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Early metal lathes

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Former Member26/05/2019 19:57:24

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Andrew Johnston26/05/2019 20:26:59
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4786 forum posts
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The obvious answer is shafts, such a crankshafts and the like. However it's likely that other parts were turned bwtween centres and the centres cut off afterwards. A 3-jaw chuck would have been expensive and the average ME may not have had one. So it was a choice of between centres or the 4-jaw chuck. In contrast I've turned between centres only once; to machine the crankshaft castings for my traction engines.

To illustrate how workshops have changed I actually do a lot of work between centres, but that's on the cylindrical grinder. smile

The lathes mentioned were bought because they were cheap, and could be afforded by the working man. In days gone by the lathe would have been pressed into service for almost everything, ie, turning, milling, line boring and so on. Often the only other machine tools in the workshop would have been a pillar drill, and possibly a bench grinder.

A lot of work was done by hand with hacksaws, files and cold chisels rather than machining, think locomotive frames for instance.

Andrew

Former Member26/05/2019 20:32:43

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SillyOldDuffer26/05/2019 21:26:54
4601 forum posts
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Posted by Haggerleases on 26/05/2019 19:57:24:

Hello all.

Just a question on some of the early metal lathes. I understand that a lot of work was done 'between centres' on the early lathes. What sort of models or parts thereof would have been made by this method?

Also things like the Adept, Flexispeed, and so on, why would they have been purchased?, and what were people usually doing with them? It seems we take on a lot of quite rather complex projects these days, but many decades ago, what were model engineers expecting to do with these limited machines?

I think what was done with lathes was identical to what we do today. With a little ingenuity turning between centres or fixing jobs to a faceplate in various ways can achieve much the same as we would do with chucks. Modern conveniences usually let you work faster rather than pull entirely new tricks. For instance electric motors and VFDs make life easy, but treadles or even a bow-string will turn a spindle.

Lathes were far more commonplace a hundred years ago. It was a mechanical world. Loads of line-shafts, steam engines, trams, conveyor belts, plumbing, and a host of unreliable mechanical devices we've replaced with electronics. As most villages had a smithy, so most workshops, factories, garages, coal-mines, clockmakers, mill-wrights, locksmiths and factories had lathes. We've got used to bearings that last a life-time or are simply replaced. Back then, most machines were fitted with plain bearings needing constant maintenance for which a lathe was essential.

My 1919 Model Engineer magazine suggests readera then were more interested in lathes for engineering than model making. Bicycles, cars, motor bikes, dynamos, wireless, aircraft, turbines, you name it. Probably a much higher percentage of Model Engineers were of working age or professional metalworkers than we are today.

Dave

warwick wilton 127/05/2019 00:18:59
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when i did my trade we had to chisel a block to within 5 thou 3/4 inch square by 3 inch long and hand file the three sides flat within a thou. time no object and thumb on left hand red and blue.

Warwick.

Wout Moerman 127/05/2019 07:44:34
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Thumb red and blue? By mistreatment of the thumb or from marking ink?

JasonB27/05/2019 07:54:40
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Soft apprentice fingers spending all day holding the end of the file will soon become sore and bruised

Michael Gilligan27/05/2019 07:58:48
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Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 26/05/2019 21:26:54:

My 1919 Model Engineer magazine suggests readera then were more interested in lathes for engineering than model making. Bicycles, cars, motor bikes, dynamos, wireless, aircraft, turbines, you name it.

.

... and that may still be true of hobbyists in general [rather than readers of 'Model Engineer' in particular]

Yet still we hear the cry: "What's that to do with model engineering" repeated on this forum.

MichaelG.

Guy Lamb27/05/2019 12:38:47
62 forum posts
Posted by warwick wilton 1 on 27/05/2019 00:18:59:

when i did my trade we had to chisel a block to within 5 thou 3/4 inch square by 3 inch long and hand file the three sides flat within a thou. time no object and thumb on left hand red and blue.

Warwick.

Ditto. It was called 'chipping the block' and done behind chipping screens to avoid injury to the lad on the bench opposite. No eye protection was given them day, makes my hair stand on end now.

Chipping chisels were ground slightly convex by a rolling action against the grindstone.

Guy

Bazyle27/05/2019 17:29:57
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Early lathes would use a faceplate before a 4-jaw chuck, and perhaps the operator aspired to faceplate dogs that used a simple screw rather than a neat jaw. Also cup chucks were made from wood and the piece glued in, or glued to a faceplate with shellac as still used by clockmakers.
The small lathes like Adept were adequate when the most common model locomotives would be 0 or G1.

A series on how to make the Stuart 10V with hand tools only has been published twice in ME, s actually having a small lathe would be quite a step up.

Former Member27/05/2019 17:56:52

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Former Member27/05/2019 18:18:55

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Nicholas Wheeler 127/05/2019 18:41:59
268 forum posts
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What's more important to you, finishing jobs or the process?

If it's the first, then buy a new lathe for a grand(which will be Chinese) that's sized for your projects, and start making parts. I had never used a lathe, but had my first usable parts within an hour of getting my mini-lathe home from Machine Mart.

If it's the process, then start sawing/chiseling/filing bits of metal until you're worthy of preserving a Myford for the next generation.

Former Member27/05/2019 19:03:32

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Former Member27/05/2019 19:04:44

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John Duncker 127/05/2019 20:06:02
32 forum posts
Posted by Haggerleases on 27/05/2019 19:04:44:

I thought a steam engine, loco or clock would be good as it's a bit more substantial than balsa and tissue.

Ah but will it fly?

AdrianR27/05/2019 20:39:44
272 forum posts
20 photos

I am still very much a beginner and I have an old lathe which I tried to restore. I could only get so far without having to spend a fortune getting parts made and the bed reground. I could make a few things on it, but I quickly found the limitations of old small worn out lathe. I decided instead to invest in getting a newer larger lathe. I think you too should get an newer lathe. You will still be using hand tools, and earning how to use it all will defiantly keep you busy.

There is another aspect of ME which is tool making. There are all sorts of simple things to start with e.g. I have made; engineers clamps, tailstock die holder, cutting tool height gauge and lots of other little things. There are numerous stories of people making X then having to make Y and Z to make X.

My todo list is growing rapidly, I have years of projects and ideas, just as well as I have just retired.

Adrian

Nick Hulme29/05/2019 19:57:46
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Posted by Nicholas Wheeler 1 on 27/05/2019 18:41:59: until you're worthy of preserving a Myford for the next generation.

Done that, it's a 1950s long bed with 30.5mm through capacity headstock and roller bearings :D

I enjoy learning, progressing and achieving, those who don't and instead enjoy repetition of the past, with a given level of technology of their choosing are no less worthy in their enjoyment of that, it's just that some of them seem to think there is a misguided "Purity" in not using newer technology when engineers of the past were all about using the newest technology available, or indeed developing it themselves :D

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