Welcome to the shop at

Dermer & Ernst Precision Machine Company

These pages provide a "virtual tour" of my shop.  All the pictures on this page are "clickable" to get a higher resolution view. The shop is located in the basement of my home in northeast Portland, OR.  My wife and I are both old house fans, so when we moved to Portland eight years ago a challenge was to find a house that was old (by Portland standards) yet had appropriate shop space. The house we found was built in 1919 and had external basement access via an outside stairwell. The existing decrepit stairwell was replaced with a new, wider one.  This proved to be a very important choice...

Rivett 1030 Lathe

My largest acquisition is a Rivett 1030 toolroom lathe. This lathe, built in 1961, was originally owned by the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics. This lathe swings 12" and takes 30" between centers. The headstock is driven either via open belt or through two sets of backgears by a 5HP motor. Speed is varied by a variable diameter pulley arrangement like a Hardinge HLV-H except much heavier. A separate control motor is used to adjust the variable speed mechanism, again like the Hardinge. A separate clutch is provided for open belt and the backgeared ranges. Spindle speeds range from 22 to 3600. Threading is provided from 2 to 240 t.p.i. All rotating elements are supported by antifriction bearings. The lathe weighs 4200 lbs (!). The 1030 was the largest, heaviest and last lathe Rivett ever made.

  Here is a picture of the lathe as I first saw it.

Rivett 1030 at dealer

Note that compared to the 36" Monarch lathe behind it, the 1030 seems quite small.  Had this not been true, I might not have been emboldened to attempt this project.  I'm generally of the "do it yourself' mindset, but moving a 4200 pound lathe down a basement stairwell gave me pause. Before making the purchase, I consulted with a local rigging service, Morgan Machinery Moving (http://www.morgan-industrial.com/). Actually, I consulted several riggers, but Morgan was the only one that told me what I wanted to hear: they could move the machine without moving a crane into my backyard. Let the fun begin!

Though the lathe was in good general condition, some wear was apparent on the ways. Because of the high quality evident throughout the construction of this remarkable machine, I decided to have it reconditioned by a local machine tool rebuilder, Calef Machine Tool in Gresham, OR. I had a trucking firm pick up the lathe and deliver it directly to Calef, where the ways were reground, Turcite applied to the carriage, the tailstock rescraped to the new way height, the crosslide and taper attachment rescraped and  crossfeed and compound screws and nuts replaced. In the following picture, note the size comparison with the Monarch 10EE to the right.

Rivett 1030 at Calef Machine Tool Rebuilding

After rebuilding, it was time for Morgan to move the lathe into the basement. The challenges were significant: The lathe had to move up a steeply sloping driveway, then down a stairwell. The landing at the bottom of the stairwell is shorter in both dimensions than the length of the lathe, but the lathe has to rotate 90 and go through a door. The door is about 1" wider than the lathe is. The only solution to the 90 turn is to stand the lathe on the headstock end and rotate it. However, since the length of the lathe is greater than the height of the door and the height of the lathe is greater than the width of the  stairwell, the headstock must be rotated into the open door, then pulled through the door as the tailstock end is slowly lowered. (You may be wondering about merely disassembling the lathe and moving it in pieces. This was plan B, but not preferred since Calef had carefully aligned everything.) Here are the pictures:

On Forklift

Coming up driveway

Stairwell to basement

Starting down

Don't do this!

Upended at bottom of stairwell

View out basement door

Starting through door

The rest is easy


And finally, a picture of the lathe comfortably residing in its new setting:

More of my shop

My most recent addition is a Rivett 715 Bench Lathe built in 1941. This 7" swing, 15" centers lathe was intended for "the finishing and fitting of fine elements in assembly, maintenance, tool room and laboratory."  Spindle speeds varied from 150 to 3500 rpm with the original two-speed motor. The motor has been replaced with a single speed motor, so I am planning on adding a variable frequency drive to restore the original range of spindle speeds.

Since I have the largest, heaviest lathe that Rivett ever built, it seemed only right that I should have the smallest. Rivett started making watchmakers' lathes in the 1880's; the specimen here is from about 1900. It is shown here resting on the compound of its larger brother.

Rivett 715

Rivett watchmakers lathe

I'm not sure exactly how it happened but somehow, since acquiring the three (!) Rivett lathes shown here, an additional three have made their way into my shop.  For the record, the six lathes are:

Model 1030S toolroom

 serial 413

 built 12/19/1961

Model 715 bench lathe

 serial 214

 built 10/16/1941

Model 1R watchmaker's lathe

 serial 215

 circa 1948

Model 507 bench lathe

 serial 129

 built 1929

Model 3 bench lathe

 serial 1944

 circa 1911

WW pattern watchmaker's lathe

 serial 1602

 circa 1900

The 1030S, 715 and two watchmaker's lathes are in fine condition.  The 3 and 507 are a different story. The 507 is badly rusted. if my scraping is successful it should result in a nicely reconditioned lathe. The 3 is mostly all there, but has suffered the indignities of nearly 100 years.  I may clean it up,  make the missing pieces and call the project complete.  I will add pictures of the additional lathes to this site as time permits.

For Rivett enthusiasts, my friend Tom Hammond and I have started a web page devoted to Rivett machinery.  Look for it at http://www.rivettlathe.com

My "old" lathe is a Logan model 922 11" X 36" built in 1952. I found it at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Madison Wisconsin while a graduate student at U W.  I found out that it was to be sold in a General Services Administration auction, and the rest is history.  It came with all the goodies: toolholders, steady and follower rests, change gears (to supplement the quick change gearbox), chucks, faceplates, an amazing collection of dogs, a complete 5C collet set and mica undercutter (!). It was in great shape; I suspect it sat largely unused in the corner of a maintenance shop somewhere.

A few years ago, I purchased a Series I J-head Bridgeport mill.  It was the only other machine that took riggers to get into the basement. 

Logan Model 922

Bridgeport Mill

Last summer, I bought a Hardinge Cataract bench lathe from a friend of mine. This 7" X 18" lathe was probably built in the 1910's or 1920's. It takes 3C collets and also came with 3 and 4 jaw chucks. I also got a Cataract speed lathe that uses a similar headstock, but with lever type collet closer. (By the way, I'm looking for parts, accessories and particularly another headstock for these 7" lathes.)

Cataract Lathe

Speed Lathe

Shown here is a small vertical mill that was my one and only milling machine before the Bridgeport. Until recently, I had not been able to identify it, but helpful readers of this web page pointed out that it is a Columbia #2 mill made during the '40s or '50's.  It has a Morse #2 taper spindle and 1/3 HP motor.  It hasn't been used for some time and so is covered in congealed brown grease.  There is more about this mill at Tony Griffith's wonderful website, http://www.lathes.co.uk

Another old timer is my 1919, 6" X 18" Reid surface grinder. It originally had a belt driven spindle, but that was replaced with a 1 h.p. Majestic cartridge spindle in the 1940's. It is equipped with a Walker magnetic chuck.

I rebuilt an Oliver filing machine, which has proven to be a most useful tool. Besides its original application for precision filing, equipped with a Sawzall blade, holes can be sawed out without the hassle of breaking and rewelding a bandsaw blade.  I've also experimented with it for lapping, using a brass lap charged with diamond dust.

I also rebuilt a Keller hacksaw, which relieves the drudgery involved in cutting structural shapes and large sections. It may be slower than one of the popular $200 bandsaws, but can cut straighter and is lots more fun to watch.

Oliver Die Filer

Keller Hacksaw

Not shown in the tour are a Walker-Turner 16" metalcutting bandsaw, a Delta 14" woodcutting bandsaw, Baldor grinder, Hammond carbide grinder, and Lincoln TIG 175 welder.

Moving all this stuff can be a real job. Here is  a link to some machinery moving skates I built and have used to move the big pieces (except the Bridgeport and the Rivett!!)

I am interested in corresponding with anyone possessing machinery manufactured by any of the builders mentioned here, especially Rivett, Columbia, or Keller.  Also, I would welcome an email from anyone interested in old Hardinge lathes or who has collets in 4C, 6R, 5V, Rivett 3NS or Rivett watchmaker.

Contact me at depmco@easystreet.com or at greg@rivettlathe.com

A friend of mine and I have started a web site devoted to Rivett lathes. It is located at http://www.rivettlathe.com 

Visit the web page of Portland Model Engineers.  PME is a bunch of people in northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington who are somewhere close to me in nuttiness.

Portland Model Engineers - www.portlandmodelengineers.org

If you need castings for machinery repair, contact my friend Gary Martin. He is a master patternmaker and does custom work. - www.martinmodel.com