email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Baby Grand Lathe - USA

Baby Grand Drill

Manufactured by The Watson Mfg. Company of Toledo, Ohio the Baby Grand lathe was the product of a company formed in the yearly years of the 20th century and well known for its range of lathe chucks, hand tools, drills and a small double-ended grinder. Watson is known to have made several lathes, but the only one for which details are available is the 6-inch swing version (shown below in 1932 form) a machine that was offered with a choice of three bed lengths - 20 inches, 26 inches and 32 inches - with between-centres' capacities of 12-inches, 18-inches and 24-inches respectively. Whilst typical of the type manufactured to cater for the bottom-end of the hobby market, with a rather light headstock assembly (clamped to the bed by two bolts whose heads registered against  unmachined surfaces beneath the bed), this lathe appears to have been capable of real work - unlike some of the hopelessly under-specified models that were sold by the larger mass-marketing companies of the day. It had a 37/65-inch hole through the spindle, a 4-step headstock pulley, driven by a traditional round leather belt, No. 1 Morse taper centres, a swivelling compound slide rest with 4 inches of cross travel and 4.5 inches of longitudinal, proper "balanced" handles to all the feed screws (but no micrometer dials) and bronze headstock bearings with flip-top oilers - where unprotected holes might have been expected. Although not illustrated in the company's tiny brochure, a countershaft unit to drive the lathe was provided and, although no mention was made of a suitable electric motor, spindle speeds of 380, 735, 1360 and 2650 were quoted. Unfortunately, instead of straight-sided V grooves as used by many other makers for their round-leather belt drives, the Watson Mfg. Company made their 'round' in cross section and thus lost the chance for the belt to "wedge" into the pulley. The tailstock was constructed as simply as possible with a slender base plate, a very slender, central flange braced with cast-in vertical ribs and a crude, direct-acting barrel clamp.
The lathe was offered as three outfits: the No. 1, which weighed 35 lbs complete in short-bed form, was for wood turning only and gave the customer a bed and legs, headstock, tailstock, countershaft drive unit, hand rest, wood-spur centre, a wood screw chuck and a dead centre; the No. 2, at 45 lbs,  was intended for metal turning only and consisted of: lathe bed and feet, headstock and tailstock, a swivelling compound slide rest, countershaft drive unit, a (potentially dangerous) twin-slot drive plate, 2 cone centres, a clamp dog for driving between centres and a universal turning-tool holder with one boring tool and two turning tools; the No. 3 outfit combined all the parts from the No. 1 and No. 2 to make the lathe suitable for both wood and metal turning and weighed 70 lbs. Surprisingly, although Watson are known to have produced a small 3-jaw self-centring chuck, they made no mention of it being available for their own lathe.
An alternative design of improved headstock, with 4-screw cap bearings and backgear, was also offered at some stage in the machine's life.
If you have a Baby Grand, or any product of the Watson Mfg. Company, the author would be interested to hear from you.

The classic plain-turning Baby Grand - still doing duty in the home workshop of a bicycle enthusiast

Another version of the lathe had a backgeared headstock and heavier-duty, 4-screw, cap-type bearings.

Instead of V-form grooves as used by many other makers for their round leather belt drive the Watson Mfg. Company made theirs round in profile and thus lost the chance for the belt to "wedge" into the pulley.

The tailstock was as simple as possible with a slender base plate and a very slender, central flange braced with cast-in vertical ribs.

Although the cross-slide screw was partially guarded against swarf the top slide screw was left completely exposed

Rear of compound slide rest showing the perfunctory sheet-metal guard over the rear section of the cross-slide feed screw

Simple, non-adjustable countershaft

4-jaw independent chuck by the Watson Company

email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Baby Grand Lathe - USA

Baby Grand Drill