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Member postings for Bob Stevenson

Here is a list of all the postings Bob Stevenson has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Mini Lathe Headstock Lube
29/10/2020 08:31:41

I had a Chester 'Conquest' from 2007 to 2017 and did as little as possible by way of improvements etc........I have always been much more interested in what I can make on a lathe rather than spend time making the lathe better....kind of a 'vicous circle' thing to my mind!

My Conquest was definately made by the Real Bull factory and had a test sheet apparently proving this also had 4 bolts holding the headstock to the bed (Seig machines of that period had 3) also distinctive Real Buyll castings of saddle etc. When I started to use it I was warned off by several aquaintances who marked these machines down as pure rubbish but I grew to like my mini-lathe and made some interesting things with it over the 10 years including much of my first clock.

After a couple of years use I thought the headstock was getting a bit warm so peered inside using a fibre optic borescope and discovered that there was basically NO grease there so applied some 'Sovereign' lithium grease originally made up for London buses....after this the headstock did not even get slightly warm in use!

The only other 'improvenments' were to remove the dangerous chuck 'safety cover' which was wired directly to the mains! ...and to remove the rubber feet, replacing them with stainless steel discs about 4 inches diameter...after this the machine no longer rocked about at higher speeds..

I liked my mini-lathe and it got me back into making things but my WM 180 is a vastly better lathe in every way with very minor diskikes on my part..

Thread: Smart and Brown Model L
26/10/2020 14:20:45

At Epping Forest Horology Club we have a 'fleet' of S&B 'L' lathes and the required tooling,...we currently have a couple standing unused and there is a question mark over their future,.....just saying!

If there is no motor then that would be a very bad mark against that lathe as the massive 1 HP motor is kind of integral to the whole design.....other motors can probably be coerced into use but the originals were well designed for the purpose.

It's not generally well known but 'Bracehand' can supply some parts from new and still make collets to fit,...if you can afford the considerable price! In fact, Bracehand actually quoted some prices to us in 2013/4 for restoration of our 'L' models and included a new price of approx £14,000 per lathe, and basic restoration for £4,500 (if I recall).....not surprisingly we decided to do much of our own restoration and re-built three machines.

The 'L' lathes were/are superb small parts machines and turn beautifully when run nicely. They are/were built to last three life times but you really do need some other lathe(s) to com[liment them if you are doing general turning.

Thread: Silver Soldering for the Clockmaker
24/10/2020 11:36:23

I wonder how many sliver soldering articles there have been in HJ over the years?.....I shall look out for this.

Thread: Deadbeat tooth design on the escape wheel
24/10/2020 11:34:27

I use a fly cutter for making escape wheels and shape these along the curve of the wheel blank...has always worked well for me...remember to 'pin' the blank during cutting as the action of the fly cutter being assymetric can nudge the blank making a not very happy day!

Thread: Quick Q about Warco/Sieg Lathes
24/10/2020 11:25:20

Just to add to this topic;

I had a Chinese mini-lathe (conquest) for 10 years and liked it, but have had a Warco WM180 for the last 3 years and like it much better!.....It's vastly better engineered and designed.

Thread: Medical needles
24/10/2020 11:22:10

Hyperdermic syringes and the needles are certainly used for fine lubrication tasks in industry and we have a collection in our clock workshops.... Usually the sharp tips are ground off for safety during use.....the needles for medical use are cut on the slant to give a sharp tip and those in the workshop are flat tipped but whether this was done in house or they can be supplied like that, I don't know. They are an identical fitting to those that my mother used as a diabetic, albeit 50 years ago.

Thread: piercing saw
17/10/2020 18:15:56

Piercing saw matters are not a simple as might be supposed;........Both of my own saws are Victorian and have served me well, however, I'm about to start on some bigger and more intricate clock frames and my old saws will not reach far enough for some of the more important cuts so I have been considering aquiring or making a new saw....... Modern piercing saw designs centre around CNC alloy frames designed for much higher blade tension than the old 'simple' frames. Several members of my clock club have these new saws and there is no doubt that the increased blade tension is very useful in use and make for much better and more accurate cuts.


We have a couple of members who have made very nice and well performing saws including one made from something called 'Zirconium'...which was new to is a look at the 'Knew Concept' range although I have trouble believing their claim that the red frames enhance cutting by the colour alone..!!?


EDIT;....I forgot to add that there is a v. interesting video on the website of South Lon. BHI showing Ron Rose using his converted fret saw to very good effect....he uses the long length to lodge the frame in his elbow for added speed and accuracy....

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 17/10/2020 18:19:49

Thread: Drop on recoil escapement
16/10/2020 18:18:57

Gazeley is a 'work' of missguidance and thoeretical stupidity and should be chucked as soon as possible by any clock maker who wants to learn about escapements.....There!..I said it!

Five years ago when I was making Brocot escapements I was handed Gazeley as some kind of clock de3sign 'bible' but in fact, it's impossible to use Gazeley's descriptions to make a working escapement. He suggests that to understand any 'scapement one merely needs to draw it out using his layout,...however, this is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve using this crap book! My own copy now resides under the corner of a long-case that needed to be made upright! There used to be many members of my clock club who believed Gazeley to be the Word of God, but NOBODY has bee nable to draw the Brocot using his description and many have now seen this rubbish for what it is, namely, a massive wrong turn for any learning clock enthusiast.

The best and most easy text to understand (and confirm in practice) is 'Practical Clock Repair' by Don. D' Carle...see the lower half of page 135 (previous pages are also helpful) and use the described method to calculate required drop.

Thread: Grumpy old men
11/10/2020 10:00:12

I get infuriated by lots of modern 'stuff'......The constant apparent need to upgrade everything is partiularly annoying when it actually hides regression...thus; "officer" for a not too bright constable......"engineer" for an inferior mechanic,...and worst of all "journalist" for,..well.....?

Thread: The Universal Jig & Gauge Company, Birmingham
03/10/2020 09:19:16

This soujnds like one of the many patent defeating measures for WWII

At the start of the coinflict UK Gov. instigated a parliamentary investigatory commitee to examine the need to copy German precision machines needed for wartime production. Some of the machine tools well known to the older people here came out of this such as the BCA (and similar) jig borers, the Pultra lathes and the Smart & Brown 'L' model lathe.

As well as 'enemy' machines some other equipement that could not be easily sourced across international bounderies was also copied and the patent considerations negotiated after the conflict. These included Swiss automatic pinion mills which were copied exactly with interchangeable parts etc.

Thread: The repair shop
01/10/2020 10:25:44

Although 'Repair Shop' started out as just 'telly for the technically inept' it has raised it's profile considerably and I notice that now even skilled people atually watch and comment on it. Anything that displays skill to the ignorant masses is useful!

The way this prog has pulled itself up by it's bootstraps is similar to 'Escape to the Chateux' which started out, in the voice of a friend as;...."that bloke with the moustache and the barmaid"....but has, by increments, become quite interesting due to their sheer hard graft.

Thread: 5BA Threads
27/09/2020 17:02:44

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 27/09/2020 17:05:25

24/09/2020 22:31:14

As a youngster I was told that BA threads were outmoded and "archaic" and that when I was old I would be able to cast back my memory and remember such a weird pointless thing like old timers then could remember the Boar War.........

But here we are all these years later and BA is still very much alive and indeed, has become more alive during the last ten years or so......In the horological world there are no plans to replace BA and nothing to replace it with as fine metric does not, in practice, turn out to have the same facility or 'feel' in the work.

Thread: Covid causing mental health issues.
22/09/2020 23:19:03


At Epping Forest Horology Club we have over a hundred members and the majority have not only stayed sane they have pulled together to try ond help everyone else to be as normal as condtions allow.......Only a couple of poeple have completely 'lost the plot' and become uncertain pariahs that everyone else dreads coming into contact with.....

That's the situation,.......but the 'cracks' are beggining to show,...I see it in their faces and read it in their emails and hear it in their stories. These are NOT "snowflakes", these are clever bright capable people,...we have people who ran large companies,..people who were successful professionals, fighter pilots, tank commanders in the gulf war, men who escaped across frontiers equipped with landmines, people who rescued their loved ones, men whose daughters died in their arms, veterans with no legs,.....people who are still standing after the most appalling disasters.

Perhaps the most stressed are those shielding their vulnerable wives and loved ones.....they have completely changed lives without any respite and they are making a good job of it.......but the cracks are showing now.

To think that there are people here who can't or won't see the pain and stress on these people is quite awful to think about and you should be's irrelevant that the Victorian period had apprently stronger people, and it's also an illusion,....the length of life was much less and huge numbers of people succumed to the simplest illnesses and accidents.......some simply starved to death.

You don't have to be 'weak' or 'barmy' to find the current pandemic extremely challenging and to slowly crack under the constant drip of stress, so PLEASE try to offer some help however little,...and try not to be so bloody ignorant!

Thread: Why are BA taps so blooming expensive??
21/09/2020 09:22:34

The Tap & Die Company are long established with impressive customer list and NOT expensive

Thread: Making a pinion with a fly cutter
19/09/2020 16:58:26

When I made my forst clock the tutor who is now quite a close friend) imparted his interest in how the "old time" clockmakera went about their craft. He showed several parts from very old clocks that displayed the evidence of how they had been marked out and then fashioned using the very basic tools of the 17th & 18th centuries....


.......Thus it came to pass (the biblical style is not an accident!) that of the 4 pinions in my first clock one is completely made by hand. The blank pinion was held in the vice and a hacksaw used to cut the channels between the leaves, then a succession of files, and finally wooden pegs were used to shape the final profiles. A piece of brass clock wheel of same module was used throughout as a 'guage' for the work.


EDIT;   I should add that I don't use fly cutters to make pionions currently....I either use Thornton cutters (I'm not an enthusiast!) when in the EFHC workshop but prefer to cut them by planing using the topslide of my smaller lathe.

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 19/09/2020 17:06:57

Thread: Can you reuse old treated Silver steel
15/09/2020 11:43:11

Good advice here!

I would just add that I have found annealing of pivots and similar small parts or tools to be a little more tricky than hardening....good blacksmiths often anneal by "soaking", leaving the steel in hot ash or the back of the fire for several hours.....for very small parts like pivots probably not neccessary.

Getting back to hardening pivots....I have had good results from minimal hardening methods....just put the actual pivot in the flame and as soon as the pivot is 'red' quench out quickly. This way the core of the pivot stays softer and thus the pivot is more durable. It's VERY common among learning horologists for see pivots snapped accidentaly, and very frustrating it is for them! You only need the outside surface of the pivot to be hard enough to resist wear.

Thread: Jobs we had as kids
08/09/2020 19:21:09

The reciprocating bellow were indeed made by Alldays & Onions and were decorated by lillies of the valley cast into the frames........frequently the power of the air would suddenly lapse and this was because the leather of the bellow was basically rotten with such times the blacksmith would dissappear behind the fire and after some swearing and clattering the air supply would be resumed. I eventually discovered that he would cut pieces off of his leather apron and sew them over the holes in the bellows using garden twine and a large needle.......

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 08/09/2020 19:23:22

08/09/2020 18:57:10

When I was about 14 I desperately wanted to buy a secondhand Rollieflex camera for £25 but because it was German and high class it was made plain that I would never be able to aquire it..however, this did not stop me scraping every penny that i could earn in the hope that I would eventually be able to buy it.....

The area was poorish and there were no supermarket shelves to fill then so I eventually started working on Saturdays for the local blacksmith who had been an army farrier in WW1. His forge was a nice Victorian building but the 'fire' took up most of the tiny space where the work happened. I quickly discovered that this was because most of the building was crammed full of ash from decades of use...he simply raked out the fire and tossed the ash and muck over his shoulder! Also, I learned that there was no electricity in the forge as he did not see the need!.....not when he could get a lad to provide the power, and that was where I came in! In the centre of the dark gloom of the forge was a bright circular object that turned out to be a steel ring polished by countless hands over the decades. This ring and the blackened chain above it powered the air to the fire and pulling the ring for 6 hours on a Saturday was almost beyond me as a 14 year old boy.....I used to leave the forge and stagger thru the village more dead than alive.

Teh pay was dismal at "one and six" for a days graft and even I realised that the camera was not really in the frame. However, years later I came to see that I was paid handsomely for my time in that sweltering black dungeon. The 'boss' was frequently the worse for drink and also rabidly left-wing, but when sober was a charming skillfull craftsman who enjoyed teaching his magic to a wide-eyed youngster. Everything was accomplished by the heat of the fire and athletic physicality and it was assumed that I, being much younger, would have no problems matching the sheer physical effort and vigour which were his real stock in allowances were made for smaller muscles or lesser years.....on one Saturday we 'struck' holes around iron gates to attach chicken job to support the gate as it was passed thru the fire and the holes made with a single hammer strike. When I could no longer hold the hot gate the boss was forced to search for a copy of the Daily Mirror for me to hold the hot metal with!

I learned many diverse skills from that blacksmith, not all about making things from metal but about the world in general and about people and their hopes and fears, and above all about the trials and tribulations of working with a true eccentric from a bygone age.....

Thread: Arduino Pendulum Clock Design - Comments Welcome
31/08/2020 19:09:27

Really interesting topic!........some points in no particular order;


1) You could easily make the design as shown with a vacuumn tube that slides over the gantry and fits to top and bottom plates via 'O' start clock just set in motion and then slide the tube over the gantry onto 'O' ring base plate and remove the internal air pressure with small pump/syringe.....start timing.


2) electromagent pendujlums are not new and there is quite a lot of material for the searcher.......most everything in clocks has already been done, although there's always a good opportunity for a better implementation!


3) As we say with the carbon fibre pendulum rod topic, there is very little expansion due to temperature so making the gantry form CP will make for an excellent set-up.


4) Suspension springs are mainly to enable the movement to get a 'good push' between escapement and pendulum......


5) Can I have a copy of the Arduino analyser design please?

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 31/08/2020 19:10:29

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 31/08/2020 19:11:00

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