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The beast of Syracuse- Mulliner Enlund lathe

jhuston

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#1
This is the story of Millicent the metal lathe, and how I came to be her current caretaker. My name is James, and for well over a decade I've been an avid collector of Porter Cable products,;specifically the tools, stationary and portable, that the company made from 1906 to 1960 when they became part of Rockwell. In their heyday, P.C. was a very forward thinking company, introducing concepts like the first handheld belt sander and the original helical geared circular saw. However, the company really got started in the world of tools with metal working machinery, especially lathes, and I've been on the hunt for one for years.

Unfortunately the line of lathes didn't make it past the 1930's and were relatively specialized; their main product, the carbo-lathe, is a second operation machine with no provision for threading. All is not lost though, as Porter Cable had one conventional engine lathe in their lineup, and now I have one.

Porter Cable bought the Mulliner Enlund company of Syracuse, New York in the spring of 1919. Mulliner had two basic machines, a 12" and a 14" available in different bed lengths., which Porter Cable produced for about another ten years before shifting focus to abrasive finishing machines. I use a metal lathe primarily to make parts for tool restorations, and had quickly outgrown a rather ratty old South Bend 9" and upgraded to an excellent Sheldon 10" when I posted a want to buy ad on OWWM for a Mulliner Enlund; to my surprise, I quickly received a response from another member, a gifted machinist in his own right, who incredulously asked if I really had my heart set on such a specific lathe and told me he had one in storage that he had outgrown in his work. He gave me a deal that a scrap dealer would have jumped on and the lathe was mine after finding a buyer for the Sheldon ( which wasn't hard. It really was a peach of a lathe). The only problem was the lathe was in Indiana, but a few fellow members were gracious enough to help break down the lathe, load up all the parts and bring it to Ohio, no mean feat as the move required two full size trucks!

The lathe in question turned out to be the largest the company built, with a 14" swing and a 6' bed. The Mulliner was (in its day) quite modern, with longitudinal and cross feed as well as a quick change gearbox that has 37 feed speeds, not bad for a machine a few years newer than the RMS Titanic .


The lathe has weathered the past hundred years quite well, with the most serious issue being a stripped gear that was fixed with a call to Martin gear and a bit of machining. Otherwise the lathe needed a good bath and some strategic welding/brazing. Power is provided from an early General Electric three phase, three hp motor via a modified South Bend overhead drive from a 15" metal lathe installed some time during the 1930's so as to free the old girl from needing a lineshaft. the addition of the new drive has bumped up the weight to approximately 2,600 lbs, not in American Pacemaker class but not exactly flimsy. There wasn't much in the way of tooling that came with the lathe, but with the help of another HM member I will be expanding her repitoire. Accuracy with the period D E Whiton three jaw chuck is more than adequate for the type of work I do, and everything operates as it should.

I have a basement shop. as fellow sufferers can attest, it tends to limit what machines you can have. The Mulliner went down the stairs with the exception of the ways, which had to be taken in through the window with the help of an engine hoist and a lot of cribbing. As for how to get it back out, well, I plan on being dead by then, because this elegant old lady and I are going to be together for a long,long time.





-James Huston
 

FOMOGO

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#2
That's a lovely piece of machinery you have there. Congrats on your acquisition. Cheers, Mike
 

core-oil

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#3
What a lovely & good item of American Iron you have there James the nice thing about your item is you strike me as being a custodian of this lovely lathe & cares it has lasted in its original state all its days, I always find it sad when someone takes a nice old machine and changes the drives "Just to be modern & up to date" & by reason of their retro-fitting it ends up 50% less efficient and its soul has gone.
 

jhuston

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Thank you both; core-oil, I'm something of a purist when it comes to restoring a machine and I am forever hunting for old pulleys and electrical components for some piece of equipment or the other in order to put a machine back the way it was. This lathe has gotten by with it's current system for the better part of eighty years and I see no need to change it ( no DRO's for this glorious old lathe).
-James
 

core-oil

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Thank you both; core-oil, I'm something of a purist when it comes to restoring a machine and I am forever hunting for old pulleys and electrical components for some piece of equipment or the other in order to put a machine back the way it was. This lathe has gotten by with it's current system for the better part of eighty years and I see no need to change it ( no DRO's for this glorious old lathe).
-James
Brilliant James, A man after my own heart! When one looks at these fine old machines One can see the individualiity of the designer woven into its design, They could by virtue of having in those days there own foundry, manufacture machines with nice sweeping shapes, which were really pleasing to the eye, I think that looking at your machine her crowning glory is in still retaining her cone pulleys, and countershaft with matching cone as well,, When one see's "modernisation" where some one has ripped out the cone and repaced it with a vee pulley , It is as though they have ripped the heart out of the machine.

I still have two lathes with cone drives, As long as I am about they will stay as manufactured also (like your own approach) your lathe looks to me to have been designed in its age , as a fine toolroom or light production machine , Nowadays by virtue of modern requirements, fabricated cabinets & guards etc, All machiines look square and with a sameness about them.
 

Dave Paine

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#6
Nice lathe and good story. I did not appreciate Porter Cable ever made lathes so I learned something. Thanks.
 

kdecelles

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#8
Fantastic! I have a Von Wyck circa 1908. I spend more time marvelling at the craftsmanship and capability that they managed at that time than I do using it


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

jhuston

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Thank you all! The Mulliner is long on looks, I think. The only problem is the Burke #4 next to it looks even smaller than it actually is. Porter Cable has always been primarily known as a manufacturer of high end woodworking power tools, especially sanders,routers and circular saws ( of which I own many- about 40 circular saws alone). However, they were also a major manufacturer of abrasive finishing machines ( I have eight of their stationary sanders) and even delved into the gas powered world with lawn tractors, riding mowers and chainsaws ( an example of each take up most of my garage- told you I was an avid collector). I'd love to lay hands on a carbo-lathe, but I'm not sure where it would live in the shop.
Photos to come.
-James Huston
 

markba633csi

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#12
Nice old lathe, looks like a serious saw collection there too
Now I see why you have so many electric motors in pieces :cupcake:
Mark
ps my mom's name is Millicent and I have a brother named James
 

jhuston

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Thanks , Mark. The motors are something I restore to help fund the shop. At any given time, I have about a dozen motors in varying stages of completion.
I think Millicent is a pretty name, but the problem with James is that everyone calls you Jim whether you want them to or not.
Here's one of Porter Cable's stationary sanders, an S-1 oscillating spindle sander and one of my favorite rebuilds,
before,

and after.



-James Huston
 

markba633csi

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#14
Nice job! I see a nice Sheldon lathe there too
Mark
ps my brother much prefers James over Jimmy or Jim
 

Eddyde

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#15
James, I've always wanted a Porter Cable G-8 wet belt sander, got any laying around?
 

brino

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#16
Here's one of Porter Cable's stationary sanders, an S-1 oscillating spindle sander and one of my favorite rebuilds
Stunning!

James, Thanks for sharing some of your wonderful tools with us.

-brino
 

jhuston

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#17
Hi Eddy, I don't have a G-8 here but there's an industrial site about an hour from me called HGR that has them regularly. They usually start around 800.00 but often are reduced after a bit down to about 500.00. I'd have one if I had the room.Maybe someday.

Thanks, Brino, some of my favorite tools were intercepted on the way to the grave. One of my favorite worm drive sanders was in a pile of aluminum scrap, took a couple of hours to fix and has served me well for over ten years.
 

tfleming

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#18
Well played my friend. Your work is reflective of your spirit........both appear in good health! Kudos on all fronts.
 

jhuston

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Thanks! That L&S of yours is no sick chicken ,either.Turn of the century lathes are where it's at.
-James Huston
 

4gsr

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#20
Somewhere in my stuff, I have a original copy of a Porta Cable lathe catalog from around 1915-1920. It's not later one as posted on the Vintage Machinery site. I'll do some looking and see if I can find it.
 

jhuston

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Ken, I'd love to see it. I've posted what P.C. catalogs I have to the vm site, but it's extremely rare to find anything much earlier than the very late 20's.
 

4gsr

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It so happens I have it scanned. And if you like, by all means post it on VM site so others can see it, too. This site resizes the images to a smaller size. If you need a better scan let me know and I'll send them by email. I want to say they are at least 400 dpi. Ken
 

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jhuston

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#23
Ken, that is incredibly helpful! I'll need to read through everything carefully, but you've added immensely to the pool of knowledge on Porter Cable lathes, and yours are the only images I've ever seen of the other milling attachments. I take my hat off to you, sir!

Now I really want a carbo-lathe, too...
-James Huston
 

Eddyde

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#25
Hi Eddy, I don't have a G-8 here but there's an industrial site about an hour from me called HGR that has them regularly. They usually start around 800.00 but often are reduced after a bit down to about 500.00. I'd have one if I had the room.Maybe someday.
Thanks, but alas, the G-8 is a bit of a dream as my space is quite limited too... Yes I am familiar with the HGR website, I have been checking it regularly for lathes, hope to take a trip to check it out someday soon, only an 8 hr. drive...
 

jhuston

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Eddy, there is a smaller alternative, the G-4, which is essentially a 4"x 54" belt grinder. I have one and have nothing but good to say of it. There are older sanders like the B-3 or B-9 that are more managable in size as well.
-James Huston
 

jhuston

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#27
I've been on the hunt for affordable tooling for the Mulliner, and thanks to fellow HM member uglydog, the old girl has some new jewelry in the form of a turn of the century Jacobs #4 chuck,

and this Riten live center,




The chuck looks at home on the lathe, unlike the modern chuck I sometimes borrowed from work; it also opens and closes freely and clamps down on drill bits like a police dog- no slipping here! The Riten live center is also an upgrade over the French made Enco that growled like a cement mixer due to a worn out bearing. I even got a trio of tool holders and now I have an honest -to-goodness threading tool.
Millicent is coming up in the world, and once I finish my shop made armature undercutter I'll have added a whole bag of tricks to this seasoned professional.
-James Huston
 

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Wow, congratulations she is a looker. I have many old pc tools. My dad built houses in his younger years . His personal favorites were pc . I can still see him using the saw if I close my eyes even hear the sound running and running down. I've always wanted the little 4" trim saw. Ah someday ill find one I can afford. There going crazy price wise now old metal handheld ones.
 

jhuston

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Silverbullet, are you talking about this style trim saw?


I see A-4's every once so often; the later 314 tends to go for serious money, but these are a little more reasonable.
-James Huston
 

Silverbullet

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YUPP there the ones had a chance on a newer one but my other buddy got to it first. Ill bide my time and ill find one that's broken . I use to have a repair business in a rental company doing the electric tool repairs. I had porter cable , Milwaukee, MAKITA, B&D , Bosch, skill, YUPP had tons of parts still have some left. As with everything change comes often . Ill still do repairs if people are willing to pay but most don't. Why fix it when HF has it for twenty bucks. I won't tear them down for twenty bucks now. Except for my own of course.
I have a rare 10 volt MAKITA circular saw with a new motor in it I got stuck for the $100. To repair it. The motor was $80. The way it goes.
 
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