Author Topic: Boxford back from the dead  (Read 4283 times)

Offline AdeV

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Boxford back from the dead
« on: June 03, 2019, 07:13:05 PM »
'ello everyone.  :wave:

You may have noticed that, for the last few months, I've not been posting a lot (stop cheering at the back there!). Well, that's mainly because I started a new job last March, and now my commute is 2hrs each way every day, which leaves me with a lot less shop time than I've had previously; pretty much none at all during the week. Weekends I'm often plagued by visitors - which is great, but not conducive to Getting Things Done. I've also been doing a lot of experimenting with making PCBs recently, which until a couple of weeks ago was causing me serious hair-pulling-out tribulations. But that's for another day...

Anyway, I decided that the best way to get more shop time, would be to have a second shop  :lol: This one will be more "normal" sized for a hobbyist setup, and will live in my garage at home. The theory is... I can do stuff at home during the week on the small machines, and anything I need the big guns for I can do at my normal workshop. It should also mean, once my freshly minted wife is allowed into the country (fingers crossed, soon now), I can get away with spending a bit of time in the garage without having to "go out". We'll see... life has this way of not working out like that... but anyway.

So - first thing, what lathe to buy? Key requirements are: Cheap, one-person-luggable-around, single phase, reasonably popular so spares aren't impossible, and cheap. I eventually settled on a low-end Boxford: I can live without a screwcutting gearbox (got it on the big lathe), and whilst the power crossfeed would be nice, that's not the model I've ended up with. No worries.

So - what I lugged home tonight, and wrestled single-handedly out of the back of the car and onto my garage bench - without even putting my back out, although I'm sure it was a close run thing - is a 1950s Boxford "C" with rear drive. There's only one problem.... this lathe is knackered.

An itemised list of the problems I've discovered so far/can remember:
  • It has clearly been dropped, possibly more than once. Maybe it got knocked over? The drive pulley mounting plate has been broken off at some point. Someone's clearly tried (and failed) to TIG weld it back together, then given up and used a couple of nasty steel straps to get it back somwhere near where it needs to be.
  • The headstock foot is smashed. The casting is completely broken through in several places, including where both bolts go through into the bed. The bits that are broken off are also both badly cracked, and structurally useless. This isn't the first time it's been smashed though; it's cracked clean through on the sides as well, these having been "repaired" in the same style as the pulley mounting plate - with a bunch of self-drilling screws and some metal plates.
  • Inside the headstock, there's a lever which I'm assuming engages back gear. That seems to work OK, but the backgears themselves are either locked up, or there's something else I need to release somewhere. Not sure which. There's a bit of rust inside, and with the exception of the spindle (which sounds and feels perfect), all of the bearings are shot. If I could spin it under power, this would be a VERY noisy lathe.
  • The change gears actually look OK, and there's enough on the machine to allow it to cut one thread (not sure what pitch). So I'll want to start getting some additional change gears, although with only one axis powered, that may not be important.
  • Also, the Fast-Slow selector lever barely moves. Most likely the pulley inside is unable to slide on its shaft due to rust.
  • The carriage does traverse OK, although there's a nasty bit of backlash in the handwheel. The cross slide and top slide also have up to 1/4 turn of backlash; and the cross slide handle is some ghastly fabricated thing. The screwcutting dial actually works, but it's badly worn. It also rotates out of mesh, I'm not sure if that's a feature, or just a loose bolt.
  • The tailstock... well. Frozen solid, but more importantly it's missing its base, so it's unusable on two fronts.
  • Back on the motor end of things; the pulleys & motor ride on a pair of sliding rails. The rails look OK, but the screw which pushes it in and out looks bent to me. Also the power switch is missing its plastic knob.

So, this will be the start of a long journey! My intention is to make this machine work again, and to try to restore it to at least the same level of awesome that awemawson regularly shows us with his machines. This will be the first machine I've actually tried to restore (all the others I've just used out-of-the-box), and - as usual for me, I've bitten off FAR more than I can chew. Just how I like it!  :thumbup:
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2019, 07:17:58 PM »
The first thing I'll be doing, is taking the whole lathe apart. Partly, because it's really too heavy to keep moving around all in one piece; but mainly because I think I will need to fettle every single bit of it....

The good news is - the bed seems to be sound, and if it is twisted, it's not much. I'll bring my machine level home after the weekend to better check it for twist.

A couple of questions:

Does anyone have a manual for one of these lathes, that they'd be willing to scan/share?
Where does the serial number hide on these things? I'd like to get a better idea of when it was made. Reading between the lines at lathes.co.uk, it seems to be somewhere between 1950 and 1959; a serial no. might give me a clue.

Size wise, it seems to be a 4.5" centre height, 18 or 19" capacity between centres.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Online SwarfnStuff

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2019, 01:28:41 AM »
Now That is a challenge / project you have in the garage.
    I'm sure it will keep you, "entertained"? for some time. Cannot help with where the numbers hide as the only Boxfords I've seen are two that were old time
CNC machines. Friends changed all the controls over to new stepper / servo drives.

   These two lathes were in tech schools and rarely used as far as I know.
Good luck with the resurrection job.

John B
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 02:17:19 AM by SwarfnStuff »
Converting good metal into swarf sometimes ending up with something useful. ;-)

Offline seadog

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2019, 02:22:25 AM »
Sooner you than me. For someone without too much workshop time you seem to have taken on a huge job. The serial number will be on top of the bed at the right hand end, front shear.

Offline awemawson

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2019, 02:37:59 AM »
Now there's a nice challenge for you Ade, I hope you still have that big bag of Citric Acid!

These things often look far worse than they actually are, and taken one bit at a time are manageable

It sounds like you have a time issue if you are Travelling four hours a day, good luck with that one.
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2019, 02:44:58 AM »
Hears one for when you get round to it  http://www.wswells.com/projects/ed_godwin/crossfeed.pdf there is another for the compound , search for Boxfords know your lathe will help .
Jeff

Offline PekkaNF

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2019, 03:46:19 AM »
WOW.

That should keep you (and us) entertained for a while. Do I need to stock up beef jerky and beer for this spectacle to unfold?

... I've also been doing a lot of experimenting with making PCBs recently, which until a couple of weeks ago was causing me serious hair-pulling-out tribulations. But that's for another day...

That souds really interesting. Maybe another thread?

Offline RussellT

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2019, 03:57:09 AM »
The back gear lever on the side of the headstock will lock the spindle unless you can also move the lever on the front of the headstock.  Later (much later) Boxfords had a single lever for back gear engagement.

Where did you find this gem.  Maybe they have some other bargains! :lol: :lol:

Russell
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Offline Will_D

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2019, 05:12:47 AM »
I hope you didn't actually have to pay for this lathe :bugeye:.

It does look like a major challenge tho'

Looking forward to the restoration logs. Good luck

Will
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Offline timby

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2019, 06:15:49 AM »

I hope you didn't actually have to pay for this lathe :bugeye:.



Everything has a value, people buy lathes like the Boxford and then sell the components off as spares.

Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2019, 12:42:31 PM »
Thanks for the replies  :thumbup: If I may address a few specific comments/questions:

Q: "For someone without too much workshop time you seem to have taken on a huge job"
A: Yep! I'm usually getting back to the house at around 7pm. Going to my workshop then involves jumping in the car, driving to it, doing whatever & driving home again. The gates get shut at 8pm, so technically I'd only get about 45 mins there. However, once you're in, they'll let you stay as long as you like... so really it's just a "can't be bothered" thing. Having something right there to keep me entertained means I'm more likely to get on with it.

BTW, thanks for the serial number info. I'll go looking for it tonight. Ironically, I have to go to the proper workshop to pick up my imperial spanners/sockets, and some cleaning chemicals.

Q: I hope you still have that big bag of Citric Acid!
A: I sure do! So long as it hasn't turned itself into lemon juice in the damp shed!!  :lol:

Q: Do I need to stock up beef jerky and beer for this spectacle to unfold?
A: Beef jerky is a good choice - long shelf life!! I expect this one to take a while, but on the other hand I want to get into it ASAP. I wanted a lathe for my garage really, not a project!

I'll definitely do a thread about the PCBs soon. There's some good mad-modding to share!

Q: Hears one for when you get round to it
A: Thanks! Great link, I will be studying it well.

Q: The back gear lever on the side of the headstock will lock the spindle unless you can also move the lever on the front of the headstock.
A: Duh! Oh yeah, now I look marginally more closely at the speed label, I see that the two levers are in lock step. Still - good to know I can lock the spindle, handy for removing the chuck! Although one of the modifications in my mind's eye is a spindle brake attached to a foot pedal, so removing the chuck may be a case of spin it full speed in reverse, then stamp on the brake  :zap:

Q: I hope you didn't actually have to pay for this lathe
A: To my eternal shame, I did. I probably paid well over the odds too - this thing is clinging onto the cliff above the scrapyard by the tip of it's little fingernail. However... I won't let her die! Never! Unless she bites me, in which case all bets are off  :whip:


Q: What colour will you paint it?
A: Good question that no-one asked! Boring Boxford grey? I don't think so! Hammerite blue? Nah, a bit twee. I'm thinking metallic British Racing Green, with some Wimbledon White "go faster" stripes....

As you can see, I have my priorities in order already  :)


Back to reality - first jobs when I get home tonight (after I've picked my spanners up), will be to separate the pulleys and motor from the mounting plate, and if I can get that far, get the mounting plate off the foot. Then I can start measuring up & doing some CAD work, as I think I'm going to fabricate a new foot/motor plate assembly. I'll re-use as much as I can, but I think it's mostly scrap.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline awemawson

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2019, 12:47:32 PM »
Ade,

It HAS to be shiny Black Gloss with lining in gold, and make sure that those castings are nicely faired before you start painting  :lol:
Andrew Mawson
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Offline seadog

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2019, 02:41:34 PM »
Still - good to know I can lock the spindle, handy for removing the chuck! Although one of the modifications in my mind's eye is a spindle brake attached to a foot pedal, so removing the chuck may be a case of spin it full speed in reverse, then stamp on the brake  :zap:

Using back gear is something to be undertaken with care. It's very easy to break teeth off.

Go for the spindle brake  :lol:  :hammer:

Offline RussellT

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2019, 03:27:25 PM »
Ade,

It HAS to be shiny Black Gloss with lining in gold, and make sure that those castings are nicely faired before you start painting  :lol:

JPS Lotus? :nrocks: :nrocks:

Russell
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2019, 04:33:08 PM »
Ade,

It HAS to be shiny Black Gloss with lining in gold, and make sure that those castings are nicely faired before you start painting  :lol:

JPS Lotus? :nrocks: :nrocks:


Smokey and the Bandit!  :lol:

There's a chap at work who's a genius at drawing really twisted things - skulls an snakes are frequent doodles... - my warped sense of humour has me imagining "boxford" = "box ford" ="box jellyfish driving a Ford"  :scratch: :scratch:  :loco:  :palm: I might get him to do a small drawing along those lines, to "embellish" the machine somehow  :wack:

Update coming soon, just got some electrical stuff to disconnect...
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2019, 06:24:25 PM »
Tonight, the adventure continued...

The lathe came apart surprisingly easily, considering how bad it looked. Then again, many of the fasteners were loose already, suggesting either it was thrown back together just to get rid; or maybe it was put back together badly, we'll never know.  Removing the carriage just needed 4 cap-head screws removing, and it lifted straight off. The apron resisted a little bit, the half-nuts wouldn't quite open far enough; loosening the two bolts that holds the two halves in place gave me the extra few thou of wiggle room to get them shifted. I've not taken any photos of those bits yet, as I've not had a proper look at them. More on them another day.

Removing the headstock had me scratching my head a bit... I could see the nuts easily enough, and I could just get a spanner onto the back one, but the one under the bed? How the hell would I reach that?! Turns out I didn't need to, it was already loose.  :scratch:

So, headstock removed, the leadscrew came off easily (it seems to be in reasonable condition; straight, at least. The bronze bearing at the headstock end is perfect; the one down by the tailstock was a bit dry and grubby, but doesn't seem to have much play. With a bit of luck, some light grease will be all they need.

Inside the headstock there's a load of that moly grease, which has clearly been thrown to the outer casing and doesn't seem to be doing very much useful work. The shaft and pulleys have rust, but it looks superficial. Bonus! I found out why I couldn't move the lever on the front - there's some pins in the gear that engage with holes in the pulley (or vice versa), so obviously it has to be lined up before they'll go in. As soon as I spotted that, the back-gear drive snicked right in. Nice!

After a little perfunctory cleaning, I did find the serial number: DEH3656/1105. I'm not sure what the 1105 signifies; the 3656 number would put the build date, at a guess, somewhere in early 1952. Unfortunately, the lathes.co.uk website stops at #2297 in January 1951, has 3 years of "confused numbering" (including 1950!), and resumes at 4346 in January 1953. That does, however, mean this is a very early machine, and therefore worthy of my best efforts I think. Although that's pretty much the end of the good news....
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2019, 06:29:04 PM »
The next step was to test for twist. Now... I don't have a single proper level/flat surface in my garage, but I found a bit of concrete floor to sit the bed on which didn't obviously rock. Using the machinists level, we can clearly see that there's a twist right where the headstock sits. My guess is this happened when it was dropped; I'm now reasonably sure that it's fallen over backwards, landing on the pulley drive plate. More on that momentarily.

So... what to do about that? I'm open to ideas. I may try shimming the headstock when I refit it to try to level it with respect to the rest of the bed (which seems to run straight, as best as I can tell). Or maybe just mounting the headstock on it and clamping the bed down to to a good solid flat surface will allow it to straighten out? Any ideas gratefully received.

If I got the photos in the right order (they're out of sequence slightly), then the measurements are from the tailstock to the headstock in approximately 1/5th intervals. +/- half an imperial brick (3/5ths of a metric brick).
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2019, 06:36:12 PM »
So, setting aside the big lumpy bits for a moment, I turned my attention to the motor/countershaft plate.  First, remove the pulley. The mangled piece of metal is the "bracket" that sort of clamped the pulleys down at the rear (and also sort of did nothing - very strange). It's hard to do justice to the awfulness of the welding on that "bracket". That part is definitely for the bin.

The motor is a bog standard Hoover 1/3rd horsepower unit. It's fairly dinged and the bearings are rough. I have another similar motor I may substitute; I'm not sure how to go about restoring a motor yet. The original(?) switch is still in place, albeit I'm sure it's been re-wired. The light (now removed) was on a completely separate plug, and looks like it was added later, although it does look very similar to the light on other Boxford lathes.

So.. I took a few pictures of the wrecked motor/pulley plate... you can see where someone's tried to TIG weld it, made a complete horlicks, then resorted to using steel straps.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2019, 06:44:15 PM »
Suddenly.... DISASTER!  :zap: :zap: :zap:

While attempting to separate the countershaft plate from the foot casting, there was a squishy POP noise, and now the foot casting has completely blown up  :Doh:  :(

Seems there's some crazy strong spring in there somewhere pushing the two parts apart. This would normally help tension the motor belt - but in this case, has blown the front off the foot instead. And I still can't figure out how the shaft is supposed to come out... Please see the very last picture, which is a close-up of what appears to be the works (but how?). I'll probably have to cut the shaft; it's bent anyway, and I can't get the two parts apart without releasing it somehow. Either that, or the knurled nut-like thing on the front may be something to do with it? It looks like it's got cut-outs for a pin hook spanner. The shaft MUST come out through the front face (as it can't pass through the collar with the knurling on it), but how does one detach it from whatever's doing the springing inside the plate? I is confuzed!

Anyway, that's enough damage for one night. I'll take a fresh look at it another day - I have a pin spanner somewhere I could use to try to loosen it, but I need to find some way of clamping down what's left of the foot casting without wrecking it any more (even though it's already in a million pieces).
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline tom osselton

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2019, 11:38:23 PM »
Looks like a bolt holding onto a lever

Offline PekkaNF

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2019, 02:03:32 AM »
The next step was to test for twist. Now... I don't have a single proper level/flat surface in my garage, but I found a bit of concrete floor to sit the bed on which didn't obviously rock. Using the machinists level, we can clearly see that there's a twist right where the headstock sits. My guess is this happened when it was dropped; I'm now reasonably sure that it's fallen over backwards, landing on the pulley drive plate. More on that momentarily.

So... what to do about that? I'm open to ideas. I may try shimming the headstock when I refit it to try to level it with respect to the rest of the bed (which seems to run straight, as best as I can tell). Or maybe just mounting the headstock on it and clamping the bed down to to a good solid flat surface will allow it to straighten out? Any ideas gratefully received.

If I got the photos in the right order (they're out of sequence slightly), then the measurements are from the tailstock to the headstock in approximately 1/5th intervals. +/- half an imperial brick (3/5ths of a metric brick).

0,6 mm in standard units of twist over the entire length of the bed? That is not too bad. Those cast lathe beds are actually pretty slender and bendy. When mounted into solid sheet metal welded base or such care must be excercised not to introduce greater twist. I would not try to "straighten" it by bending it energetically, because a) it will not respond to it predictable way, b) it will nnot stay put, c) it will take any shape you will bolt it into.

I would leave it to be something noted and verified after mounting and test run.

Pekka

Offline RussellT

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2019, 05:08:15 AM »
Your last picture shows the belt tensioning mechanism.  As far as I know there was a lever on the front of the lathe foot which tensioned the belt to allow speed changes.  The part at the left hand side of the picture looks like a slot to achieve that with a quarter turn of the shaft - so somewhere there should be a pin which engages in that slot which might be the cause of the problem.

Have you thought about replacing all that with a conventional countershaft assembly - Boxford did that before they went under drive.

Russell
Common sense is unfortunately not as common as its name suggests.

Offline seadog

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2019, 05:19:11 AM »
3656 is the model number. All of the 4 1/2" Southbend clones use that reference. The serial number is 1105 dating it to 1948, a Very early model - http://www.lathes.co.uk/boxford/page8.html

Now to read the rest of your posts...

My bed had over 1/8" twist. whilst it was stripped down the twist unwoud and the final twist was adjusted by shimming one of the feet as required.

Try contacting Mark Lord, he has a lot of spares and is reasonably priced, especially if you join the Facebook Boxford group - marklord44@Hotmail.co.uk

He may have a replacement foot.

Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2019, 07:01:21 AM »
Thanks guys, this is proving incredibly useful!

Pekka - OK, I'll leave the casting alone for now; hopefully, once I've sorted out the headstock foot, it'll be sufficiently flat to pull the casting back into shape. I'm not sure what the graduations mean on that spirit level, other than the usual "keep the bubble between the lines = flat". An imperial brick, BTW, is 2" x 4" x 8" approximately. Metric bricks are a bit smaller...

Russell - Aaah, that makes sense. I think the pin has vanished. There must still be a spring somewhere as there's quite a force pushing outwards. Maybe it's in that knurled collar.

Seadog - I'll get in touch with Mark, thanks. If 1105 really is the serial number, then I suspect the headstock is a replacement; as it's got the 4 V-pulleys, which started with serial# 1791 according to the lathes.co.uk site. I suppose it's possible the info plate was replaced at the same time. Do you happen to know if there's likely to be a serial number anywhere on the headstock casting?

I guess the proof of the pudding will be if it has a Whitworth or US thread form. If it's Whitworth, then it's almost certainly a replacement headstock; if US, then it's had the pulley upgrade.

Interesting times! Again, thanks all for the info so far.
Cheers!
Ade.
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Offline AdeV

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Re: Boxford back from the dead
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2019, 07:07:40 AM »
A thought occurs to me (that's what the burning smell is  :lol:)

From http://www.lathes.co.uk/boxford/index.html:

Quote
In January 1950 the flat-belt drive was abandoned, with lathe No. 1791 to become the first fitted with 4-step V-belt drive
...
According to Work's literature seen by the writer, at the same time the tumble-reverse mechanism was altered: the inconvenient and slow-to-change bolted-up arrangement being replaced by a simple, quick-action, spring-loaded plunger design (though it's a fair bet that the change was not immediate and some lathes might have had the old parts fitted).

One oddity, mine has the "inconvenient and slow to change bolted up arrangement"... it would seem unlikely they still had any of those left by 1952/3; but as it now appears to be a 1948 model, that suddenly makes more sense - and points to maybe it having had the V-belt conversion after all...

So... should I try to restore it back to 1948 spec for historical curiosity? Or leave it as is? I think the Black & Gold paint scheme is out of the window though, I'll have to buy another wrecker that's not so old before I get to use non-factory colours.  :coffee:
Cheers!
Ade.
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Location: Wallasey, Merseyside. A long way from anywhere.
Or: Zhengzhou, China. An even longer way from anywhere...
Skype: adev73