Western Aircraft Tool Co.
"New-All" and the "O'Brien" Lathe Screwcutting
& Feeds Gearboxes
Offered during the mid 1940s, unfortunately just before the maker's screwcutting gearbox became available for Atlas lathes in 1947, the Western Aircraft Tool Co. "New-All" Norton-type quick-change box was attached by drilling and tapping four holes in the bed. The date when production started is uncertain, but in November 1945 advertisements appeared proclaiming "New improved model!" - which, assuming this to be true (and such publicity "puffs" rarely were), might put the start some twelve months earlier. Early literature mentions a gearbox casing in aluminium, but later ones were in cast iron - both with bronze bushes for the shafts.
At first, in addition to 10-inch Atlas lathes (and their Craftsman copies), the box could be supplied to fit machines from Logan and Powerkraft and later, by mid 1946, South Bend 9-inch lathes as well. At this point the unit was being offered for $75 - in comparison, a complete Craftsman 12-inch had been $125 in 1943 rising to $197 during 1947 (the latter the first post-war year in which they once again became available). By April, 1947, when the final advertisements appeared, the figure had risen to $89.
Another makers of retro-fit gearboxes for the Atlas, Craftsman and Logan was the O'Brien Machine Company of Chicago, their box looking, perhaps unsurprisingly, very similar indeed to the New-All. While the two boxes shared many parts, they had distinct differences - except for the handles, these being identical, interchangeable and appear to have been made in the same workshop. However, to distinguish between them interchangeable knurled ends were fitted, these being different in appearance though each fits the other. The gears inside the boxes were exactly the same and, interestingly, can be replaced by current production Logan components. While the gears could be interchanged, the main aluminium housing could not, nor the gear-carrying shafts. The New-All box was rounded on the front, the O'Brien flat and with a slight difference in width. Shafts were not the same and secured differently, that on the New-all being held in place by a bolt on the right-hand side while the O'Brien used one on each side.
If you have one these gearboxes on your lathe, the writer would be interested to hear from you.