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clarke cl500 improvements

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john halfpenny01/07/2020 15:09:30
37 forum posts
9 photos

In the lockdown I have implemented some of the mods collected over the years. I bought this lathe secondhand more than 25 years ago, and although it has a poor reputation, it has served me well as a bench top lathe. I can now afford something 'better', but it's capacity and familiarity have always won through. The controls lack a quality feel, but accuracy has been fine; yesterday I clocked run-out on the three jaw (using a ground bar) at 0.0003 tir, which is pretty good I think.

Some years ago I fitted a VFD, which solves the problem of a minimum speed which is too high, as well as giving a smoother, quieter drive.

First is an extended banjo to permit l.h. screw thread cutting. There is room for an extra gear to reverse rotation of the lead screw. I needed this to make a new screw for extending the travel of the tailstock barrel by 25mm.20200701_142541.jpg Next was a cycle computer to give me rpm. The display shows kph which, with a wheel circumference of 1667mm, is an analogue of rpm.

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Last is a reversed tailstock. This is possible because the bed is flat and the barrel is on a through bore. It substantially improves reach over the saddle, but requires the barrel clamp to be moved to the other end, which requires a block to be bolted in place, and boring of a 25mm through hole.

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not done it yet01/07/2020 17:31:26
4739 forum posts
16 photos

I made one vast improvement with mine, some time ago - I ‘put it out to grass’ and replaced it with a Raglan Little John.🙂

Old School01/07/2020 17:41:13
336 forum posts
29 photos

The Raglan Little John is a superb lathe only parted with mine when I treated myself to a Myford 254 just before retirement

Oily Rag03/07/2020 13:02:48
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112 forum posts
57 photos

+1 for the Raglan - I've got 2 versions, a gear change set and a gearbox model, also a Loughborough (currently being rebuilt). The other lathe I have is a Emco Maximat Super 11, mainly because it came at the right price and because it is a metric lathe. Somehow the Raglan is the go to machine for me though.

Robin Graham04/07/2020 02:40:02
726 forum posts
178 photos

Nice work John - shows what can be done. I too have a Far Eastern lathe, the screws don't have the silky smoothness of of a Raglan, but I can turn to a couple of tenths if I need to.

Three tenths with a three jaw is indeed pretty good!

Robin.

not done it yet04/07/2020 07:33:08
4739 forum posts
16 photos

Three tenths with a three jaw is indeed pretty good!

Cutting concentrically with a 3-jaw is clearly no problem - as long as one does not remove and replace the work-piece.

Mine was likely more like 5 thous, but so much that I never actually measured it. Re-chucking a part was simply out of the question, unless dims were unimportant (most of my parts were of that type 🙂 ). I don’t think I ever needed to get near to three tenths on anything I made.

Back then, the 4 jaw did not get much use. These days I use a 4 jaw more often than a 3 jaw.

john halfpenny04/07/2020 10:22:16
37 forum posts
9 photos

Robin, perhaps it was a bit naughty to post the three tenths figure, but it was a true single reading. Having re-chucked a few times, the repeatable figure is in the range 6-8 tenths of a thou. Some people have clearly had a bad experience with this lathe, and manufacturing quality may well be patchy so some caution is probably advisable. I think my lathe was made in Taiwan, a country quite capable of quality work, but I suspect standards slipped when production first moved to China, though it may be better now.

My reason for posting, and admitting my ownership of an unfashionable machine, is that it can, as you confirm, turn out good work and be adapted to do better. I have even used the mill, before getting my Naerok; it is not a Bridgeport for sure, but for a hobbyist with not much room it can, with care, be made to work. In any event, the cross slide is slotted X and Y, so a milling vice can be fitted. What a pity a little more care was not taken with the detail.

Nick Clarke 304/07/2020 11:53:43
avatar
811 forum posts
28 photos
Posted by john halfpenny on 04/07/2020 10:22:16:

Robin, perhaps it was a bit naughty to post the three tenths figure, but it was a true single reading. Having re-chucked a few times, the repeatable figure is in the range 6-8 tenths of a thou. Some people have clearly had a bad experience with this lathe, and manufacturing quality may well be patchy so some caution is probably advisable. I think my lathe was made in Taiwan, a country quite capable of quality work, but I suspect standards slipped when production first moved to China, though it may be better now.

My reason for posting, and admitting my ownership of an unfashionable machine, is that it can, as you confirm, turn out good work and be adapted to do better. I have even used the mill, before getting my Naerok; it is not a Bridgeport for sure, but for a hobbyist with not much room it can, with care, be made to work. In any event, the cross slide is slotted X and Y, so a milling vice can be fitted. What a pity a little more care was not taken with the detail.

You have made several useful improvements to what is, as you say, an unfashionable machine.

However the comparisons that have been made must surely be meaningless - comparing your lathe, available new for £1200 (or £1400 with mill drill) with one that went out of production nearly 65 years ago to be replaced by a model its manufacturer felt was better means condition and wear and repairabilty must be more important. Also a 'Little John' at 50% more expensive than a Myford in 1966 would retail new today, if still in production, at something like 8-10 thousand pounds.

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 04/07/2020 11:54:48

Michael Horner04/07/2020 13:35:47
206 forum posts
61 photos

Great stuff John.

It's a nice feeling when you modify a machine to make it work for you.

I have a Chester Mini Lathe which also get a kicking but you can't beat them for the money.

The mods I have done are to make it more like the machine I want not because there was anything wrong with it.

The Great Sage SOD was saying £20K for a model engineers lathe with all the bells and whistles but who would pay that much money out?

Cheers Michael.

donkey04/07/2020 15:06:36
avatar
73 forum posts
5 photos

Hi John can I ask what size and make is the quick change tool holder. thanks

Bri

john halfpenny04/07/2020 16:09:06
37 forum posts
9 photos

Toolpost is a model 100, as sold by Arc, Warco and others. I recall it was a straight swop, but they can probably confirm. Bought on offer at the MES from one of the big traders, with 4 holders. Tool capacity is 14mm. Best thing is the ability to set tool hieght without shims.

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