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Member postings for Phil Whitley

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

Thread: Installing a new lathe
15/09/2014 21:36:35

I would still check the floor for damp Robin. When I did my place the walls seemed far wetter than the floor, but when I took up the tiles, put in a dpm and concrete, the walls dried out. It was damp from the floor condensing on the walls, which were colder. Get some air moving through before you commit to any work, it might dry out by itself, unless you have leaky rainwater drains, as we discussed before.


Thread: CovMac Lathes
13/09/2014 21:00:11

Hi Chris, got your emails, Your lathe seems almost identical to mine, and the conehead of flickr although that seems to have a slightly different feed box, and no plinth with cupboard. I think your motor fixing is exactly the same as mine too, If you look inside the "cupboard" there is a large nut and thread which is attached to the motor plate, and adjusts the belts. No dismantling to do, unfortunately that is how it is at the moment, but it will be soon going back together and traveling a few yards to my "new" machine shop across the other side of the main workshop

I think maybe you could remove the saddle like that, but how would you lift it clear without damage to the lead screw, it is VERY heavy. you could separate the apron from the saddle (apron is the bit that hangs down the front with the controls on it) then remove the saddle, then the apron, then replace the lead/feed end bracket. I have never done this however, so I am only assuming it is possible!

The dismantling does seem to be very straightforward, as you say, the 30's/40's construction is basic, rugged but also simple and uses a few bolts to hold the whole thing together. Now I have had a good look at mine, i realise it is actually simpler than I thought, and I could have continued stripping mine if landylifts Hiab hadn't been able to lift it.

Socket set needs to be Whitworth or BSF (mostly the same size) You will also need a few good BIG screwdrivers, one of which should have a hexagon on it so it can be turned with a spanner if neccasary. Some lever bars, and a soft (hide) faced mallet. When removing screws the screwdriver blade needs to be a tight fit in the screw, almost to the point where you need to tap it with a mallet to get it in the slot, then push HARD and turn sharply, with the spanner if possible. you should also take some release oil/WD40 although it is rare for a well oiled machine like this to have any seized bolts, a plentiful supply of rags/ handwipe paper. Clean it down before you start, it stops accidents, slips and drops.As I said before, put every bolt you can back in the thread it came out of, and with nuts and bolts on guards etc, put them back in the holes they came from and tighten, it makes reassembly so simple, and saves hours!

I haven't run mine yet, but that is simply because for the last 20 years I have been involved in other things, and My brother was using my workshop for his business I got it back about five years ago. On the same day Steve from landylift was moving my Covmac to my workshop, he was moving the last of my brothers heavy machinery down the road to his new workshop, it all worked very well I then embarked on a three year refurb on my workshop working on it when time allowed. If you get over to see me I can show you around! If you have three phase, you also have single phase, you just use one of the phases, and a neutral.I have tried to get a three phase 3 hp 750 rpm motor, but they are expensive (about £250 new, very rare used) and though they are more efficient than a single phase motor, I will probably use the original motor for now. Incidentaly, I see the "stayrite" starter on the wall next to the lathe, although the joke where I served my apprenticeship (I am originally an Electrical Engineer) was "Stayrite NEVER Right" I would get it, as it matches the motor. Strange motor on yours, shaped like a Brooks, but with the vents through the side of the foot is unusual, interesting!

I think I feel a very exclusive Covmac owners club coming on!


13/09/2014 17:14:04

Hi Chris,

Where is the motor on your Covmac? I have just realised that the cast boss you can see inside the headstock plinth is where the bolt used to adjust the belt tension goes through. That is why the door is there, to get to the belt adjustment.


13/09/2014 17:08:31

Right, it has just lost the end of that post, as the cut command did not work so I will try to type it up again

Hope all this helps. I would strip it completely, it will make the move much simpler and safer, but you would still need help and a fork truck or engine crane, and if you are going to refurbish it, why not I would not go beyond giving the headstock and feed box a good wash out, as if you remove the spindle you will have to reset the bearings and that is a tricky job, but not impossible by any means. You will have to check the alignment when you refit the gearbox, but that should always be done after a machine is moved anyway. If I can give any more help let me know.


That wasn't as good but never mindblush

13/09/2014 16:57:55

Hi Chris, Cut a long story short I think the Covmac is emminently stripable! here are two pics showing inside the column and the legs

The red one is the headstock column, there are two studs and nuts but you will note 4 holes, the other two have not been drilled or tapped It is the same at the other end, (bit of a bad pic) but you can see two studs and nuts again, and two apparently unused holes.

If you remove all the belt covers and gear covers, motor, motor plate, then the banjo with the gears on it, you will see these two bolt heads

If you remove these two, and these two under the spindle

Then fit a chuck or faceplate and place a sling round and behind the chuck, and round and behind the vee belt pulley, and as far as I can see, the gearbox lifts off. You will need to make careful note of the number and position of any shims that may be in there (there may be none) If you then remove the nuts from the studs holding the legs on and remove the studs (they will probably come out with the nuts) you could lift the bed assembly with a fork truck, remove the legs, and lower the bed to the floor. As I said before if you remove the saddle you will first have to remove the lead screw and the feed shaft And without knowing how they disconnect from the feed/screwcutting gearbox, this process could be simple, or complex, I simply don't know! If you do remove them, you could then remove the saddle and apron, and the feed/screwcutting box as well, leaving you with some still very heavy, but much more manageable pieces to transport.

The top two levers, left hand one is the four speedchange lever, right hand is the back gear, or high/ low change giving eight speeds, four in low/backgear, and four in high. Sounds complex, but it isnt.

Tumbler reverse lever, this reverses the direction of the feed/screwcutting gearbox, and thus reverses the direction of the leadscrew for cutting left hand threads, and any other process needing the opposite rotation.At least, that is my take on this lever, some also have a neutral position so you can operate the lathe without the external gear train and the feed box turning, which make for a MUCH quieter lathe!!

saddle/apron controls, from the top. Small "ball" handle operates the top slide (AKA compound slide, which can be adjusted around an engraved protractor scale to turn tapers and for screwcutting. Small red handwheel operates the cross slide, which moves the compound slide and the toolpost across the bed. Large red handwheel moves the whole saddle along the bed. Round knurled knob in the centre of the apron switches the feeds between "sliding" (up and down the length of the bed) and "surfacing" which powers the cross slide backwards and forwards across the bed. Below that is an oil nipple (not grease!) The little red three position lever to the right selects the feed direction with a central neutral position, and the ball handle just above that opens and closes the half nuts for screw cutting. Bolted to the end of the apron on the extreme right next to the two T slots is the leadscrew indicator, sometimes called the screwcutting dial, which reads out the position of the saddle in relation to the threads on the lead screw. Once again, sounds more complex that it is in reality. The golden rule with all levers is do not change gear with the lathe chuck revolving!

The motor plate, solid cast iron one inch thick, and I can barely lift it!

The motor, and yes, that is a 12" rule! I can just about drag it across the floor, I would guess about 2 1/2 to 3 cwt.

12/09/2014 21:52:54

Today I went to see my friend Jim to fix his radiators. I hate him because he has a Tom Senior mill, and he is holding my dumpy philips screwdriver hostage.Jims Workshop

12/09/2014 21:41:19

Hi Chris,

You are not a pest!!! this is exactly what these forums are for! I will read your posts as I write and try to answer all your questions. I will also nip to my workshop tomorrow, take some more pics, including some of the leg fixings, and have a good poke about to see what is what.

I watched the Hendey lathe move for as long as I could bear it, I would give whatever is left of my eye teeth for a taper turning attachment, and he didn't even have the nouse to take it off! First things to remove are all the sticky out bits, and as a bit of general advice, wherever possible, put the bolts back in the holes, it makes reassembly much easier, you can't loose them, and you don't reassemble with the right threads, but the wrong length, and have to swap them about. The one exception to this would be the ones that hold the legs on, in order to keep the underside of the lathe smooth for sliding/rolling.

As I said before, I think taking the legs off is a good idea. The tail stock end one is a bit flimsy, and it did spring a bit on mine when I was moving it on rollers, which you cannot put under the tail stock end of course.

The problem with removing the saddle (carriage) is that you have to remove the lead screw and the feed drive rod, which means disconnecting them from the feed/screw cutting gearbox Other than this the saddle and apron removal is straightforward enough, if you are going this far, you might consider removing the headstock from the bed as well.. This would mean resetting it square to the bed on reassembly, but you will have to check, and possibly adjust it anyway. I will have a look at the possibility tomorrow to see if it is feasible.

You are very welcome to come and see my lathe anytime you are in the north, as I am what I laughably call self employed, my timetable is very flexible. If you PM me or send your email to phildothermeticatlangtoftdotnet I will give you my contact details.

I am in agreement with you, but when you remove the lead screw/feed shaft and the saddle, you will be left with something that is very heavy at one end, and no way of balancing it

The colours on Tonys site look black, but they could be dark grey, a very popular colour for this era of machines.

As far as I know the two big handles on the top are both gear levers, they may be a high/low lever and a speed change, or two speed change levers used in combination, I will find out tomorrow for you.

Tail lifts are ok but tend to tilt away from the back of the truck when heavily loaded, I can remember moving a clicking press and unloading it with a tail lift, if it hadn't been for the fearsome slope on my yard it would have been another disaster.

3 1/2 ton van? I am going to be awkward againdevil A 3 1/2 ton Gross vehicle weight van (GVW) means that the total weight of van and load must not exceed 3.5 ton, you must make sure that the van is capable of carrying the weight and still being legal AND driveable. Case in Point............. I went to a local gravel quarry in my late lamented LWB Nissan Cabstar Which was rated to carry 1 ton. The guy at the weighbridge weighed the empty vehicle, then proceeded to drop a huge loading shovel full of sand on the back. He wighed it again, which showed the load on the van was 1 ton 4cwt. The cab was looking at the stars, and the steering was so light I crawled home at 30mph. I also brought my Colchester Student and all the accesories back from an auction in Hull with the Cabstar, one of the scariest drives of my life. According to tonys site the Colchester weight is just over .6 of a ton but with all the stuff I got with it, it felt more like a ton!! I transported all the bits I took of mine in a transit, on a seperate trip, and left the lathe and the motor to landylift. I will let you know more when I have had a good look at mine tomorrow.


12/09/2014 09:14:21

Hi Chris, I am very reassured! making your own pallet is a whole different ball game. taking the lathe off its legs does make the whole job MUCH safer It sounds like it is going to be ok. I can't comment on taking the legs off because I have never done it on mine, there will be huge whitworth bolts somewhere underneath. If you can get forks under the bed, or use a lifting hook and get the whole plot just clear of the deck, then unbolt the legs, which probably means the drip tray and its sump comes off as well, then lower it onto a pallet, job done! As I said on another forum, I have seen grown men cry when their pride and joy lies smashed on the floor! Only a couple of weeks ago I was watching a guy move an immaculate looking BIG Colchester with a fork lift, and if it had not been for a ratchet strap which suddenly twanged tight, it would have been on the floor! Good luck! Can' wait for some pics, I will try to get some better ones of mine next week, unfortunately, today I will be mainly plumbing (another job)angry

Nervous Phil.

11/09/2014 22:22:11

That sounds interesting! I have never done that before. I will look for Johns post!


11/09/2014 21:45:29

Hi Chris, nothing clever, it is all just undoing bolts, and heavy lifting! Moving lathes on pallets is a real NO-NO!! pallets are not strong enough to hold the weight, which is concentrated at two points, and the pallets always flex! what generally happens is that the lathe belly flops forward and smashes itself to bits on the concrete. Far better and safer too put one of these adjustable crane hooks on the forks and suspend the lathe below the forks. this is the totally safe and right way to do it, and I have seen so many amazing old machines written off by trying to put them on, or move them with a pallet. they are just far too top heavy. If you do move it on a pallet you MUST ratchet strap it to the fork truck mast with at least two heavy duty ratchet straps with timber balks between the mast and the lathe so that it cannot possibly fall forward .Do not think that you can ratchet strap it to a pallet, it will tear the pallet to pieces and still fall off. Pallets are designed to support weight evenly spread over the whole area of the pallet surface, you cannot do this with a lathe. Under the headstock there is a large round hole in the bed casting, this is usually for a round steel bar to be pushed through to form an attachment point for a lifting chain, the lathe will balance on this point when the saddle is adjusted left and right. I have also used these lifting points with a heavy ratchet strap between the crane and the tail stock end to aid the balance.. Moving on rollers is relatively easy. You need some 1" or 1 1/2" pipe at least 12" wider than the lathe headstock foot so you can have 6" poking out either side, and a good long crowbar, one with wheels on if you can get one Lift with the crowbar in the centre of the headstock foot and place a roller under the foot, then go to the tailstock end and lift that end, and place another roller under the headstock end behind the first. You only really need two rollers, the rest are for cornering. Now go and sweep that concrete yard so clean that you could eat your dinner off it!!! any loose grit will stop the rollers dead, and the machine will keep moving! Now go to the tailstock end and , with a small lever or crowbar, start to move the lathe, 2" at a time till you get used to it. Incidentally, this is a job that you cannot do by yourself, you need a couple of strong, but intelligent people to help, for safety's sake as well as the to provide the grunt needed. One uses the lever to move the lathe forward whilst the other two steady the headstock end and attend to the rollers, to corner simply angle the rollers in the direction you want to go. Slow and steady wins the race, and please remember if it falls over on someone they won't be getting up! Another method would be a really heavy duty engine crane to lift the headstock end just clear of the floor and then move the tailstock end on a skate or a roller crowbar. Do not lift on the chuck!!! Also be aware that you cannot put a ratchet strap or lifting sling round the outside of the leadscrew or the feed drive, as the will bend. Phew, think I have covered everything.......................please be careful.


11/09/2014 17:48:30

Now I have shown you mine, you must show me yours, but I won't pressure you as I know you haven't got it home yet!


11/09/2014 17:42:50

H*i Chris, you are very welcome to come and see it more or less anytime to suit you. Yes, it has the clutch bar, in fact it is complete with three jaw, 4 jaw, faceplate, and quite a lot of tooling, no taper turning or steadies unfortunately, and the face plate is a bad casting with lots of blowholes in it, but it has obviously been used. Nevertheless I will be keeping the speed down if I use it! I am really guessing with a bit of education on the weight, 3360lb or 1.5 ton could well be rignt, I know Steve(landylift) said afterwards that if I hadn't stripped it of all the extras he would not have been able to lift it, The motor on mine is a huge ancient single phase variable speed commutator motor (The motor is 750 rpm) it must weigh nearly 3 cwt, and the motor mounting plate is about 18" square x 1/2" plate! I took off the top slide with the tool post as well, but it is best to leave the saddle on, as you can move it towards the end of the lathe to get the balance right. I can certainly show you what the controls do, and although I cant run the Covmac, I also have a Colchester student which is running and useable.. I have no doubt that Tony's site will be right about the weight, so it is possible that the smaller 13" is under 1.5 ton, but they probably quote the weight without the motor. How are you planning on moving it?


11/09/2014 09:27:51

Right, I'm off to work, today I will be mainly plumbingsad


11/09/2014 09:24:25

The dirty pics against the whitewashed brick wall are the originals from ebay, the one against the concrete block wall is taken where the lathe is now, cleaned and oiled, but as yet unused in my workshop. Now I know there is someone else interested I will take some more. I will also send some to Tony if I can get some decent ones, problem it that the room they are in at the moment is long and narrow and I cant stand back and get it all in!


11/09/2014 09:18:46

covmac5.jpgcovmac.jpgworksop 005.jpgcovmac7.jpgcovmac.jpgSorted! shrink pic will work, but with email it works automatically, with this site you would have to drag the pics onto shrinkpic to resize, then upload to your album.floor 011.jpg

11/09/2014 08:53:15

Hi MichaelG,

Thank you for that, I failed at the first hurdle, as I new nothing about creating an album first. Most of the other sites I post pics to has a browse facility and I pull the pics straight from "My Documents"

Ady, Download time is usually a problem caused by the file size, which can be huge for some pics, I use shrinkpic (free download) to reduce pic size without losing quality, but I am not sure whether it works with uploads as it was designed for pics being emailed, I will check it out and post to the group.


10/09/2014 22:32:10

Hi Chris, Precise weight I don't know, but when Steve cox (landylift) moved mine, I had taken off all the extraeneous weight I could. I removed the chuck, motor and its incredibly heavy mounting plate, toolpost, tailstock, and various other bits and peices, and when he came to lift it, I asked him how much his Hiab would lift, and with the lathe swinging five feet off the ground he said "about this much" Given that I think his hiab is a 2 ton, I would put The fully assembled weight at maybe 2 to 2 1/4 ton, and the stripped weight at about 1 1/2 ton, because I think the warning buzzers would have been sounding at 1 3/4 ton! It is heavy as they go, and top heavy, as all lathes are but I rolled it into the workshop on rollers about 1" diameter using a 10" screwdriver as a lever. Don't use a fork truck unless you suspend the lathe below the forks!

They are very well made, and mine was fully rebuilt in 1953 by an engineering co in Leicester, their plate is on the end of the bed. Mine is also in VGC, tbh I don't think it has seen much use since the rebuild. I got it from the workshop of Andrews Motorcycles in Scarboro about 5 years ago.. It was on ebay, and as it was only a few miles from my workshop, and he wasn't getting any bids, I called the guy and told him to ring me if he didn't get a sale. Well it supposedly sold, and two guys turned up from Leeds in an Escort van, took one look at the lathe and left! It cost me £300 for the lathe, and £175 for the move to my workshop, which was worth every penny. Steve is a good lad, and knows exactly how to do the lifting bit. Although over the years, at various places I have worked I have done my share of moving heavy machinery, one always gives a huge sigh of relief when it is in position..There certainly aren't many about, mine was made "war Finish" by garnetts who were textile machinery manufacturers. As it says on Tonys site, Covmac made all sorts of special machinery for the nut and bolt industry, and most of it is still in use in third world countries, as you will have noticed when you searched for Covmac. The lathes were available to order, and were subcontracted to others like John Stirk & Co(QV) who made planers and other large machines. It is not known whether they used Covmac castings or cast their own as Stirk did have a big foundry. I do get to London two or three times a year, last time was only a couple of months ago. Of course I would love to see some pics, and I have tried to post some, but this site must have a secret method of uploading that I haven't sussed yet, NEIL, HEEEEELLLLLP!



East Yorks.

10/09/2014 19:05:43

HI chris,

Wow!!! I don;t believe it, I also have a Covmac and it sounds just like yours. Mine was built by P&C Garnett in Cleckheaton during WW2 I even started a Yahoo group called Covmac owners, and got zero replies...............Now if only I could post some pictures to the site.......................... I can;t offer you any advice or a manual because the lathe is hidden away in the corner of my workshop which is undergoing a complete rebuild at the moment. I am in East Yorkshire, where are you?

Thread: Workshop Electrics
08/09/2014 20:28:39

I think the thing to remember in England it is now a criminal offence not to have electrical work certified..

No Bob , it isn't. There is much work that can be done that is outside part P, and I am afraid to tell you that quite a number of those "part P certified electricians" are unemployed window cleaners who have been on a FIVE WEEK!!! course. I am a fully qualified electrician, five year apprenticeship, 3 years tech college, City& Guilds National Diploma in electrical engineering, plus 40 years in the industry, and yet I cannot now wire a house without having my work checked by another and certified....or I can pay some money to join one of the "clubs" (£600-£800) and then pay them a yearly fee( £300) for nothing so that I can keep wiring houses (part P ONLY applies to domestic premises) Part P has already been watered down after much protest from the electrical industry, and most of the restrictions on kitchen work have gone, although bathrooms are still a restricted area. Having said that the requirements are not particularly onerous, you can get many online guides to part P requirements, and you can "do it yourself" If there was already a ring main in your workshop, even if it only had two sockets, you can extend it. If there is already a lighting circuit, you can add to it. There is no requirement to bring existing installations up to the latest standards, as long as they complied with the regs in force when they were installed and are in good condition they are fine. Domestic wiring is not rocket science, it is the very BOTTOM of the electrical skills level, and the overall effect of part P has been to make electrical installations in domestic premises less safe, not more safe as was supposed to the claimed reason for their introduction. For your personal protection I would use an RCD to protect the whole installation, and make sure that your machines are earthed , but I would still have rewireable fuses. The reason for this is simple, and it seems to have occurred to no one in the IET that RCD's and MCB's are not fail safe. In other words, if they become faulty in use, THEY DO NOT SWITCH OFF! Be careful out there people!

I think I would proceed as follows, if there is already a feed to the shed and a consumer unit in place, and you are confident you can do it safely, do it yourself and say nowt. If you need to obtain a feed from your existing consumer unit and run a new sub main, I would look for a friendly sparks who will do the connecting up for you and certify what you have done (they can do this now, another part of "P" that has been dumped) You could get your local electrical building inspector to come round, they inspect, but do not test or sign off work, you would have to do that yourself as a "competent person", and the new testing regime requires expensive equipment, and the knowledge to use it., and of course there is a fee! any advice needed< let me know.


Thread: Correcting worn slideways
03/09/2014 21:23:48

Have a look at "scraping mill slideways" on you tube


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