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Help identifying grinder please

Derek Smalls

Jan 6, 2014
Coventry RI
A friend of mine has this grinder. It's been sitting around for many years and unfortunately, the people who would have used it back in the day, or even knew what it was used for are now gone. I was asked to identify it, or at least it's intended purpose, but I'm stumped. Our only guess is that it was likely used for some automotive related process, as that type of work was most common in this shop, but I can't imagine exactly what you would grind on it.

The large hand wheel in front moves the table left and right. It has a motor/gear reduction which can be made to do this automatically by placing a belt over the hand wheel. It has trip dogs on the table to reverse direction, like a regular OD grinder. The table appears to be able to pivot, again like a typical OD grinder, to adjust for taper.

So, it's an OD grinder of some sort, but made for a specific operation?

The confusing part to me, is that the wheel head is stationary. That is to say it is not on a slide which allows it to be incrementally moved closer to the work to adjust for diameter. Instead, it seems that the work is pivoted back toward the wheel. There is a threaded stop to limit it's travel to set a diameter???? I'm assuming whatever this thing is intended to grind does not require great control of diameter because I can't see this system being all that accurate.

There are no markings on it that I can find to identify a manufacturer.

Any ideas what it's used for? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Anybody? Any idea?

Might be of similar origins to the amazing line up of dedicated tools / "machines" K. R. Wilson sold 90 - 100 years ago to service the millions of T and A Fords that had been built by then

On the other hand who would actually want an O.D. grinder with a half ass infeed? :D

Possibly to face grind some disc-on-a-shaft in which the swing-in feature was entirely adequate for that particular product line
Grinding kingpins to final size might be the original use. Back in the day, there were so many manufacturers of cars and trucks, and so many 'orphan' vehicles (vehicles whose manufacturer was already out of business(. There was also a lot less 'repeatability' or tight tolerances on many automotive parts. The result was the auto and truck repair garages in the early days of 'motoring' usually had some machine shop capability. It was not uncommon to find garages equipped with a lathe, drill press, along with a forge and smithing tools. Specialized equipment for relining brakes and clutches was also a common item in most garages. Auto mechanics in those days routinely machined replacement bushings for things like generators, starters, water pumps, distributors and often machined replacement valve guides from bar stock. Back in those early days of motoring, just about every vehicle had a simple front axles assembly with kingpins and bushings. Fitting new kingpins might require line-reaming the holes in the front axle and fitting new oversized kingpins if the holes in the axle or wheel spindle assembly had 'wallowed out' to the point that larger outer diameter bushings were needed. Kingpins were usually made of some hardened (or surface hardened) steel, so grinding to final size might have been what the grinder in this thread was used for.

Just a WAG on my part, and I've been way off in some of my previous WAG's as to 'what was this machine tool (or tool, part, etc) used for ?" type postings.
Thanks for the input guys.

John, I was not familiar with K. R. Wilson. Van Norman always comes to my mind when it comes to automotive specific machinery, so it was great to learn some about Wilson. They made a lot of cool stuff I wasn't aware of.
I also was wondering if it was primarily used for grinding a face because the swing in feature would be great for that. It would not make sense to have power table traverse if that were the case though. Then again, that may have been added later when it was repurposed for something entirely different.

Digger, I don't see it as being entirely "shop made", some parts look like they were produced by a manufacturer for some type of grinder, but it may very well have been heavily modified from what it started life as. What we see now may be cobbled together from several different machines.

Joe, I had been racking my brain trying to think of car parts that would be ground/reground in a auto mechanic shop. I was trying to picture all kinds of engine and chassis parts being ground on it and nothing really made sense. I never thought of kingpins, but that's more likely than anything I came up with.

Thanks again all. I was hoping someone would recognize it, but this one may be know only to whoever once used it.
I believe Joe is right, it was one of the many "automotive" type of machines that were sold back in the day for doing service work on cars, trucks, and stuff. It does look "home made" it has too many "factory" made items on it. The hex looking bed, I call it" is unique and the tailstock that is fitted to the hex to me is not home made. Looks like something that KO Lee would have made in their earlier years. And of course Van Norman made stuff like that too. Wonder if Storm had anything like that??? And who else was there back then selling automotive service equipment not mentioned?
if it never gets used again for what it is or was it has the beginnings of a good solid bases for a smaller lathe or the beginnings of a home built wood lathe . thanks for sharing it with us .
Derek: Does the large hand wheel on the front, change speeds by pulling it out? If so, it may be whats left of an early cutter grinder. Norton and others made such machines.

Anybody? Any idea?
looks like something sat on the tailstock, that may be a live spindle tail. the headstock may be a driver. agree with the belt drive for wheel head draw-in seems not very high-tech... but no idea what part it was used for.
I don't know what the grinder was used for but perhaps grinding some kind of cutting or shredding cylinder similar to a reel type lawn mower .
Most reel type lawn mower grinders like the Foley kept the reel on the machine and had a tool post type grinder travel back and forth .
I have a gear motor similar to the one on the machine made by Master Electric in my collection that I adapted an old Datsun 1600 CC flywheel to to make a lapping machine that the output is about 240 RPM if I am reading it correctly through the glare.
I don't know what the original purpose was .
Another possibility for the machine might have been to grind some kind of rubber covered conveyor or feed roller that didn't require a high degree of precision .


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Derek: Does the large hand wheel on the front, change speeds by pulling it out?


I don't know for sure, but I don't believe so. I will try to get back there and check it out.

You may be onto something with the cutter grinder or some sort of "sharpening machine" idea. I had not considered that because of the powered work head and also, I didn't see any provision for a tooth rest or any such thing, but the powered work head may have been added latter, or maybe, what ever edge it's intended to grind does not require relief.

Are the edges of the blades on a reel type lawn mower relieved? I always assumed so, but I've never actually studied one.

Thanks again for all the input folks.
that grinder is what we called a cot grinder,its used to grind rubber rolls or cot rollers used on textile machinery.The shaft mounted rollers where held between centers and the tailstock was spring tension.I modified a 3" 3 jaw chuck to the drive on a customers to chuck cot rollers by the bore.The rollers where used on machines called down twisters.
I found this video showing the usual style of machine used for Lawnmower reels and bed knives .
There are better quality machines that shown in the video .
Reel Mower Sharpening - YouTube
In most cases the reel needs to be relieved but perhaps not each time it is sharpened.
Most visitors to this site being used to working on higher quality machine tools may find these types of machines a bit frustrating to work with .
As with the machine in the O.P. they are probably good enough to get the job done that they were sold for but I can think of many types of rubber rolls that would require a more accurate machine.
P.S. it would seem that there are more advance cot roll grinders as seen here.