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Machinery Photo Index
Manufactured/Badged by:
Oliver Machinery Co.
Grand Rapids, MI

Machine Specifications
Machine Class: Wood Working Machinery
Machine Type: Lathe, Wood
Machine Size: 12" swing, 36" center-center
Submitted By: Jeff McVey
Machine Specifications
Description/Model: No. 51B w/Kimble EVS motor
Date of Manufacturer: 1918 (S/N 21406)
Serial Number: (View SN Registry Entry)
Last Updated 6/16/2004 8:27:23 PM

I just purchased this machine today. After reassembly at home, I wiped it down to remove a light coating of sawdust. Other than that, and removal of a wooden tool rack from the rear of the bed, it's as I found it.

The No. 51 was Oliver's small direct-drive lathe with motor headstock. It appears to have been introduced around the time of WWI. It was available with two different types of motor. One had 4 selectable speeds, and the other - including this one - had the 110VAC, single-phase, electrically variable-speed Kimble Patent motor, which was an Oliver exclusive. Around 1920, an updated version of the Kimble motor was offered on the No. 51. Eventually, these came to be known as the No. 51-K. The No. 51A versions had a 48" long bed which offered 24" centers, and the No. 51B had a 60" bed length with 36" between centers. As with Oliver's other small (12" swing) lathes, any of these could be ordered with a hand-feed carriage and set-over tailstock, which was indicated by an "F" model suffix.

This is the first one I've encountered with the original-type Kimble motor. Fortunately, it runs fine, as I'd hate to have to attempt any repairs on this extremely complex design. Rube Goldberg would love it! The motor alone weighs at least 100 pounds and is rated at 1/2HP. This appears to be real horsepower - not Sears horsepower.

The later Kimble's have the controller mounted above the motor, but it's behind the motor on this one. A shaft is suspended on a bracket above and between the motor and controller. Handwheels at either end of that shaft are turned to vary the speed. This control input is transmitted into the controller via chain drive from a sprocket wheel on the shaft. The most interesting feature of the controller is the governor, which looks much like a "flyball" governor from a steam engine. It changes position and speed with changes in motor speed.

Kimble's patent drawings show a motor with the controller assembly mounted directly on the motor armature shaft, on one end of the motor. It's my guess that this design wasn't employed here, as it would preclude use of the outboard end of the lathe spindle, and make for a very long motor that would occupy much of the lathe bed length.

Instead, this design placed the controller parallel with, and to the rear of, the motor. The governor has to run at about the same speed as the motor, so some means of spinning its shaft had to be provided. In this version, that is accomplished via a double-row chain.

Most of this mechanism is concealed with covers. So, two of my three pictures show the motor/controller assembly with the covers removed. I didn't bother with pictures of the rest of the lathe, as it's nothing out of the ordinary.

If anyone has ever seen or heard of another lathe like this one, or with the newer Kimble motor, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Photo 1:

Comments: outboard end - covers in place
Source: Jeff McVey photo
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Photo 2:

Comments: outboard end - covers removed
Source: Jeff McVey photo
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Photo 3:

Comments: rear view - covers removed
Source: Jeff McVey photo
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