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Old Boxford Lathe

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Charlie Carpenter14/08/2016 11:29:33
5 forum posts
9 photos

Hi there I was wondering if anyone would be willing to help me identify an old Boxford lathe. My Dad swapped it for a van over 20 years ago and it has sat in the workshop ever since, it has been used for a few small projects but basically has been gathering dust. Unfortunately we have lost contact with the old owner and I therefore have no one to ask questions about it.

I have been looking through the Boxford section on and from the serial number I believe it to be from the early fifties but It doesn't look quite like any thing else on there to my uneducated eye. It would be great to find out what it is and finally give it the attention it deserves.

It doesn't seem to cut too well sometimes and I'm unsure as to wether this is down to newbie tool grinding/incorrect speed or just the wear and tear that must be present on such an old machine. It does have alot of backlash on the compound slide. Apparently the bearings in the headstock were replaced before we got it but I don't know if this is true

I did manage to make an adapter for a milling attachement but I've pretty much decided to leave it be until I am more knowledgable, so as not to cause damage. I'm reading and youtubing like crazy

So my other question apart from identification is this, If you owned this lathe and had pretty much no money to spend on it for the time being, what would you do with it in terms of restoration/care?

I have taken some pictures of the lathe and its two serial numbers (I believe the one on the bed is the correct one?)

I would greatly appreciate any help with this.

Many thanks, Charlie20160809_164226.jpg20160809_164453.jpg20160809_164259.jpg20160809_164243.jpg20160809_164550.jpg20160809_164605.jpg20160812_133833.jpg20160812_133211.jpg

mark smith 2014/08/2016 13:27:53
671 forum posts
331 photos

Looks like a model C as it doesnt appear to have powered crossfeed .

Bazyle14/08/2016 13:38:18
5282 forum posts
201 photos

It is the early bench mounted rear drive model C. ( screwcutting gearbox would be a model A, power cross feed is a B) The version before the more compact rear drive and before the under drive versions popular in schools. So yes it is from the fifties.

It has a vertical slide on the cross slide for milling instead of the normal topslide. Do you have that aswell? There is one on ebay at the moment. The motor plate makes it sit rather well away from the wall but acts as a sort of clutch isf you fit a handle to the cam actuation rod that comes through to the front. Do you have a second set of jaws for the chuck?

The legs are from something else.

Nice lathe and worth sorting out.

Edited By Bazyle on 14/08/2016 13:39:42

Charlie Carpenter14/08/2016 13:59:29
5 forum posts
9 photos

Hi there, thanks for the info.

Its difficult wading through the technical stuff to find what you need online but slowly slowly its starting to make sense. Model C, one more part to the puzzle.

The vertical slide came with the lathe and I made the attachment, a milling machine even if only for small parts is sorely needed in the workshop.

I have the top slide and a few other bits and pieces that came with it:

collets and draw bar, 4way tool post, drill chucks, some measuring gear, quite a few end mills and slot bits and a huge collection of taps . Quite a few bits I haven't worked out yet but as I'm reading more is becoming clear.

The thing that worries me most id the missing grease nipples from the headstock, is it possible that if the bearings were replaced, sealed ones were put in meaning no grease is needed? wishfull thinking?


Charlie Carpenter14/08/2016 14:01:15
5 forum posts
9 photos

Oh and no second set of jaws but there is a 4 jaw chuck too and a faceplate(?)

RichardS14/08/2016 16:52:52
28 forum posts
Model C from 1950/51/52 (confused numbering during that period).

More information available on the Boxford Lathe group on Yahoo,
e.g. Parts list, manual, images of things like the missing speed
setting plate on the headstock.

If your "faceplate" has one open ended slot then it is probably a catch plate
for driving work between centres. The face plate has 6 or 8 closed end slots.

Regarding the grease points. If "lubricated for life" bearings were fitted then yes, no grease would be needed, however if there are broken remains in the holes then they need to be extracted and new grease points fitted.

Be wary of using the belt tensioner as a clutch (we all do it) as the belt can occaisionally catch and spin the chuck just when you don't expect it (guess how I know .
Neil Wyatt14/08/2016 17:44:48
17970 forum posts
709 photos
77 articles

Fundamentally a good solid lathe.

Put your initial effort into trying to set it up as well as you can.


Charlie Carpenter14/08/2016 17:45:23
5 forum posts
9 photos

Thanks for the info re: the yahoo group, if I can find the manual etc. for free that would be great, I have plenty time at the moment but money is tight and the documents on seem a bit pricey.

Its a catch plate then, a rusty one at that

The holes are clear and I found one of the nipples in the box of bits, I also found a set of bearings near there which I suspect may be the new ones, I'm away from the workshop just now but I intend to see if there is a part number stamped on them, they may have nothing to do with the lathe.

I have a healthy fear of fast spinning lumps of metal so your advice about the tensioner is duly noted, I hope your fingers are still where they are supposed to be

So its hitting the books for me, I feel confident in tackling the slides but the head stock can wait for the time being.

Do you know what kind of depth of cut/speed this thing should be capable of? I had it cutting nicely but slowly on the smaller piece of that milling adapter but the bigger lump was difficult, it seemed to be pulling the tool in ever so slightly and the chips were much shorter and blue. Could well be the speed..

Ho humm, so much to learn and so little brain to do it

Bazyle14/08/2016 19:16:29
5282 forum posts
201 photos

Search for 'know your lathe' book. It was written around the Boxford as a translation of the original American SouthBend book.

Charlie Carpenter15/08/2016 09:57:31
5 forum posts
9 photos
Will do, Thanks
I'm currently working my way through this series, great resource for beginners
Martin Connelly15/08/2016 11:35:49
1397 forum posts
163 photos

Before you put any grease in the grease nipples make sure they are not oil nipples.


Hopper15/08/2016 12:15:09
4636 forum posts
101 photos
Posted by Charlie Carpenter on 14/08/2016 11:29:33:....

...So my other question apart from identification is this, If you owned this lathe and had pretty much no money to spend on it for the time being, what would you do with it in terms of restoration/care?

First steps would be to get hold of a manual (probably from the Yahoo group) and the other Know Your Lathe book already mentioned. Check the "Files" section of the Yahoo group for other resources too.

Armed with these, I would adjust the headstock bearings to correct clearance or pre-load as the case may be. This would include making sure they are properly lubricated with grease or oil nipples or whatever the manual specifies.

Then I would give the carriage and cross slide and tailstock etc a good wash down with kero or degreaser. Then oil up all the ways and the cross slide and top slide with the specified oil (bit of good hydraulic oil will do the job or synthetic motor oil. Dino motor oil goes a bit gummy over time.) I think those are ball-type oil fittings on the carriage and cross slide etc. Use them well to start with, then every time before you use the lathe.

Then adjust all the gibs on the carriage main bed ways, cross slide and top slide as per the manual.

Then really practice sharpening your lathe tools. Use what the old books refer to as a knife tool, with a bit of extra side rake on the top of the toolbit to give a nice sharp cutting edge with an included angle between the side clearance and top rake of about 60 degrees. This sharper tool angle gives a better finish on these old worn lathes with less chatter, but will wear a bit quicker which is not a big problem in the home workshop.

Also pay attention to the motor bearings and more particularly the counter-shaft bearings. Worn and lumpy bearings here can come through as vibration patterns on the job finish.

It looks like a good old machine you have. A bit of TLC and it should be a champion.

Edited By Hopper on 15/08/2016 12:16:38

Edited By Hopper on 15/08/2016 12:18:31

Terryd15/08/2016 12:17:50
1935 forum posts
179 photos

Hi Charlie,

Looks like a CSB. These were basic lathes made for the education market, mostly secondary schools. I have one of these as well as a later BUD (UD - Under Drive). I must admit that I prefer the Bench mounting of the CSB (and other B and A models intended for bench mounting).

These are sound, capable lathes and if from a school may have dints on the bed etc but will probably have little wear as they had only limited use generally and with care the dints can be stoned out. Collets and draw bar generally sell for a good price especially if you have the collet adapter for the spindle and spindle nose protector which screws onto the the spindle nose thread. I use a different collet system i.e. the ER 32 system. Do You have a compound slide and toolholder?

If there is no play in the head bearings, I suggest you leave well alone they have taper roller bearings back and front. There are instructions on how to set the bearing pre load in the parts lists for these lathes, available for members in the files section on the BoxfordLathe_UserGroup on Yahoo. The excellent 'Know Your Lathe' Book is also available there.

I would personally not use the rear drive belt as a clutch - and I still have all of my fingers. As a lathe user for over 50 years I have seen all sorts of mods which have been made to these machines - most of them dangerous, if the manufacturers had thought it a good idea they would have done it believe me.

Do You have any gears to drive the leadscrew? If not I may have some duplicates I could let you have at a good price, message me and I'll have a look see. Otherwise they are again usually available on eBay. Don't buy a whole set, just the ones you need as you get a bit more experience.

As for help using it MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have some excellent tutorials on the website search for 'MIT TechTV Videos'. Just found the first lathe video - here-

There are others on the lathe in the series. BTW there is a list of Boxford serial numbers and dates on

Enjoy your lathe,


Ajohnw15/08/2016 20:18:24
3631 forum posts
160 photos

The know your lathe book is a good intro to turning what ever lathe is beings used.

Boxford have been a bit mixed on greasing spindle bearings. Sounds like you need to remove the covers if you want to do it. It's possible to poke a bit of what is in out and put some fresh in. In some ways you will be lucky if it's not been done before as the bearings shouldn't have much grease in them. They usually have loads though. Not something to worry about.

The back gear bearing is likely to need lubricating as well. This is probably under a grub screw in the spindle pulley. There are parts diagrams on the yahoo group. If no model C I believe that the general set up is the same as my ME10. The oil holes in the counter shaft are pretty obvious ( shaft driven by the motor)

If you want to make a start at cleaning it up a simple way is wire wool and paraffin or better still one of those green plastic kitchen scouring mats that sometimes come on sponges. It's a good way of getting rid of old gunk but wont usually make much impression on rust. I'd use this on all of the slide ways and gib strips which means dismantling them. Then ideally slide way oil which can be bought off ebay etc. Then adjust the gibs carefully for a tiny bit of friction at the handles. They don't want to be too loose. When you wind the cross slide right out you may find it stiffens..It's usually the first thing to wear on any lathe. If so it's possible to reduce the stiffening a bit by messing with the outer screws. It's not unusual to have to adjust the gibs several times as the lathe is used and things settle down.

The headstock bearings are preloaded and many people have no luck at all with the boxford method shown at the end of the parts manual. It is worth try though. Sound like you have run the lathe so give it a try. If it's low run the lathe at it's highest speed for 15min or so and try it again. If - when you have stopped the lathe - you put your finger in the back under the rear bearing you should be able to feel some heat. Nice and warm but not hot is how I would describe it. In the end this is how I adjusted mine but remember that it will take 15min running or more for the lathe to warm up and the inside of the spindle doesn't want to feel hot. The adjustment nut on the end of the spindle is sometimes rather tight due to the bearing fit they use. It can be tapped round a tiny bit at a time with a drift and hammer. The grub screws that lock it just need loosening. If your remove them you'll probably loose one of the white metal pads under them like I did. Each time you make an adjustment do some heavy turning or drill a big hole. That will tend to make sure the front bearing is home. It's a slow process thanks to that aspect.

I think your lathe should be fitted with either a 1/2 or 3/4 HP motor.



Edited By Ajohnw on 15/08/2016 20:22:22

Edited By Ajohnw on 15/08/2016 20:24:36

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