Watchmaker Lathes - still in use

trim

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Hi All,

a conversation I was having prompted this post - I'm curious about how many of the older watchmakers lathes are still in service. One of mine for example, was built within the first 3 years of WW lathe production - American Watch Tool Webster/Whitcomb Lathe serial # 7252 sold April 16 1892.

IMG_0506.jpg

Although its no longer my primary lathe (that is a 1946 Derbyshire 8mm WW) it still gets used often. I also have a Lorch 6mm lathe, but that is essentially undateable but is likely an earlier one.

Kris.
 
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glenhead

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Wow, that would be tough to determine, wouldn't it? When you think about how many are probably sitting in boxes in attics or garages, stored away by descendants who have no idea what that box full of junk is for, it does make ya wonder. I know for sure that I haven't used mine since Sunday afternoon, and would hate to be without it.

That's a nice lathe you have there. Being able to date it is pretty cool.

Glen
 

karlmansson

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Here is the one I use the most. I also have a headstock with a fixed faceplate by Lorch and a vertical milling attachment (not pictured). I modified another 6mm headstock with a raiser block to bring it up to the milling spindle after I made an adaptor block to turn the vertical slide 90 degrees on the top slide.

A lot of these 6mm lathes must have been sold. They pop up everywhere!

2D1A748D-927A-4ABE-8D6A-F190234725F9.jpeg 83BD3748-6F3F-419A-99BD-01DC1929462E.jpeg
 

wefalck

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Unfortunately, Lorch, Schmidt & Co. and Wolf, Jahn & Co. lathes and mills are difficult to date, as they were not given serial numbers and the design remained virtually unchanged from the early years of the 20th century to the end of their production in the late 1960s. There are some indications, such as whether the cross-slide has one or two tool-slots that makes them earlier or later respectively. Also, on Lorch-lathes the name was engraved somewhat differently towards the end of production. It is actually quite surprising, that they did undergo so little alteration during the production years.
The various lathes of the above manufacturers I have and use probably span the whole production periods.
 

Jerry Kieffer

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Hi All,

a conversation I was having prompted this post - I'm curious about how many of the older watchmakers lathes are still in service. One of mine for example, was built within the first 3 years of WW lathe production - American Watch Tool Webster/Whitcomb Lathe serial # 7252 sold April 16 1892.

View attachment 490278

Although its no longer my primary lathe (that is a 1946 Derbyshire 8mm WW) it still gets used often. I also have a Lorch 6mm lathe, but that is essentially undateable but is likely an earlier one.

Kris.
Kris
I have nine Watchmakers Lathes in my tool collection of various vintages.

Most of my work these days is one off Micro parts for various Trades and Industry including Horology. While the watchmakers Lathe is not practical for my work, the following early Lathes are occasionally used to demonstrate early procedures at Trade shows, Seminars and the Class Room. So in a sense, they are still being used.

The first two photos are of a 1850`s brass "JM Bottum, New York" Wax chuck Lathe.

The last photo is of a unmarked Bezel Lathe probably around the 1870`s or 80`s.

All accessories are original to the lathes with the exception of the rest for the Bottum Lathe. I had to machine and age it from bar stock.

Jerry Kieffer

fullsizeoutput_111.jpeg fullsizeoutput_2ce.jpeg fullsizeoutput_2cf.jpeg
 

geo.ulrich

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Hello Jerry, What kind of s.f.m. do you get with the hand cranks? just kidding they are real nice. could you imagine having to make parts all day every day like that.
 

Jerry Kieffer

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Hello Jerry, What kind of s.f.m. do you get with the hand cranks? just kidding they are real nice. could you imagine having to make parts all day every day like that.
George
Since I occasionally demonstrate these, I can imagine using them. Its not good.

What I can not imagine is being left handed and then having to using them. Unless of course one has an apprentice who cranks all day while your hoping they return to work the next day for their 25 cents.

Jerry Kieffer
 

trim

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I visited an Amish watchmaker in WI recently and the entire workshop was operated by foot treadle, including the modern milling machine. It was a very interesting thing to see.

I do also have a hand cranked Lorch which I have been tempted to try out, but the foot treadle is a much superior solution I expect.
 
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sharukh

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I visited an Amish watchmaker in WI recently and the entire workshop was operated by foot treadle, including the modern milling machine. It was a very interesting thing to see.

I do also have a hand cranked Lorch which I have been tempted to try out, but the foot treadle is a much superior solution I expect.
I can agree to your last comment. My father was a tailor (he closed his business more than 25 years ago) and at that time we only had foot treadle operated sewing machines in the shop. All the "kaarigars" (the chaps who did the actual stitching work) preferred the food treadle operated machines. There was an option for a add-on hand operated wheel and also sewing machine motors but for the bulk of the work, the foot treadle was the most popular.

The ease and quality of the speed and torque control is superb. Maybe some day, I'll get hold of one of them and rig it up to run my watchmaker's lathe.

Sharukh
 
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karlmansson

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I can agree to your last comment. My father was a tailor (he closed his business more than 25 years ago) and at that time we only had foot treadle operated sewing machines in the shop. All the "kaarigars" (the chaps who did the actual stitching work) preferred the food treadle operated machines. There was an option for a add-on hand operated wheel and also sewing machine motors but for the bulk of the work, the foot treadle was the most popular.

The ease and quality of the speed and torque control is superb. Maybe some day, I'll get hold of one of them and rig it up to run my watchmaker's lathe.

Sharukh
One of the few (if not only) watchmaking schools in Sweden recently swapped their motor driven Star watchmaker lathes for hand cranked Steiner dead center lathes as part of a WOSTEP upgrade. Not sure why this new approach was implemented but I guess for the very delicate work, dead center is better. The students I talked to were also happy with the amount of Control the hand Wheel provided. And they had been using the Multifix motors on their old lathes. That's about as nice a motor you can get for a watchmakers lathe.
 
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wefalck

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As to treadle vs. electric motor: a treadle is likely to give a lot more torque at low speed than the frequently used 90W-sewing machine motor - low-speed torque is the issue, as many moderately motors would give you the torque at high speeds that you would not be able to sustain with a treadle. However, if you have suitably rated motor and controller, with a foot-switch you should have all the control you need. You need a controller, where you can pre-set the speed, not one of those sewing-machine thingies, where you control the speed also by your foot, these are a pain to use and tiring.
 

tom427cid

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After using AC motors for quite a while on my lathes(including my wood turning lathe) I was somewhat frustrated by the inaccurate speed control and lack of torque at low speed. This was most noticeable on a micro-drill press. Finally after some research about voltage,duty,wattage,etc I figured out what I needed. The first lathe I converted I went to 12 volts. It was ok but I would have liked to have had a bit more (speed&power). I changed the 12v set up to the micro-press and upped the lathe to a 24v system. Now the speed is infanitly adjustable,I am getting a better finish,and the bonus is the rotation can be reversed. If you use your lathe regularly ( I do) I would absolutely recommend the use of a DC motor.
I still use an AC motor on the lathe I have set up for polishing pivots and I am quite satisfied with the results. In this case if the motor slows I can reduce burnisher/stone pressure or increase pedal pressure. Also reversing is not an issue.
Just thought I would add.
tom
 

trim

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Thanks to all who shared their lovely older watchmakers lathes.

I'll add another couple of mine - although they are much more recent compared to my AWT lathe in the first post, they are sill getting on in time.

Firstly my primary lathe - a 1946 Derbyshire WW 8mm lathe, with a combination tailstock (rack and pinion & collet holding) that I have just added to this lathe. This photo includes the matching pivot polisher.

IMG_0305 2.jpg

Secondly a 1958 Derbyshire Magnus which I have just finished restoring (all new Braden bearings and paint etc.). Douglas at Derbyshire reground the spindle nose and supplied the 8mm adaptor.

IMG_0302.jpg

another view.

IMG_0310.jpg

I have become quite the fan of the ball bearing lathe.

A little aside:

There has been a little conversation in this thread about motors. I run a standard watchmakers that is usually run off a foot control and mains power (actually they are universal motors) but with a modern DC controller. In that first photo you will see a standard Racine motor. So, rather than AC 115V, I run them on DC 120V and they work brilliantly. You can pick up controllers very easily on ebay and the speed is very stable and a lot more powerful with better torque. That said, the Magnus is getting something a little more powerful - 500W DC.
 
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Jack_W

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My original need for a lathe was to cut out broken staffs from balance wheels. I acquired a nice Wolf-Jahn for that, but it was missing the tailstock. I wanted to move into different aspect of repairs and a missing tailstock was an issue. Now I've upgraded. Here is my Derbyshire 8mm model 2 lathe from the late 1930s. Trim has seen this one in person; he was in fact the one to point it out to me on eBay at what was a very good price this time last year.

IMG_2178.JPG

I've added to the kit for it... such as a 3 jaw chuck:

3-jaw chuck_2.jpg

And have also acquired a nice Derbyshire 2-way cross slide:

image1.jpeg

Douglas from Derby was able to provide the missing alignment shoe and bolt for the cross slide; required a trip to a local machine shop to have it fitted correctly.

I've now started with making winding stems for American or negative setting movements like Elgin or Illinois. My ultimate goal for all this is to boost my abilities to fix watch cases, specifically fabricate missing or broken bezels for wwi era sterling trench-style watches.

I'm getting there...
 
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Duncan Luddite

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G'day all,
This thread's been a bit quiet, so I thought I'd put up some photos of my 6mm Lorch, and accessories, that were given to me, for Christmas, by a couple of watch and clockmakers we know! I've made a box/mount/drawer for it out of 12mm ply, so it's portable and self contained. I've wanted one of these lathes for years, but they've always been way out of my budget. I'm currently using it to try and make a successful 0.0075" spade drill for making new pivot bearings for my late 1700's verge balance.
So here are some photos of the Lorch and my box, and a test bit of turning I did.
Cheers
Duncan
Lorch 1.JPG Lorch 3.JPG Lorch 4.JPG Lorch 5.JPG Lorch turning.JPG
 

Dave Coatsworth

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I acquired this lathe in one of my first estate buys 15 years ago when I had just started selling parts and tools. It's a Derbyshire built in the late 40's. I built the box it's mounted to and have acquired quite a bit of tooling for it since then.

IMG_1690.JPG
 

wefalck

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My Lorch, Schmidt & Co. WW 7 lathe with screw-cutting attachment, vertical slide, and fixed steady, all of the same numbers (https://www.maritima-et-mechanika.org/tools/ww/wwlathe.html) . Over the years I have added many more spindle tooling from various sources.

WorkshopLathe-72.jpg

And the collection of 6 mm tooling around my very first lathe, a the Wolf, Jahn & Co. (https://www.maritima-et-mechanika.org/tools/6mm/6mmlathe.html), acquired some 30+ years ago:

6%20mm%20Outfit-1.jpg

6%20mm%20Outfit-2.jpg

If you follow the links, you will see that there are some rather esoteric attachments for both lathes.
 
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Duncan Luddite

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G'day Wefalck, Clicked on your web links and this message came up. It hasn't happened before (I looked at your site last year). Thought I'd let you know.
Cheers
Duncan
Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 11.46.47 am.png
 

wefalck

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Thanks for letting me know. These https certificates are a pain. I just renewed it, but must have a mistake. I hope I now corrected this.
 
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Duncan Luddite

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Just tried the links again and 'all good' Wefalck :)
 

Dushan Grujich

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G'Day!

Watchmakers' lathes are still in use, in spite of many who would say that they are obsolete. Myself, I own several watchmakers' lathes, the workhorse is the modern lathe Swiss made branded Favorite II. There are also couple of Leinen lathes, and the most recently acquired a Lorch, Schmidt & Co., D-bed 8 mm lathe, images of are attached. I didn't really need it but I could not resist buying it. It came fairly complete, including a variable speed Multifix RE60 repulsion induction motor, as can be seen on the images.

Cheers, Dushan
Lorch - Boxed.jpg Lorch with Overhead Drive 01.jpg Lorch with Overhead Drive 02.jpg Graver Sharpener Holder for Lorch.jpg
 
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Dushan Grujich

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Dushan, could you please post some more pics of the graver-sharpener thingy there ?
G'Day Eberhard!

Sure no problems there. Although I should explain. The tool was made by Levin, which I have a complete set of, as well as an incomplete set. Tool is designed to fit the WW style lathe bed and as such it needed a new part that mounts onto the Lorch D-bed. Thus, I decided to make it for Lorch. Levin tool is made of aluminium combined with steel, and that is precisely what I did, I used piece of the rectangular aluminium bar to make it. The only thing I have yet to do is to anodise the new part for protection.

If You do need more detailed images, I shall be happy to provide them.

Cheers, Dushan

Levin Carbide Graver Grinding Set.jpg Holder for Lorch 02.jpg Holder for Lorch 03.jpg
 

Phil G4SPZ

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Here’s my lathe, which I’ve only owned for a couple of weeks and am still learning to operate. It seems to be quite rare. It’s a modified Telco (TCM) 6.5mm lathe and I’m told that it dates from around 1920 or slightly earlier, being a British copy of the Boley ‘bevelled bed’ model. Strangely it takes Telco or Wolf-Jahn 6.5mm collets with 40 TPI threads. Sadly these are also pretty scarce.

48A3146C-A7FC-4C01-A7B6-27CC60802B85.jpeg

Thanks are due to several MB members who have already given me valuable advice in other threads.

I have recently acquired a job lot of over thirty used gravers, many of which look very old, and I am slowly re-sharpening them. I’d no idea there was such a variety of sizes and cross-sections!

Phil
 
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Dells

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I thought I would add my two lathes to the list, the first one is a IME English made lathe, the second is my latest purchase a Derbyshire Magnus 10m, I have stripped of the old hand paint and repainted it but need to go to the local engineering company to get a dust cover made as can be seen by the picture the rear one is missing .
Dell
B35405F9-687C-4723-84E9-EE2FE83D28E9.jpeg 055D8ECA-ADD8-45F4-9101-C6EF5196F296.jpeg
 
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Brento

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My new Derbyshire Elect. Not sure when it was made. If anyone has any idea how to find that out that would be great. My plan is to clean her up in the next couple days.

F0EA20F9-0714-424E-8D0A-1B3D1D15737E.png 298CA4B4-0F0D-4AF3-8F38-D4B8E06EEF62.png
 
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Buffomarinus

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G'Day,

Two here...

One IME with a complete set of collets, compound cross slide, three jawed chuck and a "bucket load" of other extras. This one is a keeper for sure. I'm in the process of working out the motor, speed control and drive set up. I can't wait to get this little beauty up and running.

The other is a Webster-Whitcomb (Derbyshire) in beautiful nick. Douglas at Derbyshire ( derbylathes@fwderbyshireinc.com ) kindly gave me a production date of June, 1924 based on the serial number. I've lollied it up a bit by making and installing two headstock oilers (the original oiling set up is a bit "primitive" and prone to contamination) and a new, shiny brass knob for the tailstock follower. I love this little lathe, but I'll probably end up selling it locally to cover the expenditure on the superior IME.

My IME in progress.jpg WW17.jpg WW18.jpg WW25.jpg WW27.jpg
 

Buffomarinus

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wefalck

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You mentioned those oilers in another thread and I wondered, whether this is actually such a good move.

The idea behind the tradtional oilers for this kind of bearings is to keep them flooded with oil by a constant gravity feed - hence the advice to top them up daily before use. You said in the other thread that there is a wick in the new oilers, which would impair the gravity feed, wouldn't it ?

I agree, that these flip-cap oilers are a bit prone to contamination, particularly, when the spring is too weak.
 

Buffomarinus

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G'Day wefalck,

Actually the thin piece of felt sits in the bottom of the cylindrical brass oilers and acts more as a filter then a wick. The oil still flows freely to the bearings with the felt installed.

The original oil set up didn't have head stock flip-cap oilers, but rather required pulling back the brass dust cover on each bearing and dropping oil in a tiny slot in the head stock. The new oilers are easier to use and well capped to prevent the incursion of any contaminants. I can actually add oil while the lathe is running with the new oilers. I had to drill and tap holes in the top of the head stock to install my oilers.

Some might claim that modifying and adding such devices destroys the "collectible" value of these old lathes. I'm not a collector, nor can I afford to be one. The lathe represents a useful tool to me and not a museum specimen. My sole desire is to make it easier to use and more efficient.

Rob
 
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wefalck

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OK, I understand. I have one headstock for a D-bed Lorch lathe that has this arrangement with the dust-cap that needs to be turned and agree, that this is prone to contamination. Strangly enough, it seems to be a newer arrangement.
 

wefalck

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It is almost impossible to date the Lorch, Schmidt & Co. or Wolf, Jahn & Co. lathes that I am familiar with. Between 1880 and 1960 the designs changed only in minute details. One can judge perhaps by the state of the nickel plating and things like that, but this may not be reliable and depends also on how they have been kept over the decades.
 

wefalck

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Neither of the German manufacturers seems to have numbered their lathes and in any case not D-bed lathes. They only numbered individual parts in batches, so that particularly head- and tailstocks could be matched.

Pultra and Schaublin may have numbered their beds, but I am not sure.

One reason may be that these lathes were churned out by the dozen and fitted in grinding jigs. So for general use parts were basically interchangeable and backward compatible, although the manufacturers recommend to send in the lathe for fitting, if you bought a new or additional tailstock for instance.
 

AlexandreVienna

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OK!
I got an old lathe with an Siemens-Schucker motor attached. The owner said it is from 1930. Not shure what type it is since it does not have any markings BUT a serial number, or maybe a model number. 335! It is a D-beth Boley type with 8mm collets and the beth is 20mm wide. Must be an early type because it does not have any oilers attached nor a bore on the upper side. The inner brass tubes are slit and the oil drains from the dustcovers. The whole body is made of brass, nickel plated.

The front part of the headstock has a hole in it, whatfor? And the tailstock which should take 7mm rods has an attachment I have not seen before.

First picture shows how it looked like when I bought it. I removed the washers from the drawbar, theese were there so it can take somehow Lorch colletts. Had a lot of wobble. Second one is the lathe cleaned and oiled. The number 335 is on the headstock, tailstock and the beth. 3rd picture shows the slit for the oiling. The next photo is the T-rest which was tinkered with. On the left is the ring with which it is fastened. You have to put a screwdriver in the slit otherwise it wont move.
The last pictures show tailstock, which despite a screw to tighten is moving and a disk attached. Cn the disk be removed? What is it for?

IMG_1209.jpg IMG_3076.JPG IMG_3077.JPG IMG_3081.JPG IMG_3082.JPG IMG_3083.JPG IMG_3084.JPG IMG_3088.JPG
 
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wefalck

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Alexander, the body surely is not brass plated ? These lathes were normally nickel plated. The problem is that the plating is somewhat porous, which allows oxygen and humidity to penetrate slowly (over the decades) to the cast iron and corrode it. The iron ions then diffuse into the plating and precipitate as iron oxihydroxides, which are yellow-reddish, leading to the slightly yellow tint.
 

AlexandreVienna

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Sorry, I meant brass with Nickel plated. The T-rest was drilled and refitted, there you can see it is brass.

Very heavy though...
 

wefalck

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No, I don't think it's brass, it is normally cast iron.
I have to correct myself, looking closer at the photos, there is indeed a lot wear that shows the brass coming through. This seems to indicate that the lathe is not Boley or veeery old.
 
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Buffomarinus

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The last pictures show tailstock, which despite a screw to tighten is moving and a disk attached. Cn the disk be removed? What is it for?
G'Day wefalck,

In the attached crop of your last photo (below), does the red "X" mark the disk/washer you refer to? If so, my quess is that there is excessive wear in one or both of the tapered bearings and the spacer shown is an attempt to compensate for the wear by removing any excess end-float.

Clipboard01.jpg
 

AlexandreVienna

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G'Day wefalck,

In the attached crop of your last photo (below), does the red "X" mark the disk/washer you refer to?
No, this is the end of the rod where the conic bearing is resting on. At that time the washer were already removed. Here is the original picture with the washers.

Now no wear at all, very nice no wobble at all.

Alexander

C600081A-4AE5-45D5-9A68-4F18C9A5B9B4.jpeg
 

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