"ITs A Baby" Axelson lathe
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  1. #1
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    Default "ITs A Baby" Axelson lathe

    This lathe was for sale for a long time, even on ebay, by one of the big dealers, for less then the cost of one of the better Jet bench lathes! It is hard for me to believe that many spend money on those things.
    Well, here it is, a 1941 14X30, actually 16X30, 5hp Baby Axelson engine lathe #1022 in just plain good condition, original paint.


    This is an early machine that does not have the pin-lock gear change levers, they are ball detent. Also, it does not have the device on the crossfade screw, that may be a threading stop? The headstock is noticeably shorter then later 14" models with pin-lock levers.
    I will have better photos tomorrow, the sun was behind the lathe.


    The Axelsons are direct drive, there are no belts, the 5hp motor is noticeably shorter then the 7.5 and up Axelson motors.
    The tailstock uses a gear rack on the quill, and has a 2 speed gear drive powered by the handwheel that is pulled straight out for low feed. There is no screw, its said the quill can be cranked straight out the back.



    The lathe came with a Mitutoyo DRO. I found, I can work a lathe better with a travAdial, and a 10ths indicator stop on the crosslide, faster then using a DRO and the flickering numbers, kink in the neck looking at the magic box! But, I will put it on another machine, really glad it was included!
    Photo here showing the early ball detent shift levers. The right hand levers center position, is neutral. When the spindle brake is working properly, the right lever has to be moved to center to rotate the chuck by hand.

    This early machine does not have tool steel insert ways, or chrome plated feed dials, very little slop in the screws.


    The gibs have not been adjusted inward much, if at all.
    I found there are some good "buy it now deals on ebay for tooling, I will later post what came up.

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  3. #2
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    That looks really nice. The pics make it look like all headstock.

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    There is another thread going from a fellow saving an Axelson from the scrap, that one is the 16X30-actual 18X30, the headstock on it looks like its eating the bed and carriage. For perspective the carriage is 26" long.
    There is not a whole lot of info on Axelson, I have read everything out there, and cant find a manual from the era of this machine. There was one at the local CC. A local retired fellow that worked in Cali, has considerable experience on the large Axelsons.
    Axelson, is in the group with Monarch, and the American, I think its not possible to say one is better then the other, they are just different in some ways from each other.

    The Axelson has a clutch, but its different in that, its a double acting clutch has a reversing shaft on one end.
    It works like this, the motor is started, when the clutch lever moved to forward, the hydraulic brake is released, the shipper clutch engages, the spindle is rolling.
    The clutch lever moved to neutral, the clutch disengages, the hydraulic brake applies, the spindle stops quickly.
    The clutch moved to reverse, the brake releases the clutch engages on the reversing shaft side and the spindle reverses.
    What is different from the others is, the machine reverses but the motor does not. Like and old truck, clutch, and reverse!

    The clutch access door above.

    The rear cover, with lots of room to compound change gears is a feature from the past, where the Monarchs and Americans that went to small totally enclosed compartments.
    The idler gear on the machines end train is 120tooth, making special leads and metric threads a bit easier, the idler gear on large machines is 127 tooth.
    A funny thing, on utube, the guys grind the gears trying to shift the headstock, with an out of adjustment clutch and brake, and the right hand lever still engaged ,its actually dangerous as can be seen in one video. So maybe others can describe their experiences also.

    I am starting this thread, and also will do one on the radial drill that was in the B&S mill thread, the radial drill is the priority right now.

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    I have a tiny bit of experience on an Axelson. I found that if the sump/filter was dirty, the oil pressure would be too low to operate the clutch easily. Clean system and easy clutch operation.

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    What a great find!

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    Here's a foldout that I had scanned several years back. To get it attached here, I had to shrink the file to a size that would be accepted here on PM. My original scanned file is over 18MB's big. Can't even email it! It does show the 14" size listed. I've seen one down here in my neck of the woods about 25 years ago. Have no clue if it is still around today. Ken
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails myscan_20110505_0003-copy-2-.jpg  

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    This nearly 80yr old machine is one of the few machines I bought that actually runs! By the way, the price was $3450, and it was on ebay for 6 months at least.
    I have been looking for some time for a smaller short bed gearhead lathe, and there have been many out there, such as the Monarch model 60/61 and others.
    I kept coming back to the Axelson, as there was some good points such as the gibs not adjusted far in, some small things like the carriage micrometer stop is still there, along with the tailstock wrench, the legend plates, and feed dials are not bashed up, mostly original paint, the dealer thankfully left it as is.
    The lathe appears to have been reasonably used all these years, but these things are known to be tough.
    The machine is dangerously top heavy, it appears on the later 14" models, the pedestal base under the headstock was increased in width, and from a 1941 price list states the price around $3200 the weight aabout 4300 lbs, and the later 1950s manual states the machine weighs 5200 lbs.
    Photos of later machines with the pin-locking shift handles to have a little longer headstock and wider base.
    The sun is really bright, but maybe the very narrow base under the headstock can be seen, the skid had to be cribbed to under the tray.



    The base flares out to just the 2X4s, and with the motor up high, it would be far too easy to dump this machine over.
    The machine has a KDK 200 tool post that fits the Axelson unusually well.
    In publications, the machine is said to be made of the best material possible 'Axloy".

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    Update this with some info, the machine was purchased new by The Foote-Burk Company in 1941.



    Extra tooling has been less costly then expected, this 12" Cushman solid 4jaw was on sale at HGR for $249. Other finds were buy it now on a Royal Quad Bearing live center, drills chucks including a Jacobs 20n for $135 all in very good condition, it has been awhile since I have seen good prices.

    My favorite direct mount D16 4jaw chuck,


    Old Muddy, needs a bit more cleaning, the taper attachment is hidden under covers, but still needs cleaning.

    Carla, described the Axelson as a machine that will work you, a little more then a Monarch, I think that is true.

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    I have same 14x30 Axelson, but made in 1951. Looks nearly identical, but has insert ways, crossfeed stop and 15HP motor instead of 5. I don't think they ever changed the width of the base. Mine has same narrow base, but a few hundred pounds more motor hanging off the back of headstock. Mine also weighs about 7500 lbs, not 5200.

    I have one of the latest greatest Pacemakers along side my Axelson. A 1967 14x102 with all the bells and whistles. The Axelson is a better machine. Nicer to use, controls are very intuitive on the Axelson. The spindle clutch/reverse system and tailstock on the Axelson are night and day better than the Pacemaker. From a quality of design/build standpoint the Axelson gets my vote hands down.

    I have a large lot of 50's Axelson literature I bought on ebay from a machine tool dealer quite awhile ago. Axelson occasionally mentions they used a special alloy in their machines. When you start cleaning it up I think you'll find that the castings don't look, feel, ring like typical gray iron.

    I also wish there was more Axelson history available.

    You will enjoy everything about the Axelson except how short the bed is.

  13. #10
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    The lathe is for a home shop and needs to be short. this machine actually weighs less then 5000lbs, it seems to weight what is stated in the 1941 price list at 4300lbs or so, as the skid, the very heavy Bison steel 12" 3jaw chuck, and other junk attached to the machine was weighed twice at very close to 5000 lbs.
    The later 14" with pin lock head shifters, from photos have a little different headstock casting, giving the spindle nose bearings a little more stand off.
    Somewhere they added a thousand pounds to later machines of this size, so this one is the itti bitti baby Axelson.
    In the advertisements the Company boasted of their own foundry, casting methods and alloys, the most important being "Axloy" of course. I was fortunate to get the original tailstock wrench, cast of Axloy.
    The standard cast bedways show little wear, same with the crosslide.
    Ok, so the gizmo on the crosslide dial is a threading stop on later machines?
    That is one thing I will miss. My machine has not cut screw threads in a very long time, and it appears, it has not cut many at all. The half nuts are stuck, but should free up with solvent and cleaning..

    The machine came with a DRO, but it looked like a transistor radio on the Mayflower, so I will use my favorite easy to use, and see Travadial, and a simple indicator for close adjustment of the crosslide when needed.
    Not much information on these lathes, there are a lot of them for sale pretty cheap, maybe I will get another.

    Maybe not so oddly, the California KDK 200 series toolpost seems to be more at home then the Aloris CXA. The crosslide is really wide and low, allowing 10" over the crosslide.

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    CXA is a little small. I use CA on mine.

    Do you have the apron clutch handle missing in your pictures? 2nd clutch handle is very useful when tapping and drilling with tailstock.

    Looked at your pictures again and not sure about original paint. The oil flow sights appear painted over in your pictures. I'd think the factory would have tried to keep those paint free.

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    The machine has been over painted in some areas, the sight glasses have bare aluminum bezels, with the glass stained dark, but oil still visible.
    the apron clutch handle is missing but, not sure if I need it, if so, I can fabricate one out of steel that would be hard to tell from the original, those are often removed for various reasons.
    This early machine has a different brand clutch, then a later one I may buy.
    So far, no one has posted a photo of the inside of the Axelson headstock that I can find.

    And..I found one posted here yeas ago,


    14" Axelson 24 speed headstock.
    Last edited by donie; 08-17-2020 at 09:28 PM.

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    Here is Axelson #594, 1927,

    My 1941, 14x30 is #1022
    There were not that many made, there seems to be many left.

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    Quote Originally Posted by donie View Post
    The machine has been over painted in some areas, the sight glasses have bare aluminum bezels, with the glass stained dark, but oil still visible.
    the apron clutch handle is missing but, not sure if I need it, if so, I can fabricate one out of steel that would be hard to tell from the original, those are often removed for various reasons.
    This early machine has a different brand clutch, then a later one I may buy.
    So far, no one has posted a photo of the inside of the Axelson headstock that I can find.

    And..I found one posted here yeas ago,


    14" Axelson 24 speed headstock.
    That's my picture.

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    I believe that is the only photo to be found on the internet, of the mysterious Axelson headstock interior.
    I was curious about the oil filter location, upper right corner showing two oil lines, and the rotating brake valve, top left.
    Thanks for posting that photo!

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    The older 24 speed headstocks only came equipped with the Cuno filter. At least, that's how dad's 16" Axelson was equipped. Later one's had some kind of canister type filter that I'm not familiar with. Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4GSR View Post
    The older 24 speed headstocks only came equipped with the Cuno filter. At least, that's how dad's 16" Axelson was equipped. Later one's had some kind of canister type filter that I'm not familiar with. Ken
    The Canister style is same filter used on 235 Chev six and old Hyster Forklift.

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    The lathe has the Cuno filter! Something I know nothing about, but will research the subject, and then maybe know what direction for the turn frequently?

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    The filters are expensive, one member here did this conversion,


    I discovered there is a Cuno on the Morris radial drill also. Apparently the filters "stack of thin metal disk" can be damaged easily, such as dropping it. Cleaning is described as disassembling and cleaning the disks individually.
    Nowhere to go except forward, I will try to stay with the Cuno filters if they are in good shape.

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    The filter area is clean, the machine was in recent use, and appears to have been reasonably maintained,functions like threading and the taper attachment have not been used in a very long time, are stuck, or packed with chips.
    I am finding information on the Axelson scarce as the B&S milling machines, but the quality of construction, and the use of needle, roller, or ball bearings on every shaft, I have not found a bronze bushing anywhere. So,in this nearly 80yr old machine, there is no slop in the hand wheels, and feed handles.
    I am really familiar with Monarch and American gear head lathes, this Axelson is right there with them but its a little different.
    Many years ago, Carla described the Axelson, as a machine that will work you a bit, I am finding that true, many things on this small 5hp machine are way overbuilt.
    It looks like some years ago, the machine was perhaps givin a face lift, where someone got into areas, the drive motor, carriage oil pump, and sealed it up sloppy with silicone, installed a Mitutoyo KA Dro, and a 12 1\2" Bison steel 3 jaw chuck, and used the machine moderately.


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