View Full Version : Matapan Lathe

Ed Tipton
02-18-2008, 08:20 AM
I recently visited an older but still operating blacksmith shop in Roanoak, Illinois. One of the items they still use on occasion is an old cone head Matapan lathe. It is a large lathe with probably close to a 30 inch swing and it has a c/c length of about 15 feet. It has several attachments as well as two steady rests that appear to be original. It appears to be in good shape for it's age and certainly appears to have been a serious lathe for it's time. It isn't for sale, but it simply caught my eye and I gave it the once over. I have tried to find the makers listing on Tony's site and tried searching on Google, but have come up empty. Anyone have any info on this old beast or the company that made it?

02-18-2008, 12:13 PM
A friend of mine recently traded for an old cone head lathe, which we trailered home. It is a Reed lathe and the casting said Cairo Illinois. It is a big beast, 20" swing and about a 12' bed. It came with steady rest, chuck, live center, and a big box full of tool bits and holders.

I am looking forward to helping him get this machine set up and running, once I get done moving.

02-18-2008, 03:34 PM
Since none of the folks here were likely alive when machines of that vintage were built, it seems like the only sources of information are guys who are interested in older machines as a specialty. I would point you to the "old iron" forum over on the PM site as a good place to go. I peek my head in there from time to time as I am about to become the owner of an old metal planer and I am always looking for info. Some of these old cone-head machines were flat belt driven and many were built well before the turn of the century....some before the civil war. That's a lot of years.

Where's the blacksmith shop, by the way? I live just outside Bartonville and would love to see a working one again some day. I grew up in Morton and we had an old fellow, Mr. Gleuck, who must surely be dead several decades later. Even when I was growing up in the 70's, he mostly did small engine repair, but he had a real working blacksmith shop. It had been there since the days when they were there to do horse shoeing.


Ed Tipton
02-18-2008, 05:16 PM
Paul, the name of the place is B.J.Fehrs. Their business card reads: Blacksmith, Welding and Machine shop. They are located at 209 N. Main st. in Roanoak, il. The place is run by three brothers and their father Walt who is 89 years old. It is a working blacksmith shop complete with line shaft and all. Most of their blacksmith work comes in the form of larger mower blade repair work of which they do plenty. They also fab up whatever the locals need provided it doesn't require cnc or state of the art equipment. Nice guys...all. They also sell smaller pieces of iron...rod, angle, sheet etc. but nothing too big. It's just a neat place to hang for an afternoon...sort of a step back in time. Their iron and steel prices are pretty good...typically 75cent/pound range. If you get up that way, just ask anyone you meet. They've been in business since 1917 in the same place, and they're near the main business section of town. Everybody up there knows them.