It looks like a sort of brake to slow the spindle down quicker to speed production maybe.
It looks like a piece of sq. tubing mounted on a pivot with a half cylinder attached to it and yes it would be used for slowing the chuck the evidence shows a slight wear or discoloration to the chuck where it has been used.
I bought a little 10" Southbend back in the mid 60s that had an oak 2x4 on it about like that with a treadle to step on.
Even many newer lathes do not have a spindle stop brake on them.
That scar on the guys neck could have been caused by a ribbon chip. Just the other day while hogging off some parts the chip breaker I had on the tool became dislodged and a long ribbon chip began to form. The lathe I was using doesn't have a brake either, normally I can ignore them but running a 0.250" cut 0.025" feed rate @ 1000 RPM. When the insert becomes a little dull or the chip breaker doesn't do its job those ribbons can turn deadly very quick.
Never try to tell me it can't be done
When I have to paint I use http://kbs.justoldtrucks.com/
bruciferous (May 6, 2021)
Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.
The only reason I know anything is because I've done it wrong enough times to START to know better
The problem with gaining experience is that sometimes the result of gaining that experience will kill you. Was a young lady died some years ago working alone in a college machine shop. Ivy League, IIRC. Got her long hair caught in the chuck on the lathe she was using, and died. I know she was told that was dangerous.
My school will throw you out of the class if you keep making safety mistakes like that, and the instructors WILL call you on them. We aren't allowed to use the machinery unless an instructor is there.
And as others have commened, common sense is not so common as you'd like to believe.
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