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Mason Home-built Lathe

Based on a design fist published in his 1970s book "Building a Small Lathe", this effective little 1.75-inch centre height by 10 inches between centres lathe was built during the Chinese Virus lockdown by John Lukey in Guildford. Formed from a 2-inch wide and 1/4-inch thick steel plate the rest of the lathe is mostly constructed from standard steel stock With a diameter of 1/2", the spindle has a No. 1 Morse taper socket and carries a nose thread of 14 x 1 mm. Although plain-turning with no changewheels to turn the leadscrew, Mr Lukey intends to drive this with a 12-volts variable speed motor to provided a powered sliding feed.
The builder writes: During the lockdown, I was looking for a project and remembered that I had enough steel to build a Mason Lathe. I'd already part-built one of these about 40 years ago for a friend, and he finished it using that lathe. Anyway, the steel had been sitting in my tool shed for 40 years so I raked it out and started the project on the 3rd March 2020.
I did not follow the design exactly, but incorporated some of my own ideas and was also dictated to by what materials I had to hand; hence, this is the "simple" model without the back gears as described by Mr Mason in the 70s. One addition I incorporated was a spindle-mounted, 60-hole indexing wheel - and I also made a number of accessories including a faceplate, live centre, adjustable carriage stop,  fixed centres, a fixed steady and a splash-back - and am in the process of making a 12-Volt drilling attachment for indexing. Drive (through PolyV belts). is by a 90W induction motor giving speeds of 395, 775 and 1500 r.p.m.
The builder writes:
I had the 1/4 x 2 inch steel and some of the bits that I had made for the first lathe that I built for a friend 40 years ago. These items included a leadscrew, a Norman type quick-set tool post, the tailstock barrel and feed wheel and the centre part of the cross slide and top slide "V" slides; these were all in a bright mild steel. However, most of the stock that I have is brass, aluminium and dural, so I used dural for the outer bits of the cross-slide and top-slide "Vs."
One of the difficult parts I found was lining up the headstock (made from two pieces of 1"x1" steel bar) with the bed. The bed is constructed from 1" x 2" bright mild steel.  It is spaced apart by the headstock bars and two further 1" diameter spacers bolted through with 6mm bolts and an end plate of 1/4" aluminium.  The top of the bed is then secured by means of 4BA c/s screws. I used a 1/2" silver-steel  bar to line things up as best I could. This was time consuming, as the reading were not always consistent. It all seemed to work out in end and a centre in the headstock and tailstock actually meet !
Made from two blocks of aluminium riding on a 1"x 2" steel plate riding on the bed ways, the tailstock has its locking lever fitted with a brass thread to bear on the bed so as not to mark it - and this proved to be a  successful design.
The motor I had for many years - and I know little about it or where I got it from. I have always collected  thing like this and found, eventually, that all finally have a use--you just have to remember where you put the darned thing ! The motor  did have a faded label that read "
Universal Motor. Co. Owosso, Michigan. No oiling required, thermal protection. O.83A 2500 RPM". The motor measured 90W on no load and seemed adequate to drive the lathe.
As I wanted to get the motor as close as possible, tucked in behind the countershaft  brackets, the drive arrangement was designed  to take up as little space as possible - and this part of the build worked out well. I used 3/8 silver steel for the shaft running in Oilite bushes, although it proved difficult to get the bushes to  line up, but after a few hours of head scratching and fettling it came right.
Having got to the stage of trying out the motor before making up some sort of mounting bracket, it seemed to  run nice and smoothly. Ever few day as I worked on other aspects of the lathe, I would switch it on to make sure all was well - but, as I was about to fit it to the lathe, it started to clatter. This got progressively worse over time, so I had to strip it down - and I don't think it was designed to  come apart easily! The problem turned out to be that the pressed metal "top hat" housing that held the front ball race was loose. The whole thing was flopping about so I ordered another ball race, fixed the housing - and all was well.
Following the old-fashioned factory way of building a lathe, one assembled and checked, the whole thing was taken apart and painted. I used a grey etching primer on the non ferrous parts and sprayed the lathe with several coats of thinned light blue Hammerite Hammer finish. I used a cheap Badger airbrush with a 2oz pot at 35 p.s.i.


Beautifully constructed and with a superb cosmetic finish, this "Mason" lathe was home built by John Lukey of Guildford


The lathe's designer, Mr. L.C. Mason, specified a toolpost of the "Norman Patent" type, this effective and
easily-adjusted unit, clamped to a boss on the top slide,  also being used on the Myford/Drummond M-Type

60-hole indexing plate and its sturdily-mounted indexing pin

Neat, simple but effective countershaft unit