Turning Archive 2005

Engine powered lathe *LINK* *PIC*

JKJ in East TN
>At the annual Fall Homecoming festival (at the Museum of Appalachia, Norris, TN) I noticed a small lathe driven by an antique gasoline engine. The Smoky Mountain antique engine and tractor association comes out in force each year with dozens of fascinating (and working) contraptions.

The home-built lathe was driven by a long belt from an engine which also drove a grinding stone, a sander, and a hacksaw. The lathe (picture, below my right forearm) used an old crystal glass doorknob to tighten the tailstock and had a fixed-height tool rest made from a large piece of angle iron. Since the engine ran all the time, to stop the lathe you loosened a clamp and slid the whole lathe until the belt was loose.

The two guys turning on the lathe were having a terrible time, using every tool as a crude scraper! No wonder - all the tools were hopeless dull and neither gentlemen had any lathe experience. They had been getting "advice" all day from passersby but had come to the conclusion that no one else knew any more than they did.

I more-or-less sharpened one gouge on the grinder (picture, note the tool rest!) then showed them some basic cuts. I ended up taking all the tools home that night and brought them back the next day sharp enough to shave with and gave them a bit of instruction. Made some new friends! One of the guys got had so much fun he planned on buying a real lathe as soon as the show was over. When I came back the next day they had made several baby rattles with captive rings. I was invited to come back next year and turn away. I'm considering making a spring pole lathe which would fit well with the theme of the museum.

The entire event was excellent. There was a blacksmith, woodcarvers, corn mills, rail splitting, quilt making, saw milling, country cooking and continuous mountain/folk/bluegrass music.


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