New-to-me Perton watchmaker's lathe

cazboy

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I just scored a nice Perton watchmaker's lathe, for what I think is a fair price ($200). The bed, headstock and tailstock are stamped with matching serial numbers, CR 337. Plus it has the tipover tee-rest, and the nickel plating seems about 95% intact. I got it from the local jeweler's shop - they display lots of bric-a-brac and knick-knacks having to do with jewelrymaking and the local history with copper mining, and I noticed this lathe on a wall shelf - long story short, I have the lathe and they have $200. The owner said he has had it for over 20 years and never used it. It came with a motor, all on a Borel stand. I just overhauled it last night and it seems to turn smoothly - I don't want to run it with a motor until I get a couple of questions answered.

Can a Perton owner please tell me what the thread diameter and pitch is of the benchmounting bolt-hole, underneath the lathe bed? I think the diameter is 5/16", but 5/16-18 doesn't work and neither does 5/16-24......so I suspect the real thread pitch in question is probably 5/16-20, but I could be wrong. I read somewhere last night that if you ever think a bolt hole must be 5/16-20, it's actually metric M8-1.25. Well, I don't think that's the case on this Perton lathe because (1) it's American, and (2) everything else on the lathe conforms to SAE thread pitches, not metric pitches.

I have other question, but I want to start with the above one. Thanks.
 

Per G

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Nice buy, Doug. Congratulations.
I think the Perton was made in L.A. for some years shortly after WW2.
The hole in the bed ends is just the centre hole used when the bed was machined to size.
BTW, before running your lathe in earnest, make sure the wicks from the oil cups to the headstock bearings are still ok. They are needed to lift the oil to where it is needed.

Per
 

cazboy

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Thank you, Per! It certainly stands to reason that it was made post-WWII. With all the wounded servicemen coming home, there was a surge in popularity in watch/clock repair since most operations could be done by a wheelchair-bound war Veteran. And, somehow, your theory about being based in Los Angeles doesn't seem too far-fetched. But I wonder why information is so hard to come by?

I think you're correct about the holes in the ends - of course, a well made lathe bed was made from a piece of stock turned on centers. That makes perfect sense.

As far as the wicks, they seem to be in good shape, but I'm a bit unsure how to verify their integrity. The felt edges that I can see in the bearing slits are certainly saturated with oil - I can tell by pressing the side of of the tip of a toothpick to it...the toothpick comes back with oil on it. But I'm not sure if fresh oil would continue to wick up the channel...

I'm surprised that Tony Griffith's excellent lathe website has no mention of Perton.

...Doug
 

Charles E. Davis

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Deep down in the NAWCC forums I found a reference to Clayton & Rose Mfg. Co., Los Angeles, as makers of the Perton Lathe:
https://mb.nawcc.org/archive/index.php/t-23146.html
Per
I spent Monday evenings for several years attending the remnants of the Southern California Watchmaking College in South Gate in the late 70's and 80's. I stopped on my way home from my day teaching at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.
The "college" was in shambles and much of my time was spent going through boxes and junk piled high all over. There was an elderly man named Coffee, I believe, who was in charge. He would answer your questions and give you a price for anything you found. We paid 90 cents an hour and for whatever we took homel I managed to fix a couple of watches but gave it up very soon when I lost my left thumb from the knuckle.
Raw castings for the lathe were there and I picked up at least three. Though the years I have passed a couple of them on to home machinists who were attempting to make a lathe.
There were also many empty boxes that I have used through the years to store things in. They included items such as watch m/s winders.
My prize purchase was a Homer Barkus pliars that had a collet closer toggeled in the jaws. Collets could be inserted and screwwed into "the draw bar" which pulled the collet closed when the handles were squeezed. There was also a provision to hold the collet tight without using the handles. Quite a versitile "pin vise.
I still meet a friend at the GLAR each year that also was attending when I was there over 30 years ago.
 

cazboy

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Deep down in the NAWCC forums I found a reference to Clayton & Rose Mfg. Co., Los Angeles, as makers of the Perton Lathe:
https://mb.nawcc.org/archive/index.php/t-23146.html

Per
Yes! I found that reference, also! I made a little Word document where I'm copy-and-pasting every little nugget I can find about Perton. So far, the document is still on the first page - there's really not much info out there! For example, I can't seem to find any info about Clayton & Rose Mfg. Co. - looks like I'll have to dig a little deeper.
 

Charles E. Davis

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I have egg on my face. The boxes I found were all marked with Clayton & Rose Mfg. Co. and there were other evidences of the connection with the school.

Sorry I didn't include that in my message. Here is a photo.

MVC-010S.JPG
 

cazboy

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Hi Charles,
Thank you for that. This is getting interesting now. So, in your "picking over" the Southern California Watchmaking College in South Gate, I gather that the boxes you bought up were all marked with Clayton & Rose Mfg. Co. It seems as if there was some connection with Clayton & Rose Mfg. Co. and the college you spoke of. Perhaps they were two sides of a common business venture?

At any rate, the possible connection seems fascinating to me, and certainly gives me another angle to investigate. Thank you for providing the photograph that you posted there...a raw casting for a watchmaker's lathe and pedestal, and also a horological tool in its original box!

Thank you again, Charles.
 

Kevin W.

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Nice looking lathe there Doug. Interesting about the companies that made them.
Nice to see also what Charles added to the thread too.
 

cazboy

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Thanks, Kevin. Yes, the Perton really presents itself as a beautiful lathe. But, it feels FAR less robust and strong than my Rivett, which will likely remain my workhorse. The nickel plating on my Rivett has long since deteriorated, but the steel underneath and the precision machining on it FAR surpasses the Perton. Still, I think it will have a place in my shop - perhaps for pivot polishing...?
 

wefalck

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Surprisingly de Carlé doesn't know about Perton-lathes either. Just looking at the bed, I would have thought it was one of those no-name import lathes made by Boley for various US american brands.

I found the raw casting of head and tailstock together quite interesting. It seems to indicate that they were machined in tandem to give a good alignement. Though I have seen quite a few pictures of lathe manufacturing, I didn't come across any pictures (yet) that shows the process at some of the classical manufacturers. Perhaps one should write to Boley, they may have something in their archives.

And, btw, all my lathe beds have these centres drilled into their ends.
 

cazboy

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Surprisingly de Carlé doesn't know about Perton-lathes either. Just looking at the bed, I would have thought it was one of those no-name import lathes made by Boley for various US american brands.

I found the raw casting of head and tailstock together quite interesting. It seems to indicate that they were machined in tandem to give a good alignement. Though I have seen quite a few pictures of lathe manufacturing, I didn't come across any pictures (yet) that shows the process at some of the classical manufacturers. Perhaps one should write to Boley, they may have something in their archives.

And, btw, all my lathe beds have these centres drilled into their ends.
Thanks for your input, wefalck. Yes, I've since realized that all the lathe beds I've seen have the centerholes on the ends for machining. Also I've found that the threaded bore for benchmounting is indeed a 5/16-24 thread - originally I thought that it wasn't 5/16-24 because it turned out there was a raised burr inside, preventing a bolt from going in more than 3 or 4 threads. Cleaning the threads out with a tap sure cured that problem!

I'm re-attaching Charlie Davis' picture, showing how I think the lathe was cast. It's a fascinating concept - the wayguides for both the headstock and tailstock, as well as the spindle bores, can be machined into the casting all while it's in one piece. It seems to me, that would assure perfect alignment of the spindle bores and the wayguides to each other, and then when the bed's ways are machined everything can't help but line up!
I think this stuff is really neato-burrito. :excited:

MVC-010S_text added.JPG
 

wefalck

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Yes, that's exactly what I thought, when I looked at the rough casting. If it was me, I would gang-mill the inside surfaces of the feet first and then strap the casting to a lathe bed to drill and ream the bores, after which the outsides can be cleaned up using gang-milling again. The headstock and tailstock then can be separated and the hardened spindle-bearings pressed into the headstock-borings.

This procedure produces, however, only one pair of headstock and tailstock, while many lathes had different tailstocks to match one headstock. So there must have been other techniques, such as hand-scraping, to match different parts. In fact, most lathe manufacturers recommended that you sent-in the headstock, when you were buying a new tailstock, so that the latter could be matched in the works.

wefalck
 

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