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Atw Lathe - Question About Transmission / Gearbox

Discussion in 'AMERICAN TOOL WORKS' started by LeakyCanoe, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. LeakyCanoe

    LeakyCanoe Canada Active Member Active Member

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    hi there,

    I had occasion to buy a vintage ATW lathe last year that was a steady runner in a home basement shop until the machinist who owned it passed away. It came with lots of tooling and was plug & play. I had to dismantle it a tad to remove it from the shop and I have it stored currently while I get my own new shop space organized so as to get it placed in and functional again.

    Below are some photos I took as I was preparing to remove the lathe. I have secured some reference manuals and stuff online but if anyone else has anything to link me to that would be appreciated also. This machine is around 100 years old already.

    ATW 3.jpg ATW 4.jpg ATW 5.jpg ATW.jpg ATW 2.jpg

    My question relates to the gearbox arrangement utilized here. I have seen similar set-ups on old machines and some of them were transmissions from old automobiles or farm equipment..I suspect that is what I have here. Can anyone give me a positive ID from the pics provided ?

    Also, can anyone give me some pointers on using this rig effectively ? While I don't have access to view it again right at the moment I believe it is a simple 3 speed forward and one reverse, all in a "H" pattern tranny.

    Practically, what would I be looking at doing with it in tandem with the 4 speed cone pulley at the headstock and the quick-change gearbox so as to be using it properly and effectively ?

    Thanks in advance !
     
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  2. John Hasler

    John Hasler United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Lovely machine.

    You can't use the step pulley in combination with the transmission as far as I can see: there's no obvious way to shift the motor/transmission assembly over. The electric motor conversion does not look shop-made. Perhaps a conversion kit from the manufacturer? The motor looks old enough. Does the machine have back gears (looks like it)? If so you may not need the flat-belt step pulley to get adequate speed range. You could also add step pulleys to the motor and transmission.

    The machine looks so pretty as-is that I'd hate to make any changes.
     
  3. LeakyCanoe

    LeakyCanoe Canada Active Member Active Member

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    thanks John, yes - I recall that it has back gears. I also agree that machine likely was designed for a flat belt application run off a line shaft and that later on this was converted to an electric motor...I'd think the large cast arm and motor base could well be an accessory offered by ATW at some point and it seems made for the machine, although I suppose it could be arranged to mount on many other large lathes from that era too.

    I saw that there's no practical way to change belt alignment in the configuration as is and therefore the belt stays on the one largest step of the cone...I guess you just shift gears using the tranny instead of changing the belt over...I will need to play with it I suppose to get used to the overall rig.

    I was pretty smitten with the machine and it comes with lots of extra goodies like multiple faceplates and dogs, both rests, taper attachment, and tooling galore. I'm indeed reluctant to play around with it much unless absolutely needed. It's tagged as coming from Windsor, Ontario originally so perhaps was somehow connected to the auto industry as that was in it's infancy. It was found up along Georgian Bay in a town that once had a significant ship-building presence servicing the Great Lakes and I know the prior owner worked in that industry as a machinist. I suspect he acquired the lathe using his connections as that industry went into decline. I was lucky enough to also get a large amount of large brass turning stock that he had squirrelled away so will have some good fun ahead of me when I get this set-up and figured out properly once again.
     
  4. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Congrats on your new lathe! That looks like a High Duty, very similar to mine, but a bit newer since the lead screw isn't on the inside.
     
  5. f350ca

    f350ca Canada Active User Active Member

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    Nice Lathe!
    Won't say for sure but that transmition doesn't look automotive to me. The lugs that the motor plate mount to look like part of the casting and the point where the belt tensioner are mounted wouldn't be on an automotive one. Hard to tell from the photo but the input and output shafts don't appear to be in alignment, they always are on any transmission I've ever seen. Also automotive transmitions I've seen are either top or side load to get the gears in and out. This one must come apart from the ends. Oh another point that just came to mind, automotive transmitions aren't designed to take any side load, this one must have internal bearings to carry the belt tension, hence the staggered input and output shafts.
    Neat find.
    Greg
     
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  6. f350ca

    f350ca Canada Active User Active Member

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    Another thing I just noticed. If its single phase, its probably an repulsive/induction motor. Neat old design, they used brushes and a comutator to short sections of the armature to create a high torque on start up. Once up to speed a centrifugal system shorted all the armature and lifted the brushes. They draw very little current on startup and create far more starting torque than a capacitor start motor. Apparently they were developed for and used on elevators. I have one on my shaper. They have a distinctive sound on startup with the brushes, then go silent once they lift.

    Greg
     
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  7. LeakyCanoe

    LeakyCanoe Canada Active Member Active Member

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    Thanks guys for the feedback. I'm inclined to agree Greg that the transmission is likely made for that application and wasn't re-purposed from something else as I first thought. That's a pretty cool thought.

    Now I'm wondering if the entire bracket arm, etc. was made specifically for ATW or if it was a more generic piece that was was sold for all makes of big lathes back in the day. The green paint on this rig is not original...it has been re-painted for sure. The original colour was a dark shade from what I could see when we moved the lathe...I wasn't able to examine the cast bracket for the vertical arm then and see if it matches the body of the lathe or not.
     
  8. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    It may have been a kit. Probably not uncommon in the day for people putting line shaft equipment into solo service.
     
  9. 4gsr

    4gsr Global Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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  10. benmychree

    benmychree United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    That is obviously a factory made conversion for lineshaft machines; I have seen several makes of them, such as Drive All and Lima Drive and others that I do not know the name of; Years ago, I had a gear drive version of the 14"high Duty American lathe, and later bought a 30" High Duty, both with Bronze bearing spindles, which dated from 1916 and 1919 respectively. I was pleasantly surprised that 40 year or so, ago, I was able to buy spare parts for the 14" (half nuts) and later replaced most of the gearing in the headstock; made patterns, had casting made and machined all the parts in my shop; both machines are still in use in the area. A friend imported the 30" from Pennsylvania back in the 1950s, said the dealer had 20 of them alike and also nearly 20 in 36" swing, apparently from a railroad locomotive shop that was converting to diesels. Nicest thing about the high Duty was the all vee ways, very long wearing and adapted to heavy cuts; the style was continued for many years until they came out with the Pacemaker series, which also had all vee ways, but with an improved transmission with one joystick and one lever to change speeds and also rapid travel and direct measuring for length via a graduated dial on the carriage handwheel. The larger sizes had rapid travel on the cross feed as well, which saved a lot of time. They were very smooth running; the ones that I ran in my apprenticeship were 16 and 26" swing, and had hardened replaceable bed ways for the carriage. They dated from the mid 1950s.
     
  11. Tony Wells

    Tony Wells United States Vice President Staff Member Administrator

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    I had what appears to be the same lathe, but shop converted and not in such nice shape. Mine had a really noisy 4 speed shop built transmission. I might have a pic somewhere. I ran out of room when I added other machines and gave it to a friend, who ended up sitting it outside. Ruined a perfectly good 4 jaw. Mine was a 20" swing by about 40" between centers. I did pull the 10hp 3ph motor off it. When I saw it sitting outside over at his shop, he kept telling me he had someone wanting to buy it and would split it with me. That never happened. One day when I went by there and he wasn't there, I decided he was going to scrap it, so I took the glass oilers off the headstock. Didn't figure it would make the scrappers any difference. That's all I have left of it. Kind of sad, really.

    I'd be a little cautious of running it very fast. Mine was mfg circa 1913 I was able to determine, and of course that was long before anyone needed carbide speeds. However, whoever converted mine set it up to run about 1200 rpm at the top end and the bearings, even though they were not at all tight, still got hotter than I was comfortable with. I tried different lubes, but nothing really suited the higher spindle speeds.

    I take that back, it had a Trav-a-dial on it....I took it off before I gave it away.

    Use it hard as you want otherwise....it's a tough machine. I cut lots of threads and made lots of big blue chips with mine.....and made money. It was my first business machine. Well, next to a Unimat I toyed with back in 79 lol.
     
  12. benmychree

    benmychree United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    The High Duty American lathes were a good example of a well designed lathe with the capability to use high speed steel to its full potential, especially the gear head version, and yes, 1,200 RPM was way too fast for a machine that size. I ran my 14" up to its maximum rated speed of 390 rpm , and it was plenty fast for most work and used carbide tools as necessary. Also, I built a coolant pan and system that allowed it to be fairly productive.
    It was eventually replaced with a 19" Regal Leblond from 1943; it should not have been surprising that it had much less chatter doing similar jobs than the American. I still have the Leblond; it is my go to machine for nearly all work. Recently I acquired a small lathe, a Monarch 12 X 36" cone drive quick change on floor legs with its original countershaft for lineshaft drive. Surprisingly, for its age, it has nearly no evidence of any wear. I am now in the process of making steady and follow rests and large and small faceplates from patterns that I made and sent to the foundry a few weeks ago.
     
  13. bobshobby

    bobshobby Australia H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    A beautiful piece of history. It would be a pity to change anything. I agree with others that while it can most likely handle heavy work it was not built for carbide use and would be much better staying with HSS.

    During my apprenticeship, early 1960's I used quite a few older machines, mostly built before WW2, including a Macson lathe with plain bearings, it had a top speed of 390 RPM. It was quite accurate once I got used to it.

    We also had a 1903 Acme Gridley cam operated lathe on the production line. This machine was a monster, and it never stopped.

    I don't recall any of our machines using automotive gearboxes, but some of my mates worked in shops that did, including one that had a planer running an old Ford model T gearbox.
     
  14. benmychree

    benmychree United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    The Lima Drive conversion used a transmission that was direct connected to the motor; I was told that its transmission was based on a Model A Ford trans, except with four speeds and no reverse. I have one 3 hp. 3 phase that is unused; anyone out there interested?
     
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  15. bobshobby

    bobshobby Australia H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Not sure how they would have made an A model into a 4 speed and no reverse. the Ford "A" was a standard H pattern 3 speed with reverse, the reverse was opposite 1st gear. I guess anything is possible but not sure how it would have worked.
     
  16. bobshobby

    bobshobby Australia H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I've just done a bit of research and yes it does appear that the Lima drive was based on the Ford A model gearbox. and the reverse idler was removed and somehow they got 4 speeds out of it. couldn't find any info on the how. but there you go.
     
  17. benmychree

    benmychree United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    That was what I was told many years ago, do not know if true.
     
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  18. bobshobby

    bobshobby Australia H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Well yes, it does appear to be true, I'm still trying to figure out how they did it. I understand that the reverse idler gear was removed, so to make the reverse sliding gear mate with its corresponding gear on the lower shaft, either or both of the gears would need to be larger in dia. If it was the sliding gear that was made larger then it would create an extra gear even lower than the standard first gear. maybe some one on here knows how it was done and why.
     

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