I'm new to this group, but recognise a lot of names from other forums.
Recently, I aquired a *old* Foster turret lathe- my best estimate based on the textbook that came with it is that was manufactured sometime between 1900 and 1920.
Considering it's age, it's in superb condition- it was coated in a rust-inhibitor, probably cosmoline, and doesn't appear to have been used in several decades, at least. Even with such an apparently long time without use, I have yet to find any seized bolts or scale rust, and the ways are still mirror-bright under the grime (though the six inches or so under the chuck have seen better days).
Before I go any further, this is the description I've found that best suits it- What I've got is a turret lathe with a hex head that is power-fed with a central lead screw. It also has a cross-slide, but the slide is not compound. Both the turret and the cross slide are reach-over types, and the lathe as a whole is described as a "ram style" (which, in the book I've got, means that the stops for the turret protrude from the back.) It orginally came with a bar feeder (and many of the parts for that are still there, but I haven't tried to re-assemble that yet)
It is driven by a three-step cone, with back gearing. From what I've determined so far, it doesn't appear to be variable speed, but has six potential speeds, with a high and a low for each step on the cone.
I've been able to get everything to move freely- with two major exceptions. I can neither rotate the turret, nor feed it forward or backwards with the hand crank. When I got the lathe, the guy I aquired it from thought that the turret had been locked in place for transport, and that still sounds plausible to me, but I'm having trouble seeing how this would have been done. His guess was that shims had been inserted next to the gibs, and there were shims there- but removing them did not free up the turret. And, they were copper shims, which leads me to think they were working shims, not something inserted to lock it. The gibs are tapered, and in fine condition, and there is nothing obviously holding things up. Unfortunately, none of the levers are labeled.
On the gear box for the turret, there is one handle, and one knob, in addition to the hand crank. On the cross-slide gear box, a similar knob can be slid in and out easily, but it does not move much on the turret one. The lever has a spring pin on it that locks into a raised circle when rotated counterclockwise, and when released, it moves about 30 degrees counter-clockwise.
I'm trying to avoid doing any major disassembly of this, since there are few reference materials availible for machines this old, but I'll open that gear box if I have to. Before I do, is anyone on this list familiar with old lathes like this that could give me a few pointers about freeing up the turret before I go monkeying around with it? I guess the major win here would be if someone knows how these were prepared for transport and storage, and has something relatively simple to check, like a locking pin or tightened bolt I may have missed.