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Hijinks Ensue

So far this year I have mostly been...

Restoring my lathe. Again.


It's an old Ross and Alexander 'Randa A' 3 1/2" screwcutting lathe. Actually, that's what it says on the name plate, but I've seen some evidence to suggest that it might really be a Zyto rebadged by R&A to fill a gap in their range.
The first time I restored it was when I bought it in 1991 for £100 from a friend of my Dad's (I was 11 at the time), then it spent the next fourteen years in a leaky garage with only occasional use. I need to modify some motors for my CNC-mill project (extending the shafts to fit rotary encoders), so I decided it was time to move it over to the Nelson workshop (which doesn't leak) and rebuild it for a second time. It's gone from this:
before
to this:
after.
Sadly I don't have any photos from the first restoration. It originally had a totally different drive arrangement with an overhead line shaft and long flat belts. I really don't know how old it is, but I'm pretty sure it's over fifty years old, and it could well be pre-war. The design and build quality weren't all that spectacular to begin with, and it's worn significantly over the decades, but it is still capable of useful work with a little care. I built a small oscillating single cylinder steam engine with it once.
Yes, I know, I took the belt guard off. It was added at my parents' insistence during the first restoration, but it hindered access to some important things and was generally quite inconvenient. Since you have to be constantly vigilant while operating a lathe anyway (big lumps of spinning metal, sharp tools, razor sharp swarf, etc.), the addition of a belt guard doesn't really make it much safer.

Comments

(Anonymous)

I have one of these that im going to restore

HI, i have just been donated a lathe the same as the one you have beautifully restored. However, mine does not have a motor. What size motor does your's run? contact me at modifiedcarscene@hotmail.co.uk with the answer if you'd be so kind. Regards

Re: I have one of these that im going to restore

That's odd, you're the second person in less than a week to ask about the Randa A drive setup. I've emailed some pictures I took for the other bloke. The motor is an old single phase 1400RPM lump. I would guess the power is probably 1/2 to 3/4 HP. You can't bog it down because the leather belt slips first.

(Anonymous)

RandA Lathe

Hello,
Im in the process of purchasing one of these lathes and looking at the photo of yours after restoration (again) i would like to restore mine to that level.
Are there any more photos of it,esp that tailstock clamp and the nameplate,you have made a lovely job there and probably as you know there's not much on the web about them.
Thanks
Andy Smith
Coventry
cat.shed2@ntlworld.com

Re: RandA Lathe

I'm not in the same location as the lathe right now (it's in bits in my parents' garage), but if you remind me in about a week I should be able to take some photos for you.

(Anonymous)

Re: RandA Lathe

Hello,it's me again Andy,
Just dropped you a wire to remind you if you can take some photo's of your RandA 'A' lathe,but ONLY if you have the time.
Im trying to work out how the back-gear operates,i know its on an eccentric shaft to engage it but the only way i can see it working is by taking out the grub screw in the pulley cone,any idea's ?
If you do manage to take any photo's could you email them to my above address.
Thanks
Andy Smith

Re: RandA Lathe

Hi, sorry about not sending any photos; plans changed and I didn't visit my parents after all.

You're right about the back gear, though on mine the grub screw is short enough that you don't need to take it right out - you just slacken it until the head is flush with the pulley face, and the pulley is then free to turn on the shaft. Screwing it back in is a bit of a fiddly operation because you have to line it up with the indentation in the shaft. It's handy for some operations to either disengage the spindle by undoing the grub screw and not engaging the back gear, or lock the spindle by engaging both the grub screw and the back gear at the same time. One problem I found is that on long heavy back gear operations it sometimes falls out of gear; I think I worked around that with a big elastic band hooked onto the lever.

(Anonymous)

Re: RandA Lathe

Thanks for the info Alex,it works the way you say and how i thought,i just needed someone 'in the know' to confirm it.
I read somewhere about the backgear falling out of gear and the crude fix is to open up the slot on the eccentric with a screwdriver,i wonder if they do that sort of thing on CNC lathes ???
As for the photo's don't go out of your way to take them,just do it when you think about it one day.
Thanks very much,
Andy Smith