Weekly Journal Entries for the Lathe Team in the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development

Please note hyperlinks will not be available in printed versions.


Progress on 1972 Craftsman Bench Lathe:

Week of March 21, 2017:

Working with the media production team, we have begun to create a tutorial series, beginning with how to thread a piece of stock aluminum. We plan to add a safety tutorial, planing tutorial, and more in the future. With the tutorial, we also proved that we can not just thread softer materials, but can also thread aluminum.

Week of February 24, 2017:

This week we have been working on a project involving threading a piece of PVC piping. To do this, we had to decipher a chart on the lathe and re-organise the gear assembly. After doing this, we cut a piece of stock metal, planed it so it would fit snugly into the PVC, and drilled a center hole into it. We did this because the PVC needs the extra support from a center because it is so flimsy. After doing this, we realized that we need to plane the metal piece more because it is too unstable. By doing this, we will be able to stick more of it inside of the PVC and thus the threads will be more precise. We hope to have the threads applied correctly by the end of next week.

Week of January 30, 2017:

This week we have successfully filed down the gear rail with the Dremel and mounted it back onto the Lathe. To do this, we needed to file down the key because we were unable to put it back into the keyhole. After doing this, we assembled the gears on the back of the rail and the lathe is now fully functional. We needed to use an alternative setup from the one we had before because when the rail broke, it also broke the screw that holds in one of the gears. Our current modification of the original setup will suffice while we look for a new screw.

Week of January 23, 2017:

Blake has been using a dremel to grind down the welds that are obstructing bolts from moving along the rail. Once the rail is ready to be installed, we can fully restore the drive system.

Week of January 16th, 2017:

This week, we received the broken gear rail after it was welded back together. After inspecting it, we determined that we need file down the areas where the piece was welded to make sure it fit. We also reinstalled the drive system’s bearings after oiling them.

Week of January 9th, 2017:

This week we were successfully able to remove the half-moon key that was preventing us from removing the broken gear rail. We used a propane torch to heat it up multiple times. We then with the help of school facilities used a vice-grip to finally remove the key. We have removed the broken gear rail and we are looking into replacing it. We also unfortunately have damaged the key a little bit so we are going to see if we can replace that as well.

Week of January 2nd, 2017:

This week the three of us focused on removing a key that needs to come out in order to fix the broken cast iron rail system for the feed. We have tried an abundance of methods to remove the key. We have tried hammering on one side in hopes of it being a half moon key in which case it would pop right out. Unfortunately, after using a sizeable amount of WD-40 we have yet to remove the key.

12/19/16 – 1/4/17

WISRD off for winter break. Stay tuned for updates in the new year!

Week of December 12th, 2016:

Blake, Will, and Felix, have successfully drilled a hole in the piece that was worked on in the previous week. The inside of the hole was tapped and now we can screw in and unscrew a small bolt. We turned the piece around and are working on the other side. We are rounding the other end into a nose-cone shape.

Week of December 5th, 2016

Practicing on a blank, WISRD now able to manufacture pieces to the 1000’s of an inch.

Piece complete

Metal = Aluminum

Week of November 28th, 2016:

While tightening a bolt on the gear assembly, a cast iron rail system broke. We believe that from when the lathe fell off the work table that a hairline fracture appeared somewhere and went unnoticed. With working on a piece for a while, the vibrations of the lathe’s motor may have agitated the crack and when the force of the wrench was exerted, it snapped.


9/26/16 – 10/24/16

Blake, Will, and myself (Felix) have made significant progress with cleaning and restoring key elements of the lathe over the past week. We unfortunately had an accident where the lathe fell off of its temporary table, in the process breaking the fly wheel, but it has now been bolted down to a sturdy shop table.

With having the fly wheel broken, we have had to order a new wheel and are now in the process of figuring out where a slight wobble and sound is coming from when the motor is turned on. We are waiting on a gauge to come to see if the shaft that holds the fly wheel and one of the two sets of wheels is bent or distorted in any other way.


Week of September 19th, 2016:

After receiving the replacement machined gear we found it a good idea to take a look at the gear assembly and figure out why it wasn’t working. We cleaned each individual gear with WD40 and wiped them down with a cloth. After removing all the gears we noticed that one of the bolts holding the gears in was bent. We set that aside and looked more into how the gears worked together. It was then found that there was a bearing on some of the gears and that on one it had been locked in place.

Week of September 12th, 2016:

The past weekend, we attempted to have the gear’s broken tooth replaced, yet in the process discovered that the metal the gear is comprised of is too soft to be welded, meaning that we will have to have a replacement gear machined.

Week of September 5th, 2016:

With the motor running and the lathe all oiled up and moving well, Will, Blake, and Felix mounted the motor on the lathe. It took some trial and error to figure out how to mount it but after it was figured out, the motor wiring was connected to the ON/OFF switch on the lathe. The motor was plugged in and turned on. The belts spun the gears and turned the lather. Through this process we did unfortunately find a broken tooth on a main gear for turning the threaded rail backwards. It will have to be fixed in order to work with the lathe.

Week of August 29th, 2016:

The past week, Will P. and Blake removed the broken wiring from the motor and replaced it, adding a ground to the circuit as well. After fixing the wiring, the motor was plugged into and outlet and turned on. It was running well. While taking apart the wiring of the motor, Blake and Will figured out the reason for the motor only having a forward and reverse switch and not an ON/OFF switch. The actual lathe, has an ON/OFF switch with two leads that we believe attaches to the motor. Blake and Will replaced the wiring for the ON/OFF switch on the lathe.

Week of August 22nd, 2016:

Blake and Felix began to take a part the motor, following an expanded view of the motor. After looking at all the parts of the lathe, oil, lubricant, and some more materials will be needed in order to clean and restore the lathe to working order. Many of the gears and bearings will need to be thoroughly cleaned and lucubrated, while other parts will have to be machined by WISRD as replacements. As the institute is still settling in after the first week back from Summer Vacation, much of the progress on the lathe has been slow, but Blake and Felix both hope to move forward next week.


Lathe - 8/24/2016



I have Scotch-Brite and 3-in-one oil.
What does it mean, take apart the motor? Aren’t we just putting in a new AC connector and then testing it? Did you test the continuity of the windings?



We took off the felt bearings because we first meant to just clean off the dried grease from the outside and make sure it ran without getting hung up. Once we took off the bearing on the left side we saw that the felt was totally dried out and brittle. All we did was take off the bearings on the left and the through bolts because they were loose and wanted to check for rust. We plan on putting the bolts and bearings back on, after we get the dimensions for the felt ring to replace it.




Motor Expanded View: https://vintagemachinery.org/files/PDF/Craftsman/115-7448.pdf



Find other reports about the lathe on Felix, Will P, and Blake’s pages.


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