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Thread: McPherson Lathe

  1. #1
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    Default McPherson Lathe

    I purchased an old metal lathe dirt cheap sight unseen.

    The brand is said to be McPherson but I've been unable to find anything out about it other than McPherson's were Melbourne based and seemed to be a wholesaler/retailer of Hercus machines.

    Does anyone know anything of them or about them?

    I'm not too worried if it's a dud as my first task will be to turn up 14 sets of minature Bagpipes and the 3 jaw chuck will hold the timber nicely. The tailstock will allow me to hold the other end to stop it vibrating.

    I've made two sets so far in a vertical drill press using files to sculpt the timber but it's hard work.

    Maximum length is 85mm in 1/2" dowel.

    Anyway if anyone knows anything of them I'd be most appreciative.

  2. #2
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    Zuffen,

    McPhersons were agents for several lathes, according to my 1966 catalogue.

    These included a 16", 18" and 20" swing Macson, the Hercus 9" and 14" swing, the Ward and Lang lathes plus some other large automatic lathes.

    They had four warehouses and showrooms in VIC, two in NSW, one in QLD, two in SA, and one in WA.

    If you have a Hercus 9", there will be the name Hercus cast into the bed at the right hand end, a Hercus sticker on the headstock, plus a sticker saying McPhersons Ltd. machine tools on the right hand bed support.

    To positively ID your lathe, send in a picture, and all will be resolved.

    Ken

  3. #3
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    Ken,

    Photo attached.

    The McPherson badge is above the left hand leg and around the badges are enough letters to spell HERCUS and it looks much like it says HERCUS.

    Looking at its size it would be a 9" machine.

    I should collect it on Wenesday so will know more so I can learn more.

    All help appreciated.

  4. #4
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    Default Zuffen

    Hi Peter here, it the lathe is indeed an early Hercus with a flat belt drive,can not see a motor, could prove an answer to your need.

    If you are handy you could turn an aluminium round piece dovetailed to fit where the tool post is located and drilled to accept a tool post with a tool rest the length you require and using conventional wood turning chisels hand turn detail in your Bagpipe pieces.

    McJings in Sydney (look them up) sell HS Steel in squares, round, and flats of various lengths that you can grind your own chisels for woodturning, and make your own tools to fit the Hercus tool holder already on the lathe with a tool in already. The tool rest would need to be adjustable in height to allow various tools to be used with wood turning. My earnest recommendation is when using it for wood to keep the ways etc only lightly oiled and fit some cover over the top of the bed and keep the wood dust away or cleaned off then reoil after every session.

    Any questions feel free to pm me as I work with wood and metal.

    Peter

  5. #5
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    Mt Crosby, Brisbane
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    Default

    You got that on ebay. $469 with a single phase motor. Well done not a bad deal.

    Model A's usually go for about $750. That one is early and has some issues but shouldn't take long to get it working. Especially if you only want to turn timber. As suggested if you look after it it'll be a perfectly useable metal turning lathe aswell as wood. Very good.

    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Mcphersons-La...QQcmdZViewItem
    I'm just a startled bunny in the headlights of life. L.J. Young.
    We live in a free country. We have freedom of choice. You can choose to agree with me, or you can choose to be wrong. Me.

  6. #6
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    Alexandra Vic
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    Default

    Raised text on the bed support under the chuck clearly says MACSON when the word attachment is blown up to 500% so there a difference of opinion here.
    If you want to run it for wood clean shavings etc off and lightly lube ways, screws etc after each session to avoid rust. Should be fine for metal then in case you want to dabble there.
    How did you go for change gears chucks and centres etc?

  7. #7
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    Zuffen,

    Judging from the photo, it is not a model 'A' Hercus, the model 'A' has a quick change gear box attached to the LH end of the bed. It may well still be a Hercus, and if it is, I would say it's pretty old.

    Old age is no problem, and can be put right if needed, unlike us old operators.

    Ken

  8. #8
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    Default

    Ken,

    You're only 9 years older than me.

    Old is 10 years older than you are so in my book you're still young.

    All will be revealed once I collect it.

    I paid $467 not $469. I wasn't ripped off! Does $2.00 make any difference?

  9. #9
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    Default

    Sorry I meant C's go for $750ish, A's go for about $950, so I was happy when I got mine for $800

    I prefer the legs to cabinet, they are easier to clean around unless the machine is in the middle of the room.

    Edit: probably doesn't matter if it's a macson or hercus. Hercus are easier for parts just because there are more around, but now you have a lathe you can just make them
    I'm just a startled bunny in the headlights of life. L.J. Young.
    We live in a free country. We have freedom of choice. You can choose to agree with me, or you can choose to be wrong. Me.

  10. #10
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    Default

    It looks like it is an early Macson Mcphersons did also make some of their own machines, just for those who are intertested Mcphersons are now a large printing and binding company, they also import household goods like cling wrap and aluminium foil

  11. #11
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    .......and they don't respond to emails. I tried to get some info on the McPersons Ltd sticker, commonly found on Hercus lathes they sold.

    Not a peep, zilch, zip, despite many attempts.

    That's what I call service!

    Ken

  12. #12
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    Default

    We had a large Macson lathe in our apprentice training centre where I did my apprentice ship .
    From memory it was around 6 or 7 feet long ,had a norton gearbox (quick change) *and a 8" tapered scroll three jaw chuck .The chuck mounting plate on the spindle had three holes that were were radial slots .You had three studs and nuts on the back of the chuck .To fit the chuck you had to put the lathe in a low gear to prevent the spindle from turning as you passed the nuts through the holes and turned the chuck to bring the nuts around to the smaller slots .Then tighten the three nuts.
    It also had a large lever at the head end which operated the chuck.
    It was a great machine ,very solid and accurate excellent for screw cutting ,no reverse (as far as I recall) so all screw cutting was done using the threading dial only.
    When I moved to Katherine 20years ago there was one in the Government workshops ,identical to the one I used during my apprenticeship.

    Kev.
    "Outside of a dog a book is man's best friend ,inside a dog it's too dark to read"
    Groucho Marx

  13. #13
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    Ok, the mystery has been resolved.

    The lathe is a Macson which I don't seem to be able to find much information on.

    From what I can glean they were made by/for McPherson's (the name looks like the two ends of McPherson) but I have no idea when.

    I can find heaps of information on their big machines but virtually nothing on the littlies.

    I spent a couple of hours assembling it and checking it over today and it runs quite nicely. No vibrations (once I'd sorted the motor out) and everything seems to work well.

    The two bad bits are the drill chuck on the tailstock has two damaged teeth but I think I can live with that and the 4 jaw chuck isn't concentric on its mounting plate.

    I would like a 3 jaw chuck as it currently has a 4 jaw Crown 8" chuck on it.

    I'm using a 6PK (flat fan belt) to run the machine and it seems to work well when turned inside-out.

    All in I'm happy with what I got for my money.

    Attached a few photos.

  14. #14
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    Zuffen,

    Well done on getting your lathe home, a new chapter in your life begins.

    Tail stock drill chucks are easy enough to find on you know where, at around $50 with arbor.

    I've attached a couple of arbor dwgs which may help you identify what you have, ie, MT2 or MT3.

    The 4 jaw chuck should not be too difficult to make concentric. Simply loosen the fixing bolts on the adaptor plate, and gently tap the chuck in the appropriate direction. True up with a dial gauge, then nip the bolts up.

    Send an email to Tony [email protected]

    He may have some Macson info not listed on his web site, or point you in the right direction.

    What are you going to make first?

    Ken

  15. #15
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    Thanks Ken.

    All help (and I need lots of it) greatly appreciated.

    I figured centering the 4 jaw wouldn't be too hard.

    At least now I have a lathe I'll use my dial guages abit more. I only purchased them for a specific task and they've sat in storage since!

    I managed to do a little machining today to prove a) it works and b) I can actually do it. I've never used a metal lathe before so this is pretty exiting.

    First project it to machine up 14 sets of minature bagpipes in wood. The longest drone (the bit that sticks up over your shoulder) is 85mm and all parts are made from 1/2" dowel. I know it sounds wierd but I've committed to making them hence the lathe.

    I've made 2 sets this year and both were on my drill press. Damned hard work when you have 80 parts to make in total. The pipe aren't to be played, they go on Teddy Bears dressed up as Pipers for a Craft Group at my 2 sons School that has Scottish heritage, hence I have 2 bagpipe playing sons! I also make the sporans the Bears wear.

    After that I'll use it for metal work as I build and restore cars for a hobby, right now I'm in the middle of a supercahrged Range Rover with a Lexus engine (a bit over 600hp) with Nissan transmission and axles and it's all topped with a fibreglass body.

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