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Two large Civil War era Selma Arsenal lathes

gwilson

Diamond
Joined
Oct 1, 2006
Location
williamsburg va
Very interesting lathes,and impressive. But,look how thin the face plates are,and how relatively small the beds are. And how small the feet that the tailstock sits on are.

I think it is very impressive that the writeup said that a large cannon ONLY took 6-7 weeks to cool,then bore and turn the outsides. They only had these very lightly made lathes,and carbon steel tools that would only work at exceedingly low RPM'S. Especially low with the large diameters of the breeches of those large cannon.
 

lathefan

Titanium
Joined
Nov 7, 2003
Location
Colorado

...there's another Confederate lathe at Rome Georgia...I actually made a trip to see this one many years ago...unfortunately...I wasn't aware of the Selma lathes at the time...or I would have sought them out on that trip as well...

CLICK ON THE PHOTO for the story...

 

Glenn Ohman

Aluminum
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Location
Lake Bluff IL
Thanks for sharing.

Glenn

Edit: I just finished the article Lathefan posted. A very interesting glimpse of rebel war industry, or lack thereof.
 

antique lathe

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 11, 2012
Location
Montville Ohio
Thanks to all for sharing!

Very cool piece of history. Glad to see some survived.

Would love to see in person some time.

I just LOVE old iron! Thank you. Take care.
 

Joe in NH

Diamond
Joined
Jul 28, 2007
Location
Stratham, Cow Hampshire
The Rome, GA lathe is a Gage, Warner & Whitney production probably from the 1850s. IIRC, the name plate shows on the front below the pulley - and is "cracked" as if someone had taken a rifle butt to it at some time. There should be a later (post Civil War) corliss steam engine there too.

The Auburn University/Selma Arsenal Lathes (both of them?) appear to be local production. (at least according to the picture.)

944d667e-f55c-4e0d-b85f-0a15c38c213f.JPG


Joe in NH
 

HUMPHREY MACHINE

Cast Iron
Joined
Aug 9, 2010
Location
ACTON MASSACHUSETTS
Interestingly - on both Selma lathes the cone pulleys are on their own head stock mounted
‘jack shafts’ rather on the main spindle. The Rome Georgia example sports the conventional
spindle mounted cone pulley.
 

Maltesehunter

Cast Iron
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Location
Elk Grove, CA
Interestingly - on both Selma lathes the cone pulleys are on their own head stock mounted
‘jack shafts’ rather on the main spindle. The Rome Georgia example sports the conventional
spindle mounted cone pulley.

The lathe in Rome, GA is a Gage, Warner & Whitney made in Nashua, NH.

I have attached a picture of another Gage, Warner & Whitney and a picture from a different angle of the same lathe. Jake

largelathe.jpg

LatheRomeGA.jpg
 

esbutler

Aluminum
Joined
Oct 14, 2013
Location
Sloansville, NY
I have not looked back, but I'm pretty sure there is another thread on this same G,W&W lathe.

I like the columns on the front but am particularly impressed that the columns were also cast on the inside - at least on the inside of the rear shear. It's also interesting to note how the bed is cast in sections and tied together just behind the tail stock.

Thanks for this post on the Selma lathes.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2004
Location
Metuchen, NJ, USA
GWilson,

One little-mentioned aspect of the exterior machining on a muzzle-loading cannon is machining the area of the trunnions. The centerline of the trunnions does not necessarily intersect the centerline of the bore but it must "square" to it. There were quaint terms like "hung by the halves" and "hung by the thirds" to describe how far the trunnions were from the centerline of the bore.

I believe there was a lot of hand finishing, chipping and filing, of this area of a cannon even as late as the US Civil War. It would be interesting to hear if anyone has any source material as to how this was done, and whether or not these large-faceplate lathes were used for that operation.

John Ruth
 

gwilson

Diamond
Joined
Oct 1, 2006
Location
williamsburg va
I am aware of machining the trunnions. I'de done it myself a few times,when I had a large enough lathe. They could have machined the trunnions by means of hollow mills mounted in the spindle. The gun could have been fed over the hollow mill by the tailstock.

They were turning large cannon and mortars even in the 18th. C.,on large mostly wooden machinery in the Woolwich(sp?) arsenal in England. They bored them out with large D bits.

In the 18th. C.,the trunnions were below the centerline of the bore. MUCH lower on carronades.
 
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Peter S

Diamond
Joined
May 6, 2002
Location
Auckland, New Zealand
I wonder why these lathes have such large face plates (10ft swing according to one description) if they were used for gun work? I suppose the Gage, Warner & Whitney lathe might have been built before the civil war and intended for other work, but it is curious that the armoury lathes seem similar.

I can see why a jobbing shop would like the large swing, but why the armoury?

For interest here is a similar-era British lathe built around 1865 for the Royal Gun Factory at Woolwich, 36' long, 8' 6" swing, 85 ton weight. Note the taper turning "attachment". This lathe was notable only for its size apparently.



Taken from one of the good old threads on PM: http://www.practicalmachinist.com/v...rmstrong-whitworth-lathes-gun-barrels-168975/

BTW, the first photo in the linked thread might answer my question. It shows a 20th? century lathe turning a gun barrel, note the size of the faceplate and the jaws. Each jaw extends out probably 2-3 feet from the job, so that is good reason right there.
 

lathefan

Titanium
Joined
Nov 7, 2003
Location
Colorado
GWilson,

One little-mentioned aspect of the exterior machining on a muzzle-loading cannon is machining the area of the trunnions. The centerline of the trunnions does not necessarily intersect the centerline of the bore but it must "square" to it. There were quaint terms like "hung by the halves" and "hung by the thirds" to describe how far the trunnions were from the centerline of the bore.

I believe there was a lot of hand finishing, chipping and filing, of this area of a cannon even as late as the US Civil War. It would be interesting to hear if anyone has any source material as to how this was done, and whether or not these large-faceplate lathes were used for that operation.

John Ruth

...I found this page from Harper's Weekly dated September 14 1861...showing cannon being manufactured at the West Point Foundry, Cold Spring, NY....showing trunnions being turned on a rather primative looking gap lathe between centers...click on the thumbnail for full size...

 








 
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