "depends".
I can't wait for this weekend, so I can pick up the rest of the parts I've found and look for others (like the leadscrew) I didn't know to expect.
08-13-2007, 01:36 PM #18
The round bed lathe is a Whitcomb, 2nd two pictures. That has nothing much to do with yours, its just a sexy related machine. Sorry, I should have kept those for another post. I gave the Whitcomb to another member of PM for the $50 loading costs I had into it.
I only sent one picture of a Blaisdell. The future of that Blaisdell is in question as the building is falling down, unsafe and unstable. An effort will be made to remove it during demolition. I think its rusted beyond much more than parts value. There is another machine, a nice big early drill press, in the same precarious position.
Sounds like you are all set or close enough with the counter shaft. You need to look for the hangars and bearings. Perhaps someone would be willing to post what hangars look like or i can send you another PM. There should also be a belt shifter with the hangars. It sounds like yours does not use a clutch, lucky for you...the design without a clutch is older, simpler and more desirable. You will need a fork on a rod to shift the belt from idle to drive pulley.
[ 08-13-2007, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: peter ]
08-14-2007, 03:28 PM #19
I think fox is searching for parts and it might be helpful if someone posted an image or link that show closup detail of a countershft with hangars and the belt shifter (arms on the rod) maybe I am misreading, but sounds like he might not recognize those shapes. Again, I think he might be missing the hangars and bearings and rod with forks?
08-14-2007, 07:14 PM #20
Here are some photos of the countershaft. I think that there are clutches, as the two pulleys that would be connected with the line shaft turn freely. Is it possible that the "clutch" works by inserting a pin into the spokes of the driven wheels? I ask because there appears to be a pin that could be inserted in the spokes, and the surface of the spokes where the pin could contact is worn. In fact, the pin may be worn so much that it doesn't engage at all. The arms that would move the pin for either of the two driven wheels are immovable (from rust?), so movement isn't yet a helpful clue.
I've put some photos of the countershaft at:
Peter and Bump, I appreciate your help and education.