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Watchmakers lathe

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Steve Pavey20/04/2015 10:31:52
280 forum posts
32 photos

I 'inherited' this little Boley lathe a while ago, and it sits under the bench doing nothing except gathering a layer of dust. As much as I enjoy admiring it I'm not going to use it as I don't need anything this small so It really ought to go to someone who can use it.

So does anyone have any idea what it might be worth and how best to find a new owner who'll be able to use it?

It came with the box of collets, the countershaft and all the other bits and pieces. It was originally mounted on a bit of plywood and powered by an old Hoover motor with some extremely dodgy wiring. I ditched all that as the motor was electrically unsafe. I would guess a little sewing machine motor and foot pedal would go well with it.

Michael Gilligan20/04/2015 11:21:40
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13781 forum posts
599 photos

Steve,

That's potentially a very desirable little lathe ... you have a compound slide and two 'gap beds' ... are the collets 6mm body, or the [more generally useful] 8mm ?

My only real concern is that it may have been mis-used in the past ... the oversize motor is a worrying hint.

Your best bet would probably be to list it in detail, on ebay. These things are worth whatever someone will pay for them.

MichaelG.

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 20/04/2015 11:22:30

Nick_G20/04/2015 11:26:38
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1808 forum posts
744 photos

.

I want it.!!!!!

Not sure what for.??? ............... But I want it. laughwink

Nick

RJW20/04/2015 12:54:56
339 forum posts
48 photos
Realistic ball park eBay prices: basic lathe with box, collets and dropped beds, ?150 - ?200,

Compound crosslide C?250, countershaft assembly C?100,
Sold as a job lot C?400 at a push!

My local auction room gets ?400+ for a rig like this all day long!

I've a similar lot of stuff to dispose of soon and I'll be splitting it up as above!

John.
RJW20/04/2015 13:07:02
339 forum posts
48 photos
Just also counted 30+ collets and a couple of step chucks which are worth at least a fiver each, with most eBay business sellers flogging them at ?10 each, these as a job lot would probably fetch ?150 alone!

Check the end of the bed, tailstock and headstock for a maker's stamp too, name = more value than unnamed, looks like it may be a Boley stamp on the headstock, and Boley have the flat on top of the bed same as yours, one of the best if so!

John.
Steve Pavey20/04/2015 13:20:22
280 forum posts
32 photos

So it might go some way towards the purchase of a Harrison M250 then? I have looked on eBay in the past, but there seem to be so many different types of watchmakers lathe, with such a bewildering variety of accessories, that it's difficult to value for someone (like me) who has no experience.

As far as I know, the lathe was never used in the setup I described - the previous owner brought it into work to put it on the base board and rig up the motor, with a view to doing some scratch built OO gauge building, but lost interest and it sat in a cupboard for at least 20 years before he passed it onto me.

I might have to think about eBay (not too keen, but there's no denying the size of the audience). Thanks for the replies so far.

Neil Wyatt20/04/2015 15:10:12
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On Ebay "watchmaker's" = small. There was a report of an Adept listed as a watchmaker's lathe.

Neil

Michael Gilligan20/04/2015 15:12:04
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13781 forum posts
599 photos
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 20/04/2015 11:21:40:
 
Steve,
 
... are the collets 6mm body, or the [more generally useful] 8mm ?

.

Note: This could make a substantial difference to the value of both the collets and the basic lathe.

MichaelG.

.

P.S. This is a very good place to start understanding what you have ... there's a link to a Boley-specific page; follow that once you've got the basics.

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 20/04/2015 15:29:40

RJW20/04/2015 15:28:34
339 forum posts
48 photos
That was the case up to as recently as 6 months ago Michael, but recently they've been climbing rapidly, I've recently sold a load of 6mm collets and other attachments and got very good money for them, very close to 8mm equivalents in fact!

A lot of people are climbing onto the watch repair bandwagon now, and they're buying whatever they can get hold of, so a 6mm lathe with a decent range of collets is likely to pretty much equal an 8mm lathe in value, but the level to which a lathe is equipped has a bigger effect now against what size they are!

Something to remember, is that the only thing affected by spindle bore size is the headstock, all other accessories will fit the 6mm or 8mm lathes, the tailstock is a parallel bore, which unfortunately means that many lathes get broken up and sold piecemeal .. for a lot more money, a headstock foot alone can fetch ?60 if there are enough fighting over them, I'm needing one myself and seen the bidding frenzy when they come along!

John.
Michael Gilligan20/04/2015 15:33:41
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13781 forum posts
599 photos
Posted by RJW on 20/04/2015 15:28:34:
That was the case up to as recently as 6 months ago Michael, but recently they've been climbing rapidly ...

.

Very interesting, John ... I bow to your wisdom.

[it was quite a few years ago that I bought mine]

MichaelG.

Steve Pavey20/04/2015 16:07:19
280 forum posts
32 photos

Thanks for the link Michael - I have checked it out already but I will look again.

Some more photos - the collets are 8mm as measured across the shank, and it has a couple of Boley stamps on it, including "G Boley Germany 20501" on the end of the bed. The gap bed bars don't have Boley stamped on the end, but do have some sort of serial number on the tailstock end - both markedly different in format although physically identical items as far as I can tell. The bed diameter is 20mm.

Sorry about the dust on everything - an effect of the day job I'm afraid. I need another workshop for the metal stuff.

Edited By Steve Pavey on 20/04/2015 16:12:51

Steve Pavey20/04/2015 16:50:15
280 forum posts
32 photos

More sleuthing - one of the gap beds is marked ROFB no 289, which indicates it was made by the Royal Ordnance Factory in Birtley (Tyne and Wear). The other, marked B TAB M Co, is by the British Tabulating Machine Co, Letchworth, who outsourced some of their production to Royal Ordnance Factories. All according to Tony.

Both companies made watchmaking lathes and components during the war when it was obviously not possible to import German machines, but presumably there was a need to make precision instruments for the war effort.

Very interesting, as my father and both grandfathers worked at Woolwich Arsenal during the war.

Michael Gilligan20/04/2015 17:41:14
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13781 forum posts
599 photos

Steve,

With due deference to John's market analysis [which did come as a surprise] ... 8mm collets is Good !!

... I'm sure you should have no problem selling that for a decent price.

MichaelG.

RJW20/04/2015 20:32:46
339 forum posts
48 photos

Very interesting, John ... I bow to your wisdom.

[it was quite a few years ago that I bought mine]

MichaelG.

Hmmmm ..... Wisdom and market analysis might be a bit of a stretch Michael, more the result of wasting too many hours of my life trawling eBay and watching my watched items list, does pay off in the end though! cheeky

Yes, 8mm definitely more desirable than 6mm!

Edited By RJW on 20/04/2015 20:34:07

Ken Biddle21/04/2015 00:16:25
10 forum posts

I would reconsider having it around. It can do many jobs other than watch size pieces, such as screws, pins, etc. A sewing machine motor is not expensive and you might find after playing with it for a while to keep it. I have a couple Unimats for such work and it is easier to do small jobs on them and a nice sit down table job is sometimes a relief. There are three jaw chucks available or adapters for them from Sherline that can use other chucks. A possibility as a house lathe with new belting and the motor even without the countershaft as a board mounted setup.

RJW21/04/2015 08:39:05
339 forum posts
48 photos

Couldn't agree more with Ken, I've a Unimat 3 with all the bells and whistles that rarely comes out of its box, either my Boley or Star 8mm lathes (both with compound slides) have done nearly everything I've needed to do from watches, to 8 day longcase movements, to small engine repairs!

I don't have a countershaft and never needed one, here in the UK, I use a fairly hefty motor bolted the bench hooked up to a variac device, and in France, I've a board rigged up with a sewing machine motor hooked up to a light dimmer switch, that rig can get a bit hot when used in anger for longer than is good for it, but it's kept going for the last 5 years without hassle!

RDG tools sell 8mm x 14mm x 1mm collets suitable for watchmaker's lathes which take the Unimat 3 accessories, so anything that fits a Uni, will fit an 8mm lathe - subject to bed clearance, but as you have gap bed attachments, you're probably home and dry for a bigger chuck, my Unimat 3 & 4 jaw independent And self centering chucks fit either my Boley or Star which comes in very handy when the original scroll chuck won't cut it!

John.

Michael Gilligan21/04/2015 11:04:59
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13781 forum posts
599 photos
Posted by Ken Biddle on 21/04/2015 00:16:25:

I would reconsider having it around. ...

.

Me too, Ken

... but that wasn't Steve's question.

MichaelG.

Ken Biddle21/04/2015 13:15:51
10 forum posts

My apology to Mr. Pavey. Mr. Gillligan, I stand corrected for exceeding the bounds of the original question and can assure you I will not be a problem in the future.

Michael Gilligan21/04/2015 13:48:20
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13781 forum posts
599 photos
Posted by Ken Biddle on 21/04/2015 13:15:51:

My apology to Mr. Pavey. Mr. Gillligan, I stand corrected for exceeding the bounds of the original question and can assure you I will not be a problem in the future.

.

I was only "justifying" my failure to make the same recommendation.

MichaelG.

Steve Pavey21/04/2015 16:02:10
280 forum posts
32 photos

No apology needed - I'm happy for any suggestions. However, I've had it for about 7-8 years without having the need to use it, and my interests in metal bashing are centred on bigger stuff in the main. At the moment I have a Boxford which I'm finding a bit too small!

It's nice to hear the views of others with more experience of these - there are a few items in the box that I don't know the purpose of, so I'll probably come back soon with some more questions. Thanks for the help so far.

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