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Atlas Craftsman Lathe Questions

cbrims

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#1
I've found an old Atlas Craftsman lathe that my dad had for a lot of years that has a lot of rust and is missing a lot of things: motor and associated mounts, all the covers for the change gears and main belts, lead screw, and possibly other things/ I'm looking for opinions as to whether or not it's even worth trying to restore. I posted to another machinist forum before I even knew what kind of lathe it was, I didn't see any name and couldn't find the serial number plate, and apparently this type of lathe is banned there so I got no useful information out of them. I've uploaded a picture of the rust that's on the bed and the tailstock. Should I try to get this lathe into working order or look for a later model used lathe?

 

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pdentrem

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#2
Need better pictures and a sense of scale. Atlas made 6, 9, 10 and 12" lathes. On the inside of the bed will be a number that is cast in. For example 9-54. This will give us a bit of information right there on the type of lathe you have. All the parts will have casting numbers on them and they tell their story. Never fear there are no dumb questions here and we try to help everyone out.
Depending on what is left, it come down to selling off what you have but maybe there is that hidden box with what you need to complete the build.
Pierre
 

cbrims

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#3
I'll do some more sleuthing tomorrow and look for numbers and see if I can find anything else. I'll post some more pictures and information afterwards. Thank you for your help.
 

LeakyCanoe

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#4
I saw your post over on the other site (PM)...you have additional photos there and also describe that you seem to have parts from at least 2 different lathes...one looks like a relatively recent (1960's-1970's vintage) Craftsman 12 x 36 lathe, likely a model 3983 from one of the pics you showed the other forum, and the other is a Trucut armature lathe as you already know. It looks like your Dad was using the trunk of an old car for his parts "rat-hole" and there are lots of goodies in there for folks like us.

With all due respect you should provide full disclosure (all relevant detail + all photos) and then try to ask with some precision just what it is you are after. It's OK if one question leads to another. The quality of responses will be proportional to the investment you make in setting the thread up. Now, back to the mission at hand....

That is a big lathe in the overall Atlas suite of offerings. Most were much smaller and less robust. The rust you highlight on the parts is minimal...it will clean up well and pretty easily. The portion of the headstock in your one photo looks to be in great condition. The main issue is what all you have vs. what may be missing IMO. Here's a couple of pictures of what that lathe looks like in complete form (if my deduction is correct);

Atlas 3983.jpg


Atlas 3983 -2.jpg

Here's a good site with lots of detail on that lathe > http://www.lathes.co.uk/atlas/page4.html

In addition to researching that specific Atlas model you seem to have I also recommend you spend some time here searching various metal lathe re-build project threads and reading them to see what is possible and just what is involved. Also, if you rip that trunk apart and gather the Atlas parts you do have together and spend some proper time organizing them and laying them out for a series of photos you will get a host of educated responses as to what possibilities lie ahead and the cost/benefit and effort involved...until then it is mostly speculation.

Atlas lathes are pretty ubiquitous and were common machines. The parts you have are actively being sought by others so at the very least your efforts will be rewarded by getting you ready and educated on those for marketing purposes prior to any re-sell attempt if you choose to go that route (selling off the parts you do have).

I suspect that trunk is full of other surprises too from the teaser photos and that your Dad was squirrelling them away with some good purpose in mind. This forum and others will be invaluable to you in getting the baton passed over to you if you are willing to put the effort in to fulfill the potential that lies therein. Good luck on your quest.
 
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cbrims

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#5
I do have other pictures, I was going to wait to post better quality pictures, there was a lot of junk on the parts. Here are the other pictures I currently have. I didn't know about the casting numbers or anything. The cross slide controls seem to be in pretty bad shape, I didn't take a picture of that. I'll get some better pictures tomorrow.

The handles that change gears seemed sticky which is an easy fix, paint is an easy fix. I don't mind taking the time stripping the lathe down and building it back up, just going to wait to until I get more pictures up and get feedback before I do anything.




 

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LeakyCanoe

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#6
Ahhh....the slow reveal. No worries, it will come together over time . :encourage:

I see you have the quick-change gearbox. That is a nice addition and if you can't rebuild it in totality it will be easy to move on and will pull in some good coin for you. It's puzzling why the lathe was disassembled so much. They often get torn down a bit to lighten the load and facilitate a move but yours seems to be really broken down beyond the norm. You will need to pull everything out, get it organized, and do an inventory. Take some new pics of that and post them up here with your thoughts on it all...

The pics I posted earlier showed a model without the QC option. This pic taken from the site link in my last post upthread shows the lathe with that.

Atlas new.jpg
 

bill stupak

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#7
The gray parts seem to match the 12" model. The red piece is a lathe bed from a smaller model, probably a 6". Pictures of all the parts lined up would be helpful in identifying what you have and what you need.
 

pdentrem

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#8
I see lots of parts in those few pictures. Yes an inventory of what there is important.
Pierre
 

Randall Marx

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#9
Looks promising to me! If we were closer, I would love to help you get it together (or take if off of your hands if you don't want that much of an involved project). As it is, I and many others here who know much more that I do would all like to help you from a distance.
 

cbrims

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#10
I've got more pictures. I found the lead screw in a pile of steel to be junked, it has some surface rust but cleaned up with a wire brush, I put some light oil on it to keep it from rusting again. The bed is 54" long without anything on it. The plate on the end of the bed states it is model number 101.28910. There's a box I didn't take a picture of that has a few loose bolts, some wrenches, the chuck keys for the 3 and 4 jaw chucks, and a flat plate that can be bolted on where the chucks normally go. Sorry, I'm still not up on the terminology.

I've thrown in a picture of the Trucut with everything I've got for it.
 

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pdentrem

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#11
So far you are not missing too much. All the extremely hard or impossible to get and thus expensive ones, you have.
Pierre
 

cbrims

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#12
Based on the parts and operation manual I downloaded, it looks like I'm missing the guard assembly, the motor and associated brackets, and the horizontal countershaft assembly. Please, correct me if I'm wrong. I found a countershaft assembly on eBay for $150, does that sound reasonable?

Also, would going with a variable frequency drive be adventageous? I've heard of mills and lathes getting equipped with VFD, I don't know if that's all around a good thing to go with or some units work better with it than others.
 

LeakyCanoe

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#13
Now it's coming together for you.

I don't know your model all that well myself but I can see from the photos of other similar model lathes I posted upthread that there seems to be 2 drive system options. In the first set of pics you can tell that particular model has a bench-mounted countershaft drive assembly, although you can't see much of it at all...just the a portion of the one knob if you knew what you were looking for (instead it is easier to infer it because there is no drive system visible underneath the headstock in those photos so that is effectively ruled out.).

From the 2nd photo I copied from the weblink upthread you can see the cabinet style and the resultant undermount motor and drive assembly that you know is there. In that weblink the site describes that drive situation this way:

The stand-mounted lathe sat atop a neatly-constructed, 190 lb cabinet...that held a simple but robust under-drive countershaft with its pulleys overhung on 3/4"-diameter shafts from each side of bearings contained within central plumber blocks... Strangely, although the bench model had a single V-belt drive to the headstock, the underdrive model used two - a design that can often lead to trouble when worn or unmatched belts are used. If your 12-inch underdrive suffers from a noisy headstock, vibration or a poor finish on turned work, look first at the final drive to the headstock spindle and check (by putting a chalk line across them and running the lathe) that the two belts are exactly the same length. A solution - and one that saves having to dismantle the headstock and countershaft to replace the belts - is to use a modern T-link type.

I look at your nicely organized parts photos and I see what appears to be the described under-drive assembly. If so, you have what you need but for the motor choice and cabinet. If for some reason you want to go with a topside drive system then you know where one is and what it will cost you. That price doesn't offend me...when you decide to part out a lathe sometimes the decision is driven by the sum of the parts is worth more than the overall value of the machine itself. That's reality, and it presents a set of options for you if you were to decide on a different sized lathe or a different model altogether. Someone out there will be looking for most of your disassembled parts and you stand to get a good chunk of $ going that route if you were to so decide. I don't sponsor that (in fact I suggest it would be a shame in your situation now that we see just what all you have) but you can't ignore that potential monetization either. This is not a rare museum piece after all, and if that is your way to get you into a better suited machine faster then that may be the right call. Also consider completing this one and getting it up and running and learning on it and then flipping it on also. With the QC gearbox and those nice new looking chucks you will have some very desirable features to lure in a potential buyer. You could package up what you have now and list in here for sale online and get plenty of informed interest. That potential new buyer might want to make the call on the motor, going VFD or not, and other such decisions.

Do some more study online and you'll get lots of ideas...do some searching on the merits of VFD systems and let that research that will flow forth influence you as to motor choice. What you asked in your last post has been asked many, many times before and those searched threads will re-emerge as a study guide for your own application here. Ask yourself what you want to do with a decently large screwcutting metal lathe and also read up on how to run a lathe and all the accompanying tooling that you will need and how much space you will need for this machine in complete running form, etc., etc.

You're well on your way now and have the wind at your back it would appear. Before you mostly lies choices, not problems that must be solved. Self-education will guide you and we are here for you as a sounding board. Keep us informed, take your time (things are moving very fast for you now at the moment), share your choices and why with us to take us along vicariously with you on the ride and ideally bring us some ultimate closure in due course if possible. Most importantly remember to pay it back someday to someone in in a similar situation to you down the road. :encourage:
 
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LeakyCanoe

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#15
Also, you might want to park any further discussion on that armature lathe for now and someday start a separate thread on that...just a suggestion.
 

cbrims

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#16
LeakyCanoe, thank you for the information, it's helping me put together this lathe mentally. I saw the T-link belts somewhere else and I'm pretty sure I'll be going with that for the speed change belt as taking apart the headstock to change a belt sounds like more of a pain than it's worth to use a straight V belt.

I was a little confused with how the spindle gears were driven but then saw the part listed in picture 20170406_083336.jpg above and see what you're talking about with the 2 different drive systems. I have a feeling my dad may have purchased this used and did a little rigging, that would explain why I'm missing the guard assembly, motor, and the countershaft assembly. This would make it an 8 speed lathe instead of the factory 16 speed. I'm not really sure where the substitute countershaft assembly would have been mounted, possibly some bracket that was misplaced like the lead screw was. For safety, I'm thinking I should revert this lathe back to factory with the guard assembly.

I'm interested in rebuilding this lathe and learning machining as a hobby. I realize this is a pretty large lathe for home machining, but beyond that, (I realize this is a pretty general question) is there anything this lathe lacks that I might regret not looking elsewhere?

I just posted the armature lathe for posterity, I'm not really into woodwork so I probably won't be doing anything with it. At some point I'll probably post another thread and see if there's interest in it.

In the mean time, I'm going to start looking at lathe rebuild threads and see what all I'm getting myself into.
 

LeakyCanoe

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#17
Yikes..squirrel alert ! you are hi-jacking your own thread now with the side-bar on the armature lathe and I can't put that genie back in the bottle so I'll chime in before someone else does.

That machine has nothing to do with woodworking...it was used for rebuilding electric motors !

Here's the link for another self-education journey...

http://www.lathes.co.uk/frankwood/

Slow down please...read up more...as I've said repeatedly here I suggest you now proceed to learn about what features makes each lathe different...learn about lathe processes and tooling..less general advice questions until you feel tapped out yourself in the search. Keep them as specific as possible, and preferably related to this machine itself in this here sub-forum. There are new threads you can start about general intro machining under appropriate sub-forums...study the way this site (and the others on machining) are structured and why and respect that and the members who frequent them.

With all due respect, how is anyone who has not met you or know you supposed to anticipate your later regret when you don't even know yourself yet what you might want out of a metal lathe ? Will you be turning long stock and need rests, for eg. ? Do you need collets and a drawbar for smaller turnings ? What kind of cutting tooling and toolpost are you going to want to use ? Will you be doing threading ? What is your budget for all this ? Those answers are all online for your own self-discovery and will overlay the choices you have ahead as to this Atlas and it's fate.
 

cbrims

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#18
Sorry, I looked up that Trucut lathe and apparently came across the wrong site and it mentioned woodworking so I put it aside. The entirety of my last post wasn't about the Trucut lathe, it was a mistaken side comment, but the response was all about that.

I was asking for general thoughts/opinions anyone might have on this lathe. Maybe it's great for threading but sucks at absolutely everything else for 1 reason or another. Or they work better in one area than another.

This is an inherited lathe to which I have no knowledge of why it's missing major pieces or what it might or might not be capable of. I'm trying to learn because I know there have been projects I've done in the past that I've needed to cut something down to a smaller rod and my only option was a file or grinder.
 
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pdentrem

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#19
The Atlas/Craftsman lathe are good lathes! Don't let bashers taint your thoughts. There are people out there that make stuff on even lighter lathes! To find a comparable look at PM-1030V, it is the closest lathe that has the same basic features and it is smaller than what you have. Forget about the variable speed for the moment. The PM-1030 is missing the full feed/thread capable gearbox and to get that you have to look at a much more expensive lathe. You might not take a 0.100" depth of cut in steel like a big 1660 with 10 hp and a dull bit, but neither are you trying to make money!

Just remember that you don't have a lemon so you don't have to make lemonade!
Pierre
 

Scott.S

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#20
I restore vintage woodworking machinery both as a hobby and occationally a money maker. To me, a metal lathe is one of those " I don't use it often but when I need it I really need it" machines. Some enjoy restoring old iron, some get a lathe and spend most of their time making accessory items for the lathe. Some actually are productive with them.
Restoring it not only results in a nice machine ( as long as you don't wind up with a box of parts you forgot where they go) but also you know your machine inside and out. Atlas is a nice machine for learning and some pretty nice work can be done on them so dig in, get your hands dirty and enjoy. Good luck.
 

mephits

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#21
The 12" Atlas/Craftsman lathe you have there is definitely the bench-mount, not the underdrive model. The underdrives had only two pulleys on the spindle shaft and both were the same diameter. (See the photo >here< on Tony's lathes.co.uk website.) The speed-change pulleys were mounted below the top of the cabinet. Your spindle has the four speed-change pulleys on it so it would have had the motor mounted behind on the countershaft assembly you noted above as absent. You will, indeed, need that assembly to run the lathe. As my Craftsman 12" is currently apart I can take photos of the countershaft assemby, should you need them.
 
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markba633csi

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#22
Of course, you don't need to use that exact countershaft unit, you could make your own. Or you could use one from another model lathe. Mephits is correct.
Atlas gets a bad rap on the pro machinists web sites but don't listen to those turkeys. It's a fine lathe for what it is. Just look at the prices they command.
Mark S.
ps a lot of those "pros" aren't really.
 
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bobshobby

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#23
I've got more pictures. I found the lead screw in a pile of steel to be junked, it has some surface rust but cleaned up with a wire brush, I put some light oil on it to keep it from rusting again. The bed is 54" long without anything on it. The plate on the end of the bed states it is model number 101.28910. There's a box I didn't take a picture of that has a few loose bolts, some wrenches, the chuck keys for the 3 and 4 jaw chucks, and a flat plate that can be bolted on where the chucks normally go. Sorry, I'm still not up on the terminology.

I've thrown in a picture of the Trucut with everything I've got for it.
Looks like you have a pretty near complete lathe there, and for the most part the rust is not really very serious. The worst bit would seem to be the controls on the saddle. I would suggest carefully strip it down and try the electrolysis process for rust removal (describes elsewhere on this forum). Apparently it removes all rust without damaging the remaining metal. Most other parts look like they will clean up nicely. The two chucks appear to be in excellent condition, as does the quick change gear box, even the bed ways should clean up fairly well. A great project if that is what you are looking for. I'd say go for it.
 

4gsr

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#24
I've found an old Atlas Craftsman lathe that my dad had for a lot of years that has a lot of rust and is missing a lot of things: motor and associated mounts, all the covers for the change gears and main belts, lead screw, and possibly other things/ I'm looking for opinions as to whether or not it's even worth trying to restore. I posted to another machinist forum before I even knew what kind of lathe it was, I didn't see any name and couldn't find the serial number plate, and apparently this type of lathe is banned there so I got no useful information out of them. I've uploaded a picture of the rust that's on the bed and the tailstock. Should I try to get this lathe into working order or look for a later model used lathe?

That's one of the reasons this forum was created was to allow people with these machines post here and get the answers they need without getting ridiculed for asking. I saw your posting on the other forum and the idiot remarks made. Was totally uncalled for. That's why I'm over here and not there anymore. Please stay and enjoy playing with us here on H-M Forum. Ken
 

cbrims

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#25
So I've got the headstock completely stripped, that was a challenge with the 30+year old grease gluing everything together, had to get out some gear pullers to remove both gears on the spindle shaft.

Now that it's all cleaned up, I need to lube it all before assembly. There are oilers for the bearings but from other searches and experience working on old cars, the bearings should be packed with grease. So do I just oil these bearings or pack them with grease and not oil them? Also, I had the saddle and cross slide apart a little bit, I don't understand how the pipe cleaner oilers are supposed to be situated. Any pointers on the pipe cleaners?
 

pdentrem

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#26
You need spindle oil SAE 20 Non detergent, not grease. It is an open system so the oil falls out. Oil the spindle on start up and add oil from time to time. Mine was missing the apron oilers so I just added oil through the holes. The oil should run down the small tube if it is still there, to the miter gear.
Pierre
 

Silverbullet

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#27
Welcome to the site. Your lathe is and will be great for your needs , they're used as milling , slotting, even to make dials with graduations cut. It's amazing some of the work turned out by little atlas LATHES. Ck out Mr Pete on YouTube his favorite lathe. Take your time clean and repair as needed. Good luck with her, wish someone left me one like that.
 

cbrims

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#28
I will pick up some spindle oil and continue with my restoration. I've been able to pick up most of the missing pieces; Tthe screw for one of the chuck's jaw is boogered up, another thread about that gave me a lot of different ideas on how to solve that problem. It's taking time to clean up but it's fun, I love taking apart equipment and seeing what makes it tick.

The woodruff key for the spindle bull gear is kind of a PITA, but I figured it out and with a slight application of oil, it shouldn't get stuck, should I need to remove it later.

As to the other forum, I don't really understand the "professional machines only" mentality.

Thanks for all the great information and I'll start taking pictures of the after steps.
 

bobshobby

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So I've got the headstock completely stripped, that was a challenge with the 30+year old grease gluing everything together, had to get out some gear pullers to remove both gears on the spindle shaft.

Now that it's all cleaned up, I need to lube it all before assembly. There are oilers for the bearings but from other searches and experience working on old cars, the bearings should be packed with grease. So do I just oil these bearings or pack them with grease and not oil them? Also, I had the saddle and cross slide apart a little bit, I don't understand how the pipe cleaner oilers are supposed to be situated. Any pointers on the pipe cleaners?

pipe cleaner oilers work by siphon, the pipe cleaner should hang into a small cup or container of oil on the outside of the oil tube and also hang down into the tube a little longer than on the outside, you can vary the flow rate by adjusting the difference in the length. When the machine is not running lift them up so they stop dripping and when you start running the machine put a few drops of oil into the oil tube and set the pipe cleaners or wicks into the tubes and top up the small oil cup. It's a bit of trial and see to get the right amount of oil, but too much is better than not enough, just messy and a waste of oil.

I have seen wicks made from a couple of strands of wool lightly twisted with a thin piece of copper wire to hold its shape. just make sure the wire does not touch the running shaft.
 

cbrims

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#30
pipe cleaner oilers work by siphon, the pipe cleaner should hang into a small cup or container of oil on the outside of the oil tube and also hang down into the tube a little longer than on the outside, you can vary the flow rate by adjusting the difference in the length. When the machine is not running lift them up so they stop dripping and when you start running the machine put a few drops of oil into the oil tube and set the pipe cleaners or wicks into the tubes and top up the small oil cup. It's a bit of trial and see to get the right amount of oil, but too much is better than not enough, just messy and a waste of oil.

I have seen wicks made from a couple of strands of wool lightly twisted with a thin piece of copper wire to hold its shape. just make sure the wire does not touch the running shaft.
So the pipe cleaner oiler on the apron should just be filled with a little bit of oil every time the lathe is used and it just siphons all the oil onto the lead screw? The manual shows like the pipe cleaner might go under the lead screw, but that doesn't sound correct, should it be positioned to have the end drip oil right onto the lead screw right next to the auto feed gear box?