Vintage Delta/Milwaukee - Delta/Rockwell  - Delta

1948 Delta model 1460 lathe restoration

Originally Posted on Badger Pond WW Forum by: David F. Eisan,, Date: Wednesday, 12/4/02, at 7:48 a.m.

Reposted here by permission of the author

Hello there,

About a month ago there was an auction here in London that listed woodworking tools and machinery, I thought I would go and check it out too see if there were any bottom feeding opportunities to buy an old hand plane or two. I didn't go with the intention of buying a lathe, but when I saw the made in Milwaukee 1948 Delta model 1460 lathe with original cast iron leg set, I feel in love with it. It was in sad bastard shape, but all the important parts were there (pulleys, tool rest base, tailstock, cast legs, etc.), a rare thing. I still wasn't going to buy it, because, well, I didn't want, have the space for, or need a lathe. When the bidding stopped at $90 and I heard the "Going Twice!", I did what any reasonable person would do, I raised my hand and bid $100. My opening bid was unopposed and, gulp, I bought a lathe.

With help from the auction staff, I loaded the lathe into my truck and took it home. I have to wonder what the neighbours think when they see me unloading big heavy objects in the dark late at night from the back of my truck.

Within two days I had the lathe stripped down to it's last nut, bolt and ball bearing, all bagged and tagged. Assembling all the required parts for a rebuild took a little time. The lathe needed new headstock bearings, and being unusual, I had to pay, ack, $54 for the pair. The lathe had a 4" tool rest, but was missing a 12" one. I ordered a 12" toolrest, outboard handwheel, spur drive centre and live centre for a General 160 lathe through work, they are direct replacements. I took the motor to Ampro (local motor shop) here in London to have them give it the once over, they replaced the bearings, capacitor and did a little other work to it. My brother in-law bead blasted the four handles on the lathe for me, and I spray painted them silver. I spent a *long* time cleaning the raw cast iron parts of the lathe. There was *no* rust, just *a lot* of tarnish that took big amounts of time and elbow grease to clean up. Once the castings were clean I sent them to a local body shop to have the paint sand blasted off and the castings repainted. I was *very* specific with the painter what was to be blasted and painted. I actually wrote a four page document with a dozen photos showing critical areas that could not be blasted, i.e. any raw cast iron mating surfaces, bed ways, races, etc. and specifically where to paint. My guy did a very good job and followed my instructions to the tee, I am very pleased. For a power switch, I found an old NOS 110 volt 3/4HP mag starter collecting dust in the warehouse at work. The last items I bought were rubber isolation mounts for the motor and a Fenner Powertwist link belt. Delta was kind enough to send me a manual and parts breakdown for my lathe.

With the castings back from the paint shop I started the rebuild. There were many small parts that needed to be cleaned and installed, everything went well. Well, almost everything went well. The main bearing/pulley shaft is left and right threaded on opposite ends. Each side gets a large nut that holds the bearings in the head stock. With a large 1-1/4" combination wrench on each nut, as I would tighten one, the other would come undone. It should have struck me right away what was going on, but it didn't. It was a little bit of a Laurel and Hardy routing until I figured it out. I did finally notice a flat on the pulley and with a wrench on that, was able to tighten down the two bearing nuts.

The pine stretchers that went between the cast iron leg set were pretty messed up, so I replaced them with nice 10" wide 8/4 hard maple ones. I chemically dyed the maple with lye, it makes the hard maple look 50 years old instantly. I applied three coats of my favourite finish, a 2:2:1:1 blend of turpentine, polyurethane, boiled linseed oil and tung oil.

A little wiring and the lathe was ready to try out. I turned off the breaker to one of the outlets in the garage and plugged the lathe in. I turned the breaker back on and that breaker didn't blow, so far so good. I walk over to the lathe and press the start button, Vvveeeeerrrrrr, it works! I can't get over how quite and smooth the lathe is! I turn the lathe off and find a piece of wood to chuck up. I grab a few of the lathe chisels I bought at auction last weekend and I start turning, sweet.

I am very happy with my 54 year old Delta lathe, and I hope to be using it for another 54 years.



Every neighbourhood has one, in mine, I'm him.

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