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And I expect while they would be glad to receive this lathe as a donation - they, like any intelligent custodians, reserve the right to "sell" or otherwise transfer this artifact "to support the mission of the museum." A mission which is bigger than any single artifact.
As in - even preservation is NOT necessarily forever.
I would go with the Silver & Gay diagnosis - or someone similarly capable in the regions north and east of Boston.
It is not a Worcester product - the one woodcut I have of an early SC Coombs metal lathe shows more similarity to the lathes post 1853.
Here is a thread with a lathe a little newer than yours that I found. If so that is proof that things like this can still be found in that condition. Wonder if it could be made by Gay & Silver, of Noth Chelmsford? Yes I did pull it out of the mill, the line Shaft assembly was still hooked up to it along with a huge Canedy Otto Drill Press up stairs.
It is interesting that the carriage runs on the inside ways and the tail stock runs on the outside. The little Mill looked to still be functional, not many visitors since the early 1900s.
What you see looking "bar-like" in that lathe above IS that axle left for demonstration.
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I have come across several of these mills but it is difficult. This a lathe which is worthy of the Smithsonian - but good luck even getting a reply from them.
I've been selling line Shaft parts and tools out of it for a year straight now, I have several return customers out in California that are building all types of interesting projects with them. More discussion of the modern fad and its adversarial position to preservation on this board in various threads. They're too busy expounding on the negative "social" effects of the industrial revolution - like how it "enslaved" the worker (as if the occupational competition of farming was any less enslaving) and was a tool which allowed a few entrepreneurial to accumulate vast sums of wealth (and relieved the physical toil of generations in the general adoption.) Sad to say with the loss of Ed Battison (American Precision Museum - Museum Founder) and retirement of Robert Vogel (https:// the Smithsonian is now virtually "rudderless" in a technical (and literal) sense.
Now disassembled and returned to storage ("out of public display" along with 3m other artifacts.) You may have better luck interesting the American Precision Museum - their technical and historical hat is still pretty firmly attached although don't expect a purchase of your artifact.