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Ames of Chicopee Mass.
Precision 71/4" Backgeared and
Screwcutting Lathe Model 00

If any reader has an Ames lathe, and would like to supply a set of pictures for use in the Archive, the writer would be delighted to make contact
Ames Home Page   Ames Millers   Ames Triplex Multi-Function Machine
Ames 1940s to 1960s

A different company to that founded by Bliss Charles Ames on Ash Street in Waltham, Ma. in the late 1890s, the Ames Mfg Co Chicopee, were known during the 1800s as a maker of swords and other weapons. Although little is known of Ames Chicopee machine-tool production, they must have been at the forefront of developments: an example of their gunstock copying lathe is in the London Science Museum and several examples of an early and beautifully-made 7.25" swing backgeared and screwcutting lathe have survived. Although dating the lathes shown here must be a matter for conjecture, with Ames Chicopee founded in 1810 and machine-tool production starting in 1835, they could have been made at any point from the latter date onwards. One wonders if the Ames Chicopee design had any influence upon the precision plain-turning bench lathe made by Stark in 1862 - a machine that enabled America to take the lead in the manufacture of such machines and as exemplified by Levin, Bottum, The American Watch Tool Company, B.C.Ames, Bottum, Hjorth, Potter, Pratt & Whitney, Rivett, Wade, Waltham Machine Works, WadePratt & Whitney, Rivett, Cataract, Hardinge, Elgin, Remington, Sloan & Chace, and (though now very rare) Frederick Pearce, Ballou & Whitcombe, , Sawyer Watch Tool Co., Engineering Appliances and Fenn-Sadler the "Cosa Corporation of New York" and UND.
Although at a glance very similar, each Ames Chicopee lathe has a number of significant differences showing that a programme of steady development must have been in place and so a reasonable number sold. Several design features stand out, some of which reflect contemporary practice and others unexpected diversions from it: a headstock with narrow, unbraced bearing posts (common at the time) secured not by studs and nuts but slotted-head screws; an unusually wide, beam-type gapless bed with ways that ran past the front and back faces of the headstock so allowing the carriage (with its long, equally proportioned wings) to bring the cutting tool up to the spindle nose; a carriage traverse handwheel that engaged the bed-mounted rack through a system of reduction gearing (a system that was rare at the time when a quick-action crank handle would have been expected) and a leadscrew of fine pitch (a very coarse thread being more usual) and obviously intended for the generation of threads rather than to just provide a sliding power feed. Unfortunately, as was common at the time, no swivelling top slide was fitted - though judging from the clearances involved (and the very tall cross-slide on the older example) there would have been enough room to include one. Changewheels were, like the rest of the lathe, were given a superb cosmetic finish being fully machined on both faces and retained by elegant hand-knobs. From it's rather temporary-looking mounting - a slot machined into the front of the left-hand bearing wall - the tumble-reverse mechanism may have been engineered in post-design - though if so it was neatly done. On the earlier of the two models, the one with helical backgears, the tailstock spindle is square; a tricky job to machine and fit to perfection.
From the remains of the original finish on the older example (unfortunately the newer  appears to have been polished) the maker's paint finish would seem to have been a dark green on the major castings with a red band along the front of the bed with adornment by the usual Victorian-style lining out in red and gold..

The expensive helical backgears would suggest that this is an earlier version of the lathe, the newer machines having the same gears made with very coarse-pitch spur teeth.

There is every chance that this lathe retains its original dark green finish with a  band of red down the face of the bed and adornment by the usual Victorian-style lining out

Note the fine-pitch leadscrew. This lathe was obviously intended for the generation of threads and not just to have a powered sliding feed

The carriage traverse handwheel engaged the bed-mounted rack through a system of reduction gearing - a most
unusual system on this age of lathe where a quick-action crank handle would have been the expected fitting

On the earlier of the two models, the one with helical backgears, the tailstock spindle is square; a tricky job to machine and fit to perfection.

Backgears on the early versions were an especially coarse-pitch spur type.
Note the use of slot-headed screws to secure the headstock

The tumble-reverse mechanism may have been engineered in post design--though if so it was neatly and effectively done
Elegant handscrews retained the changewheels

The later of the two examples has a conventional cylindrical tailstock spindle. Note the elegant locking handle

An exceptionally wide bed with V and flat ways arranged separately for carriage and tailstock

Above and below: even the original screwcutting charts have survived

A third example of an Ames of Chicopee Mass. lathe

Mail Tony@lathes.co.uk 
Home    Machine Tool Archive    Machine Tools For Sale & Wanted
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Ames of Chicopee Mass.
Precision 71/4" Backgeared and
Screwcutting Lathe circa 1835/60

If any reader has an Ames lathe, and would like to supply a set of pictures for use in the Archive, the writer would be delighted to make contact
Ames Home Page   Ames Millers   Ames Triplex Multi-Function Machine
Ames 1940s to 1960s