The Craftmans Shop > New from Old

Boxford back from the dead

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'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:

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, 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.

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

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.

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.


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