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Cincinnati "Mechanic Maker"
by Winkle
If you have a "Mechanic maker" the writer would
be interested to hear from you


At the opposite end of the spectrum to the sort of high-quality industrial machine tools normally associated with the name Cincinnati - and looking like a cross between a "real" lathe and a toy - the 6-inch swing Cincinnati "Mechanic Maker" (stamped as the Model L110) was produced by the Winkle Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati 17, Ohio, USA.
Astonishingly, the entire machine, apart from the spindle assembly, toolpost, some small fastenings and the bedways, was made from sheet steel, largely 0.04" thick - even to the handwheels and 3.5-inch diameter faceplate. Unsurprisingly the machine was very light, about 10 lbs in total, and very compact with an overall length of 27.5" and width across the base of just 7". The foot-plate of the lathe appears to have been flat stamped and the four  sides then folded in and secured by welded-on rectangular corner tabs. Two pressed-steel cross members were spot-welded in place to stiffen the bed at its mid point and the headstock attached by two riveted-on strips on its underside. Made from what was almost certainly standard 5/8" x 5/16" bar stock with a 45 angle milled along the outer edges, the bedways were held to the base by countersunk rivets.
Besides the pressed-steed construction, evidence of clever cost-cutting can also be seen in the design of the "headstock" where the appearance of a spindle was created by using the main shaft of a single-speed 1/5 HP 115V AC/DC motor (stamped on the lower face of the headstock, just above the badge was
MODEL L100 60 CYCLEA  115 VOLTS 11 AMPS) . The shaft was left entirely plain, with no method of securing anything to it other than by the crude method used to hold the 4-slot faceplate - a single set screw (a method also found on some cheaper models of Craftsman wood lathes made from the 1930s to the 1950s ). A "centre" was formed by turning the end of the shaft to point with a plain section over which could be pushed a wood-drive centre - only pressure from the tailstock keeping this in contact with the job. To give the cosmetic impression of a proper headstock the motor was enclosed by a sheet-metal cover with ventilation louvers cut into the back and end faces to allow air, driven by a metal fan on the motor shaft, to pass through.
A concealed leadscrew (5/16" x 18 t.p.i) ran down the centre of the bed and - propelled by hand - a carriage topped by a very simple sheet-steel tool slide that was made a little stronger than other components by the use of heavier-gage (0.07" thick) material. Travel of the cross slide was 2.5" with its 2.75-inch diameter handwheel (of pressed steel, naturally) marked by 120 rolled-in divisions with 12 numbers marked  0 to 12 with each sub-divided into 10 increments giving an unusual set-up of one revolution equalling 0.555" and each mark 0.000463" (a 1/4" x 20 t.p.i. thread). 

Also fabricated in pressed steel, the tailstock had its sides welded to a base plate at the bottom and a steel tube at the top through which passed the 1-inch travel spindle. Locked by a crude thumb screw bearing directly against the shaft, the spindle was bereft of an internal taper but, instead, had a point formed on its end. The spindle drive thread, being right-handed, caused a "cack-handed" movement that produced a travel from the work when turned to the right. Two bent tangs were cut into the tailstock base to locate on the bed rails - while clamping was taken care of by a thumb screw pushing against a third tang arranged to slide in a cut-out on the opposite side. 
Who would have bought a "Mechanic Maker"? Although obviously incapable of machining other than aluminium and wood (a small instruction and set-up booklet was included showing suggested projects), the answer must be that it was intended - as the name suggests - for that special breed of mechanically-minded little boy who, now grown up, writes: "
Who would buy such a thing?" I bought one when I was about 8 years old and had some fun turning soft wood, creating wood shavings for no particular purpose. I would like to do the same with my grandchildren .).
In 1975 the Dremel Company put onto the market their plastic-bodied "Moto-Lathe", a machine of entirely different construction to the Winkle - and lacking a screw-feed tool slide - but aimed at almost exactly the same market segment. It was to remain in production until 1990, passing through several little-changed versions and being offered with a simple accessory kit.

Pressed-steel Cincinnati "Mechanic Maker" by the Winkle Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio

A view of the underside of the "Mechanic Maker" showing the light-weight construction

A rear view of  the "Mechanic Maker"

Also fabricated in pressed steel, the tailstock had its sides welded to a base plate at the bottom and a steel tube at the top through which passed the 1-inch travel spindle. Locked by a crude thumb screw bearing directly against the shaft the spindle was bereft of an internal taper but instead had one formed on its end. The spindle drive thread, being right-handed, caused a "cack-handed" movement away from the work when turned to the right. Two bend tangs were cut into the tailstock base to locate it on the bed rails whilst the clamping was taken care of by a thumb screw pushing against a third tang arranged to slide in a cut-out on the opposite side

The carriage was topped by a very simple sheet-steel tool slide made a little stronger than other components by the use of heavier-gage (0.07" thick) steel. The cross slide travel was 2.5".


The appearance of a spindle was created by using the main shaft of a single-speed 1/5 HP AC/DC motor. The shaft was left entirely plain with no method of securing anything to it other than by the crude method used to hold the 4-slot faceplate - a single set screw (a method also found on some cheaper models of Craftsman wood lathes made from the 1930s to the 1950s ). 

A "centre" was formed by turning the end of the shaft to point with a plain section over which could be pushed a wood-drive centre - only pressure from the tailstock kept this in contact with the job.


E-Mail Tony@lathes.co.uk 
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Cincinnati "Mechanic Maker"
by Winkle
If you have a "Mechanic maker" the writer would
be interested to hear from you