Taylor & Fenn lathe - mystery machine
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  1. #1
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    Question Taylor & Fenn lathe - mystery machine

    Hi all,

    I'm considering the purchase of a Taylor & Fenn Co lathe. It appears to be about a 12x36-ish machine, but I forgot to actually measure it.
    I took lots of photos when I inspected it today, but until I can get some idea of what on earth I'm looking at, I don't know if it's something I should buy or not. It appears to have some rather odd features (ie. very long overhang on the top slide), but is overall in pretty decent condition. The ways look very clean, no dings or other damage, the bed appears true, no rust visible, etc...

    Here's the CL ad, with a couple photos: lathe industrial - tools - by owner - sale
    I can provide more images if they will help anyone.

    My main questions are:
    Roughly how old is the machine?
    What capabilities/features does it have (or not have)? For ex, I can see no lead screw, so I assume no threading, right?
    Does it appear to be worth the asking price to those of you with much more expertise in these things than I?

    I'll do my best to answer any questions you might have about it.

    thanks in advance,
    -E

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    PASS ! That looks to be a "Production" lathe set up to run the same part for a long period. Among other things don't see a reasonably quick/easy way to vary the spindle speed. No power feed of the cross slide etc. And you are correct no threading.

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    Good point. There's a tiny switch on the base that offers a High/Med/Low motor speed, effectively giving it 3 "gears" without swapping out pulley ratios, which are inside the housing.
    Is the cross slide the same as the top slide? If so, then I agree that I didn't see a way to power it.
    Any idea what that strange 2-lobed knob is on the lower right of the saddle? It unscrews like you can just take it off, but doesn't appear to "operate" in any way that I can tell. It turns when the feed shaft is engaged.
    I don't see that this is any sort of upgrade to my old Jet 1236PS, other than being made a bit more solidly, but I'm intrigued by old iron, and this is a bit of a weird one...

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    Taylor & Fenn made their name in foundry work (Successor to Phoenix Iron Works) and in drilling/milling machines.

    NO mention anywhere online of a T&F lathe - although obviously they must have made at least one. I would put this one between the two world wars based on styling, and possibly closer to WWII.

    I think you surmise correctly about the threading capability, that feature should it be missing would be enough for me to rule this out.

    It does seem sturdy though. You might inquire to the owner if there is some hidden aspect of this lathe which allows it to cut thread in a traditional single point manner?

    I would guess $800 a little high if threading is not present. In fact $800 a little high even if threading IS present. Many South Bends are asked to sell at $800 but I think many still don't as worthy a general purpose lathe as that brand might be.

    A "Usable" lathe I might put at $500. This seems have only one chuck, maybe a oouple tools(?), steady rest(?), travel rest(?) Faceplate(?). Buying each or any of these will amount to REAL money in a short time. It is not unusual to spend as much for the tooling as you might spend for a somewhat tool deficient lathe itself. Or more.

    "Plug & Play" is worth something and this one obviously is. But I think you need to talk to the owner, see what comes with it, how is the access/removal (if it's in a basement and up a flight of stairs for removal that might be enough to look elsewhere.)

    He says he's no machinist - but his shop belies that statement. He may not be career, but I imagine he has some interest and knowledge.

    Question EVERYTHING. This one is unlikely to rush out his door so time is in your favor.

    Joe in NH

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    Thanks Joe!
    I spoke at some length to the owner. He's correct when he says he's no machinist. He only bought it about a year ago, to use in turning simple bushings and things for the work he does on cars. If you'd seen the rest of his shop (I have), you'd realize that this is the only machine tool in there, and it's not even fully set up.
    I totally agree that it's probably not worth my time and money. Other than being a big of a historical oddity, it's not much in the features dept.
    It comes with none of the accessories you mention, only the 3-jaw chuck, and some really hokey homemade-looking toolpost. He does have the original (?) lantern-type tool post as well, but that's not saying much.
    I think it's best if I just let him find someone else who wants it more. It's a shame, since it's clearly a well-made piece of equipment, and it's going to waste sitting inside the roll-up door of his shop doing nothing.

    Around this area, any sort of metalworking machines are few and far between. I've been looking for a mill for over 10 years now, and haven't found anything that not either criminally overpriced, or trashed, or both.
    Thanks to those who provided suggestions and advice! I knew this was the place to get a straight answer.
    If anyone wants to continue talking about this machine, or wants to see more photos, I'm game.

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    Any idea what that strange 2-lobed knob is on the lower right of the saddle? It unscrews like you can just take it off, but doesn't appear to "operate" in any way that I can tell. It turns when the feed shaft is engaged.
    I'd guess clutch for power longitudinal feed - apparently the ONLY feed it has (no power cross feed)

    Like the majority of PRODUCTION lathes, very little in the way of versatility. It was made to do one or a few things well at the very least cost

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    Very likely could be, but if so, it's stuck or broken. We've only been able to engage the feed shaft by moving it over manually.
    I've never heard of a production lathe before, but the description makes sense.

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    IMO this would be a good lathe for a CNC shop for deburing parts, polishing, and all the other little simple things that might take place while the other machines are doing their thing.

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    True.
    Well, the ad is up top if anyone else is interested. I'm not going to buy it.


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