An American in England (ATW Lathe)
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  1. #1
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    Default An American in England (ATW Lathe)

    Thought this may be of slight interest...

    pxl_20210717_132801217.jpg

    I took a risk on this, having only seen it in a dark corner of an old garage with no power available. It's "odd" because it's in the UK. It has the relieving gearbox and cross slide, a box load of gears, backplates etc. I know conventional wisdom appears to be that all these old ATWs are slow, plain bearing units but this isn't (1200 is the max RPM) ->

    pxl_20210410_141107468-01.jpg

    For a sense of scale it's around 9ft long, the chuck on it in the pic is 10".

    The apron mounted clutch lever is off at the moment as the bush is badly worn. The only other obvious wear is in the bush that supports the feed gearbox input shaft. Everything works - all feeds, speeds and threading. It's about to do some "proper" work once I've levelled it...

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    1200 rpm makes this a "fast" version- probably very late production (circa early 1940's) I have a 1936 version of the same model, max rpm is about 750. Its a good design in general but pay close attention to lubricating the quadrant gears they tend to run dry and wear. The posts they're mounted on have holes in the end that communicate out to the journal surface; just pump oil in from the end. The compound slide may have ball oilers fit into either side of the casting, near the clamping nuts- lubricates the feed screw and way surfaces, usually neglected.

    The chip tray on yours is very much an improvement over the flat design on mine.

    If the clutch is sticky or hard to operate its easy to take working bits out of the shaft assembly in the input shaft housing and grease them, really helps. The bushing for the clutch lever on thee apron and related key were very worn and sloppy on mine also, leading to the clutch lever banging on the chip tray, some general repairing fixed it right up.

    The serial # is usually seen on the front face of the front way, down at the tailstock end of the bed.

    If you'll pardon the direct request I would very much like to see the details of the relieving attachment- I've not seen images of them outside the sales brochures.

    Thanks!

    Greg

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    these old ATWs are slow, plain bearing units but this isn't (1200 is the max RPM)
    You can tell by lack of "cap" on front bearing and the presence of the bolt on cover behind chuck that though threaded spindle, it is not plain bearing

    Thanks to Greg, we have this from 1940 brochure showing Timken bearings on spindle - and up at top the CUNO oil filter you twist on to clean

    headstock.jpg

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    thx John, that cap is secured by a bunch of cap screws- would be good to take it off to make sure the oil passage down from the manifold is clean (mine was almost entirely packed off with dirt). The cap is a basic labyrinth seal, prone to dripping oil out if there is too much flow.

    and on followup; the apron oil system delivers to the cross-slide ways and to all the apron gearing including the carriage traverse, so well worth getting working. The cross-slide distribution happens via manifolds milled into the cross-slide surface which are capped with screwed down strips of steel, all the cross-slide way surfaces are more-or less oiled and a bit is supplied to the carriage ways also. The passages on mine were full of old solidified emulsion coolant so needed substantial cleaning.

    This lathe does have an automatic feed stop you can set up, but only for feeding towards the chuck. The Pacemakers had that feature feeding either way.
    Last edited by Greg Menke; 07-21-2021 at 09:34 AM.

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    Thanks both that's some helpful information - I found several sites with information but it was becoming clear mine was probably a very late revision. I'll get some pictures of the relieving attachment, the gearbox for it is in front of the tailstock end leg in the picture. The "special" cross slide is intact but very dirty - I'm interested, just for novelty factor, to see it working.

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    As another variation- my machine has a 2nd apron lever, which actuates a rod (removed by the previous owner), which operates a crank located next to one operating the clutch linkage. I had thought it was feed reverse, or rapid traverse but it doesn't match up- the remaining linkage parts are lightweight don't reach anything and nothing is missing on the back side of the machine. At the moment I'm thinking it was a lever for fwd/off/rev motor control.

    I've not found examples of the lever or the related hardware in sales manuals yet...

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    What a beautiful machine... I suppose some would find it odd that pleasure could be had in the appreciation of a tool designed for a practical purpose, but I for one lament the sterile lines of today's machine tools, they lack any soul... pardon my ignorance but what is a relieving attachment? Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bokoshoko View Post
    I took a risk on this, ...
    Wow. This is nice, like an early Pacemaker but more interesting.

    The relieving attachment - a unicorn. A real live unicorn ! Those don't exist outside of the catalogs. I am quite jealous !

    Video ?

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    I'll re-install the relieving gear box and get some more pictures; thanks for the interest!

    On the comment about design/aesthetics; it's definitely interesting to compare modern vs vintage machine tools where there's been what appears to be a clear transition to a pure function based approach. From a purists point of view this does make sense, focus on function BUT there's an appeal to working with things that look/feel nice. It perhaps doesn't appear to add any value but the user experience is better...

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    This is the "High Duty" line of lathes that ATW made- there is a clear relation of the later models to the Pacemakers; the tailstock design in particular. The Pacemaker was a much more modern design- this one was fundamentally derived from turn of the century conehead designs, incorporating a comparatively more limber spindle bearing architecture for one thing. The headstock splits along the obvious flange, the upper half lifting straight off. The spindle bearings are part of the lower half, which is bolted to the ways, so there is less rigidity in the various shears since it is not a box, and is relatively short. The Pacemakers were designed from the beginning to be a lot stiffer in every respect, and have the volume inside the headstock to permit a more sophisticated gear system.

    None of which takes away from the machine's appearance- ATW did make some aesthetic choices along the way; flat vs curved surfaces on the gearbox, convenient control layouts and so on. The upper front right corner of the headstock on my old 14" High Duty was absolutely perfect on which to rest a hand and lean during a long op- sometimes the 8spd machines show up on ebay and some of them have worn paint right there also

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bokoshoko View Post
    On the comment about design/aesthetics; it's definitely interesting to compare modern vs vintage machine tools where there's been what appears to be a clear transition to a pure function based approach....
    In my view, the transition was not to a function based approach but to a cost-cutting approach. Lathe design always was function based. The esthetics just came naturally as a byproduct. The c-c approach tried to preserve functionality but lead in many cases to cheesy compromises, boxy designs, and fabrication that sometimes amounted almost to flimsiness.

    I have no experience with your lathe, Bokoshoko, but it looks like an excellent machine.

    -Marty-

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    In yesterday's post concerning the Oneida NY auction, there is an American listed (with 12 days to go, and a minimum bid of $10, there were no bids). It had what looks like a top speed of 460rpm.

    -Marty-

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    Also a late model lathe, 12spd headstock- I get a 30's vibe from it- pretty sure the steady rest is not original. The lever controls on the apron were introduced in 1924 (as per the ATW book I have) so a good way to generally date some of the older machines. I guess the fairly low top speed relates to the big chuck and large gears in the headstock.

    I just mounted an old TV studio projection lamp in the same place the auction lathe has the gooseneck lamp. Had to remove the 900watt bulb and put in a 250 so as to not get a suntan, sure do like finally having good illumination on the workpiece. I like big LED lamps for the brightness and lack of heat but still think incandescents have a more pleasant spectrum.

    on followup; I had a look through my High Duty parts guide, found these official setup instructions by American- they say to "Hang Near Machine". Elsewhere the parts guide does show detailed views of the headstock, apron, tailstock options so on- but does not show the relieving attachment or my 2nd apron handle. Some of the larger swing 12spd machines apparently did have bronze spindle bearings, perhaps why the auction lathe has such a low max rpm. Also got corrected when the apron lever controls were introduced; 1927, not 1924. And, roller bearing tailstocks were an option for late model machines- mine is solid though.


    http://pounceatron.dreamhosters.com/...722_122744.jpg



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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Feldman View Post
    In my view, the transition was not to a function based approach but to a cost-cutting approach.
    In the case of American Tool at least, no. Their later lathes are better as well as cleaner looking. This one is kind of neat in that it's not so old and ridiculous looking, but still has a vintage feel.

    It's the relieving mechanism that makes it truly special tho.

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    I've often wondered about the purpose of a relieving attachment on a large lathe; what kind of large object would require relieving?

    The answer, in view of the rarity of these attachments, may be "Not many" but ATW must have had some purpose in mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plannerpower View Post
    I've often wondered about the purpose of a relieving attachment on a large lathe; what kind of large object would require relieving?
    You can make your own hobs or large milling cutters. Wouldn't have to be super-large, you can turn 3" and 4" parts comfortably in a 16" American. And you aren't going to be running the relieving attachment at 2,000 rpm

    I could have used one a bunch of times in life .... hobs cost a fortune and often don't need to be class AA.

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    That had occurred to me; similarly, large taps or reamers.

    It still seems a limited market to induce ATW to design & produce such an attachment.

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    Some great discussion and comments here! Greg that guide is very hand to have thanks.

    Just a bit more background, it spent the last 7 years in a garage on a farm where the prior owners had been hoarders. It had not been used at all during that time period, that paint job is not the original one, I didn't do it (I don't have that much time!). It was covered in a generous amount of surface rust but had been left with oil in it.

    pxl_20210717_132846144.jpg

    It needed some work but nothing complicated and really just cleaning. The only "serious" issue was the motor (a 7.5hp Metropolitan Vickers) which caught fire... It was beyond financial sense to rewind so it was replaced with a modern motor.

    Comments about the tail stock are interesting; it's only a MT3 which is exactly the same as what I had on a previous lathe BUT it's massive in comparison. It's heavy, 3 point bolted and very smooth in operation.

    It's a compliment to another "vintage" lathe; a Ward 3C turret lathe and is actually going to be used so will probably only be this clean for a short period of time.

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    Greg, not sure if yours is the same but mine has the "special order" mechanical reverse as well. It doesn't run the spindle at full speed in reverse which is either a good safety thing or indicates the need for adjustment. I don't intend to run it in reverse (ever if possible) given the threaded spindle nose

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    Mine <might> have it too- never knew about it until I read that bulletin yesterday lol. I wired my lathe's motor (a modern 3.5hp) with drum switch and VFD so the few times I've used reverse I just ran the motor backwards... Next bit of shop time I'll see what mine is equipped with.

    The usual method for adjusting oil flow to the spindle bearings is to take the access panel off the top of the headstock, exposing the manifold. Generally the only adjustment is to bend a pipecleaner into a T and insert it into the passage leading to the sightglass. Adjust the length of the stem to reduce flow until it doesn't leak out around the spindle labyrinth when the spindle is running fast. I've never had leaks anywhere else, just made sure they were clear with compressed air.

    When I got the machine both sightglasses were broken, if you take them out be careful the retaining collar on the bottom one (on mine at least) is some kind of casting alloy- not up for much prying. I used some old honda valve cover sealant which made a nice oil-tight seal.


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