Feed on

On May 26th, 2010, Koster Industries hosted the on-line liquidation of Peerless Aluminum Foundry in Bridgeport, CT.


<txp:article_image/> I happened upon the on-line ad for this auction while searching for some Wadkin parts (the day before the sale). What caught my eye was a Wadkin RU lathe. The RU is a pattern makers lathe with a sliding gap bed. These lathes are fairly rare. I’ve only seen one other RU in North America, and it sold for an outrageous amount on e-bay a few years back. Unlike traditional lathes where the gap is removed to increase the swing, the real purpose of the sliding bed was to increase the capacity between centers without making the machine too long. The lathe has an 18″ swing and 72” between centers with the gap closed. With the gap open, it has a 36″ swing and 99” between centers. The RU also features a geared headstock with oil lubrication. The head is driven by v-belt from an electric motor mounted on the back of the machine. Here’s an illustration of the RU from the Wadkin catalog:


Also in the sale was a Wadkin RS1632 pattern makers lathe. Although slightly smaller than the RU, the RS has an impressive swing of 16” standard, or 32” with the gap section removed. This RS has 68” between centers . This lathe has a two speed 1.5 HP motor giving it a total of eight speeds ranging from 200 to 2880 RPM. The headstock on the RS is driven by a set of opposing step pulleys. A foot pedal lifts the motor and removes tension from the drive belt. This allows the operator to easily move the speed lever without undue strain on the belts. Here’s an illustration of the RS from the wadkin catalog:


The auction photos were limited, but did provide enough detail to show that both machines were complete.

_The RU:_

_The RS:_


Also included in the catalog were several older pieces of woodworking machinery including a State spindle sander, a Yates double disc sander, a Crescent 24” planer, Kindt Collins disc sander, a Delta table saw, a Delta bandsaw, a Crescent 16” jointer, a Tannewitz 30” band saw and a number of work benches with pattern makers vises attached.


_State Spindle Sander_

_Yates Disc Sander_

_Crescent P-24_

_Delta Table Saw_

_Delta Band Saw_

_Crescent Jointer_

_Tannewitz PH 30_

_Work Benches with Emmert vises_


The lathes together with most of these machines were located in the pattern shop on the second floor of the warehouse building outside the main foundry. Posted on the auction page was this ominous warning:

??Note to bidders: Lots 4 thru 33 are located on the second story of the building. There is no elevator or hoist in working order and the items would need to be removed thru bay floors opening to the outside. There is an i-beam that would facilitate a manual chain fall. It will be the buyers and or riggers responsibility to supply the same and remove.??

I couldn’t make the preview, so I tried phoning the auctioneer to find out just how bad the removal situation was. The auctioneer passed me the number of the on-site contact. He confirmed that the lathes were on the second floor of the building and that the only way to get them out was with a chain fall on a crane beam. Unfortunately, the beam only extended 5’ outside the building and had no end support. It also wasn’t clear how the beam was supported on the window header. The prospect of swinging a 10’ lathe weighing ~3500 LBS out a second floor window (on an unsupported beam) gave me pause. Given this, I made the assumption that the bigger lathe would need to be disassembled to get it out of the building. The smaller lathe would be easier, but would still require some work to get it out on the beam and then get it lowered onto the trailer.


The auction prices were generally low. The State spindle sander brought $420, the Kindt Collins disc sander brought $460, the Delta band saw brought $220, the Yates disc sander brought $430, the Delta table saw brought $320, the Tannewitz band saw brought $220, the Crescent planer brought $625, the Crescent jointer went for $175, and the work benches with the Emmert vises sold for $720. Almost all of the foundry equipment went for scrap.

click here If you’re interested in seeing the complete results for the auction.

I ended up buying the Wadkin RU for $1360, the Wadkin RS for $260 and a Norton surface grinder for $10. The on-line auction had an auto extend feature that pushed the end time out 10 minutes every time a bid was placed. Most of the items ended quickly, but the Wadkin RU kept getting extended. The time would run down to a few seconds left and a single bidder would throw another ten bucks on it and extend it again. It finally ended after 90 minutes of back and forth. Several days after the sale I learned that the other bidder was my good friend Barry. Here’s a direct quote from an e-mail he sent when he found out that I had won both lathes:

_”You motherfuckin sonofabitchen goddamnbastardcocksucken pissshitfucken machinebuyin motherfucker.”_

After his initial anger and sore loser hissy fit subsided, he started trying to convince me that he _”saved”_ me a bunch of money by not running the price any higher.


I made the trip to Bridgeport for removal a week after the auction. The location of the machines and the crane beam were pretty much as described:
_Pattern Shop_

_View from the far end looking toward the door:_

Very few of the other machines had been removed. The disc sanders were gone, as was the jointer and the work benches. The Delta table saw, band saw and the Crescent planer were still there. There were also two bridgeport mills and some radial drills. Given that it was the last day for removal, I assume most of those went for scrap.

Fortunately, there wasn’t too much in the way of obstructions between the lathes and the door. I had to move some smaller items out of the way and sweep the floor, but it was a pretty straight path.

Here are some Photos of the lathes in the Pattern Shop:
_Wadkin RU … headstock end_

_Wadkin RU … tailstock end_

_Wadkin RS …_

I was happy to see that there was a bunch of tooling and accessories for these lathes. This included tool rests, face plates, centers, cutting tools, tool holders and two outboard stands.

Here are some pictures of the varoius tooling and accessories:
_Tooling & Accessories_ …_

_Face Plate_ …_

_Tool rests and custom cutters_ …_

The RU had been leveled with aluminum wedges and set in grout. I had to break up the grout around the base to get my oak wedges under the base. The base under the tailstock had also been filled with grout. This was a bit more of a job, but I was able to break it up with a shale bar. Using the wedges and a hooked bar, I was able to get the lathe up high enough to get a pallet jack under the headstock end. Next I jacked up the tailstock end and put a dolly under it. Using the pallet jack, I was able to drag the lathe to the door. I used thed the same method to get the RS to the door. This entire process took just over an hour. I wish getting them out of the building had been as easy. I won’t go into the details now, but it ended taking the rest of the day just to get them rigged up and lowered onto my trailer. Fortunately, I was able to do this without incident and without disassembling the RU.

Here are some photos of the RU back at my shop:

_RU in my shop_ …_

_Tool holder, compound, headstock_ …_

_Tailstock_ …_

I plan to keep the RU and eventually get it setup in my shop. I’ll probably part with the RS at some point in the future. This acquisition also means that I’ll probably have to part with my Robbins pattern makers lathe.

_Robbins Pattern Makers Lathe_

The owwm

4 Responses to “Peerless Aluminum Foundry, Bridgeport, CT”

  1. Barry says:

    Great post!
    I’m so glad you were able to acquire those fine Wadkin lathes.
    I would like to state here that the quote you attributed to me is indeed accurate and that those are still my sentiments exactly. have a great day! You……….

  2. Logan says:

    I want the wadkin rs so bad!!!

  3. ED says:

    I make a machine for Blackstone industries in Danbury, Ct. Pierless was making a gearbox for them and they didn’t tell teir customers that they were going out of buisiness. Do you happen to know what happened to the patterns that they had on their shelves ? I t would be greatly appriciated if you can help us out…we are stuck.
    Ed Arribas
    Arrco Control Systems inc.Stratford, Ct

    • The owwm says:

      Unfortunately, all of the patterns were disposed of/destroyed after the liquidation. When I removed the lathes, they were still in the racks in the first floor of the pattern shop. A week later they were thrown into a large dumpster. Do you still have one of the finished gearboxes or the rough castings? If so, a pattern could be made from the parts. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen. I bought all of the patterns from PennCast. I only needed a few of them and had to let the rest go. It’s just not possible to save all of this stuff.


Leave a Reply