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Colchester Chipmaster what to check for

Idiot bought a Lathe, can you help?

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Andrew Culverhouse08/08/2018 11:03:20
7 forum posts

Hi, my first post. I’ve had a moment where your heart sinks and may have realized something.

So I’ve agreed to buy a Colchester Chipmaster Lathe for £800 (ebay) which has already had its motor and gearbox and some of the running gear removed (it’s meant to all be there – I will have to break it down to move it anyway). This was done I was told because the Lathe was being repainted by its current owner who now doesn’t have the time so is selling it. It’s coming with no extra’s at all, no quick change toolpost, and one chuck.

It now turns out though I found out the owner has another Chipmaster and there is a good chance that the motor variator etc. have been swapped onto his other machine with him cherry picking all the extras and the best motor/ variator for his other lathe and just hasn’t bothered putting it back together after stripping the parts off it.

Now annoyingly the guy is 100 miles away so viewing wasn’t an option and I will have to check it and pay for it, then move it the same day – and its not going to be running so other than moving things I hand I cannot test the running gear.

Apart from agreeing that I might be very stupid, what do I need to / can I check on it, to make sure that I am not buying a lemon? I do plan to switch to a VFD and new motor anyway so I don’t care about the old motor or the variator, I also intend to paint the whole thing and then eventually its going to be moving with me to the USA (I am in the UK now). I do have access to test dial indicators and mounts so I can check for how true it runs etc if I can be told what to look for.

Anyway thanks for the help!

Andrew

Ian S C08/08/2018 14:25:45
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7011 forum posts
224 photos

When I was at school , mid 60s there was a Chipmaster in the metalwork shop, and I'v always liked them after seeing it demonstrated.

There is a good write up in Lathes UK web site, read it(if you havn't already done so). The spindle has a #4 MT, and should have a sleave down to #2 MT.

I think I would want to stick at least a 2hp motor on the machine (I think the one at school had 5hp).

Ian S C

Oldiron08/08/2018 15:08:04
218 forum posts
17 photos

Go check it out. If its obvious that the parts are from different machines don't pay for it as he has described it incorrectly Very carefully check that all the parts are there even if it takes a couple of hours. Any genuine seller will not have a problem with you doing that. Always go and check out a lathe or for that matter any machine before you pay for it

charles hodgson08/08/2018 15:34:05
1 forum posts

Hey Andrew,

Like yourself I bought a late chipmaster earlier this year. I intended on keeping and refurbing the variator to run with the VFD for the additional torque at low speeds, but unfortunately it had seen some neglect and is unusable.

What I would say is the motor, if like mine as is hard wired in the 400V delta formation, can be tapped and converted to star formation easily. With regards to the machine, I think the headstock actually accepts a MT4.5, and the sleeves are hard to come by. Other than making sure you're happy with its accuracy, Id make sure you're happy with the spindle bearings.

Clive Foster08/08/2018 15:45:03
1461 forum posts
34 photos

If you haven't already done so download a pdf copy of the manual & spares list. This will give you a good idea of where problems may arise and, if you don find any what might have to be done to fix them. It will also give you a check list to verify that all the loose bits are there. Best to print it out. I usually do two copies in such circumstances and file in loose leaf ring binders. One fair one with the pages laid in transparent wallets so you can flip through with oily greasy fingers and one plain paper version to scribble, tick off or otherwise make notes on.

If you get stuck PM me and I'll shoot a copy of my (not very good) PDF over.

Really the only total crash landing is unserviceable headstock bearings. Worn gears aren't nice but replacements can be found. Biggest potential and easily missed gotcha is probably general wear. Bed and slides needing re-grind are relatively obvious but things like worn bearings do add up. Easy to think only £10 for ordinary bearings and "I can easily make new bushes". But if they are all past the sell by date costs and labour add up fast and you end up spending far more than is sensible to end up with a merely OK machine.

As you are going to VFD drive seriously consider grafting in a two speed countershaft where the variator used to live. That way you can use a smaller, less costly motor and VFD yet still retain good low speed oomph. As Ian SC implies 4 or 5 hp sounds about right for direct VFD drive. Do check the speed range that you will actually use before finalising the drive. My Smart & Brown 1024 is of similar size and aimed at a similar market with a top speed of 2,500 rpm but its rare for met to go above 1,000 rpm.

Clive.

Durhambuilder08/08/2018 16:19:13
45 forum posts
5 photos

all of the main castings, headstock, bed, saddle and tailstock will have the serial number on a small brass disc set into the casting. Make sure these all match, if not it's been built up from different parts.

duncan webster08/08/2018 17:06:41
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1665 forum posts
13 photos

If you do buy it and decide not to use the variator, I'd rig up a countershaft where it was and incorporate a 2 speed belt drive, then you don't have to have the motor running too slowly. If the variator has been abused it will be very noisy, and fiendishly expensive or even impossible to fix

Ian S C09/08/2018 12:30:23
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7011 forum posts
224 photos

If the Variator is on the way out, the descrition of it in Lathes UK, it sounds like a tumbler dryer full of ball bearings, and before long that's what it will be.

A lot of the early lathes did not have a hardened bed. The newer ones have a much heavier stand, I think the steel is about twice the thickness.

Ian S C

peak409/08/2018 20:39:16
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576 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Oldiron on 08/08/2018 15:08:04:

Go check it out. If its obvious that the parts are from different machines don't pay for it as he has described it incorrectly Very carefully check that all the parts are there even if it takes a couple of hours. Any genuine seller will not have a problem with you doing that. Always go and check out a lathe or for that matter any machine before you pay for it

If as you say, he has another one as well, then at least you have something to immediately compare it with and check measurements against, as well as counting the various bits.

This may be useful if, like me, you don't know these machines well.
Like many purchases, it might be about as much judging the vendor as well as the product.

He claims "This is a very nice Colchester Chipmaster Lathe. It is in very good mechanical condition - headstock and gearbox oil has been kept nice and clean and all the bearings and slideways are good."

If that's not the case, it gives you a good reason to walk away, as well as a valid excuse for ebay.

Good Luck

Bill

Andrew Culverhouse10/08/2018 10:27:58
7 forum posts

Thanks for the responses, I've gone back to a few of you in PM on offers of help.

Bill you found the right item, I haven't linked it because the seller has been very pleasant to deal with and I don’t want to damage his credibility. The fact is he told me he has 2 is of his own free will, he has been very polite and accommodating. Unfortunately I work in IT for a law firm and deal with their fraud issues, as I did for a national transport company before and for two industrial parts manufacturers. And I would be lying if I said I hadn’t see a parts swap happen before on a large item like this. Hell I have even see a £100k + part superglued together so that it could be shipped to pretend that it broke on route. With these sorts of tricks and others changing the oil on a car before you sell it/ having the engine warm before you test it etc. (which I have fallen for before) it’s very easy to see more than the story you are being told and because of this I thought I’d reach out.

Durhambuilder the location of the serial numbers is very useful thank you for that I will check them first.

What I know of the Chipmaster is:

It’s a metric and imperial model (the plastic gears internal to the metric driven side are damaged though – this likely will be the first thing I try and fix as I am more interested in metric than imperial).

It’s a quite late model. The variator has the welded formed mount and is vee belt to the clutch. This should also make it a hardened bed (something I would want).

It also has the taper cutting unit with it which has got some damage but apparently doesn’t affect use, and can be repaired (which I may be able to do as I have a Fronius 2200 magicwave tig welder).

From what I can see all the parts are there but the drive side is slightly different to all the photos of the Chipmaster I have found, I am going to insist that we find every part and fastener before we break it down. I am breaking it down because I have to move it with a van and no engine hoist at the other end! And even with ramps and being 6ft 9” tall I can see that being a challenge! And then I am due to move house shortly too so will need to move it again by hand for a long distance transport.

Anyway the big day is tomorrow so hopefully with your guidance it will all go well and this Chipmaster will be moving from the Newbury area to Redditch Worcestershire.

 

Many thanks

Andrew

Edited By Andrew Culverhouse on 10/08/2018 10:31:08

John Paton 110/08/2018 10:50:30
56 forum posts
6 photos

Hope it all goes well Andrew - if it turns out to be as described it should be a lovely lathe for the money. I used one at the local College when doing an evening course. Although modest capacity for the machine size, the speed control and general solidity made it a true delight to use.

As you have already discovered, the perceived wisdom on Chipmasters is that the variable speed drive is the crucial element, if thats duff the machine has very little value and its cheaper to buy another machine than to replace the drive.

I imagine it is almost impossible to check the drive without having the machine run at high and low speed.

Do let us know how it turns out, hopefully pure magic for you!

John

Stuart Bridger10/08/2018 11:21:33
243 forum posts
14 photos

I would disagree about a duff variator reducing the value. Many people have replaced the variator with a VFD. It's a bit of work but not a complex task.

A couple of further comments

1) There should be a label on the tailstock end of the bed indicating whether it is induction hardened, of course this may have worn off or been over painted, but it is clearly visible on my 1963 model

2) I am somewhat confused by the metric/imperial comments. Fundamentally the machine is either imperial or metric, with a very different screwcutting gearbox. Are you talking about dual dials on the slides?

3) When breaking down, be prepared for for the headstock alignment set screws to be very tight. Mine was significantly out of alignment and it was very hard work to get them loose.

The chippie is a great lathe, so I hope it works out for you.

Andrew Culverhouse10/08/2018 12:10:15
7 forum posts
Posted by Stuart Bridger on 10/08/2018 11:21:33:

2) I am somewhat confused by the metric/imperial comments. Fundamentally the machine is either imperial or metric, with a very different screwcutting gearbox. Are you talking about dual dials on the slides?

You are right I was talking about the dials. I didn’t realise though that there were imperial and metric gearboxes, I thought that the one did both with only certain threads avalable? That for me may be another deal breaker, everything I do is metric, imperial will be little to no use to me.>>

Andrew.

Stuart Bridger10/08/2018 12:41:54
243 forum posts
14 photos

You certainly can cut a limited number of metric threads with an imperial gearbox machine. There is a reference plate on the headstock cover door. It depends how much thread cutting you are planning to do. I have an imperial machine with dual dials. I switch between the two, but most of my work is in imperial. I blame the BAe Weybridge apprentice training school for converting me from the metric I learned at school. I certainly wouldn't write off an imperial machine. You could always fit a DRO if the dual dials don't work properly, although the (quite rare, I believe) taper turning attachment may make this tricky.

Ian S C10/08/2018 12:47:37
avatar
7011 forum posts
224 photos

Don't worry too much about the fact that it is probably an imperial lathe, a digital read out will fix that for deneral turning.

Ian S C

SillyOldDuffer10/08/2018 12:55:09
3303 forum posts
658 photos
Posted by Andrew Culverhouse on 10/08/2018 12:10:15:
Posted by Stuart Bridger on 10/08/2018 11:21:33:

...

 

...

That for me may be another deal breaker...

 

In that event be a little careful how you approach the seller Andrew. Don't forget you have already contracted to buy the lathe and unless there's a 'subject to inspection' or similar escape clause, you may be stuck with it.

In these cases much depends on relationships and your vulnerability in the event the seller turns bloody-minded. He might pursue you through the Small Claims Court, or by selling your debt to a Recovery Agency for example.

Walking away from the contract will damage your ebay reputation, which might be important if you're a keen ebay-er. However, I think the biggest risk is that you end up with a damaged credit rating and then need to borrow money, say for a Mortgage. Lenders take an unsympathetic line with persons with a history of broken contracts and unpaid debts. They might refuse the loan entirely, or increase the interest charged, or impose other uncomfortable conditions. Now I'm retired and unlikely to need to borrow money that risk is minimal for me, but it might be very bad news indeed for a youngster.

If the lathe isn't what you want, be prepared to have a sensible discussion with the seller. Like as not he won't want a lot of agro either. If you mutually agree to cancel the transaction, he won't have to pay ebay their commission and may be happy just to relist the lathe. But bear in mind, the seller may not see it that way especially if he gets the idea you're an obnoxious time-waster who deserves a slap! Don't be surprised if he sees you as the bad guy - after all you started it by worrying he's a con-artist trying to sell you a dud!

Although buying second-hand can and does go wrong, don't panic. So far the seller appears to be honest. The deal doesn't smell of fish to me. In the original post, you made it clear that you understood the lathe might have shortcomings and were prepared to sort them out. You aren't being unrealistic. I expect it will all go well, but have a think about your exit strategy in the event it's a disaster.

Dave

 

 

 

 

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 10/08/2018 13:00:23

Nick Taylor 210/08/2018 14:20:59
83 forum posts

The spindle taper is the rare MT4.5 and the supplied bush should take it down to MT3. They are hard to get hold of although apparently there are modern Harrisons that use this taper and the bushes can be bought from then direct. BUT! You will have a taper attachment, so you might as well just make yourself one!

All commercial Chipmasters shipped with a 3HP motor (that was the rating of the variator as well). School supplied machines were fitted with 1.5 or 2HP motors. 5 HP on a Chipmaster is a bit of a waste seeing as you couldn’t actually use the extra power without the variator slipping.

A lot of people talking about rigging up two stage countershafts – in my option a waste of time. You’ll struggle to transmit 3HP on a single V belt without slippage.

A modern inverter rated motor will easily run from 30% to 200% and with 3HP you’ll have more than enough power. I have removed the variator from mine due to noise and now run the original motor via a HuanYang VFD. I am planning to convert to serpentine belts at some stage, when I do I may change the main pulley size. As it is now I don’t go faster than say 1600rpm.

As has been said the main killer of old Chipmasters is wear – bed and spindle bearings. I would chuck up a 12inch or so long piece of stock in the chuck, place a DTI on the spindle nose and see how much movement you can get. Anything more than a couple of tenths of a thou means bad bearings.

Worn toothed belts can make some nasty sounds which can sound like whining bearings (can be very loud at higher RPM), but the belts are standard sizes and are easy to source.

I would warn you off removing the bed from the cabinet as part of your strip down – getting it on level again is the key to a straight lathe bed. As you only have 3 mounting holes you cannot easily remove twist on the Chipmaster bed. Infact I would do as little disassembly as possible!

As for metric threading – the only standard metric pitch you will have trouble generating is 1.75mm for M12. Most other metric pitches are available from the standard imperial box with a couple of gears. They are great screwcutting machines, nice clean engage/disengage click on the halfnut and built in threading dial etc.

I know which lathe you are talking about – I was watching the auction, if it didn’t sell I was going to ask the gentlemen if he would sell me the taper attachment! Also it looks like it might have the ivory handles! Posh! If not a little controversial this day and age!

Good luck!

Eric Arthrell10/08/2018 14:40:33
47 forum posts
19 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 10/08/2018 12:55:09:
Posted by Andrew Culverhouse on 10/08/2018 12:10:15:
Posted by Stuart Bridger on 10/08/2018 11:21:33:

I agree with your comment you bid to buy not to tyre kick , that is the nature of the beast .

Best of luck with your purchase.

...

That for me may be another deal breaker...

In that event be a little careful how you approach the seller Andrew. Don't forget you have already contracted to buy the lathe and unless there's a 'subject to inspection' or similar escape clause, you may be stuck with it.

In these cases much depends on relationships and your vulnerability in the event the seller turns bloody-minded. He might pursue you through the Small Claims Court, or by selling your debt to a Recovery Agency for example.

Walking away from the contract will damage your ebay reputation, which might be important if you're a keen ebay-er. However, I think the biggest risk is that you end up with a damaged credit rating and then need to borrow money, say for a Mortgage. Lenders take an unsympathetic line with persons with a history of broken contracts and unpaid debts. They might refuse the loan entirely, or increase the interest charged, or impose other uncomfortable conditions. Now I'm retired and unlikely to need to borrow money that risk is minimal for me, but it might be very bad news indeed for a youngster.

If the lathe isn't what you want, be prepared to have a sensible discussion with the seller. Like as not he won't want a lot of agro either. If you mutually agree to cancel the transaction, he won't have to pay ebay their commission and may be happy just to relist the lathe. But bear in mind, the seller may not see it that way especially if he gets the idea you're an obnoxious time-waster who deserves a slap! Don't be surprised if he sees you as the bad guy - after all you started it by worrying he's a con-artist trying to sell you a dud!

Although buying second-hand can and does go wrong, don't panic. So far the seller appears to be honest. The deal doesn't smell of fish to me. In the original post, you made it clear that you understood the lathe might have shortcomings and were prepared to sort them out. You aren't being unrealistic. I expect it will all go well, but have a think about your exit strategy in the event it's a disaster.

Dave

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 10/08/2018 13:00:23

Andrew Culverhouse10/08/2018 15:42:21
7 forum posts

To be fair, the issue isn't being able to drop out of the purchase, I do want the lathe, it’s not like this is a purchase I've gone sour on, and if it’s as described then that's perfect. I think so far on eBay purchases I have lost £3000 through fraud or things not being as described and the fault only being hidden and then found after the fact over the last 15 years so now I do my research (unfortunately in this case after the fact).

What I came here for was not a way out, but a way to check that its ok and as described, I will be using a VFD so the motor and variator are not going to be used anyway (its either going to be running on 110v/60hz or 220/60hz long term anyway so the motor most likely cannot be used). And the rest of the description is perfect for what I want, even that (maybe) it can be broken down on site – with help. But if I am (was) going to break it down, I needed to know how to, I also needed to know what to look for in respect of condition to ensure the description of the units condition is what I am paying for– which is meant to be very good.

For those of you every buying like this, if the item is not as described then you can walk away, small courts in expensive and if you’re in the right the other person will just be wasting their money, unfortunately even at this amount and even with actual fraud (I double paid someone on ebay £800 in cash and via bank transfer for a car and never got one of the payments back (thanks HSBC)) it’s often not worth going after someone. Now with who I work for I can get my legal fees paid for, but who wants to do that? (as well as the fact once broken down, who is to say it wasn’t my fault that whatever is wrong and with the weight of it, it likely could be).

Notice the maybe and was above, I hadn’t thought of something which has been pointed out by you all (thank you), taking the head off it will change its alignment, as will the bed, so I will have to see if we can make it light enough to load/unload without taking those off, as there is no point in ruining it just to move it, if it’s really not possible to load / unload it with what we have available to us, I will apologise (and pay for it of cause) and hire something that will allow it to be loaded, or even pay for pallet shipping.

Thanks for the feedback from you all, and I will of cause let you all know how it goes. And if the seller ever reads this, sorry, if you had been ripped off as often as me I am sure you would understand, and some of the feedback above should get us both back to our wives quicker tomorrow!

Andrew

Andrew Culverhouse13/08/2018 12:10:06
7 forum posts

So just an update, i have some of the lathe home (well in my van under st Pauls london at the exact time i write this), i am missing the bed base and motor. I only got 1 hour with the seller and the lathe because of a total disaster at work which took all the rest of the weekend friday night and today until now.

its obviously paid for, i only had a short piece of Titanium for stock to play with so i used a dti to measure the outer edge of movement of both the chuck and the stock. both came back with the same figure, there is 0.010" movement when rotated at one side (if that makes any sense), the seller said that that might just be that the chuck needed re-seating. whether i screwed up or not, it didn't seem like a huge amount of variance, their is little to no rust so i paid for it.

Afterwards the flowing came out/was apparent (next post)

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