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Walker-Turner Wood Lathe
A Maintenance and Instruction sheet for the
variable-speed drive is available
Sought - a copy of the "Driver Add a Tool" operating manual
and catalog. Can you help?

Walker-Turner were originally based in Plainfield, N.J. USA and made a wide range of metal and woodworking equipment including a combination wood and light-duty metal-turning bench lathe (of the plain, non-screwcutting type), and the most unusual "Driver-Add-A-Tool" universal wood and metal-turning machine (shown lower down the page). However, their most popular lathe was a variable-speed drive wood-turning model first advertised in the early 1940s that was to continue in, in various modified forms, until at least the early 1970s. This machine was also available in a simpler form, which appeared to use largely the same main components, but with a cheaper drive system that used ordinary V-belts - with the guard cover on the headstock left open to allow easy accesses to the pulleys.
On all versions the base, bed, headstock, tailstock and tool rest of both models were properly made in cast iron and, unusually for a wood lathe of that size, the bed was fitted with a gap that allowed work up to 15.5" to be turned. The swing (over the bed) was 12" and the capacity between centres was a very useful 38". Bored through 5/8" the headstock shared with the tailstock a No. 2 Morse taper, the latter having a self-eject spindle. Well engineered, the headstock spindle, fitted with right and left hand 1-inch 10 t.p.i threads, ran on two sets of pre-loaded ball bearings (double row at the tailstock end and single at the other).  For very large capacity work a bowl-turning attachment was available that bolted to the end face of the headstock end plinth - though so strong was this structure, and the choice of mounting points so large, that a home made assemble could just as easily have been made up. A fully-enclosed motor was held within the headstock-end plinth - either a 0.5 h.p., which was recommended for general work, or a 1.5 h.p. for heavy-duty turning and metal spinning. Alternatively, a two-speed 1750/3500 rpm 3-phase motor could be specified, in which case the speed range spanned an impressive 260 rpm to 4500 rpm. The drive to the headstock incorporated a mechanical expanding and contracting variable-speed drive unit that could be padlocked at a chosen setting  - an ideal arrangement when the lathe was to be used in educational and training establishments where students, not known for their care of expensive machine tools, would have delighted in seeing just how far they could force a control wheel or handle. A rectangular speed-indicator plate, fitted in the lower left-hand corner of the headstock's front face, had a pointer connected directly to the speed-change mechanism. The bed-mounted toolpost, with a robust T-rest supported on a 1.25-inch diameter shaft, was equipped with permanently-fitted clamping handles that allowed it to be both slid easily and then locked instantly in place..

Spindle-speed control wheel - fitted with a padlock .

The variable speed drive system was simple but effective and used two V belts running through expanding and contracting pulleys mounted on a common shaft. This system was also used on certain of the company's band saws.

Large capacity bowl-turning rest fitted to the cheaper, open-headstock, rear-drive model.

A very useful right-angle bowl-turning attachment

Alternative rear-mounted 16-speed spindle drive; an accessory discontinued early in the 1950s.

A "Polishing" or "Speed" lathe which used the complete headstock, variable speed drive unit and cabinet leg of the wood-turning model.

The infrequently found Walker Turner "Driver" wood lathe - a machine offered with a compound slide rest assembly for light-duty metal turning. It appears to have been sold in two versions: an early type with the ball-bearing headstock open at the front - and what may have been a later model with a more rigid, fully enclosed headstock. If you have either types, the writer would be pleased to hear from you.

What may be an earlier version of the Walker Turner "Driver" wood lathe

Announced during 1936, and sold into the early 1940s, the Walker-Turner Driver Add-A-Tool was a combination woodworking machine and metal lathe. Based on a solid steel bar turned so that one edge faced upwards and with a swing of 7.5 inches and a between-centres capacity of 30 inches, it was offered as various units (listed A to K) that could, as funds allowed, be built up to include a saw-bench, planer, band-saw, jointer, a compound metal-turning rest and a flexible drive assembly. The whole apparatus was designed for mounting on a wooden-topped stand with a built-on 12-speed countershaft unit with the weight of the 1/3 h.p. motor providing tension to the V-belt drive. Speeds ranged from a low of 400 through 724, 765, 1225, 1345, 1420, 2150, 2275, 2440 3900, 4000 to an astonishingly fast 7400 r.p.m. To simplify matters, the flexible drive unit was used to power the band-saw and jointer, the drive being taken from tan extension to the countershaft. The No. 1 Morse taper headstock spindle, 3/4" in diameter, ran in plain bronze bearings and was fitted with a ball-bearing thrust race
For decoration, the bedways, front of the face of the saw-bench and even the whole length of the double-length wood-turning rest were given a mock hand-scraped appearance.

As advertised during 1938, a complete Add-A-Tool with every available accessory and mounted on the motorised stand

The Unit G compound slide rest assembly viewed from the rear

For metal turning a proper compound slide rest - complete with micrometer dials - was offered and listed by the makers as their Unit G.
In addition a fixed steady was available, an item just as useful for slender wood as well as metal turning.

Wood-planing accessory with hold-down spring assembly

Planer unit with spring hold-down removed

The first, 1936 advertisement for the Add-A-Tool

E-Mail Tony@lathes.co.uk 
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Walker-Turner Wood Lathe
A Maintenance and Instruction sheet for the variable-speed
drive is available