Alex Holden (alex_holden) wrote,
Alex Holden

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:
to this:
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.
Tags: engineering, photos, workshop

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