Alba 1A - teardown and inspection
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    Default Alba 1A - teardown and inspection

    And so it begins. A new piece of machinery history to fit into the shop (aka 'garage'). It is an Alba 1A 10" shaper.

    I am not sure of the year. So, first things first, lets see if we can establish some history. A 'full nude' and a serial number might help if anybody out there knows more than lathes.co.uk. Here it is when picking it up:








    I aim to give it a teardown and cleanup and document what I can for other current or future 1A owners. I doubt I'll give it the full paint treatment because, as you'll see, despite nicks and dings, some paint missing here and there and a lot of ground in oil and dirt the paint is original and holding up. I've done a 1941 South Bend 10L lathe and a late-80s Taiwanese mill in the last couple of years that where painted in some non-original custardy puke that was not worth preserving. Original paint is.

    I'll have questions along the way so hopefully I can ask here.

    My Jedi skills as a machinist are still pretty darn sub-padawan so, if need be, I fix or make what I can with my current skills and, if outside of my scope at the moment, I'll park it and come back when I've got the skills and/or equipment. Like cutting gears for example (peering down into it I can see the back-gear teeth look pretty sharp!)... I am also kitting up for some scraping.

    Pic of Alba on the trailer:





    and finally off the trailer and into the shop:











    I'd like to say that the Alba 1A 10" shaper "followed me home" but it would have had to have travelled almost 1200klm (about 750 miles) one-way by itself to have done so. Yes, bless her, the wife and I drove a round trip Melbourne-Newcastle-Memlbourne of about 1500 miles in two days to pick the Alba up and bring it home. Bless.

    As a side note, the shaper does not need a name. If Alba wasn't feminine enough, my (Spanish) wife informs me that Alba in Spanish means 'dawn'. Nice.

    Finger-snap - back to business. lathes.co.uk has a picture that looks similar to this one. It labels it "as it was by the late 1940s" but there are are few notable differences:

    * the clutch lever on lathes.co.uk is a cast-looking unit. Mine, and the later 10M model have a machined unit. Suggesting, perhaps that mine is later than the photo there. I figure maybe the machined one was cheaper to make thus suggesting a later machine.
    * the gib adjuster screws on lathes.co.uk look flush with the casting. Mine are recessed. I am guessing the recessed gib screws is a refinement on flat-with-casting, so that also suggests something later.
    * lathes.co.uk also shows the stroke indicating pointer and plate on the right of the late-40s machine. Mine is on the left. Not sure if that carries any signifigance.

    ... so, I am not too sure really. lathes.co.uk does not say when they stopped making the 1A. All help appreciated.

    The fellow I bought it from (nice chap) had it for 20+ years and he bought it from a small factory or something up there. He said he gave it very little use in that time.

    A vid of a quick walk around:

    https://youtu.be/IHIz-7cVZQc

    When I make reference to the shiny bit on the pulley cover in the video above it is to show a first pass at using a paint 'cutting' paste with a cloth to remove the top layer of paint with its grime and crap. Looks okay. And yes, I did start it with the clutch not engaged momentarily. Second time starting. I learned quickly.

    A little bit more - also showing some of the wear evident:

    https://youtu.be/oGJov_K2bcs

    And I thought this was cool. After 60 or 70 years, the pulley spins nicely (though yes, I do see it is slightly unbalanced - so maybe I'll address that):

    https://youtu.be/i9nVilKvmfY


    continued ...

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    .. and a few more pics :

    Images like this bring delight into the hearts of grown men:





    The vertical ways appear to be in very good condition. Flaking still evident.

    Under here is more worn, but not too bad:





    No signs of flaking under here, but not scored or anything:





    This thread still feels very good:





    They didn't come with a 'zero mark' so it looks like someone decided to make their own. Geeeez.





    Not the original handle:





    I have started to pull it down but I'll hold off on some photos until I understand the correct teardown order. Some things really do have to happen before other things and I'll get some photos and text up here when I get a better grip on that.

    But ... first question:

    Removing the vertical feed screw - it get pressed out the bottom of the casting? Lock screws holding the 'vertical traverse nut' on the feed screw have been loosened but I'm unsure whether to (after heating) thump the screw form the bottom or the top ..

    help appreciated.


    Greg.

    PS. I'll make the pics smaller for future posts ... 800 along the large edge seems a little to BIG.

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    Looks like that one just needs to be put to work.

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    When I was first getting into machines, practically every school workshop had either an Alba 1A or an Elliot 10M shaper.

    ... nowadays if you ask to see the workshop in a school, they'll take to some 'discussion group' convinced that they are 'having a workshop'


    My first 'real' machine tool in my home workshop was an Alba 1A identical to yours - I got it probably about 1985 - had to go to make room for a Bridgeport

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    Lovely machine.

    I have not seen a table support post although there is a wide base for one. Did it come with one?

    From the pictures on Tony's site it looks like an easy item to fabricate.

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    The table support post is a round bar with a milled flat and domed end that fits in a hole in the table and is locked by a bolt.

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    Default Alba 1A

    I also have an Alba 10". The vise on mine seems to be smaller then the one on yours. I also will be tearing down the old girl soon. I will be following this thread with great interest.

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    Here are a couple of scans from two different Elliot catalogues. One of them has 6-60 on the back cover (perhaps 1960?), the other catalogue has no date I can find. Another, later, Elliot catalogue offers several shapers, but not this model.

    elliot-alba-1a-6-60-01.jpg elliot-alba-1a-01.jpg
    Last edited by Peter S; 04-01-2016 at 07:42 AM.

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    Thanks all,

    rj1939. Now where would the fun be in *that*. :-) Actually, although I am pretty sure the previous owner greased and oiled it, I doubt it has had any of that old grease and oil removed in 20-30 years. So, my philosophy is these machine should outlast us, and that makes us custodians of them for the next person. We should hand them on in better condition than when we when them! I'll strip it and clean it and learn all about it as I am doing so. But true, it is usable as-is. :-)

    Andrew: I note your location is the UK. These were popular then! Cool. Spares should be out there then. :-)

    Frank. Yep. I got the box support post. It is just shown lying on the stand peeking out from under the box in the pics above shown the Alba from the right ride.

    ironborn: the vice I have is not from Alba. The previous owner said he made this one from a a casting. It is pretty large - not sure how accurate though, I can see a gap along one of fixed jaw plate. Re the teardown. :-)

    Peter, thanks for those catalogue scans. The pic of the first one shows the same clutch lever assembly as I have. It is the one you describe as '60'. I wonder when they stopped making them?

    Thanks again all.

    I am still wondering if the vertical leadscrew comes out the top or bottom of the shaper main casting. The parts list pic shows it to have a cylindrical base larger in diameter than the leadscrew. That base is (pressed maybe) in the shaper casting. I'd feel more comfortable thumping that larger section from below than thumping the screw from above - but, best to ask here first!

    Greg.

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    Not spares as such, but I bet most tool dealers selling used machines to model engineers will have one or two in stock or have had them in the past month or so

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    I have an Eliott 14s which I think is a newer version of the Alba 2s but looking at the pics of the machine in this thread I wonder if they were sold as Elliott and Alba at the same time as the age can't be much different .

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    Great looking machine! Big pics are good. It is great to have a wife like that, I am very blessed as well.

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    The Elliot 10m's had a pressed steel base whereas the Alba 1a's were cast

    I'd always assumed that the change came when the business had an excess of bean counters running the show

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    The Elliot catalogues mentioned above also offer another series of shaper - the Elliot Invicta.

    I have a book Garrett's of Leiston which says they (as Richard Garrett Engineering Works Ltd) began production of Alba shapers in 1934 and later, Invicta shapers. Garrett's were making "well over a thousand a year" ten years later and were still producing them in 1964 when the book was published.

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    Thanks for replies all - apologies for late reply. For some reason this thread is not emailing me about new posts.

    Andrew: re parts. With the South Bend I was blessed. So many parts available for those old ladies. Even new and repro part. Stupendous for getting one back into order. I might need to keep an ear to the ground for a thing or two for the Alba.

    Re 10Ms, nice looking machine. To my eye they actually look like 60's artwork. Clean lines (note how shaper mounting bolts must have been moved to underneath) but a little boxy - sort of like some of the cars being produced during that time after the curvy cars of the previous era. Me? I prefer the old clunky, busy, more hazardous look. :-)

    RCP: She also is a motorsport nut ... bless. :-)

    Peter. That is very interesting indeed. Seems like Garrett's is quite a historic name for machinery in the UK. Very nice. From the 1770's through to 1980s ain't a bad run.

    Though the plaque on the Alba says (as I recall) "Victoria Works, NW10". That is in London (somewhere near Wembley?) so perhaps not everything was built in Suffolk it seems. Great info though - I'll be researching them more. Thanks.

    Oh, re the catalogues above. You say you have a later catalogue that does not have a 1A in it. What year was that? At least that provides some info about when they were no longer making them.

    On the teardown front, I have removed everything from the body so I'll get those pics up here soon.

    Greg.
    Last edited by StrayAlien; 04-03-2016 at 06:43 PM. Reason: typo

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    Greg,

    Of the three catalogues, only one seems to have a date.

    Here is the catalogue covers from which the first image came from. It has BL. 6/60 on the rear cover. This may or may not be a date...


    elliot-london-6-60-catalogue-covers.jpg

    Here is the catalogue cover from which the second (red) image came from. I see it mentions the Works at Leiston.

    elliot-gen-cat-cover.jpg

    Here is the catalogue which doesn't have the Alba 1A.

    elliot-machine-tools-catalogue-cover.jpg elliot-machine-tools-catalogue-cover-rear.jpg elliot-shaping-machines-01.jpg

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    Thanks Peter,

    You are a mine of info. :-)

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    It reminds me a lot of the Erikson shaper I'm working on. In the Lathes UK site the 4th picture down shows a double gear that looks to take power off from the top to drive a vertical feed ratchet, which is how the Erikson works, yours doesn't seem to have it nor do most of the photo's so I'm mystified as to that. That picture also seems to show a third gear too on or near the lower shaft.
    On mine the top ratchet is the master which can be set in neutral of course, but it still takes ratchet oscillation to the lower ratchet via segment gears, so if one ratchet is moving they both are, but either,both, or none can have the ratchets engaged. It seems possible to cut an angle by that method although it would be hard to control and I really doubt it was intended.

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    You've a good eye for detail. I missed those extra gears on the earlier Alba 1A model. But, I've not actually used a shaper yet so my eagle eye is still being trained!

    So those extra gears would be for a vertical feed?

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    They are on mine, and as said, you can leave the top ratchet in neutral and the lower set either up or own. I was thinking about it, one could cause the tool to describe a rectangle if you got good at it. Or you could run the tool up the side, then, by taking a few seconds delay resetting the two ratchets could conceivably cut a chamfer at the corner as the horizontal is engaged, then quickly disengage the vertical and finish across the top. I think it would take some practice.
    I always wondered if anyone had ever tried hooking up steppers, I'd think aviation would be an area where a CNC shaper could be used to cut perfect curves.


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