Have you ever owned a tool that seemed to be “a part of you”? My 1955-built Logan model 1922 11″x36″ lathe is one such tool. I’ve owned this lathe for about 15 years now, and if I were to total up all of the hours using this machine, it would be a LOT. I’ve used this lathe to build parts, build tools, remove stuck rifle cases, and many other tasks. I don’t know how anyone can run a shop (or household) without a lathe!
Logan lathes were made in the USA, and are of great quality- but they are much less known compared to other brands like South Bend which produced machinery of roughly equivalent quality. Logan is still in business, and you can still buy parts for Logan lathes (see this page).
From the Logan Engineering page on VintageMachinery.org:
Founded in 1935 as the Logan Engineering Company by Henry H. Logan to manufacturer a Hoist Safety Controller. In 1940, the company began Manufacturing metal lathes in 9″, 10″, 11″, 12″, 14″ and 15″ swing sizes under the Logan and as well as Montgomery Ward Powr-Kraft brands (they did not make the Powr-Kraft woodworking lathes). Between 1940 and 1971, Logan Engineering manufactured around 90,000 metal lathes.
In 1968, Logan Engineering was sold to Houdaille Industries, who continued production of metal lathes until 1985. In 1971, Houdaille moved Logan lathe production out of Chicago and into the hands of another Houdaille business, the Tennessee-based Powermatic Machine Co.; having metalworking machines made by a woodworking machinery specialist led to a drop in quality, at least for a time. By about the mid-1970s the Logan lathes were branded “Logan-Powermatic”.
Logan (or Logan-Powermatic) sold milling machines that were made by the Fenlind Engineering Co. See that entry for more information on those “Rockford” style mills.
The Logan Model 1922
When I first met my friend Paul Dunham (A.K.A the “Gizmo Wizard“), he was using what is now my Logan model 1922 for a variety of projects. At the time, I owned a 1953-built South Bend Model A, which had a capacity of 10″ swing, and 24″ between centers. It had a small through-spindle capacity, and lacked a good collet system. I had built a custom r8 collet chuck for it, but that system had its limitations. When I compared my South Bend lathe to Paul’s Logan 11” lathe, I thought- “this would be a great upgrade”.
Above: the two-lever quick change gearbox for turning and threading feed adjustment. This kind of setup sure beats change gears!
Here are some of the specs and accessories/tooling that got me interested:
- 1 3/8″ through-spindle capacity- very large for an older lathe of this size!
- 5C collet system: spindle nose, closer lever
- Pre-loaded precision ball bearing spindle (I have measured spindle runout at about +/- .0001″, pretty amazing for a 60-year-old machine!)
- Quick change gearbox
- Power feeds on X and Y axes
- 11″ swing over bed, 36″ between centers
- 3 and 4 jaw chucks plus faceplate
- Dorian AXA size quick-change toolpost and holders
- V-belt drive head (16 speeds total with back-gearing)
- Tailstock taper: Morse Taper #2 (MT2)
Above you can see the v-belt drive used by the Logan model 1922 lathe. Four pulleys, plus a two-speed primary drive, plus back-gearing yield 16 speeds total. Lifting and lowering the belt cover automatically tensions/releases the belts. V-belt drives are great because they offer better grip compared to flat belt drives (I had a flat belt drive on my South Bend lathe) but also offer enough slip to prevent parts from breaking (usually) if a stoppage is encountered.
Click/tap image to enlarge
Paul ended up buying an amazing Graziano Sag 12 (an Italian lathe with electric-clutch shift on the fly gearbox) and offered to sell me the Logan. I jumped on it! What’s nice about these smaller lathes of yesteryear is their ability to be disassembled and moved with (relative) ease. So I sold the South Bend, and took the Logan home, that was back in 2003. Like most lathe enthusiasts, I’m particular about how my machine is setup and configured, so a journey of “personalization” was embarked upon.
Accessories and Customizations
You can’t own a metal lathe and not add features or tooling to it- that would just never happen. And I’ve added quite a few cool things to this Logan including:
- Full-length sheet metal rear splash guard with integrated top-mounted tool tray
- Milled-top tailstock mod for indicator holders (for precise depth control)
- Headstock Morse Taper #2 adapter for turning between centers
- Carriage mounted die holder
- Wood way protector for chuck changes
- Quick change toolpost tightener
- Outboard spindle spider for rifle barrel work (requires removal of side cover)
Barrel setup for chambering work using 4-jaw chuck and outboard spider
Here’s a picture of the modified tailstock with indicator holder:
Originally, the tailstock had a curved profile on top. Gotta love the old-school styling on these vintage machines, but the curves don’t help when it comes to positioning and mounting measurement tools!
Over the last 15 years with this lathe, I’ve turned outside diameters, bored inside diameters, drilled, tapped, single-point threaded, reamed, and parted many a part using this machine. It’s been a solid workhorse. Here’s a recent part I needed to fabricate for my milling machine, a zerk fitting adapter (for way oil) to replace an obscure oiler cup. This simple project involved single-point threading, drilling, and parting, and was fashioned from a 3/8″ bolt I had on hand.
It’s GREAT to be able to fabricate whatever you need to solve a mechanical problem, restore a machine, or build something new. Now I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my “Lathe Story”. This week I’ll be taking delivery of a brand new Precision Matthews PM1440-GT precision lathe which is 100% made in Taiwan. Together with my Warner Swasey #2 Turret Lathe, and Grandpa’s 1947-built South Bend 9A which I inherited, I will be “all set” in the manual lathe department. So it may be time to say goodbye to this “trusted companion” – the Logan lathe that has served me well for the last 15 years.
Do you have a Logan Lathe? I’d love to hear your experiences.