Hendey tie-bar lathe question

Bob Whitney

The lathe in question is a Hendey tie-bar lathe early 1900's 14 x 6. There is a chain drive from the spindle to lead screw gearing.:shrug: There should have been an intermediate feed gear that is not there. The chain looks like a timing chain off an auto engine. Was this a farmer fix, or an upgrade from the manufacture? The gear in the chip pan is to big to fit in that location, not sure where it came from.
My thinking is with out the intermediate gear for reversing rotation the auto stop and reversing linkage will not work?
Other than this, the lathe looks in usable condition, has not been used in a long long time.
Thank you, Bob:wave:



I think some of the Hendeys did come with a chain drive, they called it a "silent drive", but here tell they are noisy as heck. Check with Hendeyman on Practical Machinist, he will know for sure.

Bill Hazzard

Active member
I think some of the Hendeys did come with a chain drive, they called it a "silent drive", but here tell they are noisy as heck. Check with Hendeyman on Practical Machinist, he will know for sure.
I have a motor conversion an my Garvin horizontal mill and it has a silent chain on it and it is quiet, mostly you just hear the motor noise.
I own a rebuilt Hendey 16" tie bar lathe and NO, they did NOT use a chain to drive the leadscrew........or anything else.

If I can make a suggestion: Join the Practical Machinist website. Go to their section on antique equipment and ask for help from "Hendeyman". He will respond and has ALL the information you need. You see, he bought the remaining assets of Hendey including all drawings (on microfiche) and can quickly locate the part drawing for your lathe. From that, you can get a gear cut that fits. He may even be able to cut the new gear for you. You will need to supply him with the serial number located on the right tailstock flat of the ways. From that, he can tell you when it was built and who it was sold to.

Is is worth it? The tie bar Hendey has one of the strongest headstocks ever designed. The bearings are made of aluminum bronze, a material developed especially for them.....by U.S. Bronze I believe. After having the ways remachined on my lathe, it is the most accurate (and sturdiest) lathe I've owned. It's a 16" x 6 foot bed, manufactured in August 1920 (per Hendeyman records) and weighs a hefty 3900 pounds!

Edit: Forgot to mention. The OP asked about reversing the feed I believe. Hendey lathes have a hidden "dog clutch" under the headstock. There is a lever on the right side of the apron (or should be) that is either up or down. In the down position, the leadscrew operates in the normal fashion and moves the carriage towards the headstock. Lifting the lever to the up position activates the clutch and reverses the leadscrew rotation. In other words, Hendey lathes were never run in reverse......changing the leadscrew direction and thus the carriage direction was their answer. Now, here's the good part. When threading with the Hendey, you set the quick change box to the TPI you want, engage the split nut on the leadscrew, lower the spindle speed as low as it can go and make your first cut......perhaps only a few thousandths. When you get to the end of the cut, quickly withdraw the tool and raise the lever. Since the carriage is being driven by the leadscrew thead and NOT disconnected, it will reverse back to the starting point. You place the lever in the middle "neutral" position and run your tool in deeper for the next cut. Lower the lever and the carriage moves towards the headstock again. It takes longer to explain it than do it, but the Hendey method of cutting threads is far superior to lathes using a threading dial since the split nuts are constantly engaged with the leadscrew. A "jumped thread" or other mistakes are almost impossible to make with this system. After having several miserable problems with threading dials, I LIKE this system a lot!

CAUTION: NEVER use the reversing lever when the lathe speed is high....parts with break! Low speed only.
Last edited:
The tie bar is the cast iron "arm" or connecting bar that connects the front and rear of the headstock. This bar runs over the cone pulleys and provides rigidity that other lathes lack. You can see a portion of it in the OP's first picture, under the motor.