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Antique late 1800s Britannia Treadle Lathe query

Smii

Plastic
Joined
Jan 3, 2024
Hi all,
Firstly - I'm new here and very new to this kind of world, so sincere apologies if I misname or misunderstand things.
I'm a woodturner (pole lathe style!) and fairly recently had the opportunity to take possession of a Britannia treadle lathe which I think is similar to this: http://www.lathes.co.uk/britannia/img17.gif "Plain turning No 5" except mine doesn't have the optional backgear, and the bed is straight and has no gap.

I hope to restore it to fully working order - but time has got away from me and it hasn't happened yet, as life tends to be. This hasn't been an issue - storage has been a challenge but I've kept it dry and nothing is rustier than when I picked it up. However! I'm now moving home, and in its current state, the shaft and flywheel are attached to the leg and I cannot for the life of me work out how it is removed. Circled in the picture below.

1704298445846.png

This is a photo of the actual component as circled:

PXL_20240103_145205207.jpg

The hole I thought might be a place to put a punch to drive a pin out but it doesn't appear to go anywhere or may be a spot for lubrication? You can just make out in the diagram from Lathes.co.uk a rod that is opposite that hole, but it appears to be part of the same casting. The end of the shaft is not visible on the end of the piece, but there is a circle with another hole in the middle - again, not sure of the purpose.
Any thoughts are welcome! I'm at a bit of a loss about how to take it apart.
The other side of the flywheel there appears to be a keyway but it's fairly rusted and I couldn't persuade the key to move with the encouragement I gave it.

Many thanks for your thoughts

Mark
 
Very cool lathe! I can't help with how you take it apart other than my standard operating procedure is to choose the wrong method, break the casting, send the broken casting to Cattail Foundry and then put it back together. Good luck!
 
That sounds like the sort of thing that I'd normally do!

Ironically this lathe has probably only travelled about 25 miles since it was made in the late 1800s up the road. I'm about to take it across the country, about 350 miles!
 
Fwiw a few thoughts that might help. There's dozens of products around that "supposedly" help getting threaded parts apart, and especially rusted ones. One of the old school tricks I picked up from a few just as old school heavy duty mechanics was most of those products really don't work all that well. But there's something cheap and common that does. Simple candle wax, gently heat the parts to a bit over the melting point of the wax and then apply the wax to the area.

It will melt and wick down, into and between those working surfaces. The heat will help a bit, but what the wax does is help lubricate between all the rust particles. It's the high friction between all that sharp edged rust working against itself that cases most of the disassembly problems. And leave any hammers or blunt force trauma tools where there stored. Gentle persuasion and some patience always works a whole lot better in my opinion.

Given it's age, I'd suspect most of the fasteners could be Whitworth or maybe even proprietary thread pitches and flank angles that might be extremely difficult or expensive to replace today. That lathe may predate today's thread standards so they might be almost anything. And leave the adjustable wrenches, pipe wrenches, vise grips (mole wrenches where you are) out as well. Properly fitting closed end wrenches will do the least amount of permanent damage.

Any slotted head screws? Today's tapered end screwdriver designs are the worst possible for doing permanent and unsightly damage to any screw head because they apply the most torque right at the top and weakest part of those screw slots. And that type of damage is a sure sign of a less than knowledgeable amateur doing the work. Parallel ground or machined screw driver tips that closely fit the slot width, depth and there full length will leave zero evidence of any damage. For a few and larger screw heads on older machine tools, I've even had to make some of my own screwdriver tips. For the amount of use I needed them for, I left them unhardened. As long as they do fit that slot correctly they'll work fine. In my opinion today's tapered tip screwdrivers are at best only good for opening a can of paint.
 
I don't know when roll pins (slotted spring pin) became available, but could the hole you see be the inside of one?
Mike
 
Last edited:
Apologies all, I stopped receiving email updates that people had replied and I forgot to come back.

I've had some success with penetrating oil to clean and loosen things and I can now see that there's a key holding the flywheel on the shaft. I've managed to remove the topmost guidewheel on the leg, which means I can now see the smaller end of the key where it protrudes from the other end of the flywheel. I've not managed to get it to move at all, though, so for now I've just gained knowledge. Still not any closer to understanding how the crank end is actually attached!

I've attached a couple of photos below to show.

PXL_20240104_093640651.jpg
PXL_20240104_093627014.jpg
PXL_20240104_093633011.jpg

To answer some of your questions:

Dundeeshopnut: The first picture above shows how the assembly looks at the moment. It's very unwieldy, being fairly long with the vast majority of the weight at one end. We're moving house and I hope that the movers will agree to take this on the lorry, so I figured that reducing the weight of each component will be helpful. This is the last big piece that I have been unable to easily separate and it's a bit of a beast to move by myself.

Rustyironism: Aah, that's interesting - I've not heard of those before. Presumably to remove I'd need to be able to grip one end with some needlenose pliers to pull it out? I'll see if I can get those holes any cleaner now I've been dosing it with penetrating oil.

L Vanace: I completely agree, I do not want to destroy the machine at all!
 
A few more images:
Either side of the key, and the other side of that flat/dimple on the crank side of the shaft.

It seems that the flat w/ dimple and the peg are associated in some way, I wondered if it was a way of removing it with a specific tool that interfaces with the flat and the bit that sticks out? It seems to be part of the casting rather than a pin that has been inserted.

The key is loooooong and I suspect it will take some encouragement to get it to move. Not got much clearance at the small end to hit it, sadly, unless I can remove that crank somehow and then the whole shaft will be free. There is probably just enough space that I can apply gentle force to the end. I'm wary of messing up the end of the key though, as that'll just make it harder to remove.
 

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I second the practice of using heat + wax to creep into frozen threads and fits. Years ago, up on the Great Lakes, oldtimers who worked on steam powered ore boats told me they used beeswax. Nuts and studbolts on boiler fittings, after being in service, would be frozen together. This was despite coating the threads with steam cylinder oil + graphite before making things up. I keep a cake of beeswax at hand and use it as a 'penetrating oil', heating the frozen parts with a torch to get things really hot. Initially, the beeswax will melt and smoke off, but I keep applying it as things cool. I also tap the studs and nuts (or other stuck parts) with a hammer as this cooling is happening. I tend to believe that as things cool, there may be a slight partial vacuum in any clearance between mating threads. The melted beeswax is drawn in or 'wicks in' by capillary action.

For work such as attempting to drive out that stuck shaft key, I would use a brass or bronze drift punch. I keep a variety of pieces of round brass or bronze bar and some pieces of thick copper (scrap electrical bus bars) for driving machined parts with a hammer.

I have a saying "what one man designed & put together, another can figure out and get apart". The trick is to look for clues. On something like the crank hub, I will clean the hub well with a wire wheel (power driven wire brush) and get off all old paint and rust. If I then see what appears to be a pin driven thru the shaft & hub, I try to determine if it is a taper pin. To do this, I sometimes file the areas of the hub/ends of the pin to see the actual diameters. Sometimes, pins thru hubs and shafts were peened over to prevent their working their way out. Filing will disclose whether the pin is a straight pin or tapered pin.

For driving out shaft pins, I find that having a 'dolly'- a heavy block of steel with a hole for the pin to extend into as it is driven out- works wonders. You need an extra pair of hands to hold the dolly block, but it absorbs the energy from hammer blows rather than passing it into adjacent machine parts. It also "takes the bounce" out of hammer blows when trying to drive a pin out of a fairly lightweight hub and shaft.

I have had a few pins that resisted all efforts to drive them out. I suspect these pins were driven with a heavy interference fit, or maybe buckled in the hole due to peening of the ends. When I've run into this situation, I know it's time to throw in the towel as far as driving the pin out. I file the ends flush with the hub (or whatever part the pin is driven into). I then prick punch the center of the pin as best I can locate it by eye. A series of drills is then used to work up in size to drill most of the 'core' of the pin out. Coming in from each end on longer pins is something I've done. A lot depends on your skill at holding a power drill square and true to things so the drill does not break out the side of the pin and into the surrounding part. "Coring out" a pin can reduce the amount of force it was applying to the walls of the hole it was in. A steel drive punch that fits into the hole you cored in the pin usually drives it out.

Word to the wise: match mark the orientation of a hub to its shaft. Holes for pins may be drilled off-center to the shaft and hub, particularly in the old days before such niceties as vertical milling machines or jigs and fixtures. A "fitter" may have eyeballed where the hole for a pin needed to be and drilled it. The result is that if the hub is 180 degrees out from original orientation, the holes may not line up entirely. Trying to drive the pin (or a new one) back in with that situation is going to result in a buckled and bent pin and possible damage to the parts.

I am fortune in that over the years, I have accumulated a number of hand reamers for straight bores as well as tapered pins. If I drive a pin out and maybe had to drill out a pin, I ream the hole thru the assembled parts to the next oversize, or simply ream tapered pin fits a little deeper if the parts allow for that.
 
I would set up an electrolysis tank to derust the entire assembly before trying to take it apart. May as well work with clean parts now, you need to do it at some point in time anyway.
 
I would set up an electrolysis tank to derust the entire assembly before trying to take it apart. May as well work with clean parts now, you need to do it at some point in time anyway.
How do you feel about products like Evaporust? It may be more practical to do a partial application (around the pieces I need to remove) at this point, and tackle the whole assembly after we've moved house.
 
I second the practice of using heat + wax to creep into frozen threads and fits. Years ago, up on the Great Lakes, oldtimers who worked on steam powered ore boats told me they used beeswax. Nuts and studbolts on boiler fittings, after being in service, would be frozen together. This was despite coating the threads with steam cylinder oil + graphite before making things up. I keep a cake of beeswax at hand and use it as a 'penetrating oil', heating the frozen parts with a torch to get things really hot. Initially, the beeswax will melt and smoke off, but I keep applying it as things cool. I also tap the studs and nuts (or other stuck parts) with a hammer as this cooling is happening. I tend to believe that as things cool, there may be a slight partial vacuum in any clearance between mating threads. The melted beeswax is drawn in or 'wicks in' by capillary action.

For work such as attempting to drive out that stuck shaft key, I would use a brass or bronze drift punch. I keep a variety of pieces of round brass or bronze bar and some pieces of thick copper (scrap electrical bus bars) for driving machined parts with a hammer.

I have a saying "what one man designed & put together, another can figure out and get apart". The trick is to look for clues. On something like the crank hub, I will clean the hub well with a wire wheel (power driven wire brush) and get off all old paint and rust. If I then see what appears to be a pin driven thru the shaft & hub, I try to determine if it is a taper pin. To do this, I sometimes file the areas of the hub/ends of the pin to see the actual diameters. Sometimes, pins thru hubs and shafts were peened over to prevent their working their way out. Filing will disclose whether the pin is a straight pin or tapered pin.

For driving out shaft pins, I find that having a 'dolly'- a heavy block of steel with a hole for the pin to extend into as it is driven out- works wonders. You need an extra pair of hands to hold the dolly block, but it absorbs the energy from hammer blows rather than passing it into adjacent machine parts. It also "takes the bounce" out of hammer blows when trying to drive a pin out of a fairly lightweight hub and shaft.

I have had a few pins that resisted all efforts to drive them out. I suspect these pins were driven with a heavy interference fit, or maybe buckled in the hole due to peening of the ends. When I've run into this situation, I know it's time to throw in the towel as far as driving the pin out. I file the ends flush with the hub (or whatever part the pin is driven into). I then prick punch the center of the pin as best I can locate it by eye. A series of drills is then used to work up in size to drill most of the 'core' of the pin out. Coming in from each end on longer pins is something I've done. A lot depends on your skill at holding a power drill square and true to things so the drill does not break out the side of the pin and into the surrounding part. "Coring out" a pin can reduce the amount of force it was applying to the walls of the hole it was in. A steel drive punch that fits into the hole you cored in the pin usually drives it out.

Word to the wise: match mark the orientation of a hub to its shaft. Holes for pins may be drilled off-center to the shaft and hub, particularly in the old days before such niceties as vertical milling machines or jigs and fixtures. A "fitter" may have eyeballed where the hole for a pin needed to be and drilled it. The result is that if the hub is 180 degrees out from original orientation, the holes may not line up entirely. Trying to drive the pin (or a new one) back in with that situation is going to result in a buckled and bent pin and possible damage to the parts.

I am fortune in that over the years, I have accumulated a number of hand reamers for straight bores as well as tapered pins. If I drive a pin out and maybe had to drill out a pin, I ream the hole thru the assembled parts to the next oversize, or simply ream tapered pin fits a little deeper if the parts allow for that.
Thank you for such a detailed reply!
 
How do you feel about products like Evaporust? It may be more practical to do a partial application (around the pieces I need to remove) at this point, and tackle the whole assembly after we've moved house.
I love it for small parts but, Evaporust is sort of all or nothing. The parts need to be submerged or you'll get an etched line where it dries.

I have heard of people keeping paper towels wet and in contact with the part, like a table top. I think that would be difficult on a complex part
 
"Rustyironism: Aah, that's interesting - I've not heard of those before. Presumably to remove I'd need to be able to grip one end with some needlenose pliers to pull it out? I'll see if I can get those holes any cleaner now I've been dosing it with penetrating oil."

If it is indeed a roll pin, which is probably unlikely, it would be removed by using a Pin Punch of the same diameter of the hole, representing the O.D. of the pin, to drive it out the opposite side.

I have never seen a roll pin installed in a blind hole, but anything is possible.
If so, gently tap a thread into the hole and use a slide hammer to remove.

You don't show the opposite side of the part to show that, what appears to be a hole, is a through hole.
If so, you could see the difference in diameter to indicate if it is a solid straight or a solid tapered pin.

Like has been said, I agree to not take it apart unless necessary.
Why disrupt originality with possible harm to components?

But, whatever you do is your choice, so I'd follow all the good advice given and carefully clean it to see what you have before attacking it.

Mike
 
Can you remove one of the bolts that retains the bushing to the leg, to get access to press on the taper cotter key that holds the flywheel? I also suggest an agressive wire brushing around the area of the pin that protrudes from the small arm hub. Worst case scenario, you carefully drill it out. The trick here is to figure out how the manufacturer put it together in the first place. That tells you the best way to disassemble.
 
That sounds like the sort of thing that I'd normally do!

Ironically this lathe has probably only travelled about 25 miles since it was made in the late 1800s up the road. I'm about to take it across the country, about 350 miles!
That would mean either Cornwall,or Scotland. If Scotland,I might be able to assist.
 
I love it for small parts but, Evaporust is sort of all or nothing. The parts need to be submerged or you'll get an etched line where it dries.

I have heard of people keeping paper towels wet and in contact with the part, like a table top. I think that would be difficult on a complex part
I tried the wet paper towel thing on a precision part that had light surface rust. That was a mistake. The part wound up pretty heavily discolored. One of Evaporust's warnings is that parts sticking out of the solution risk getting etched at the liquid/air boundary. I guess a wet paper towel is all liquid/air boundary.
 








 
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