View Full Version : AMMCO Shaper musings

10-31-2013, 11:13 AM
About three years ago I went to an auction for a deceased gun smith's machine shop. While everyone was perusing the lathe and horizontal mill I, having my trusty Maximat Super11 and V10P with 6 speed Emco head, immediately gravitated to the AMMCO Shaper, the pristine AMMCO Shaper, I might add! I got it for $350.00, I would have paid lots more!
It sat in my new unfinished workshop until now. In 2006 I built a new garage thinking that the old, attached garage, would make a nice new workshop and I could bring my metal working 'stuff' up from the dungeon.... finally!
Well as Robert Burns once said," The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a glee" so went my upstairs workshop. Apparently I did to darn a good job on the room, a stone I don't expect to stumble over again any time soon. The 'new workshop' is now simply "the new room" and the AMMCO Shaper is now in the dungeon with may family of other machinery, I hope it likes the view.
I built a new table for it with wheels in the front in case I ever plan to move it around but probably never will.

Now to the good stuff. The shaper was in such good shape that I suspect it had only been used a few times if that. I have all the original manuals and the purchase order from November 1946. The only thing missing is the belt guards. You can't have it all! I immediately set out to make several cutters and of course, like any respectable HSM the first cutters I made were fine finishing tools. I stocked a piece of muddy junk hot rolled steel into the vice and low and behold the finish came out like glass.... There is a God!

Someone once said, the only thing you can't make on a shaper is money. What they failed to realize is that you can save a bundle on cutters, You can also do special jobs but to tell the truth none of these things really matter, there's just something about shapers that no other machine has, it's mesmerizing, I can sit in front of it watching that ram go back and forth for hours as the bed clicks merrily along.

While looking around on the net I noticed on eBay, where else! someone selling new Phenolic gears and while mine is fine it would be nice to have a spare. There's a Phenolic gear on my Emco mill that I stripped doing an intermediate cut on copper about 30 years ago for a commercial job, thank the God I just discovered that I'll never have to do those types of jobs again.... I hope. Anyway back then it was a simple process to buy another gear from Emco and while I think you can still get parts from places like Blue Ridge I have, as someone once said, the only machines that can fix themselves, besides Blue Ridge only sells parts made out of gold!

This brings me to Phenolic gear material, the 'L' type or perhaps Delrin (Acetate) sheets to keep in the shop for those late night interrupted copper cutting projects I swore I'd never do again.

What someone here might help with is the size of the bull gear on the AMMCO. While I had to disassemble it to move it to the dungeon I never thought to measure the gear itself (diameter and width) so that I could buy the appropriate size blanks.

Thanks for your help,

10-31-2013, 12:11 PM
Lucky you! I hope you will enjoy using your shaper. I find myself often wishing for a small one to make flattish parts and/or parts with little dovetails, like replacement iron-sights for guns.

10-31-2013, 12:20 PM

I too bought a AMMCO shaper from a retired gunsmith. It was the opposite of what you bought. The poor thing had been dropped or run into and then some cobbled-up and hidden repairs. So I totally took it apart and rebuilt/repaired all the damage. It is my go to machine for small flat parts with nice surfaces. True that it is slow and maybe "old-fashioned" but it is cheap to run. I often have the AMMCO, my table top CNC (ProLight) mill both running while I am doing a job on another machine.

Mine is a 7 inch machine, some are 6 inch. Do you need photosor measurements of the guards?

BTW where are you located?


10-31-2013, 12:37 PM
Although, I cant help with the gear size I can agree with the enjoyment factor the shaper has. The sounds, sights and overall simplicity makes it one of my favorite machines to energize and bring to life. And a living machine it is. Given enough speed and freedom it will walk :) JR

Bill Wallace
10-31-2013, 05:55 PM
The & 7 inch Ammco shaper gear size, .550 Thick, 6.135 across, 1.995 hub, 4 - 1/4 X 20 inserts, 96 teeth.
Hope this helps. Bill W.

10-31-2013, 06:24 PM
Years ago, when I rebuilt my machine, I took some photos of the components. Here are two of the gear itself. The two pins near the periphery are important - mine were driven flush to the surface.

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g189/ammcoman2/DSCN4431_zps350a9812.jpg (http://s56.photobucket.com/user/ammcoman2/media/DSCN4431_zps350a9812.jpg.html)

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g189/ammcoman2/DSCN4434_zpsb7655526.jpg (http://s56.photobucket.com/user/ammcoman2/media/DSCN4434_zpsb7655526.jpg.html)

Geoff - another addict!

10-31-2013, 06:56 PM
Thanks for the help guys. Is the only way to load pics by photo bucket or dedicated web page?

Mine's the 7" AMMCO, by the way.

10-31-2013, 08:41 PM
When i had my AMMCO I replaced the bull gear with an off the shelf Boston Gear made of steel. Machined to suit to match the bore and holes on the phenolic gear.

10-31-2013, 08:49 PM
Dont feel deprived because your shaper has no belt guards. If my Atlas is anything to go by, back in the 40s, guards were optional extras. Since they did not advance the project they were just "worthless extras!"
I agree that they are mezmerizing; sorta like a Slinkey on the stairs!:)

10-31-2013, 08:49 PM
I know someone with an Ammco shaper that is in very good condition and he has never once used it. Contact me if you are interested. gary.lucas@verizon.net

10-31-2013, 08:58 PM
I thought of this, even cutting a brass gear myself. These companies put phenolic gears on machines for two reasons, one to protect more expensive parts and two for quietness. I'm pretty much going to 'baby' my shaper by not taking chances with big cuts over, say 1/16" so a steel, aluminum or a brass gear is not out of the question. Right now I have the stock to make a nice gear out of 2024-T6 if I have to, although I'm not sure if I have the involute cutter in stock.


10-31-2013, 09:01 PM
I just looked at the original invoice and he did get the guards.


11-02-2013, 10:08 AM
If any of you need phenolic gear blanks I found place that has reasonable prices. A blank for the AMMCO is $30.00. You want the linen fiber blanks 'L' series.


I just checked the accuracy of my AMMCO cutting a 6" x 1" aluminum. The cut was about .0005" at both long ends.


11-04-2013, 07:52 PM

love my little AMMCO shaper

11-04-2013, 10:52 PM
Wow! That is a beauty. I can't relate how excited I am about this little shaper and now that I measured such an accurate cute I'm lining up the jobs I'll do with it.

11-05-2013, 05:02 AM
i was real suprised on how nice of a surface finish you get with it

11-05-2013, 08:10 AM
sweet machine

11-05-2013, 09:16 AM
To me this is a big plus. Having a light duty milling machine, like most of us do, means two things. First, you need special cutters and second you can only go so big with those cutters. I was never happy with the finish I got with indexed cutters, or fly cutters, for that matter. The thing about the shapers is that you only need single point cutters. This is a big problem in industry so I can see why they would want to go to vertical milling machines. Also shapers are slower and time is money in the machining industry.
But for the home shop a shaper is ideal, now that I'm not doing commercial work on a daily basis I can take my time, make a special cutter, sharpen it, etc. Of course, the benefit is the finish we get without washing over the work with coolants using ceramic cutters. The other plus is that I often get to do other jobs on my vertical mill while the shaper is doing a job.
Of course, like anything else, once an item show value the price goes up.... and up. I'm seeing shapers on eBay for $1500.00 plus now. Personally I wouldn't pay that for a shaper as much as I like them. For Pete's sake you can get a Bridgeport Series 1 for that kind of money and if you have to have one tool the vertical mill should be it, not the shaper!

11-08-2013, 09:38 PM
I got my ammco years ago, some would say I paid too much. Not... Just watching it run is worth what I paid. I wouldn't let it go.

11-09-2013, 04:41 AM
I agree with watching them run,,,, love to hear the clapping of the tool post and the clicking of the rachet... sort of relaxes me like watching and hearing a " hit and Miss" engine run...... maybe I'm nuts but some times i put a hunk of stock in there just to do just that

11-09-2013, 06:33 AM
Sweet shaper 1935Ron. Fascinating sounds of mechanical linkage on machines, i too enjoy it .

11-09-2013, 09:54 AM
Not at all. Remember, it's about having fun. I'm not in business anymore, I worked had not to be, now's the time to enjoy life!


01-08-2016, 11:42 AM
Reviving an old thread, would you know the part number of the Boston Gear part you used? I have the same machine. Bull gear missing several teeth by previous owner. I am using it to bevel weld test coupons among other things and it is a great machine. Still works well but gear may be borrowed time.

Rich Carlstedt
01-08-2016, 02:18 PM
Using the info given earlier, it is a 16 pitch gear with 96 teeth.
Since the Shapers were made eons ago, I would be sure it is a 14 1/2 degree pressure angle .
That should help you Boston .
I suggest you stay with a cast iron gear for lubricity and safety sake


01-10-2016, 12:54 PM
1935Ron: That is a nice piece of jewelry sitting on the table, so when are you going to show us your machine tools?


12-20-2016, 09:49 PM
It was my gears the OP was talking about, I just finished the blanks for my third run. The phenolic is grade C, as were the originals, and the teeth are being cut by a gear house. Most of the work was done on CNC machines.