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New (old) lathe up and running, time to turn some hardware

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So my early Rivett 8" precision is now set up and running. I was having a
problem where the nuts holding the changegears in place would tighten
or loosen when running and throw things out of alignment, which I solved
by double nutting the gears on the banjo so they wouldn't tighten or
loosen up in use. I've got another minor problem in that there's no
real tension against the backgear engage / disengage, so when I turn it
on it will just pop out of gear. There's a pair of setscrews under the
back gear that I assumed are to give more tension, but they're tightened
down to a shoulder and dont press on the shaft. For now to keep it
from popping out of gear I used a piece of wire wrapped around the
handle and then wrapped around the rear oil cup to keep it engaged.

Everything seems to be working alright, so now i just need to start
making some cuts to see how in alignment and straight everything is.

Here's a photo of the setup, I need to fabricate a little lever to screw
into the lock nut for the change gear banjo and make some fancy covers /
guards for the holes in the top of the cabinet that I cut for the belt,
but I think I'm about ready to start making some chips !




The bronze nut for the very top section of the compound cross slide is
fairly worn, so a good bit of backlash in the top, but not in the other
feeds. Is there a suitable replacement available from any other
machine? If not, I have another nut on the bottom of the eccentric
toolpost that I got with the lathe and it's almost completely unworn,
but I'll have to file down the outside of the nut to fit the hole in the
cross slide.




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I like the cabinet you have it on, pretty slick :)


I'm a sucker for old machinery, and have a few in my shop that I've rebuilt over the years.


I bought a mid '40's South Bend Heavy 10" in about '03. It took me a year to rebuild it, but it has been a workhorse for me ever since. It also had a tendency to jump out of backgear when I first got it running. It would only do it until the machine had a load o it, and then it was fine. The problem just went away with time, so I can't really give you any suggestions.

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Wow, that's a nice one. I'm not familiar with Rivett machines. You should be able to find bronze acme threaded nuts for the cross slide screws. Just figure out the size and thread pitch. Backlash on the cross slide is something I'm able to live with, as long as there's a good enough feel for the engagement of the threads. If the gibs are adjusted right, you should be able to feel the 'free spinning' back lash vs. engaged pretty easily.

If you flip the saddle upside down, you should be able to check the half nuts. If they're worn out they might jump out of gear. I usually have a hard time disengaging them under heavy cuts (like threading). Does it have any gears for threading?

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I have most (but not all) of the threading gears, they're sitting in a pile in the photo on the right hand side of the shelf below the table, ontop of the faceplate I've got for the lathe.


For wear, It's really just one nut for the very top of the cross slide, everything else is nice and tight with almost no backlash. I dont think that this lathe was ever really used for threading, because the threading lead screw and the half nut on the saddle have NO wear whatsoever.


if Southbend lathes were your every day ford or chevey, and something like a Monarch lathe your Cadillac... Rivett lathes were the hand built Mclaren F1 of the lathe world. Every surface is machined and precision scraped by hand. When this lathe was made, it cost more than the average worker made in several years of pay, it cost more than a house! Even at the peak of their production in world war 2, when they were the cheapest they ever were, one of these lathes listed for 1700 USD without any tooling... which in modern dollars is about 30,000 USD. Rivett lathes came from the factory with a garuntee to bore within 0.0001 in six inches, and to face off within 0.0002 concave and 0.0000 convex across 8 inches and to cut threads within half a thou over 12 inches.


This particular lathe being a very early example uses the long defunct 4OS collet standard. Thankfully when I got it, it came with a full set of collets from 3/32 to 5/8 (although it will only fully pass-through 1/2, the 5/8 collet has a shoulder inside it.





Right now I'm keeping my eyes out for some of the original attachments that were available for the machines. I'd love one of the original radius turning attachments and one of the original thread turning tools. The rivett carraige is interesting in that the top of the saddle is hot-swappable between different carraiages and tools, with the traverse power feed gearing exposed to allow it to drive other types of tools on the saddle.

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Pretty impressive specs, especially for that early. What kind of bearing does the spindle run on? A lot of the lathes of that eara were running on the cast iron itself, but i suspect that one at least has babbitt?

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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Very nice set up. I have that same oil can, but it didn't come with a lathe. :(


Do you spend much time over at owwm.org? If there are parts or tips, those guys are sure to know about it. I can't spend too much time over there without really getting an urge to spend money, but it's fun to look at all the pictures.

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Ha, OWWM.org! I used to hang out there a decade ago. Still get emails occasionally about some materials I posted there.


There was a regular there that posted a story on-line about moving all of his equipment (several thousand pounds of it) across country in a surplus propane fueled school bus. He called the short novel "Life on a yeller bus" or something like that.


If I can find that story, I'll link to it here. Many on this forum would get a hoot out of it...

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Yeah I've spent some time over there. I do have a bunch of old woodworking stuff I've salvaged. I'm looking at an Atlas 9" that a friend has not started restoring yet. He just sold my dad a really nice old bandsaw he rebuilt and painted, and a matching jigsaw from about the same period. They came out really nice.

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