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Member postings for Alan Jackson

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

Thread: Home made rotating centre
15/11/2015 11:08:15


I made this centre about 40 years ago and it has been fantastic and never given rise to any of the problems you seemed to suffer. The hardened steel centre has a close running fit even today. It has been used and abused and very rarely lubricated. It does not suffer from chatter or affect the surface finish. Just does its job.


Ian P this is what I found on Ebay

Thread: Moving the Head on a Round Column Type Mill
15/11/2015 10:26:07

Your milling machine column will also have to be as vertical as your reference line otherwise your movements will not be in line with the column as it raises/lowers.


Thread: Home made rotating centre
14/11/2015 15:41:23


"Neat in the execution. I assume Stepperhead is continuing to earn its keep then?"

Yes, I used it to make the Morse taper by setting the X and Y axes to cut the taper and I also ground the points after hardening them using the milling head with a diamond grinding wheel.


Thread: Bee Keeping
14/11/2015 11:44:06

Geoff, Clive

Thank you for this interesting, amazing subject.


Thread: Home made rotating centre
14/11/2015 11:09:19

Hi All

Years ago I made a rotating lathe centre using a crowded needle roller bearing at the front with a ball thrust bearing behind. The outside diameter was just below 1" diameter as this avoided the restriction of the then conventional rotating centres featuring a large diameter body. This proved to be very useful over the years so recently I gave it a makeover and reground the point. I had a similar needle bearing and thrust bearing so I made another centre for my Stepperhead lathe. The reduced diameter body can retract into the tailstock barrel for maximum access. The reduced diameter point was just to see if it would be advantageous. The points can be exchanged if required. After doing all this I looked on Ebay and found that you can buy these quite cheaply, Ah well. I have added a couple of pics in my album.

AlanStepperhead Centre

Thread: What mm (0.3 or 0.5mm) and what grade of pencil lead (HB, B, 2B etc)?
10/11/2015 10:13:41

I was a draftsman in the plastic lead era and the technique required when using plastic leads on polyester film was to lean the pencil backwards and push it forwards so that the lead was always in compression. This way enabled dark lines without breaking the weak lead. I preferred a 0.7 pencil for virtually every line type. To create a fine thin line you rotated the pencil as you pushed it forward. The saying then was "You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led".


Thread: Chipmaster Lathe Polyvee belt Conversion
03/11/2015 18:38:58

I have been wondering for some time if I could replace the toothed belt drive with a Polyvee belt drive with the object of making the lathe run quieter. The problem is to get the belt to fit without much slack as there is no adjustment. Well I did the sums and the plan was to press aluminium grooved sleeves over the existing toothed pulleys. Well luck was on my side and it has worked out very well and is considerably quieter. The toothed belt gave a whine varying from a loud wasp buzz to a high pitched scream, but now that is completely gone its like a different machine.



Edited By Alan Jackson on 03/11/2015 18:42:11

Thread: Machine Saw
31/10/2015 10:17:47

Hi Eric,

Thank you for your generous comments. The motor can be run in either direction and the blade can be mounted either way round but I have found that it seems to work best with the crank rotating anti-clockwise with the blade cutting on the return stroke. This keeps the blade in tension and the crank seems to pull the blade into contact with the cut metal. This was not my first attempt at making this saw. At first I tried to make a geared down rotary blade cut off saw. It sort of worked but was just not rigid enough and chattered terribly. You maybe able to see some circular cut grooves in the base channel. So I accepted defeat and rebuilt it as you see it now.


29/10/2015 17:12:39

Hi Brian,

Thank you for your kind comments. Yes the inclined vice jaws was my own idea and it has worked out well.


29/10/2015 16:56:41

I have just given my old machine saw a well deserved clean up. I made it years ago and it has done great service. I use a worm driven Parvalux motor fitted between the pivot supports. The tapered jaws on the vice firmly hold down the cut material. It can clamp smaller sections by introducing a large diameter in the jaws so that the jaws can clamp. I have added some more pics in my album.



Thread: digital caliper
24/10/2015 12:14:53

Hi steamdave, I like you have just brought a Mitutoyo 500-196-30 to replace my older same brand one which still gives exellent service. The new one is called Absolute which can be set to zero or any number when the battery is first fitted, then the recessed origin button is pressed to retain this setting until it is again reset. So I do not think it should show the number you say comes on every time it turns on if you have reset it to zero (thats my understanding). The advantage of this absolute model is that you do not have to keep zeroing it every time for the correct measurement. One of the irritations of the older model was that when I zeroed it, it could get a small metal sliver between the jaws due to magnetic attraction, which would upset a correct zero setting. I was constantly wiping the jaws to achieve a correct zero setting. This has now been solved somewhat by making a simple demagnetizer that Mike Cox wrote up in MEW234, Thanks Mike.


Thread: What did you do today (2015)
20/10/2015 10:09:01

One of the biggest reasons for the demise of the steel industry and many coal fired power stations is due to the previous government introducing rules to reduce emissions to set a low standard in the UK. Germany and China pay about half the price for their energy than the UK, so the closure of these big energy users in Britain was inevitable. To make them competitive would mean changing these unnecessary harsh emissions rules. Who is going to agree to that?


Thread: Universal Grinding machine construction series?
01/10/2015 18:47:08

Hi John,

You have my admiration for doing such a project. It is bound to be of interest to many. When I did the Stepperhead articles, I first thought just a description would be enough, but later on some people wanted a construction series and that is a lot more work. I drew about 68 drawings of about 180 components and only described the more difficult parts as to how I made them. Even this was considered by some as an overlong series. What else can you do? The magazines seem to want short interesting articles that will only occupy an few issues of the magazine. The alternative to long articles seems to be a proliferation of similar subjects like sharpening drills and end mills, or make a lathe bed stop. This can only be of interest to the new reader, the long in the tooth reader (me perhaps) has seen these articles repeated in various forms and only of a passing interest. Anyway more power to you John and good luck with all those drawings , who will check them?

Best Regards


Thread: No. 4501 The MEX Judges Reports
07/02/2015 11:51:25

I am in full agreement with Harold Hall. I also entered two items in the 2012 MEX. It was relatively easy for me because I attended the exhibition full time displaying my Stepperhead lathe. The MEW editor had mentioned many times before that entrants should be encouraged to enter exhibits. The two items I entered, a four jaw chuck and a lever locking topslide both items featured a novel ( to me so I applied for a patent) oval gib. I entered the items with detailed descriptions. At the show I found that due to lack of space for all the workshop items, all the workshop entries not just mine where crowded together so much so that the descriptions I had prepared where placed under the exhibits and where thus hardly visible. When I complained about this to one of the organisers, I was told that they had to do this because the photographers wanted more space to photo a series of award winning miniature horse and carts. Subsequent editions of the MEW and ME made very little mention of the workshop exhibits just listing eventually a list of names and awards. Surely a better effort should have been made for the time, trouble and expense an entrant makes.


Thread: Parting Off MEW225
06/02/2015 15:24:48

Muzzer- That is also a nice rigid lathe, I have an old Colchester Chipmaster which is much the same machine, its a pleasure to operate.


06/02/2015 13:24:14


It is actually a HSS cutting bit brazed to a mild steel sheet. The machine is turning clockwise in this instance but I see no reason that it could be remounted for anti clockwise 'normal' rotation Here it is in action


06/02/2015 11:25:03

Vertical Parting Tool

A while ago I tried out a vertical parting tool it worked ok but I must admit I did not give it exhaustive testing to destruction etc.

In order to clarify the operation of a vertical parting tool here is my rather primitive description of how I think it works.

Imagine that you are the parting tool holder whereby your two hands are held straight out from you body. You hands are gripped together and your fists are the cutting edge. You have a friend who represents the metal being cut and he (If you are a front parting tool) pushes down on your hands while you do you best to resist him pushing down. You can see that he can quite easily push your arms down. If you want to now become a rear parting tool you can turn round 180 degrees and your friend would now push your hands upwards still he can easily overcome your resistance to him pushing up. So in order to stiffen you up, say you are frozen solid or have rigor mortise and are wearing a large pair of lead diving boots to anchor you down. When your friend (or should I now say de-parting undertaker) pushes down on you hands he will not be able to move your arms down because they are rigidly fixed to your body and he have to apply more force until you tip forward on you toes. Note that as you tip forward you rotate about your toes moving your cutting tool hands deeper into the metal being cut. If you are now rotated 180 degrees to become a rear parting tool your friend (some friend) now has to apply more upward force until you tip backwards on your heels. Also note that your cutting tool hands now move away from the metal being cut as you rotate backwards on your heels. Now you have to play the part of a vertical parting tool as I am proposing, so you now can be thawed out or de- rigor mortised. So lay flat on your back and push one arm vertically upwards and clench your fist to form the cutting tool. Your friend now has to apply considerably more force to overcome your vertical arm. Your arm will be in direct compression and until your elbow or wrist give way you will have much less a problem resisting his downward cutting force. It will also not matter if you are a front or rear vertical parting tool as long as the rotating force is pushing down on your hands. You can now get up and go back to your work or whatever you were doing. I apologise for being so flippant but I hope it does explain the reasoning.



Thread: A better lathe ....
03/02/2015 11:09:35

If a lack of electronics is so necessary I dare say it would need to be treadle operated to ensure complete freedom from the nasty electronics and computers etc. Replies on a post card please headed "An Ideal Lathe circa 1940".


Thread: chipmaster motor
20/12/2014 10:57:53

I have got a 1.5hp 3 phase motor running with an inverter. The variator has been removed, it was ok but takes up too much power. This motor serves me well, it is probably a bit down on power for larger diameters where I sometime have to use the backgear. I would suggest a minimum of 2 hp but this will depend on what you use the lathe for.


Thread: Sandown photos and thoughts on the show
19/12/2014 12:04:22

I agree with Mike that the main reason I go to the show is to see the models, especially the new competition models. While seeing the older models displayed is quite interesting, if you have been before they become a bit jaded (saw them last year, sort of thing) The real problem is taking and collecting your exhibit which can be time consuming and expensive. The show, if you exhibit becomes quite a performance, you have to take your exhibit on Thursday before the show starts and then you have to go again on Sunday to take your exhibit away. The Judges are under time pressure to get round and judge the exhibits. This means that if you go on Friday you will probably not see their comments etc. I think Sandown is much more interesting than Ally Pally because of the competition exhibits. while there are only the good efforts of the clubs at Ally Pally which often tends to be a bit samey. Why is it so impossible for the two separate organisations to converge and make one bigger slightly longer show? There must be cost savings in doing this.


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