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Atlas Press Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan

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  • Atlas Press Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan

    Built my lathes. The first, (I might be wrong on it's origins, but likely Atlas had a contract with Sears), was a 6" X 12", small, but still, metal-turning job, only had a 4-jaw chuck, it did have power longitudinal feed, but not crossfeed. I think I was 11 or 12. Made a lot of small, usable parts, but, most importantly, I used it successfully to wind thousands of turns of #36 Nyclad wire on the coil forms of my first high-voltage transformer efforts, and make numerous small parts, the culmination being a steam locomotive model. I realized I needed a REAL lathe, m uch to my Dad's concern. He'd rather I study Medicine, but being close to retirement age, all I heard was, "We've got to save for retirement".

    My Mother came to my rescue, recquisitioning sufficient dough from her "appliance fund", to order Sears Craftsman 12" (!!) lathe, only 24" between centers, though. The old man gave her $55/week for all household expense: food, and hide some out. She had enough surplus, once, to buy a new Fridge!

    "Quick-change" gears sounded like a non-necessary issue, as was 36" centers. 'Course, ya had to buy a MOTOR!. 1/2 HP Craftsman ball-bearing, that incredible motor powers it to this day! Front ball bearing replaced once, start switch maybe 5 times.

    Maybe back then, around 1957, the biggest job that lathe did up till then, was a flywheel for a hot-rod I was building. I got a 1950 Lincoln flathead V-8 from a farmer in Michigan, and endeavored to stuff it into a '52 Ford I picked up for thirty bucks. The engine had a GM Hydramatic hung on it (Ford bought them from GM, having no Auto of their own yet).

    The Hydramatic had a disassembleable fluid coupling (not a torque converter), and I was hell-bent to install a Borg-Warner Overdrive like my Dad's Lincoln had. Got ahold of a big piece of boiler plate steel, 1/2" thick somewhere, and proceeded to hacksaw a flywheel out of that piece! Took about 4 or 5 blades, real sore arms, 2 days work, but I got my flywheel. The front torus cover of the Hydro was not usable, as it had a big "bulge" sticking out for clearance inside of the housing.

    Picked up a 3-speed W/OD from "Al's Graveyard" (anybody from Chicago here knows it), and actually put this all together, and it worked!

    Thus, the old Atlas lathe provided my start into the madness of street racing, 1950's and 1960's Competition, and proved that I could not live well without a lathe! imp
    IF IT'S ELECTRICITY, IT'S ME.

  • #2
    The 6" should be a 6"x18" if it was an Atlas made Craftsman as Sears had other companies make some of their lathes. The 12" Craftsman was on labled as Craftsman as Atlas wouldn't put their name on it as it was let's say sub standard. Later the made a 12"x36" with a quick change gearbox that Atlas deemed worthy of their badge on it.

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    • #3
      Wasn't there an Atlas Clausing at one time also?????

      JL.............

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      • #4
        How did you balance the flywheel???

        Sid

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        • #5
          Originally posted by sid pileski View Post
          How did you balance the flywheel???

          Sid
          Simple. The formed torus cover was already inherently balanced, all evenly-spaced bolt holes, etc., and the flat plate I bolted to it was turned round and faced flat, so the assembly was inherently in-balance. Young and crazy. Still! imp
          IF IT'S ELECTRICITY, IT'S ME.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by imp View Post
            Simple. The formed torus cover was already inherently balanced, all evenly-spaced bolt holes, etc., and the flat plate I bolted to it was turned round and faced flat, so the assembly was inherently in-balance. Young and crazy. Still! imp
            Your little Atlas swung that big flywheel?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sid pileski View Post
              Your little Atlas swung that big flywheel?
              Please bear in mind this was 57 years ago, some aspects are by now foggy, but, it's not made up. The Hydramatic used a fluid coupling which was not a torque coverter, and the front torus cover was really not all that large in diameter. Ford had made a "flex-plate" to accept the GM stuff, and their own bell housing. If memory serves, the torus was a fair amount under 12" in diam., likely about 10-1/2. The plate I made only had to bolt onto it, and accepted the clutch disc and pressure-plate.

              The release mechanism was a piece of madness. I picked up the correct Lincoln bellhousing made for B/W transmission, as well as the trans. itself, but the engine itself sat back under the dashboard, firewall had been cut away. I adjusted the distributor under the dash! Used a standard throw-out bearing and throw-out fork, to which I welded a 1/2 X 1 inch length of CRS, the left end of which I put a pedal on, where yer left heel could bear against the pedal; that's how you released the clutch. Cannot recall how I rigged the shift linkage, but the original column shifter did the job.

              The oil vapor fumes stank real bad with no firewall, but some young guy took such a liking to how quick and quiet that big old flathead was, he bought the car! The start of a lifelong series of crazy "builds". If you like, I'll start a thread about them, this is getting too far away. imp

              EDIT: Something almost never seeable: Working on the flathead, I actually started the engine sitting on the garage floor, with only ONE HEAD on it, the intake manifold bolted onto that side only! For those few seconds, running on 4 cylinders, you COULD NOT SEE the pistons, such a blur did they present. Occasionally, a flash of image of a piston dome at top-center.
              Last edited by imp; 02-19-2016, 05:28 PM.
              IF IT'S ELECTRICITY, IT'S ME.

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              • #8
                Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

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                • #9
                  If you had a 6" swing x 12" BTC sears lathe I think it was this one. Not an Atlas by far & IMHO a POS made by Dunlop. I have one & I'll donate it to you reliving your childhood free if you pay shipping. Below is an ad off ebay. Never know what you could make with it!

                  12"Vintage Sears Roebuck Craftsman Benchtop Metal Working Mini Lathe 109-20609

                  $500.00
                  Buy It Now
                  63 watching
                  This is a used 12"Vintage Sears Roebuck Craftsman Benchtop Metal Working Mini Lathe Model 109-20609. PAYMENT INSTRUCTIONS:All payments must be received within 2 business days. Made in USA!

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                  • #10
                    I had one of those..... I made it do all sorts of things it was not supposed to do. It took real work, a long time, and was noisy. A real POS.

                    Sold it for more than I paid for it, though, after refusing to sell it to a couple folks who wanted more than it could do.
                    4357 2773 5150 9120 9135 8645 1007 1190 2133 9120 5942

                    Keep eye on ball.
                    Hashim Khan

                    Everything not impossible is compulsory

                    "There's no pleasing these serpents"......Lewis Carroll

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                    • #11
                      That musta been a gol darn mirical lathe!!

                      Wish I had one when I was building my hot rod.....

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                      • #12
                        "EDIT: Something almost never seeable: Working on the flathead, I actually started the engine sitting on the garage floor, with only ONE HEAD on it, the intake manifold bolted onto that side only! For those few seconds, running on 4 cylinders, you COULD NOT SEE the pistons, such a blur did they present. Occasionally, a flash of image of a piston dome at top-center. "

                        Not on the garage floor, but my brother and I took the head off a 1940's flathead and started it just to see if we could. I have a vague recollection of clearly seeing the pistons going up and own.

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                        • #13
                          As to the 12 x 36 Craftsman/Atlas lathes, the newer ones, who made those?

                          At a prototype machinist's estate sale there was a lot sale of a 12 x 36 and assorted other machining items. I wanted the "assorted" and not the lathe but you had to buy it all as one lot. The lathe looked practically new. I recall it was around $250 for the lot.

                          I passed on it, but called the estate sale person later and was told it was still available. Okay, I committed to it (with a credit card so I couldn't back out) thinking such a nice looking lathe would sell fast for a tidy profit on CL.

                          Got it home and started looking it over. As new as it looked there was strange wear. The carriage traverse wheel's shaft was running in a hole in the cast iron carriage apron, no bushing. The shaft had worn the cast iron so badly there was at least a 1/16" play in it. Gears sounded like a rock crusher and the strangeness went on from there. One jaw of the unused looking three jaw chuck was missing.

                          Since it was in my garage at home I was worried about selling it to someone who knew where I lived. That's how bad a POS it was. I put it on CL for about what I paid with an OBO. It sold within minutes of the ad appearing.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JoeLee View Post
                            Wasn't there an Atlas Clausing at one time also?????

                            JL.............
                            Clausing was bought out by the Atlas Press Company around 1950. See http://www.lathes.co.uk/clausing/page11.html

                            A little more from that site:

                            "The name of the (Clausing) business in Ottumwa was changed to Atlas-Clausing. The Catalog numbers of the lathes were changed from 100 to 4800 and from 200 to 6300 and, at first, the name plate on the lathes was changed to Atlas as well. However, after a relatively short time an incident happened that led to a change: George Nancarrow, the Atlas Vice President of Sales, was visiting a dealer. A customer walked in and asked for a Clausing lathe. The salesman said certainly, and showed him a lathe with the name Atlas on it. The customer was quite indignant - he wanted a Clausing lathe, not an Atlas - the name on the lathes reverted to Clausing."

                            Dan L
                            Last edited by Danl; 02-19-2016, 08:45 PM. Reason: font size
                            Salem, Oregon

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JoeLee View Post
                              Wasn't there an Atlas Clausing at one time also?????
                              Kinda, sorta, not really. Atlas bought Clausing but they operated pretty independently for about a decade in separate plants until the Clausings quit and operations combined. The badges may have been the same but there are huge differences between the later Atlas hobby lathes produced in that period and the commercial Clausing machines, tho the point could also be made that Clausing never really made anything larger than a small toolroom lathe until Colchester's involvement.
                              "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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