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Thread: Bertram Lathe

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    Default Bertram Lathe

    Hello all

    I saw this lathe sitting out in the yard of a local shop. What a shame to not even have tarped it or oiled it at least.













    It looks like the tail stock is missing it's spindle? As well, the taper attachment is missing some pieces. The ways looked fairly worn and scored. A couple of weeks after I saw the lathe out there, it was on Kijiji for $2500.00 and the picture of it was when it was in the shop and not rusting outdoors.

    Before I saw the ad, I was tempted to approach the shop owner, to inquire about it, but I don't have nearly enough power to run a big motor like that, nor do I have the room. Sadly, at the asking price, it is still out in the yard and will likely end up scrapped.

    Brian

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    I know a lot of us are tempted when we see a lathe like that left to rust and potentially get scrapped. The lathe in the photo does not look all that old, and looks to be complete. Looking at the bedways, I wonder if Bertram furnished hardened & ground ways ?

    The lathe is a heavy duty brute, for sure. When I see a crank & pinion to move the tailstock, that is when I start thinking: 'This is a heavy lathe'. It looks like a good basic engine lathe, and looks to have a camlock spindle nose. That being the case, the seller probably kept the chucks and faceplates for use on other lathes in his shop with the same spindle nose.

    A thought as to it using too much power: If a person was not going to be using a lathe like this one to its full capacity, why not downsize the motor ? The motor on this lathe looks like a standard frame motor with mounting feet, nothing uncommon (like some of the flange-mounted motors on other heavy duty lathes). At the powerplant, when we bought a LeBlond 25" x 96" wide bed/heavy duty lathe, it originally had something like a 25 HP motor on it. Since we were never going to be hogging down rough forgings or castings, that much motor was not needed.
    We were buying the lathe from Mr. Robert Yancey, out in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Yancey said a 10 HP motor with VFD would do just fine. That is what we ordered on that lathe. It is more than ample for the work done in the powerplant. There is an ammeter for "spindle usage", and even on the largest jobs done there (stuff like boring stubs of pipe out of 12" pipe flanges and re-bevelling large pipe flanges which had been cut off of piping), the lathe never laid down on us.

    The lathe in this thread looks like it could be re-powered with a smaller motor and still do more work than most shops could have for it.
    By way of comparison: we had a Southbend Nordic 25" x 96" lathe in our shop which we scrapped. It only had a 5 HP motor on it. I'd say motor size is a function of not just a lathe's capacity but how much rotating mass (gearing, spindle, chucks, etc) the motor has to start and keep turning, and how heavy the jobs are going to be that the lathe will be used for.

    Since the lathe is outdoors and starting to rust, it would seem the seller ought to drop his price. Scrap steel and iron prices are somewhere near (or at) an all time low. The incentive to send the lathe to the razor blades isn't there. A local auto mechanic told me he was called by a customer to haul away an old car. He pulled everything off of it that could be salvaged for parts, including the engine. What he had left was a hull or shell with suspension and some running gear parts. He took the car to the crushers. 40 bucks in fuel to get his flatbed there and back, 27 bucks for the car as scrap. At least in the USA, steel and iron scrap are at so low a price that no one is bothering to haul much to the scrap yards. This could drive the price of that lathe down to the bargain basement, along with the fact the lathe is rusting and outdoors. It would be a hard bargain for anyone with the space for it to pass up. Nothing broken or brazed, nothing missing other than chucks and faceplate.

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    On edit, looking closer at the photos, I'd say the lathe has a threaded spindle nose, and what is on there is a chuck backing plate. Could be that backing plate is on there for keeps, so the seller took the screws out of the chuck to remove it. As the OP noted, the tailstock is missing its quill. These two items could be deal breakers for a lot of potential buyers. I also see what looks like bearing cap bolts on the headstock. If this lathe is old enough to have a threaded spindle nose, I wonder if it has plain bearings ?

    Bertram, being a Canadian machine tool builder, is a firm that a lot of us here in the USA are not familiar with. I remember when we had some hydro turbine parts machined at a shop in Port Colborn, Ontario, they had a Bertram vertical boring mill with a maximum capacity of 60 ft (you read right, 60 feet). That was my only exposure to Bertram machine tools, and I would imagine from that boring mill that Bertram specialized in heavy/large machine tools. That being said, the lathe lives up to my thinking about Bertram. The lathe looks like a well designed and well built machine tool. Deal-breakers like size, motor rating, missing tailstock quill and possibly a threaded spindle nose/stuck backplate and possible plain bearings aside, it could be a good heavy lathe for some shop.

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    Hello Joe

    Thank you for your, as always, insightful and thoughtful comments. Even in the state that it is in, it is tempting, but not at that price. The scrap price here is at an all time low as well. Maybe 4 cents/pound. I have met the owner on a couple of occasions and had them regrind some chuck jaws for me, and thought about going to talk to him, but the issues that you and I pointed out, are nowhere near what his price was, in my opinion.

    Still tempting, as he is only 5 minutes from me...

    Brian

    Here's my first lathe that I bought.... another Bertram...



    Just a little ancient in comparison
    Last edited by Sachmanram; 12-16-2016 at 02:46 PM.

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    The lathe in the original post of this thread looks perhaps smaller but similar in style to Collector’s Bertram posted here in post # 211 that he says dates from 1944
    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...-lathe-003.jpg
    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...-lathe-002.jpg
    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...7s#post1725786

    They may have made that style for some time though.
    Regards,
    Jim

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    Sach, would you mind posting some more pictures of your Bertram ? (or maybe in another post so as not to hijack this one...) Thanks, jim

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    I like the look of that that big fat headstock, looks capable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm03 View Post
    Sach, would you mind posting some more pictures of your Bertram ? (or maybe in another post so as not to hijack this one...) Thanks, jim
    Hello Jim,

    Here's a link to the thread pertaining to my old Bertram lathe...

    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...=Bertram+lathe

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by alskdjfhg View Post
    I like the look of that that big fat headstock, looks capable.

    It certainly does look like it has some real torque under the "hood" doesn't it ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Christie View Post
    The lathe in the original post of this thread looks perhaps smaller but similar in style to Collector’s Bertram posted here in post # 211 that he says dates from 1944
    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...-lathe-003.jpg
    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...-lathe-002.jpg
    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...7s#post1725786

    They may have made that style for some time though.
    Regards,
    Jim
    Hello Jim

    That lathe certainly has a lot of similarities. I wish that I had taken more pics of the lathe, but now winter is hitting us hard and fast, and I won't likely see the lathe until spring, if it doesn't get hauled off to the scrap yard...

    Brian

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    Default Bertram - Is this John Bertram & Sons?

    John Bertram & Sons - History | VintageMachinery.org

    It looks like the maker is out of business. That kind of makes it unlikely that one could purchase a new tailstock quill at any price.

    Never having had one apart, I wonder what's involved in making a tailstock quill ? It's obvious that you can bore and ream the quill using the headstock.

    Also, perhaps Sachmanram could inquire about what happened to the original tailstock quill? If it still exists somewhere in that shop, perhaps it can be repaired? Sleeved, perhaps, if the taper was somehow destroyed ?

    How would you destroy a tailstock quill except by gouging the taper ?

    John Ruth

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    I have a bit of time off at the beginning of next week. I might go over to the shop and ask about the tail stock, etc.

    Brian

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    The taper attachment has recently been removed too. I'd want that.

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    Are we sure that that shop didn't have two or more of these lathes and cannibalized this one to improve the others and the one advertised for sale is one of the functional ones, not this one?

    Paolo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paolo_MD View Post
    Are we sure that that shop didn't have two or more of these lathes and cannibalized this one to improve the others and the one advertised for sale is one of the functional ones, not this one?

    Paolo
    Actually, at this point, all of us are merely speculating about everything, including myself. The only thing that I have are photos and location. A back story from the source would be, at the very least, illuminating, if not informative. I will do my best to gather additional information, regarding all of our queries...

    Brian

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    I see at one time the swing wasn't quite big enough. The owner has ground away the bed slightly to increase the swing in two places. That looks a decent old lathe, I'd guess at a date of around 1940 ? Any company that had the werewithal to produce a 60 ft dia boring machine must have a really good shop, design team and workforce.

    I would have though making another basic but working tailstock barrel wouldn't be that difficult. The taper turning attachment wouldn't be a deal breaker for me. How often do you use one ? I'm sure the parts could be made to get that one working again if you really need to.


    Regards Tyrone.

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    Thanks Brian, I thought it looked familiar but couldn't remember about the thread I had seen it in. Great job on a classic piece of machinery. Jim

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    Do you know how old your lathe is? I have what looks like the identical lathe and there are no marking that I can find. My lathe is working well, it does need some TLC and to re-paint so it looks as good as yours, but it's a great project to restore a collectors item.

    See attached image: forgive my small shop, this lathe is 7' long...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20180914_171748.jpg  

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    Hi Dustnorm,

    No, I don't know the age of the lathe that I had. It has since gone to a new owner in Nova Scotia, and I have had almost a dozen lathes come and go since then. You should start another thread about your lathe, with closer pics and maybe the background.

    Welcome to PM

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paolo_MD View Post
    Are we sure that that shop didn't have two or more of these lathes and cannibalized this one to improve the others and the one advertised for sale is one of the functional ones, not this one?

    Paolo

    I later talked to the owner, and the reason that the tail stock quill is missing, which had a #5 MT quill, is that they cannibalized it for another lathe, and adapted it because it had a #4 MT and most of their tooling is #5 MT.

    The taper attachment parts were cannibalized as well. He parked it out back of the shop, as there weren't any serious takers at $2500.00 and will wait until scrap prices go back up and toss it then. The cannibalized one was the one for sale.

    Brian


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