When I was in my teens, my father and I would go to a saw shop that was near our home in order to have our blades sharpened.
In the back of the store sat an odd looking piece of equipment on a special bench. The wall shelves behind it were jammed with accessories, milling attachments, taper attachments, divider plates and a mind boggling array of other items. It was a Rivett 608 precision bench lathe; so accurate that it could bore or turn for six inches or more to a tolerance of 0.00001", one one hundred thousanth of an inch! My father asked what the selling price was for the old lathe and was given an answer that he felt was beyond our budget. So he passed on buying it.
Now mind you, this is the same model lathe that was once owned by Nathaniel Herreshoff, the one that he used for making his incredible close tollerance drafting tools and special yacht fittings on. I have been dreaming of that machine for well over half of my life. I even got to use it when I visited his son L. Francis Herreshoff 's shop in Marble Head. It only made the loss of that once in a lifetime opportunity more painful. I still dream of the terrific projects I could do with such a fantastic lathe.
Did I say that the machine was a once in a lifetime opportunity?
I just found out that opportunity sometimes knocks twice and woe be it to he who does not heed the call.
I was at a dinner party last week with some friends and one of them mentioned that he had an old lathe in his shop that was taking up precious space. It had come from the widow of one of his friends and he never used it. He asked if I might be able to find something to do with it it. All he wanted was for me to move it out of his shop.
I know own a duplicate of Nathaniel Herreshoff's Rivett 608 precision 8 inch bench lathe. It is one of less than 1800 that were ever made. Still in fantastic working order considering it has been a hundred and two years since it was made. I have some very special things I plan to do with it.
And, it is very very heavy it took six men to lift and load it into my trailer!