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Atlas 6-inch Lathe Mk. 1
Atlas 6-inch Mk. 2   Mk. 1 Photographs
Atlas 9, 10 & 12-inch Lathes   Atlas Miller   Atlas Shaper
A complete Data pack is available for this lathe
If any reader has a set of photographs of the early version of the Mk. 1 Atlas 6-inch (or the Craftsman equivalent the 101.7300)  the writer would be pleased to hear from them

Styled to closely resemble its larger brother, the "10-inch", the Atlas 'Model 618'  6" x 18" (3.5" centre height) backgeared and screwcutting lathe was in production from 1936 until 1974 and then, in Mk. 2 form, until 1980. Enormously popular in America - it was affordable and with a specification that allowed it to undertake the majority of jobs likely to be encountered in a home workshop - its likely that the lathe made its first appearance not as an Atlas but badged for the mail-order company Sears,Roebuck under their Craftsman label as machine type 101.7300. This initial model, which may have carried an inadequate 0.75" x 16 t.p.i. spindle thread, had a different headstock to the later models and could be had without backgear. The countershaft unit and belt-tensioning arrangements were also of a very elementary, lightweight design.
Continued below:

Atlas 6" x 18"  (3" centre height) - 1941 version with the taller, Mk. 2 countershaft with the swing-head hanging down backwards and the V belt passing between the uprights.

As few appear on the used market, the number of early versions produced must have been limited and later machines (commonly seen as Craftsman Series 101.73**) are much more frequently encountered. Like all Atlas lathes, the 6-inch was mass produced, with costs kept down by the use of parts in Zamak - a pressure die-cast metal. However, despite its modest price, it had a number of desirable features: the No. 2 Morse taper, 17/32" bore headstock spindle had a 1" x 8 t.p.i. thread (later 1" x 10 t.p.i.), was fitted with a 60-hole indexing ring on the face of the backgear bullwheel and ran in Timken taper-roller bearings with part numbers: 07079 left bearing, 07100 right bearing and 07196 for the two bearing cups. However, one example of the lathe, Serial Number 1006, has been found with a most unusual fitting, a spindle with a 1.25" x 14 t.p.i.  Nose; could this have a been a sort-run batch for some specific task, possibly production and originally fitted with a capstan unit ?Drive on all models was by proper, full-size V-belts, Z-section (about 0.4" or 10 mm across the top) on both motor and headstock drives. The spindle carried a 4-step pulley, driven by 2-step pulleys on motor and countershaft - a combination that gave a remarkably wide range of 16 speeds between approximately 54 and 3225 r.p.m. using a standard 60 Hz 1700 r.p.m. American specification motor. On the few examples to make it to Europe these speeds were somewhat reduced by the 50 Hz, 1425 r.p.m. motors used there. If the motor pulley is missing (it's a pressure die-casting and relatively fragile) the larger diameter was 3
3/16" and the smaller 111/16". Very occasionally an example of the lathe is found with a 3-step headstock pulley - together with a commensurately wider A-section (1/2") V-belt - and it is thought that these might have been WW2 specials, constructed either for heavier-duty work or made to match a contract specification from the military or Government. After 1958 the headstock and spindle were shortened by approximately one-inch and the spindle nose made more secure by the use of a 10 t.p.i. thread. At a time when most small English lathes were without any form of guard covering either changewheels or belts, the little Atlas was comprehensively protected with covers (found in both aluminium and cast iron) thus keeping stray fingers safe. So neatly designed was the lathe that it must (together with details from the 10-inch) have provided inspiration for the designer of the well-known, very popular and long-lived just post-WW2 Myford ML7.
Although the basic lathe remained almost unchanged during its production run the drive system underwent several alterations. The original set-up consisted of a very simple, short countershaft unit in cast-iron with all-V-belt drive and the spindle running in Oilite bearings. It bolted to the bench behind the lathe, lacked any form of motor-mounting plate and had the top of the unit (the swing-head assembly) arranged to hinge under the influence of a simple lever-operated cam - with two adjuster screws for fine setting of the countershaft-to-headstock belt tension.
Lathes supplied for fitting to the maker's narrow, wooden-topped, cast-iron leg stand were equipped with an entirely different drive unit Because the lathe carried its backgear across the full length of the spindle, the line of the drive belt could only be moved slightly from the horizontal and, to get the drive line correct, the top section of the countershaft that carried the spindle and pulleys - the 'swing-head' - was arranged to hang down backwards with the V-belt passing between the uprights. After two years of production the original bench-type countershaft was abandoned and a version of the more robust stand-type countershaft used instead - though without a motor-mounting plate. The motor (as on the early countershaft) was simply fastened to the bench with the belt-adjustment system loosening and tightening both belts simultaneously.. If an owner wished to mount a lathe prior to number M1975 on the maker's stand, a special intermediate bracket Part No. 86-M10 was offered that incorporated a hinge point for a motor-mounting platform. Surprisingly, this assembly was never shown in any catalogue, but a photograph can be seen below. One other, much rarer drive system was produced, a countershaft that bolted to the back of the headstock-end bed foot--yet lacked any means of mounting the motor. In what was otherwise an especially well-specified lathe, it appears odd that Atlas never thought to market the machine (as they did the 10-inch) in a form where it could be bolted to the owner's bench, plugged in and used without further ado.
If any reader has photographs of different Atlas 6-inch spindle or drive system fittings, the writer would be very interested to hear from them.
Continued below:

Atlas 6" lathe specially configured for armature reconditioning. A variety of specifications was available, all based on the use of a special set of Jacobs chucks, one of which contained a bearing to support to tail end of the armature, and the electrically-driven mica under-cutter head.

During the early 1940s, as industry switched over to war production, several variations on the standard lathe were produced including Craftsman-badged versions built to the better Atlas specification that included (instead of plain bearings) two different types of roller-bearing headstock: one was a standard Atlas unit with just a badge change and the other a specially-made headstock that resembled (with its frontal bulge) the shape of the ordinary Craftsman plain-bearing unit. For more details of the Craftsman versions, including departures from the official specification, click here.
Tumble reverse was fitted as standard to the changewheel drive, so allowing the spindle to run freely or to cut right and left-hand threads by just lifting or lowering a lever into spring-plunger indented positions. Because the lathe was capable of very high spindle speeds, the small-diameter tumble-reverse gears ran quickly enough to be unacceptably noisy; to cure this late-model machines (from some unspecified date) used plastic gears to engage with the spindle - this fitting also having the benefit (as no shear-pin incorporated in the drive) of providing some degree of sacrificial protection for the relatively fragile ZAMAK gear train. Changewheels on all versions of the 6-inch were 24DP with a 14.5-degree pressure angle.
A simple but adequate single-sided apron with proper twin clasp nuts and a "geared-down" drive from the handwheel to the Acme-form leadscrew was used and remained unchanged for the life of the machine. Like that used on all other Atlas lathes the cross slide was of the "short" type that tended to wear the ways in their middle section, though it did carry a sheet metal cover at the rear to protect the feed screw.  No attempt was ever made to market, as an accessory, a T-slotted cross slide or boring table, both being useful and common fittings at the time on many British small lathes yet virtually never used in America. The top slide could be rotated through 360º and, happily,  was T-slotted - so easing the fitment of alternative toolposts to the simple and traditional single holder fitted as standard. Unfortunately both the feed screw micrometer dials and handles were tiny though by way of compensation all the carriage hand controls, even the leadscrew clasp-nut handle, were chrome plated.  The leadscrew was threaded 0.5" Acme and a dial-thread indicator included in the standard equipment.
Although the headstock carried a No. 2 Morse-taper centre, the tailstock was only a No. 1 - possibly, together with the tiny feed-screw micrometer dials, the only real specification failings in an otherwise well-designed machine. A shorter-bed version, the "Model 612", with just 12 inches between centres, was also manufactured - but this seems to be a comparatively rare machine, despite the undeniable attraction of being light enough to be lifted by one person from under the stairs onto the temporary workbench in the living room.
Although they are very different, confusion has arisen in the past between the Atlas/Craftsman 6-inch, and two other lathes sold be Sears (but made by the AA Company) the "109" and the later "Craftsman 80". The lathes produced by AA were very simple, minimalist machines and, in comparison with the Atlas, very inexpensive: in the mid 1950s an AA Craftsman 80 cost just $48 - compared to over $160 for the very much better Atlas/Craftsman.
In view of the lathe's excellent specification, its compact dimensions and neat, built-on countershaft, it remains surprising that, unlike its 10-inch brother, the lathe was not widely cloned overseas. One exception in post-WW2 years was the Swedish Högbo - a machine that copied the earlier rather than later countershaft design. On some versions of the Högbo the bed was longer and given a V-way at the front and a flat at the rear - and other detailed changes incorporated as well.
In the early 1970s Atlas introduced a Mk. 2 version of the lathe; this was styled in a very "square" fashion and, with the traditional separate speed-reducing countershaft removed, had a very compact drive system with its eight speeds taken directly from the motor by a tensioned V-belt to a multi-step pulley mounted outboard of the left-hand end of the headstock spindle..

Roller-bearing headstock with flip-top oilers - adequate for this model, but not for the plain bearing of the "Craftsman" specification model which would have been safer with proper, continuous-drip oilers - or restricted to owners with a good memory and a conscientious character…..

Early bench-type countershaft unit used from the lathe's introduction until some point in 1940 when a modified version of the more robust stand-type was used instead.

The carriage assembly - with its 360 degree rotating top slide - remained unchanged during the machine's production life. Even though a T-slotted cross slide would have greatly expanded the lathe's versatility, and been a popular addition, Atlas never bothered to offer one.

Simple but adequate single-sided apron with proper twin clasp nuts (in Zamak) and a "geared-down" drive from the handwheel to the leadscrew.

Carriage drive gears, carried on a Zamak housing,  that gave a reduction between apron handwheel and bed-mounted rack.

Changewheels with quieter-running Nylon  gears on the tumble-reverse drive. Both the changewheel guard and the headstock belt cover have been found in aluminum and cast iron.

Motor-Driven Mica Under-cutter.
This unit mounted in place of the cross slide and was used to cut back the mica insulation when a dynamo or starter armature had been cleaned up in the lathe.

Swivelling Vertical Milling Slide M6-500/500A with built-in vice - this unit plugged into the fitting normally occupied by the top slide and was a smaller version of that available for the 10" lathe.
Overall Height 11
Vertical Feed 1
Vise Capacity 2"
Jaw Depth 3/4"
Jaw Width 2"
Another picture here.

Taper Turning Unit - a design reduced to the bare essentials

Bed-mounted micrometer stop

Bed extension 

A rare accessory: the genuine Atlas light unit with flexible stem and mounting bracket

Atlas 6-inch electrical reversing switch of the type found mounted on a cast-iron arm attached to the back of the bed.

A typical countershaft set up as constructed for use on the Atlas 6-inch

Rare built-on countershaft - a fitting that atlas appeared reluctant to use on the otherwise well-specified 6-inch lathe

The bolt-on countershaft removed from the lathe

Early, very simple form of the 6-inch Atlas bench-mount countershaft

Early countershaft swing-head assembly

Rear view of the early Atlas 6-inch countershaft

Later, heavier bench countershaft. Note the lack of an adjustable motor-mount plate

A special intermediate bracket, Part No. M6-810, formed a hinge point for an adjustable motor-mount plate and acted as a carrier for the countershaft when lathes prior to M1975 were mounted on the maker's narrow, wooden-topped stand.

Mounting point for stand countershaft

Stand countershaft unit with its mounting boss but less the motor platform.

Cast-iron raiser blocks under the bed feet provided a convenient mounting point for the countershaft unit.
The fine finish and perfect fit point to the plates being a maker's accessory

The plate hinge is, of course, a modern addition….

E-MAIL  Tony@lathes.co.uk
lathes.co.uk Home Page     Machine Tool Archive     
Machine Tools For Sale & Wanted
   Machine Tool Manuals   Machine Tool Catalogues   Belts

Atlas 6-inch Lathe Mk. 1
Atlas 6-inch Mk. 2   Mk. 1 Photographs
Atlas 9, 10 & 12-inch Lathes   Atlas Miller   Atlas Shaper
A complete Data pack is available for this lathe