No.2 - Wade Lathe part I
An added benefit of seeking out older machines is that you usually end up with a story or two to go with each acquisition. In this particular case, Leah and I ended up spending most of the afternoon in Upstate NY talking about old machines, picking through a few barns, learning some history of the area from a person who lived through it and meeting an artist who's work many would be familiar with but few might know her name. It was a day of meeting 3 new people that we may never see again, but we'll remember the day well, perhaps for the rest of our lives. It was unexpected. It was nice.
Wade Lathe - No. 7
The story, as told to us by the previous "owner" of this machine, was that it once lived in a toolroom inside IBM, specifically utilized for creating parts and/or repairs of giant mainframe computers. At some point, when it was presumably no longer needed in the shop, it wound up in the hands of a gentleman, a person one level previous to the "owner" I acquired the lathe from.
The gentleman I purchased this lathe from, let's call him David, owns a farm in Upstate NY with several barns on the property. Several years prior, a friend of his (or acquaintance - I don't quite recall) was renting out a section of one of these barns for storage; the lathe was amongst other items being kept there. As I was told, the rent payments lapsed for a considerable amount of time - I recall it being more than a year. Then one day - according to David - the renter showed up to the farm to pick up his goods, completely oblivious that his lack of rent payments might be an issue.
Basically, the owner of the farm became the new owner of the lathe, which sat in an open-sided barn well within eyesight of all who passed by on the adjacent road. It remained there from the late 1990's until June 2015. A local artist and her partner had taken notice of this machine and used their interest as an icebreaker of sorts to introduce themselves to the land owner. Long story short, the artists offered to help sell the lathe by posting it on Craigslist, which is where I enter the timeline.
I wasn't necessarily looking to pick up a lathe of this size but it was too interesting to pass up, and I'm sure I will find a good use for it. Considering how long this lathe has been exposed to the elements, it's in surprisingly good shape. Either way, the bench alone is probably worth the price I paid for it, not to mention the interest that I have in the history of this particular piece; I'm particularly fascinated with the motor drive system.
The restoration began last fall and I'll post updates as it progresses. It's been a mental back-and-forth between whether to fully restore (both mechanically and superficially) or to leave the patina and only restore it back to mechanical perfection. I'm leaning toward a full restore but either way, all the rust and moving parts are getting cleaned up first.
The date of the machine is not yet known - my guess is around 1930-40's. Might be a bit older or newer but I'll find out more soon.
Made in Waltham, MA.