• Chuck Hess

Oliver Model #66 Patternmakers Lathe Restoration

Updated: Nov 16, 2020


2-3-2020 Oliver Model #66 Pattern Maker’s Lathe Restoration.

            Hey this is Chuck Hess with another, In my humble opinion, great Oliver machine story.  From the title this is an Oliver # 66 Pattern Maker’s Lathe from 1942, a WWII veteran.  So our part of the story opens in 2008 when Tom who is a dear friend, and a machinery mentor of ours gave us this lathe.  If it was a motorcycle you would call it a basket job; the lathe was already entirely disassembled.  The main casting had been outside since the mid 90's when Tom had acquired it from a dealer, is the story we got.  This is a fairly large lathe weighing in at about 6600 pounds, according to the book, which means this was/is a large and daunting restoration project. 

            In 2010 we had already a couple of really fine Oliver lathes in our shop, and I really did not see myself having time to do a big restoration considering everything else that was coming at me right then.   So, we had a chance to pass this along to Bill, another friend who was going to restore this with his son.  In late 2019 he reached out and informed us he had not ever had the time and wanted to downsize a little, so he offered the lathe back to us in the same condition as when it left our place, along with a sweet South Bend metal lathe that my son had been searching for quite a while.  I will admit I was a little hesitant to sign up for a big restoration project, but after some soul searching my son and I decided that this lathe was meant to be ours, and we wanted it back.  After 10 years we went and picked her up early this spring and brought her home again.  Wow that was surreal!  Bill had gotten a birth certificate from Rich which was a real blessing for us.  From that we learned that this lathe was sold to the navy and crated for export, destination LION Base #5. LIONS and CUBS was the name applied to the most important single concept in the history of wartime advance bases. LION bases are of sufficient size to care for the logistic support of the major part of a fleet, with repair facilities equivalent to an AR plus special equipment provided in an AS and an AD. Aviation repair, operation and maintenance facilities for 210 planes are included. Sufficient material is provided to support personnel of 17,500 men. I think that was Pearl Harbor but we have not verified that.  Please let me know if anyone has the history on that base.  That would be super cool for us since we to North Carolina from living in Hawaii for 11 years.  This was the first model #66 we ever got our hands on, although we have had a few go through our hands since then.

This is a very different approach to machine restoration for me, because usually I am in a hurry to get a machine done and on the production floor. But this time since we are still very busy in the cabinet shop I have started working from the smallest parts to the biggest.  This approach also lets me work a little each day and still concentrate on my paying jobs, that’s one of the pitfalls of being poor.  There is of course a pandemic going on now too, but that hasn't really affected my family or business much. I didn’t know how this was going to work out but it has been a really cool and laid back way to approach things, and I am really enjoying it. Because of that I thought I would share the story so let’s get started. Here are the obligatory pick up and trailer shots;

We had about about a 4 ½ hour trip one way so this was an easy one day trip up and back. My son and I had a great time talking about everything under the sun, including our numerous machinery trips from back in the day. The trip was smooth sailing all day. I’ll post a few more pics of arrival back at the shop.

Like I said before my strategy this time was to start cleaning hardware and small parts first. Here's what that looks like;

3-13-2020 Now for some fun stuff, the compound! I loved finding that navy anchor stamped in the top of the compound, it had been hidden for a long time by a thick layer of rust. This lathe also has two anchors just like that stamped in the "brass chicken" badge, we think that is super cool. I do wonder if those were stamped by the navy or the boys at Oliver? Another surprise was the solid bronze locking screw at the bottom, most likely fabbed by some naval machinist along the way.

Moving up the food chain a little bit here are some more components, the gap bed clamp;

Here is the tailstock spindle;

Tail stock crank;

Headstock Door:

Misc Parts;

Here is the original push button station which is incredible! It is a Cutler Hammer that has a cast iron box and cast aluminum front; talk about heavy duty. Also the silver contacts were shockingly like new inside. This is the most awesome switch I have ever worked on!

Motor Badge is in rough shape; Hard to read amps and RPMs but I have a pretty close guess on those and got some info from the "birth certificate".

More updates soon! So its now 11-15-202o, that wasn't very soon. Seems like we have been working on everything else besides this lathe. But here is a very cool dividing plate Tom had made for for his 20D lathe. The ring attaches to the 12" outboard hub and there are 60 divisions around the outside. I can't wait to mount this on our lathe when it is ready!!!!

67 views0 comments

© 2017 Hess Custom Woodwork. All Rights Reserved.

  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Houzz Icon
  • Black Google Places Icon

CALL US: 828-777-2429