Early Gearhead Lathes
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  1. #1
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    Default Early Gearhead Lathes

    I'm certain in one way or another a type of this question has been asked, I am going to try and approach it from another angle. Forethought of design with regard to durability. Not necessarily the easiest to learn on, maybe it doesn't have a lot of curb appeal or the most inexpensive, but pound for pound and dollar for dollar one of the MOST DURABLE and INDESTRUCTIBLE lathes made. Lets say somewhat forgiving to the user.

    Lets start with the earliest gear head designs, somewhere in the late 20's or early 30's, I,m guessing not sure when they were first made. Now along the way I,m sure improvements were made. So lets confine this to about 40 to 50 years. WE are talking all manual lathes and all equipped the same. 14 to 16 inch swing and distance from center to center at about 30, 36 to 50 no more than 60 inches. All with everything you would expect a quality lathe would include in there package. 3 and 4jaw ,steady and follow rest,
    taper attachment, face plate, dogs, live and dead centers. All the normal tooling.

    As far as brands go I will name a few , please add all you can think of. Lodge and Shipley, Hendy, Lablond, American tool works, Cincinnati, Read Prentice, Pratt and Whitney, Rockwell, axelson, monarch, I,m sure there are at least a few more, Clausing. Which of all these lathes had the best or better reputation of not breaking down with heavy but normal use. In particular I,m wondering where the heavy 16 leblond would fit into this scenario. Lets assume with tolerances as paramount the theory is the better built, much less downtime therefore more production and longevity. What do you all think?

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    Way before your dates - L&S Selective Heads - many still going. A design built and improved and sold as their most heavy duty product as the 25 and 32 inch Model G - replaced only by the 25/32 inch Model X in the late forties

    1916 catalog is dominated by them

    l-spg28.jpg

    And before that the 1910 catalog is dominated by the Patent Head - by far the most successful "semi" gear head with its enormously wide belt not loading spindle bearings

    043.jpg

    LeBlond's 1911 catalog shows SEVERAL gear head designs

    An example 19" Heavy Duty

    pict3566sm.jpg

    ATW's teens catalog sports 8 speed gear heads - the prototype of the 12 speed which was built well into the forties as improved versions

    Thanks to Greg Menke for hosting this for me

    http://pounceatron.dreamhosters.com/...duct-guide.pdf

    ph

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    IIRC Hendey also had gearhead designs dating to the early 1900's, though its perhaps worth mentioning some of the earliest gearheads were not fully enclosed, meaning oil could still drip off the gears out the bottom. As per John above 1920 probably saw the 3rd generation of gearhead designs.

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    Gentlemen, I apologize for not doing a little more reading and identifying that prior to WW1 gearheads were already on their way. The onus for that is on me. I,m still wondering as designs were revised and improved on Did any of them begin to stand out in the industry and begin to earn a reputation as being very durable? I imagine say considered overbuilt which would turn out to be a plus in the long run.

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    Hendey introduced their first gear-head lathe in 1907. I attribute the introduction of geared-head lathes in large part to the introduction of high-speed steel tooling over the first decade of the 1900's.

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    Greg Menke:

    Hendey started to design their first Geared Head model in 1905, it was shop tested during 1906 and went into production in 1907. Like the
    Quick Change Gear Box and the Compound Gear Box (first introduced on the Milling Machines in 1902), the early Geared Head Eight Speeds
    featured an open Headstock. Since the Spindle Speeds were fairly low and Oil Bath fairly shallow, oil loss was low, but dust and other
    contaminates could enter the system. Keep in mind that the open Headstock was used on all models except the 24 inch, Nine Speed model,
    which was fully enclosed. Also, on the early model Eight Speeds the Power Input Shaft Clutch was controlled by a Shipper Rod running the
    length of the Bed. At a later date, the clutch was operated by a handle on the Headstock. The Power Shaft operated at constant speed and
    the Direct Drive and Back Gear Drive were controlled by a sliding Clutch, all running in oil. Production of the Eight Speed Geared Heads
    stopped in 1929 with the last units sold off in 1930. In 1922, Hendey introduced the EBM and in 1926 the Twelve Speed Geared Head lathe,
    both designs signaled the end of the old Eight and Nine Speed Geared Head Lathes. If I remember correctly, American Tool Works intro-
    ducted a Geared Headstock model about the same time as Hendey, circa 1907-1908.

    Hendeyman

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    I had an ancient Whitcomb-Blaisdell which was a gearhead.
    Had that crazy mushroom shaped stalk on the quick change gearbox so really cool.

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    And along the way they thought about multi-speed counter shafts up there on the ceiling. Booklet dated 1902
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails cat231a.jpg   cat231c.jpg   cat231d.jpg   cat231e.jpg  

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    L&S thought about getting rid of the big wide belt on the Patent Head and incorporating a multi speed motor along with some gearing. They could see right away that this wasn't the way to go about it. Scans from 1910 catalog. There was one of these creatures for sale years ago in Arkansas

    085.jpg

    087.jpg

    ph

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    LeBlond was in on the muti speed motor idea and basically boxed in a cone head, added a few gears and had this contraption

    F/S Big LeBlonde Lathe

    I guess this is still for sale

    Here is the scan PB refuses to show us

    1916_leblond2.jpg

    See the CRANK right end of apron? That selects motor speed

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    This is all quite interesting. When 2 opposing forces clash and don't mesh or conflict, something has to give. Hence there always must be, logic would dictate, an inherent weak link, something sacrificial, to protect the lions share of a design from breaking. A bit out of context for the moment, however, what are everybody's thoughts on the "Leblond Heavy Sixteen". How did this lathe measure up against say a Lodge and Shipley Or a Hendy in the same size range? John, What a monster for sure. Imagine moving that around a shop.

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    IIRC P&W advertised that their later-generation machines could be loaded down in a cut to the point of stalling and not be damaged. Its dramatic to talk about but hardly the only figure of merit. As Jeff_G pointed out above much of the need for gearheads, particularly those with a wide # of gear selections were needed to supply a greater range and finer selections of spindle speeds suited to the rapidly advancing cutting tool technology, not to mention per-machine electric motors instead of lineshafts. 1st gen gearheads still had lineshaft pulley options, but those designs rapidly disappeared.

    It was definitely a technology race by the 20's among the top level manufacturers. OTOH you could buy top-shelf conehead lathes well into the 40's so its not like those designs disappeared overnight though they were not maturing like the gearheads. I suppose motor retrofit options kept existing investments in conehead machines alive for quite a while.

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    This is one of the gear head styles shown in the LeBlond 1911 catalog

    17" Heavy Duty LeBlonde Lathe - tools - by owner - sale

    ph

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    Quote Originally Posted by steelsponge View Post
    however, what are everybody's thoughts on the "Leblond Heavy Sixteen". How did this lathe measure up against say a Lodge and Shipley Or a Hendy in the same size range? John, What a monster for sure. Imagine moving that around a shop.
    Not as heavy as L&S Model X, Probably more stout than the Hendey

    Here is an old one - you can tell by low top speed. I'd guess Forties

    Leblond heavy 16 lathe - tools - by owner - sale

    ph

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    While looking for information on old Parkinson bench vises, I came across the same company's early geared head lathes in a 1906 The Engineer article found on Grace's Guide.

    Parkinson milling machines are well known in British Commonwealth countries, they can still be found for sale and being used. Sometimes branded "Parkson".

    Note, all these photos are taken from Grace's Guide, see this page for more:

    J. Parkinson and Son - Graces Guide



    parkinson-1906-8.5-inch-geared-head-lathe-ex-gg-01.jpgparkinson-1906-8.5-inch-geared-head-lathe-ex-gg-02.jpgparkinson-1906-8.5-inch-geared-head-lathe-ex-gg-03.jpg

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    And the Parkinson 1906 11 inch geared head lathe, all images from Grace's Guide:



    parkinson-1906-11-inch-geared-head-lathe-ex-gg-01.jpg parkinson-1906-11-inch-geared-head-lathe-ex-gg-02.jpg parkinson-1906-11-inch-geared-head-lathe-ex-gg-03.jpg

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