March 31, 2022

What year is my Atlas lathe

What year is my Atlas lathe?

It is often difficult to identify the year of an Atlas lathe, given its vintage nature. This problem is common for consumers who purchase secondhand options of this product. Deciding whether it’s worth investing in will depend heavily on this factor. It will inform you which parts the machine can safely operate and what maintenance procedures to expect.

Atlas stopped manufacturing their lathes with engraving dates on the lathe spindle bearings in the early 1950s. This change means anything pre the first version of the final 12″. When looking for the serial number on an Atlas lathe, you will need first to determine the year. 

Created by Marco S Hyman. Used under

The year it was made will be between 1957 to 1967 or 1968 to 1981. If you determine that the model was made after 1968 or later, this should help you further narrow down the year and serial number range. The practice of stamping the serial number into the top of the right end of the front way ceased in the mid-1950s. 

If you want to date your Atlas precisely, you need to measure the length in inches of the front track and the carriage. Measure about midway between headstock and tailstock and the camera elevation about level with the top of the compound slide. It would help if you then determined the range between two possible model numbers.

Understanding atlas lathe date code

You will find that the serial number is stamped on the tailstock end. This part can be found on the bed between the flat- and v-ways. You need this information to determine the size and type of lathe you have to date. This information should also help identify any special extra features attached to the lathe. Many historical records illustrate that lathes were numbered sequentially. This sequence would begin with 700, which is for lathes made in July 1910. The series ends in March 1947 on 186,514.

You will need to employ the new numbering system for any lathes made after that date. This method added a three-letter code to indicate different features of the lathe. 

The swing, gear, and apron combination are all included in the serial number sequence. You can also be identified based on the spindle hole size, swing type, and extra special features.

An example of this is: “2345” “RKL” “7” is the 2,345th 10″ lathe built.  

It works as each swing size starts with a new numerical series. This code begins from number one.

How to identify an Atlas lathe

The Atlas lathe is easy to mix with other lathes, especially for beginners. People often believe their craft lathe is an Atlas because of the popularity of Atlas lathes. Atlas manufactures highly capable lathes, and many companies contracted with them to make lathes for their brand. Atlas then produced many standardized lathes for these companies and rebranded them. To identify whether the lathe is an Atlas, you will need to look at the model plate on the bed. This information should be available on one end or at the back of the bed casting. If this is an Atlas, the prefix will start with 101.xxxx. If you see the prefix begins with 109.xxxx, it is not an Atlas lathe.

Visually the Atlas lathe will have a very durable headstock and bed. This lathe will be very robust for its size and will often have a one-inch diameter. The spindle often has a 17/32″ through bore. This feature is combined with a #2 Morse Taper in the headstock spindle. You can check for the #1MT in the tailstock for final confirmation. These lathes often have a standard American Type Carriage. A rack and pinion drive should be installed to help you perform regular carriage movements. Look out for a lead screw and half nut used for threading chores. It will cut most common threads, and the lowest spindle is a very handy 55 rpm, which makes thread cutting easy.

Model and Serial Numbers

Are Atlas lathes still made?

Atlas Lathes were initially manufactured in 1920, and this is when the company began selling small machine tools. These tools vary, but drill presses and lathes produced the main options. The machines were often sold under another company’s branding, like the Sears or Craftsman catalog. In 1965, Atlas officially changed its name to Clausing Industrial, Inc. When that time arrived, the company began to focus on industrial machinery. Presently, the company doesn’t still directly make lathes.

How much does an Atlas lathe weigh?

The heavier version of an Atlas lathe was the bench version. This machine was 12-inches and weighed about 350 lbs. This weight included a gearbox, and without one, it weighed around 320 lbs. The stand-mounted lathes with a screwcutting gearbox and a capacity of 24-inches between centers weighed 505 lbs, with 36-inch between-centers versions rising to 550 kg.

How much does a lathe weigh?

The average lathe weighs between 150 – 3500 lbs. 

Where are Atlas lathes made?

Atlas lathes were made by the Atlas Press Company, initially in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.

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