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Member postings for Andy Carlson

Here is a list of all the postings Andy Carlson has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Looking for help valuing two lathes
16/06/2022 22:06:51

Can't help with a value or a visit sorry but if you are looking to sell then you should definitely go through the workshop and identify any tooling or accessories that belong to each lathe - it will enhance their resale value.

The Drummond looks like it was originally treadle operated and later motorised. I wouldn't call it a jewellers lathe though - it's a 3 1/2 inch lathe aimed at those with limited space... like model engineers.

The site will have plenty of photos to help.

Thread: chips from cast iron abrasive ?
27/05/2022 19:00:46

Out of interest... how does continuous cast iron round bar compare to a more traditional casting?

My gut feel is that it is less badly behaved - I think that sand is ruled out for example. Chilling - maybe better controlled? Carbides.. no idea.


Thread: Key for a Cowells lathe chuck
26/05/2022 07:44:17

The generic key looks promising. Hope it works out for you.

I actually need 3 of these keys! (don't ask) so all help is invaluable!

I tried not to ask but I can't resist... three chucks? or three Cowells lathes?

25/05/2022 08:00:40

If you are on Facebook then there was a post by Stephen Benson on 29 March 2020 in the 'Cowells Small Machine Tools' group with some photos showing how to modify an off the shelf drill chuck key to suit. The group is public so you probably just need to be on FB to see it.

I have the tommy bar style 3 jaw so have no first hand knowledge of the other kind.

Thread: threading delrin - alternative method
16/05/2022 20:17:08
Posted by Steven Francis on 16/05/2022 14:29:11:

To get the job done as the material is so easy to score...wouldn't it be easier to manually put 12 revolutions on the chuck...bring the tool out 0.3 cut on the way back..ect?

+1 for the mandrel handle but I would not attempt to cut in both directions due to backlash in the leadscrew (plus my chuck screws on so it might screw off). I always back the tool away from the cut when running in reverse - powered or otherwise.

FWIW I sometimes use power just on the reverse (non cutting) direction... provided that the mandrel handle is removed each time!

Thread: Fkesxispeed...what is the back gear for and how to use it
15/05/2022 18:59:55

Not sure if the Flexi is the same but on the Cowells you have to loosen the grub screw in the cantre of the middle drive pulley when you engage backgear. This allows the pulleys to spin on the mandrel. The drive goes via the backgear and the speed is slower and the torque is higher.

The grub screw tightens onto a flat on the shaft... which you can't see. Make a note of its position in relaton to other landmarks (locking screws, keys etc. before you loosen the screw. On mine the flats and keys and grub screws etc are all in a line... which may or may not be the same on yours.

Thread: How to open a .dwg drawing created on a 32bit version of AutoCad drawing in Windows 10
08/04/2022 08:59:28

The ODA file converter is free and may help if it's an issue with the file itself.

Thread: Flexispeed main bearings lubrication and drill arbor
14/02/2022 18:38:33
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 14/02/2022 11:29:53: say the Cowells ME is an 'almost unchanged' Perris PL90, which was based on the Flexispeed. Perris tapers are simply described as 'MT0', not 'Short MT0', so it's possible Cowells tapers are true MT0. Can a Cowells ME owner confirm - depth of hole 2¹⁄₃₂" or what?

I measured a Cowells dead centre (half centre actually) . The fat end of the taper is a smidge over 8mm. The taper is 31mm long and the Morse tapered section sticks out of the tailstock by a smidge over 2mm.

If the internal taper has been reamed then I'd expect it to sit further into the barrel.

I had no issues getting hold of Colin at Cowells by phone and his prices for dead centres seemed reasonable to me when I wanted some. I have not tried contacting him for a good while though. I don't think he has a huge workforce to cover the phone so I'd suggest that you keep trying.

Regards, Andy

Thread: Cowells 90ME 14x1.5 backplate question
06/02/2022 22:23:25
Posted by Richard B on 06/02/2022 17:23:22:

My Cowells dates back to the very early '80's (bought new from a small stockist - 'Allmodels Engineering Ltd' in Ruislip) and has the serial number 1093 - not sure they still exist, it has the cast aluminium base and is painted the current Cowells Blue.

Thanks Richard. Out of interest what is the wording and address (if any) on the plate that has the reversing switch? The progression of addresses is another variation over time.

Thread: Heat resistant paint suitable for a camp stove?
06/02/2022 22:10:21
Posted by martin perman on 06/02/2022 19:29:06:

I bought a stove to add to my collection of 130+ and it was a brand new one from the 70's/80's and it had a goldish colour trivet which I believe is nickel plating.

Could have been - IIRC it just looked like a fairly carelessly done spray job but it might have been plated. Once used the trivet just looked sooty and rusty though so I whatever it was seems intended just to make it look nice before it leaves the shop.

06/02/2022 10:54:09

I bought an Optimus stove new in the 80s when I first went camping under my own steam. The 'hob' plate was painted - a goldish colour IIRC. The paint didn't last 5 minutes once the stove was lit.

If you have not already found it, there is at least one forum dedicated to these things -

I'm pretty sure that the enamel on the tops of Tilley lamps is kiln fired... a pity because I think you can only get black ones now but my older lamp has a brick red one that is somewhat rust eaten.

Thread: Cowells 90ME 14x1.5 backplate question
05/02/2022 21:49:20
Posted by alan-lloyd on 05/02/2022 20:47:02:

Going back to the various colours, does anybody know the correct paint colour or code for the current lathes, cowells would not tell me or send any paint, most helpful!!

This chap (at 2:10) says 'Hammerite Smooth Blue' - recommended by Cowells so he says.

I've no idea myself. I'd really like some turquoise blue hammered effect paint but I don't think that's going to happen.

05/02/2022 21:38:32
Posted by Hollowpoint on 05/02/2022 17:13:18:

You can almost date Cowells lathes by the paint colour. Late 70's appear to be silver, 80's turquoise and later models blue. The CW model being the exception as it seems to have always been silver.

I'd beg to differ slightly. The tourquose blue hammered paint was the earliest... and dates back into Perris days.

As far as I can gather the darker blue came in with the big cast base around 1980.

The silver 'ME' ones seem to have numbers in or near the 600 range. I think they were the last before the cast base was introduced.

Looking at photos there may be more than one type of dark blue - some I've seen seem to be perhaps metallic and/or hammered effect, others not so. It could be just the light in the photos though.

And yes, the CW was silver too... and so was the HS by the looks of the pics on Tony's site.

05/02/2022 16:45:35
Posted by Colin Heseltine on 05/02/2022 12:27:37:

Out of interest can anyone put approximate dates to serial numbers.

My Cowells is 1524.


Hi Colin,

Cowells have records for the more recent ones and should be able to give you an exact date if it's recent enough.

I'm not sure how far back their records go but they certainly don't have records for the earlier ones... which is kinda how I got started.

I have plenty of serial numbers and design variations... mostly by asking owners and vendors for serial numbers. I'm afraid that I have very few definite dates because the older ones are often on their second or third owner.

My guess would be around 1983/4 for yours but I have no dates for anything nearby so it really is not very reliable.

Edited By Andy Carlson on 05/02/2022 16:47:22

05/02/2022 12:01:17
Posted by Chris Veitch on 05/02/2022 08:19:31:
Posted by Andy Carlson on 03/02/2022 13:27:26:
Posted by michael potts on 03/02/2022 11:23:29:

Most Cowells have a number stamped into the end of the bed... but I have come across at least one proveably early Cowells example that has no stamped bed number. AFAIK the Perris made lathes did not have a stamped bed number but I haven't asked many people so I could be wrong.

Still an excellent article though.

Sorry, I'm going on a bit... It's a bit of a pet subject of mine.

Not at all - this archaeology is fascinating to me, especially as I’ve only come into contact with a Cowells very recently (obviously). Can you tell me where exactly the serial number is usually to be found? I’ve had a look for one on mine in the hope that it would tell me a little more about it but couldn’t find one.


03/02/2022 13:27:26
Posted by michael potts on 03/02/2022 11:23:29:

The ins and outs of the Perris lathe, its variants, and the Cowells lathe seem to be complicated to put it mildly. The article ' Evolution of the Perris Lathe ' on the website is worth reading. How much is fact and what is opinion is difficult to work out. Brian Perris seems to have been killed in a car accident at the end of 1976. Within a year the PL90 lathe was back in production as the Cowells lathe. It says something that it is still with us.

The design was metricated very quickly, if only partially. Perris lathe dimensions are still used, notably on the mandrel, and there is one BA threaded hole on the cross slide. Care is needed when the smaller and less used screws have to be dealt with, or replaced.

Thanks for that. I think I have read that article before but it was good to read it again. I think it stops short of suggesting that the Perris is a descendant of the Flexispeed/Simat designs but I've seen it said elsewhere. I'd steer clear of saying so too - even the very first Perris on Tony's site has a slotted bed and tailstock design that looks like the current Cowells and completely different from the Flexi and Simat. The (worm?) power feed drive design on the Flexi and Simat is also something that as far as I can see never appeared on the Perris models.

Maybe there is a 'missing link' somewhere out there that will convince me otherwise.

I hadn't spotted the point before now that Brian Perris had a hand in the Hector, so clearly Norwich/Norfolk is not the only common factor.

A few other minor quibbles...

I don't think the colour scheme changed between Perris and Cowells as stated in the article - the tourquoise blue hammered finish of the early Cowells can definitely be seen in photos of later Perris lathes. IMHO it's the best of all the colour schemes. I always thought I was unmoved by such shallow cosmetic questions, but it seems not

Having the 'Cowells' name cast in was also not immediate - the early ones had a recess with a sticker in it and no lettering on the tailstock.

Most Cowells have a number stamped into the end of the bed... but I have come across at least one proveably early Cowells example that has no stamped bed number. AFAIK the Perris made lathes did not have a stamped bed number but I haven't asked many people so I could be wrong.

Still an excellent article though.

Sorry, I'm going on a bit... It's a bit of a pet subject of mine.

Thread: You meet the nicest people with a Cowells
03/02/2022 08:58:31

I'm the owner of a somewhat early Cowells... before it was actually called the 90ME but that's basically what it is.

There are plenty of minor design niggles with it. I'm sure the same is true of any machine but somehow we don't get too wrapped up with the negatives.

I don't think there is really one clear 'home' for Cowells discussions. I'm also on the Facebook group and a fair few mods and DIY accessories get discussed there but traffic is somewhat infrequent. You'll also find some things here and also on the Model Engine Maker forum. Another factor is that there is a huge range of ages of lathe out there - mine is over 40 years old but there are some folks out there with brand new ones. I suspect that we think about things somewhat differently. I think it tends to be the owners of older examples that post more about DIY mods and bits.

Just my two penn'orth

Thread: Cowells 90ME 14x1.5 backplate question
02/02/2022 21:46:32
Posted by LG on 02/02/2022 18:07:09:

Web searches have never elicited the origins of the marque - even Tony at (Buxton) only details the current Cowells company.

I'm not sure if the company was around prior to the lathe but the origin of the lathe design is a tale of its own. I think a lot of it is on Tony's site but you may need to hop around a bit.

The lathe design was the Perris lathe before it became Cowells. Brian Perris died in 1976 and Cowells took over the design and started selling it soon afterwards - initialy pretty much unchanged but over time things evolved, for example the headstock casting, handwheels and most obviously the current cast base.

The antecedents are reckoned to include the Flexispeed Meteor, Simat and then the Perris. Personally I struggle to see how to turn this into a set of evolutionary steps From Flexispeed to Cowells and in fact it's not as simple as that. I think that several of the designs were available at the same time from various companies in Norfolk. The Wexler Hector is another one that has strong connections - the bed design is very different but they share a lot of parts in common with the Cowells. I've even have a sales flyer with the Hector badged as a 'Cowells 100E'. As far as I know this particular badging did not get beyond the sales flyer.

Also bear in mind that there is a 'Cowell' shaper - this is another company entirely.

30/01/2022 22:48:39

Sounds like you're good to go... it's just a matter of choosing which way to tackle the job

The tap should give you a decent thread. What it won't necessarily do is give you brilliant concentricity... but you can work around that by doing the threaded hole first and then mounting the incomplete backplate onto your Cowells spindle and doing the rest of the job that way. Anything cut after that should be concentric to your threaded hole.

Naturally it's not quite that simple... you also need a face that will locate against the spindle shoulder that is perpendicular to the thread, plus the register recess (the plain bit next to the spindle shoulder) so you will still have some thinking to do... but most jobs have a snag or two like that... keeps the brain exercised.

A single point threading tool on the other hand should give you a thread that is nicely concentric to the job in whatever you are holding it in... but it won't give you a proper thread form because it's just a simple 'V'... so finishing with a tap is still a good option for that reason. Of course if the job was held in something inaccurate when you single pointed the thread then the concentricity goes out of the window as soon as you take it out.

30/01/2022 22:33:43

Hi Chris,

Hope you enjoy your new (to you) Cowells.

I also have a Cowells with the M14 x 1.5 spindle. Mine had a decent assortment of chucks when I bought it but I've since made an ER16 collet holder. My lathe is set up for thread cutting so I did most of the thread using an internal single point tool and then used an M14 x 1.5 plug tap (from Tracy Tools) to finish the thread off.

If you want to make a backplate and have no thread cutting setup (yet) then a second cut tap would be a better bet.

Out of interest, which 3 jaw do you have? I have the Pratt Burnerd tommy bar one. Mine is threaded for the spindle - there is no backplate, so I'm guessing you have the Toyo style one with the scroll gear around the outside?

Did yours come with any other chucks or the faceplate or is the 3 jaw the only one you have at the mo?

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