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Wade Precision Toolmaker's Lathe 8A
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An Instruction Book and Manual is available for this lathe

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Before Wade purchased the rights to the American Watch Tool Company's larger Bench Lathes in 1918 they were already making a backgeared and screwcutting lathe - the 8.5" x 24" Toolmaker's Model 8A. This was a beautiful machine, equal to Rivett's 8-inch Precision and 608 models for attention to detail and quality of fit and finish and an advance in terms of rigidity and capacity for rapid metal removal. Advertised as: "The ultimate in lathes for close precision work within its capacity" it had a swing of  8.5" (a centre height of 4.25") and admitted 24" between centres. For an 8" lathe the hardened and ground spindle was truly massive: it had a clear hole of 11/4" (later given as 13/16" in the sales literature) a generously-sized nose with a thread of  2" x 10 t.p.i. and was able to accept  "Wade No. 8" collets with a maximum through bore of  1".  Early versions employed traditional Wade plain hardened, ground and lapped steel bearings of the "watchmaker-lathe" type but later machines, from an indeterminate date sometime in the early 1930s, were fitted with what were called, in contemporary literature, "anti-friction" bearings; that immediately behind the spindle thread was a double-row roller bearing and, just back from that (and also contained within the front housing), was a precision ball thrust bearing; the rear of the spindle was supported in a deep-groove ball bearing. The bearings were set under a slight preload, to ensure that the spindle was held as rigidly as possible. On these lathes, when backgear was engaged, the cone pulley ran on its own long roller bearing. Both headstock and tailstock (the former with a short reduction sleeve) were fitted with No. 2 Morse taper centres.
Another wade Precision Bench Lathe, the No. 8, was listed alongside the 8A for a time but, upon the introduction of  lathes made by the Watch Tool Company, this model was dropped and only the fully-equipped 8A shown in the advertising literature.
The customer for the 8A was given the choice of either a hardened and ground bed - or one which was left in its natural state then hand-scraped and "spotted".  Originally available just for bench mounting, later machines were fitted to oak and then, post WW2, much stronger steel cabinet stands. The drive systems varied according to the times with first a traditional overhead countershaft unit (though beautifully constructed on cast-iron uprights) and then with the option of a neat, under-drive stand that still employed a flat-belt drive but, like the Schaublin 102, offered a belt-shifting mechanism that allowed speeds to be swapped without stopping the motor. In the 1950s, in an effort to modernise the lathe, it was offered with a mechanical infinitely-variable-speed drive of the type that used a wide "V-belt" and expanding and contracting pulleys (controlled by a wheel on the front face of the stand marked "
slow" and "fast"); because there were no belt positions to indicate the spindle speed this model was fitted with a rather fine-looking but rather large electric tachometer on the front face of the headstock. Some later examples have also been found fitted with a spindle clutch, a most useful fitting that, by allowing a single-phase motor to keep running instead of being stopped started, greatly prolongs its life.
Most lathes offered by the factory fitted to self-contained benches had 2-speed 3-phase motors that, in combination with backgear, gave a total of 12 spindle speeds. A later development was the fitting of a motor at the tailstock end of the bed that provided a variable-speed electrical drive to the power sliding and surfacing feed - so rivalling, for a time, the facilities offered on a Hardinge HLV lathe.
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Wade No. 8A Toolmaker's Lathe as it appeared in the early 1940s

Continued:
Made from a hardened and ground close-grained alloyed iron, the bed was in the shape of a hollow square in cross section with cross ribs to add strength and rigidity. The front way was especially wide and the wings of the saddle over eleven inches long - producing a bearing surface greater than on many much larger machines. The saddle was gibbed to the bed at both front - with a long taper and adjusting screw - and the back; the tailstock and headstock were located on separate ways. The front way, with a steeper than usual inside angle to better absorb tool thrust, and a wider outside to spread the wearing load, was probably a Wade design and appears to have been the world's first use of this widely-copied idea.
Early examples of the bed appear to have been without any swarf clearance holes, later ones were equipped with three long rectangular slots down the centre line - these appearing, amazingly, to have been created by drilling a series of holes and then punching the material out.
A thing of beauty, the compound slide was, according to users, a silky-smooth action and an ability to feed back exactly what was happening at the cutting edge. Some later models were fitted with a longer cross slide incorporating two rear-mounted T-slots designed to hold a parting-off tool in an inverted position.
Wade claimed very high standards of accuracy for the lathe: the taper hole in the nose of the spindle, and the chuck seat on the outside, concentric and true to within 0.00001". The spindle alignment with the guideways on the bed, carriage and tailstock to within a tolerance of 0.0003" over 12" and a facing cut made across 8" in diameter would produce a surface within 0.0002" concave and 0.0000" convex. On the original version of the lathe, the power cross-feed was set at 2.5 times slower than the sliding feed while later versions were made much slower at 5 and then, finally, 10 times slower.
Of the offset type, the tailstock was fitted with a 1" diameter, hardened, ground and lapped spindle carrying a No. 2 Morse taper. The barrel was designed so that, even when extended to the maximum of its 3.25" travel by the Acme-form screw, it was still fully supported within the main casting. The spindle was engraved with 1/16th.-inch scales, fitted with a micrometer dial and included a self-eject mechanism for the centre. The locking clamp was of the internal, compression-barrel type, designed to minimise any deflection of the spindle as it was tightened.
Able to generate thirty-two pitches without changing or moving any of the all-steel drive gears, the quick-change screwcutting gearbox could be fitted with additional changewheels to cut any thread, including metric - the change of gear was on one hardened and ground stud only - mounted on a swinging bracket within the gear-guard case. All gears on the lathe - including, apparently the backgears, changewheels and spur gears in the apron were 28DP and with a 14.5° pressure angle.
The makers guaranteed that, in any thread cutting operation, the overall pitch error for any foot of length would not exceed plus or minus 0.0005" whilst on a thread 12 inches long any three consecutive inches would be within plus or minus 0.0003".
Interestingly, an example has been found of a 10-inch swing 8A; probably a one-off, special-order machine it was delivered in the 1940s to the Los Alamos National Research Laboratories in New Mexico, USA. The comments of a delighted and impressed Wade 8A owner can be found towards the bottom of the page.
Known serial numbers for the 8A are:
1919…... 160
1927…... 203
1940…... 220
1941……247
1942……330
1946……500
1949……600
1957……800
1958…...850
1959 discontinued
Like many other machine tools the Wade 8A was also sold badged as a "Do-All" - although the marketing exercise could have fooled few people at the time, today it can lead to amusing confusion.
If you have a Wade 8A the author would be pleased to hear from you.
A Wade 8A enthusiast is developing a site devoted to these lathes at: www.wade8a.com

1940s Wade 8A on the maker's neat cabinet stand with integrated drive system

The first version of the  Wade 8A Toolmaker's lathe with screwcutting gearbox, power sliding and surfacing, T-slotted faceplate, collet draw-in assembly, the tumble-reverse lever facing forwards immediately below the left-hand headstock bearing - and a taper-turning unit.
Notice the depth and width of the bed compared to the centre height - and the fact that, like many Precision lathes the Wade's 3-step cone pulley had its smallest diameter by the spindle nose - so allowing the front bearing to be made both significantly larger and be buttressed by a greater mass of surrounding metal. On the very early versions of the lathe the inside of the pulley held gears - exactly like those on Rivett 8-inch Precision lathes -  to provide a leadscrew-reversing mechanism. Clearly visible in this picture is the extra-wide front way with its steep inside angle - probably the first time this widely-copied design was used..

Wade Precision Plain-turning Bench Lathe No. 8

Visible in this picture of an early machine is the extra-wide front way with its steep inside angle - possibly the first time that this design (which was to be widely copied) was used.

Early Wade 8A on Oak cabinet Stand with Overhead Countershaft together with pulleys to drive toolpost-mounted grinding and milling spindles

8A on Self-contained Underdrive Oak Cabinet Stand

Pictures showing the cabinet stand with the side panelling removed. The belt change mechanism relied on two shifters, on just above the motor, the other built into the top of the headstock which replicated the movement of a "lifting hand". The lever on the top of the headstock operated a spindle clutch

Wade 8A ball-turning attachment

Wade 8A fitted with the rarely-found "overhead drive" - a means of powering high-speed, top-slide-mounted milling and grinding heads

Section through the backgeared headstock of a Wade 8A Toolmaker's Precision lathe. The bearing immediately behind the spindle thread was a double-row roller and just behind that (and also contained within the front housing) was a precision ball-thrust bearing. The rear of the spindle was supported in a deep-groove ball bearing and, to ensure that the spindle was held as rigidly as possible, the bearings were all set under a slight preload.
Like many precision bench  lathes the Wade's 3-step cone pulley had its smallest diameter by the spindle nose - so allowing the front bearing to be made both significantly larger and be buttressed by a greater mass of surrounding metal.
As a final touch - and in aid of maximum efficiency of drive -  when backgear

Part section through the bed, saddle, cross and top slides of a Wade 8A Toolmaker's lathe

Side elevation section through underdrive stand.

End elevation section through underdrive stand..

- continued on page 2 -

Wade Precision Toolmaker's Lathe 8A
An Instruction Book and Manual is available for this lathe

Wade Home Page   Wade 8A Toolmakers' Lathe

Wade 94/98 Production Lathes

Wade/Ballou "Front-way" Lathe  The Last Wade   Other Wade Products

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