Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Catalogues   Belts   Books   Accessories

Moseley Watchmakers' Lathes - USA

Moseley Page 2   Moseley Slide-mounted Capstan Attachment 

Marshall, Peerless & Moseley

Copies of the rare Moseley Lathe Booklet are available

Moseley were a long-established American maker of fine-quality WW Type (Webster-Whitcombe) watchmaking lathes - production from their factory in Elgin, Illinois, spanning a period from the late 19th to around the third decade of the 20th centuries. Competition in the watch-lathe business was always fierce and the company was eventually incorporated into C. & E. Marshall of Chicago, who also marketed the Marshall and Peerless WW type lathes.
Moseley lathes were, in the parlance of the time, "
all-hard" - meaning that they were of superior quality, not a poor imitation of the real thing - of which there were many - and used top-quality materials, properly prepared and carefully assembled by skilled craftsmen.
In the words of the catalog: "
The Headstock Spindle which receives the Chucks, the Loose Bearing which is fitted to the Spindle, and the Front and Rear Bushings in which they run are all made of  the Best Quality of High Carbon Crucible Tool Steel carefully Tempered to a High Degree of Hardness and Ground to Standard and Alignment by Special Grinding machinery, using Special Carborundum and Alundum Abrasive Wheels."
To ensure absolute accuracy and concentricity the spindle was assembled into its "Double Combination 3 and 45-degrees angle" bearings before being finish ground on the internal, collet-locating taper. The spindle assembly was adjusted by just one slotted and knurled nut at its left-hand end - whilst access to the oiling holes was by moving back the "sprung" dust shields fitted to each side of both bearings (easy when you know how, a puzzle if not told).
Hot moulded onto a metal centre the hard-rubber 4-step headstock-spindle pulley wheel was equipped with a single ring of 60 indexing holes around the outer (metal) face of its largest diameter - the knurled-head indexing pin used to locate the pulley (No. 18 below) being manufactured from tool steel. The durability of this type of "all-hard" headstock is well known, and several manufacturers have claimed life spans of incredible duration under normal operating conditions; the Moseley Company was no exception and proudly announced that lathes over thirty years old, which had been back to the works for "
minor repairs", had headstock bearings in: "as good a condition as when they were first sent out.".
Both headstock and tailstock were locked to the bed by a single clamp, the arrangement for each assembly being identically and neatly engineered with the eccentric operating rods passing through their respective casting to emerge conveniently for the operator's fingers on the end faces (Nos. 22 and 31 below).
Of the traditional "push" type the original standard tailstock had just a simple sliding barrel (made from hardened, ground and lapped tool steel) locked by an eccentric and lever. The barrel was fitted with a taper in one end to hold the necessary fittings - and provided with an ejection slot to remove them. As an optional extra, a screw-feed tailstock was offered - and described by the makers as being for "
a heavier class of  drilling and other operations "
Like all makers of watchmakers' lathes, Moseley produced a wide range of accessories, including some rather interesting ones included amongst which were a very fine jewelling calliper rest, a neatly designed pivot polisher and a quite astonishing (and possibly unique in its class) slide-mounted capstan unit.
Numbers of these lathes survive - though often with no accessories and in a neglected state. When buying a watchmakers' lathe always try to find one complete in its maker's fitted box complete with as wide a range of accessories as possible; some hints and tips together with a list of makers and accessories can be found here..

An early Moseley - note the full-circle handwheels (instead of the more usual capstan handles) used to secure the headstock and tailstock in place

From the centre-fold of a Moseley catalog

A later model Moseley/Marshall watchmaker's lathe fitted with the rare inch-graduation micrometer-dial equipped tailstock. Both headstock and tailstock take 8 mm collets with the former using hard steel cone bushings.

Stamped Moseley on the headstock end of the bed and Marshall at the tailstock end

Moseley/Marshall micrometer-dial equipped tailstock

The bed section of the Moseley followed the popular and very successful WW design (for more details on this subject, look HERE).
The bed was 11" long and 1.75" in diameter; the makers gave the centre height of the lathe as 2", but in reality it was probably 50 mm,  or 1.968", the WW standard.
The normal distance between centres was 4", but by unclamping the headstock and manoeuvring it and the tailstock so that they both overhung their respective ends of the bed, this could be increased to 7"
The "wire" collets (called chucks in contemporary literature) had a maximum pass-through capacity of 0.204" (5 mm).

Jewelling Caliper Rest
The aim of this device was to bore very accurate holes to accept jewels, lenses, etc. The object to be inserted in the bored hole was held between a gauge plate and a gauging finger at the top of the unit. If the setting instructions were followed correctly, the resulting hole would be exactly the same size as the part held by the gauging device - and a perfect fit assured.

Pivot Polisher
This useful and beautifully-made attachment mounted on the lathe's tool slide in place of the hand rest. The spindle was of hardened, ground and lapped steel and ran in hardened steel bushes. The unit was mounted on a swivel base - itself fitted with a threaded boss which passed through the large knurled-edge ring evident in the pictures; turning the ring raised and lowered the unit.
Although primarily intended for the polishing of watch pivots it could also be pressed into service as an internal and external grinder, a drill - and also assist in producing ornamental decoration in the form of spotting, snailing and some types of Dasmascne (USA: damaskeening).

Pivot Polisher

Compound slide rest - a very desirable accessory. Because the bed section of WW-style lathes was to a standard form and size, slide rests (and other accessories) are often interchangeable between  manufacturers .

The "screw-feed" tailstock (with a screw driven rather than simple hand-pushed barrel) was intended for heavier duty work. The clamping mechanism was neatly designed - turning the wheel at the end locked and unlocked the unit from the lathe bed.

An expensive and hence rare accessory - the Universal Headstock. This consisted of a standard headstock assembly permanently fitted with a "Universal Face Plate". Because the spindle and faceplate were one unit, the makers claimed a higher degree of accuracy compared with the standard demountable type.
The large holes (a  feature common to this attachment, no matter who the maker) were not only to lighten the structure but designed to allow the craftsman a chance to see the tool working from behind.
Moseley made the "Universal Face Plate" part of this device in several different fittings to suit the headstocks of other makes of watchmakers' lathe.

Wheel and Pinion Cutter
Held on the compound slide rest, driven by an extra pulley on the countershaft and fitted with various kinds of cutter it was possible to cut Train, Winding-shaft, Escape, Crown, Bevel, Spur and other kinds of watch wheel held either in the headstock or between centres.

Index Plate.
Used in conjunction with the Wheel Cutter and Index lathe for manufacturing watch 'wheels' from blanks, a wide variety was available in numbers from 50 100.
To the layman, watch 'wheels' are "gears" or (even worse) "cogs". In horology a "wheel" is any 'gear' with, usually, more than 20 teeth. An exception is an escape wheel,  which may have only 13 or 15 teeth.

Index Latch
This accessory was used in conjunction with Index Plates when wheel cutting and was made as adaptable as possible - having vertical, traverse and longitudinal adjustments.

Traverse Spindle Grinder
This attachment had a tapered hole formed in the end of its spindle to carry small grinding wheels or laps impregnated with abrasive medium. The spindle, being designed to run at very high speed, was made from hardened, ground and lapped steel and ran in bearing of the same material.
The unit mounted on the compound slide rest - and could therefore be manipulated to perform both (light) internal and external grinding, sharpening and backing off circular cutters, grinding centres - and, by using a suitable cutter in the taper, for drilling and light milling.

Without the benefit of individual electric motors to drive their lathes, watchmakers in the 19th and early 20th centuries had to employ a variety of "treadle" devices instead.
The two assemblies illustrated above were Moseley's answer to the problem; on the left the "Cycle B-58 Wheel" had a 40-lb. Flywheel with plain bearings as standard or Anti-friction ball races as an extra-cost option. On the right the "Cycle B-59 Duplex wheel" was a later offering and featured a parallel motion which was claimed to offer a smoother drive, especially at higher speeds, and a (ball-bearing) 40-lb flywheel.

Simple Countershaft with room to add additional pulleys to drive attachments such as the "Dead Centre Chuck" and "Step Spindle Chuck" illustrated below. Compare this unit with that shown on the Derbyshire lathe pages ..

Idler Pulley Stand.
This adjustable arm and pulley assembly was used to guide and tension the belt from the countershaft as it drove the Pivot Polisher and Traverse Grinding Attachment.

Where ultra-high speeds were required - beyond the capacity of the headstock spindle - the "Step Spindle Chuck" was used.  A conical hole was formed in the end into which special tapered blanks could be fitted ; the device was driven directly from the countershaft by the 4" diameter "Speed Wheel".

"Speed  Wheel"
This was of 4" in diameter and designed to be run on the countershaft to provide high speeds of rotation for the the Pivot Polisher, Step Spindle Chuck, Traverse Grinding Attachment - and similar accessories.

The Dead Centre Chuck
This device consisted of a collet with a rotating end. It was used when the greatest possible accuracy and concentricity was required and, in combination with the tailstock, converted the lathe into a pair of simple "turns" - the original watchmaker's lathe.
The collet (chuck) was drawn in the headstock in the usual manner but the spindle was prevented from turning by engaging the index pin into one of the indexing holes formed in the end flange of the pulley.
A fine rope drive was used from the countershaft to rotate the assembly at high speed, the work being driven round by a dog (or carrier) engaged by a pin pushed into the face of the pulley.

Moseley Page 2   Moseley Slide-mounted Capstan Attachment 

Marshall, Peerless & Moseley

Copies of the rare Moseley Lathe Booklet are available
Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Catalogues   Belts   Books   Accessories

Moseley Watchmakers' Lathes - USA