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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: BBC 2 - Looking for Backyard Engineers
24/11/2015 10:49:12

"The BBC should stick to broadcasting stuff the likes of us don't watch and shut down most of their radio, tv and website channels. Also scrap the licence fee, I object to about £150 a year so the wife can watch Eastenders.. "

And the like.

What a virtually unanimous response from every post and you have certainly got my vote.


Thread: What is the most useful workshop tool that you have made?
19/11/2015 12:57:08

Hi SteveM,

I have also added a detailed description in MEW 210,218 & 219 which also used a Lever locking topslide on the Stepperhead lathe. You may not also have these copies. I tried to copy a PDF file but could not work out how to do it.

If you look at my album you may see some more photos in the Myford and Chipmaster albums.

The toolpost is my version of the MLA toolpost you may be able to Google that.


19/11/2015 10:27:02

Hi Danny,

In MEW mags 119, 120 & 121, in 2005. I described it in great detail with variations for various lathes including Myfords. In the article I tried hard to describe the idea to the MEW world, and even had subsequent discussions with Mr Moore the Myford boss then, to no avail. The one in the photo is a newer version incorporating some other ideas, notably an oval gib, notice the absence of gib screws on the sides. This works very well and enables the slide to be locked along the full length if desired, virtually turning it into a form of Gibraltar toolpost. The flexibility enabled by being able to move, rotate and lock the topslide anywhere and easily remove the topslide from the cross slide cannot be overated. It really enhances the lathe operation.


18/11/2015 10:19:09

Mine is a Lever Locking Topslide. This is the latest version on a Chipmaster lathe. It is so useful to be able to position and angle the topslide anywhere on the cross slide and instantly lock it in position. It also has a screwcutting retract and a slide locking lever below the feed dial.


Thread: Home made rotating centre
15/11/2015 12:22:48

Michael, thank you for that here are the details of my version, discuss



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.


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