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Machinery Photo Index
Manufactured/Badged by:
Yates-American Machine Co., Inc.
Beloit, WI; Roscoe, IL; Liberty, NC

True Manufacturer:
Yates-American Machine Co., Inc., Beloit, WI; Roscoe, IL; Liberty, NC
Machine Specifications
Machine Class: Wood Working Machinery
Machine Type: Lathe, Wood
Machine Size: 12"
Submitted By: D.L. Felton
Machine Specifications
Description/Model: J-170 (older style oval columns)
Date of Manufacturer: 1950s (late)
Serial Number: J170 1260 (View SN Registry Entry)
Last Updated 4/1/2017 11:33:23 AM

Comments:
I purchased this sad-looking J-170 in February 2016. The PO bought it an auction “7 or 8 years ago” and had stored it in a barn near Turlock, CA since. It has a property sticker indicating it was once owned by the Stockton Unified School District. It was in rough cosmetic shape, but seemed in decent mechanical condition and was missing only a few parts, so I bought it. I have been wanting to move up to a heavier duty lathe from my smaller Delta 11" and Duro 13" lathes, and had been hearing very good things about the J-170s, so took the plunge. I'm especially impressed with the sizes of the spindle and bearings compared to the smaller lathes.

I’ve been working on it since and hope to have it in usable condition before too long. I've obtained a banjo from a Delta 12 inch lathe to replace the missing Yates-American banjo. I also need to find/have made a ram for the tailstock. Further discussion of my rehabilitation efforts can be found at http://www.owwm.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=169902

Detailed information on the history of J-170 lathes is fairly hard to come by - I think relatively few (a few thousand?) were produced. Many key documents are undated, so it’s not clear when they were first introduced. They have serial numbers, but there is no clear concordance list of those numbers with manufacture dates. There are a number of stylistic changes that can probably be dated, but that too will need more research.

One major stylistic change is in the columns under the headstock and bed. Older J-170s are supported by oval columns on cast iron plinths (like this one), while later models had square or rectangular sheet metal bases. A 1958-59 edition of a Yates-American brochure shows a picture of the square-bodied version of the J-170 labeled as "New! 12" Lathe."

With that information, I conclude this machine (serial # “J170 1260”) was made sometime prior to 1959. I also suspect it dates to only shortly before the switch to the square steel bodies. This is based on the fact that it has a simple red Yates-American name plate that seems identical to those used on the newer, square-bodied models. This name plate is distinctly different (and way less interesting) than the chrome plated, bass relief badges used on most of the earlier oval bodied J-170s.

I’ll post better pictures when I finish rehab work. I'm very interested in any further information others may have on the history, stylistic changes and manufacture dates of these machines.

Photo 1:

Comments: As found, in barn in Turlock, CA
Source: PO photo, CraigsList
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Photo 2:

Comments: Marks: (L) badge, on column below headstock; (R top) serial number, top of bed, tail end; (R, lower) decal on variable speed pulley ("McLEAR TRANSMISSION CO, Duo-vary, LAKE ZURICH, ILLINOIS")
Source: My Canon
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Photo 3:

Comments: Spindle, bearings etc. before cleanup. Delta 11" lathe spindle at lower left for comparison
Source: My Canon
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Photo 4:

Comments: Variable speed pulley, after removal of headstock casting
Source: My Canon
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Photo 5:

Comments: Workings of variable speed pulley; central sheave slides L-R to change effective size of pulleys.
Source: My Canon
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Photo 6:

Comments: Rehab complete; patch of original paint exposed on rear of bed in right view. Using a Delta banjo in lieu of missing Y-A tool holder.
Source: My Canon
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