Lathes

Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
Hello all

I know several people here have a good engineering background, so I am after some advice, please. I have to buy a lathe for work. The primary purpose is the accurate drilling of holes into bolts which I use in various repairs- the frequency I need to do this means that it will soon pay for itself compared with asking a neighbouring engineering firm to do it for me. Even I should be able to make a lathe do this basic function.

However, a secondary purpose will require the ability to cut threads into tubes and rods. My question is whether the ability to cut threads is a fairly common feature of lathes or is this restricted to top end fully professional versions only.

This unit looks fairly reasonable for the amount of work I am planning. It says it can cut 'screw threads' but I can't see any mechanism for doing so. Does anyone have any opinions on this unit, please?


I have asked the vendor but I must have reached the only person who knows less about lathes than I do... Does anyone have any recommendations, please? The ability to access the lathe for hobby purposes at the weekend is also not lost on me...

Many thanks
Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

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This unit looks fairly reasonable for the amount of work I am planning. It says it can cut 'screw threads' but I can't see any mechanism for doing so.
@Derek

Hi Derek,

To cut threads you need to set up the required combination of gears inside that box at the left-hand end.

The blurb says it includes sufficient gears to cut 14 sizes of metric threads, and 20 sizes of imperial threads:

"Power feed screw cutting with gear sets included for metric 14 (0.5-3.0mm pitch) & imperial 20 (11-40 TPI)"

That's a lot of machine tool for the money, but the reviews on the page are favourable. Like all machine tools from the Far East, it will take some time to clean and assemble the parts, and some adjustments and fitting might be needed. You will need an extra pair of hands to help with the assembly. If you get one, let us know how you get on.

p.s. if you are new to lathes, you will also need 1 Box of Elastoplast (not included) and don't wear a tie.

Here's the breathless video.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
Many thanks for the reply Martin.

I've had a look at several machines but this is the only one that mentions thread cutting, so I'm guessing it's not a universal feature (there are other cheaper machines that are available- but if they don't perform that function.,.)

I will let you know how I get on with whichever one we end up buying, although I think it's going to be a steep learning curve, some of the youtube lathe tutorials are quite fascinating.

As an aside, despite my advancing years, at my secondary school I missed out on proper engineering lessons by about a year or two. The metal working room was still there with lathes, bandsaws, furnaces, oxy-acetylene, acid baths, ovens... but it was seldom turned on and all was from dull text books. I can't complain too much as I believe that former workshop is now a 'safe space' for oppressed students and is full of bean bags.

Thanks for posting the video, but it won't let me watch it due to 'piracy issues.'

Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

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I've had a look at several machines but this is the only one that mentions thread cutting, so I'm guessing it's not a universal feature (there are other cheaper machines that are available- but if they don't perform that function.,.)
@Derek

Hi Derek,

Powered screw-cutting is not for the faint-hearted. For most small hobby work and one-offs it would be easier to use hand taps and dies. There is usually a tailstock die-holder available for simpler machines.

However, you mentioned threading inside a tube. There is unlikely to be a suitable size of tap available for thin-wall tube. You will need a fine pitch and an internal thread-cutting tool. And a matching fine pitch on the rod. It might be easier to turn a tapped insert having a standard thread.

p.s. I edited the video link.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Derek,

You might want to look at a lathe only arrangement rather than the lathe/mill/drill combination your URL pointed to. Something like :-


It's a good bit cheaper and the Sieg lathe has similar specs to the one on the Clarke model. It has back gearing to allow screw cutting although you might want to investigate further to see what range of gearing is available for what thread pitches.

Combination machines tend to become a bit of a bu**er when you are set up to mill something and you need to do a bit of turning - hence messing up all your milling setup - and vice versa. It was much the same on lathes using vertical slides for milling - it could take ages setting and re-setting things when you had to change from one operation to the other.

And as Martin has said, power screw-cutting is not for the faint hearted. Doing operations with tailstock mounted taps and dies would be much better for your peace of mind. :)
:)

Jim.
 
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Derek,
I agree with Jim and would not go for a combination machine for the reasons he has stated. What is the price range you are looking in ? - it is a common issue for people to buy a lathe with most of the money they have and then find they need lots of tooling to perform the intended tasks. Cutters for lathe work and milling, reamers, work holding devices etc etc soon add up to a lot of money.

Personally I wouldn't have a machine that had discrete spindle speeds set by the movement of belts on pulleys. Apart from the sometime wide gaps between the speeds there are some operations in lathe work that work better if the spindle speed can be adjusted while a cut is being made - machining a flywheel for example where the cut starts on a 6 inch diameter and goes down to the centre - without variable speed you are either running too fast at the start or running too slow at the end. Parting off- where the finished item is cut from the rest of the workpiece really needs a much slower speed than you would have been using during the normal turning operations and would mean changing belt settings. Having said all that many are happy with a set of fixed speeds and get along fine.

I would suggest you find out more about operating a lathe before you make any decision, try these videos :




Rob
P.S. You need to tie back long hair and remove all dangly jewellery as well as the tie.
 
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Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
Thanks all. I REALLY appreciate the advice. I'm sure everyone can relate to the story of "...I want to do this..." and before you know it "...I wonder if I can do that too..."

I don't really need to cut threads, it's more a case of seeing something is possible and... well, you know the rest.

I've spent far too much time on youtube today watching engineering videos and if I'm honest, I'm a little irritated that I missed out on the chance to learn engineering when in education and things many of the things you may take for granted about the subject are double-Dutch to me. I note from the videos on youtube that most of the engineering videos are from Germany or USA- clearly they see the value of engineering in their education and work system. Likewise if you want to know anything about computers, it's likely to be a youtube video from India. We need to do better in UK! (no political comment intended).

Rob- if I had any hair I would tie it back... NB I think this is one of the reasons our school closed the metal working as thinking about it, the year or two before there was a lad with a tie using the lathe...

All this information from railway modelling forums. What other hobby could you talk history, art and engineering and learn so much? Again my sincere thanks.

Derek
 
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Location
Sandbach, Cheshire
Info
Builder of Finescale Signals in 2mm scale to 7mm scale, Trackwork, Turnouts and Layouts.
When it comes to jewellry, probably better to not wear any rings either. I must admit I have never used the powered screwcutting arrangement for anything other than trying to achieve a good finish over a reasonable distance. Two add ons to my old Myford 7 I do not regret are the clutch and the Quick change tool post.
 
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Nigel Brown

Member
Location
Wales
Re schools, I suspect dropping hands-on work, whether woodworking, engineering, science etc was partly over-reaction to H&S and also dangers from letting stuff which could be used as weapons into the hands of the more violence-inclined pupils. Pity.

Nigel
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
I suspect I’m heading towards being the last generation that did metalwork at school, getting my O-level in 1982 (grade B, before results became meaningless with everyone getting A/A*!). We had “big” Harrison and Myford lathes, sand casting with crucibles of molten metal, all sorts of dodgy stuff! The teacher was an old guy (who in reality was probably younger than I am now!) with a bit of a reputation for being a tough teacher. I still remember a very proud moment when we were each in turn asked to face off a lump of bar after having been shown, and he asked in surprise “Have you done this before?” Nope! Every time I face anything, I remember that.

In 1999 (gosh, was it really that long ago?) I had a contract job where the machine shop had seriously big lathes - the sort where the workpiece was loaded by overhead crane!

Now I have a little Unimat 4, and as was alluded to above, the lathe itself is only a small part of the cost!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Tony W

Member
Location
North Notts
Not just lathes need safety warnings. During my metalwork classes, despite being warned of the dangers, one of my classmates forgot to remove the chuck key from the chuck of a pillar drill before starting it. The chuck key made a dent in the opposite wall of the workshop, thankfully not in the head of an individual. This event made a lasting impression on me and I always remove chuck keys once I have tightened or loosened one as a matter of course. I guess the development of key less chucks is similarly H&S related.
Regards
Tony.
 
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Nigel Brown

Member
Location
Wales
The school workshop had a machine set up for polishing things. So I decided to polish one of my shoes. Unfortunately the laces caught and the shoe was flung across the room. The teacher, at the other end of the room, rapidly approached, but by that time I'd dived behind the bench, shot across the room to retrieve the shoe, and shot back with the shoe more or less on my foot. What happened, he demanded. Dunno sir, I think it might have caught, I replied, indicating the brass spoon I'd made that I was supposed to be polishing. Got away with it.
 
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Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
All I can say is that engineering is proving to be a fascinating subject. I've been involved in commercial vehicle maintenance for a long time now, but that is mostly assessing components against required tolerence then un-bolting and bolting in replacement parts.

Some of the witchcraft I have seen from specialist contract engineers has been incredible- but thanks to Youtube videos, much of that magic is now being exposed.

Paul, there have been several mentions of the Unimat series, but I've found that they are being very secretive with price, availability and dealer network. I know that any lathe will do 99% of the jobs I NEED it to do, it's the 1% that I want to experiment with!

Derek
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
Paul, there have been several mentions of the Unimat series, but I've found that they are being very secretive with price, availability and dealer network. I know that any lathe will do 99% of the jobs I NEED it to do, it's the 1% that I want to experiment with!
Hi Derek

With Unimat, it's not a case of being secretive but more a case of not having been made for a number of years! Even the current Unimat 1 is not actually made by Unimat.

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
Thanks again for the advice. If I could ask another general question? I have been looking at a range of lathes now (and many of them seem to be 'badge jobs') but they all list their specifications differently.

I understand the warnings above that the machine is only part of the cost, but I am going to buy the 'best' machine that work's budget allows and then add the different tooling as I go along, rather than buying a smaller machine with lots of tools at the start.

What I am now looking at is the maximum diameter that I can work with. As far as I can see I can disregard the spindle bore as I can buy different faceplates to mount that will allow larger chucks to be fitted. Can I please ask what 'swing over bed' and 'swing across slide' relate to? They are 305mm and 172mm on the Clarke lathe respectively. Which one of those dictates my maximum diameter?

Thanks
Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

Admin
Location
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Enjoy using Templot?
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Please do not send requests for help direct to me via email.

Post your questions on the forum where everyone can see them and add
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Can I please ask what 'swing over bed' and 'swing across slide' relate to? They are 305mm and 172mm on the Clarke lathe respectively. Which one of those dictates my maximum diameter?
@Derek

Hi Derek,

Here are the dimensions from the downloadable user manual for the Clarke lathe you first mentioned:

lathe_spec.png


It's worth downloading it -- it is quite comprehensive and covers most of the questions you have been asking, such as setting up the gears for screw-cutting, etc.:

https://dccf75d8gej24.cloudfront.net/documents/060712520-CL430-500M.pdf

The term "swing" can be misleading and subject to marketing-speak. The UK traditionally uses the engineering meaning of "swing" as a radius. But lathe suppliers, especially in the USA, usually double that to refer to the work diameter which can be swung. You need to be clear what they mean before relying on the dimension stated for "swing".

Commendably, Clarke haven't used the term "swing" and stated clearly above the working capacity as a diameter.

lathe_dia.png


"Maximum diameter over bed" means the maximum diameter of a dinner plate you can turn. Thin, large diameter objects. You can't hold them in a chuck or collet, they have to be bolted to a faceplate. The cutting tool moves across the face of the workpiece.

"Maximum diameter over cross slide" means the maximum diameter of a chair leg you can turn. Long round objects. The cutting tool moves along the side of the workpiece.

You should always take such figures with a pinch of salt. In practice the maximum size that can be conveniently worked on without dismantling bits of the lathe is usually smaller. Also remember that these dimensions refer to the size of the workpiece before you turn it. It would be an unusual job which doesn't require the outside diameter to be turned down to the finished size.

A good indication of the usefulness of a lathe is the diameter of the supplied faceplate, which for the above lathe is 200mm.

For production work the spindle bore diameter is often the most important dimension. If you want to make several similar parts from round bar stock, you would normally feed a length of the bar through the spindle and cut each part from the end of it as you go, advancing it forward for each one. This means that for such work the above capacity diameters are largely meaningless, and for production work this lathe is good for work up to about 25mm / 1 inch diameter parts, cut from round bar or hollow bar (thick wall tube). Similarly if you want to cut a thread on the end of a long rod, or turn it down to fit a collar or bearing.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Derek

Member
Location
UK, Midlands
Martin
Many thanks for the comprehensive explanation. Now I know what to look for in the specification I can make an informed decision; even if the terminology changes from company or Country, the basic idea of dimensions mean (for all in this budget seem to be roughly the same size) I can still decipher it.

Ironically, I have just found a video this evening that more or less answers the question about chucks. I don't know if that was coincidence or youtube's spying cookies inside my computer!

Again, many, many thanks.
Derek
 
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Kenilworth59

Member
Location
Oxfordshire
Evenin' All

My father's Myford (ML?) has been languishing, in pieces, in my various garages for oh 30 odd years now and I now believe the hassle of sorting out the belt drive/motor makes me less and less enthusiastic to rebuild it. Although I don't have the immediate need to have a working lathe, I have looked to see what I could get to replace it and so I'm drawn more and more to the Warco 180 with DRO.


This does have the variable speed feature as well as some included accessories such as a 4 jaw independent chuck and for me at a reasonable price.

Anybody with any experience of this one?

My school experience: CSE metalwork grade 1, 1976. I had the fortune to have used a lathe, a mill and a shaper to make some hand tools. And I too had a classmate leave a key in at start up but in the lathe chuck– it bounced off the mill before landing 15 yards further down the workshop in the hot coals of the forge. Thankfully no one was hit by it but I can now realise how relieved the teacher was. Mind you, Rohm these days supply their chucks with a spring on the key so hand pressure is required to keep it in place. You could say then that safety has improved but apparently not enough for these “enlightened” days.

Cheers, Paul
 
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RLaslett

Member
Location
South Australia
I've been using a Seig C6 for over 10 years and has given faithful service. Have no trouble making external/internal threads. Just give it a go.
Regards, Richard (Sth Australia)
 
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Location
Sandbach, Cheshire
Info
Builder of Finescale Signals in 2mm scale to 7mm scale, Trackwork, Turnouts and Layouts.
Evenin' All

My father's Myford (ML?) has been languishing, in pieces, in my various garages for oh 30 odd years now and I now believe the hassle of sorting out the belt drive/motor makes me less and less enthusiastic to rebuild it. Although I don't have the immediate need to have a working lathe, I have looked to see what I could get to replace it and so I'm drawn more and more to the Warco 180 with DRO.


This does have the variable speed feature as well as some included accessories such as a 4 jaw independent chuck and for me at a reasonable price.

Anybody with any experience of this one?

My school experience: CSE metalwork grade 1, 1976. I had the fortune to have used a lathe, a mill and a shaper to make some hand tools. And I too had a classmate leave a key in at start up but in the lathe chuck– it bounced off the mill before landing 15 yards further down the workshop in the hot coals of the forge. Thankfully no one was hit by it but I can now realise how relieved the teacher was. Mind you, Rohm these days supply their chucks with a spring on the key so hand pressure is required to keep it in place. You could say then that safety has improved but apparently not enough for these “enlightened” days.

Cheers, Paul
The Warco lathe you mention is in comparison sounds aa bit smaller than a Myford, so it all depends what you might want to do with it. There were various types of ML lathes, basically an ML7 (of some specification) or ML10. There were earlier types but not of interest here I think. If the bed doesn't have a gap near the end then it it is probably an ML10, otherwise likely to be an ML7. The most desirable being an MLsuper7.

The spare parts for an ML7 are not cheap. If you do decide on a new lathe bear in mind that the Warco has an MT3 spindle whereas Myfords are MT2. I think you can get converter sleeves to use a Morse Taper 3 tool on a Morse Taper 2 but not sure if you can get one the other way.

I have both types of machine but generally prefer the Myford. The only reason I have the small one, is the fact that it just cost me a new electronic control unit and fuel for collection of the lathe.
 
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