Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

Wonders from yesteryear.

Snake and I went and picked up that lathe today.


Seeing this thing for the first time, getting my paws on it and feeling it, I realize that I am feeling a time long gone from these shores.   A time when even mechanics went to work wearing a tie and coat.  Where ‘craft’ was not a term to describe trivial bright colored geegaws from walmart.  When a man was paid to hand scrape the bed of a tool and took PRIDE in doing it just right.

Now it’s “zip, Zang, get it on the dock, down the road, on the shelf into the home and finally into the trash; go get another one”.  Our society is such a disposable one, that its a wonder we take value in even our own lives, let alone those around us, or the tools we use to continue on a day to day.

The men that made this tool are more than likely no longer among the living, IMG_0594and yet, this tool is in as good of shape and utility as the day they rolled it off the truck.  Yeah, it may have some wear on the paint, it may have some darker areas where at one time there was some rust, but it turns so smoothly and the ways are so smooth and tight, that I can just imagine the accuracy of the stuff it can turn out.    Maybe I am a romantic, but I can feel the PRIDE that was felt when this tool was made, the pride that the previous owners felt by its possession.  I don’t feel that same emotion when dealing with newer tools.   I don’t feel it from the Chineemade 3 in 1 that I own.   There is much more to the tools of old than just a lump of cast iron and Babbitt bearings and brass.   The last time I felt this level of pride from a machine was in High School.   We had a platen press in communicating arts class that was made in 1893.   The last operation at the end of the year, of the four years that I was in that section of classes, we would take that machine apart, strip the old paint off it, and repaint it, lube the hell out of it, reassemble and test it.   That machine was meticulously maintained and LOVED by those that used it. ( the other machines didn’t receive this level of care, though they were maintained.)

I feel that this machine is going to receive nearly the same level of care and love that platen press  did.   (and no, it isn’t ‘mine’ but I will treat it as if it were, make no mistake.)  I could tell that the person we picked it up from felt the same way.   Age is a problem we all deal with, but these tools are truly timeless once made.   They WILL outlast those that they touch in life.


2 responses

  1. Wildflower

    south bend; bridgeport; atlas made some damn good machines for the shop

    my atlas is WWII era and except for two belt changes and one motor it is still a quality made industrial drill press

    what pisses me off is the poor quality on a lot of todays machinery

    especially in the jack uped overpriced chinajunk

    January 6, 2013 at 3:13 am

    • Have to thank you for the catalyst to the next post.
      Yeah, my cheapeechineegoombha 3n1 can do a lot, but there are processes I can’t even consider due to the sloppiness inherent in it. Milling anything harder than brass is almost out due to chatter and try as I might, I just can’t get the play out of it. I can and have machined mild steel with it, but it really takes a boat load of patience to do so, and accuracy is limited by the amount of chatter even then.

      January 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

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