View Full Version : Digitising manual lathe.

01-18-2013, 02:48 PM
I have an old HERCUS lathe (basically an Australian copy of a South Bend). It's in need of a refresh and some TLC.
Couple of issues I have are,
It's an imperial lathe so I have to convert everything,
It as very small controls which makes reading them hard,
Heaps of backlash due to wear and tear which I'm probably not going to get rid off.

I'm therefore looking at fitting digital readouts. As anyone done this ? Are there any good REASONABLY priced units out there ? Anything in particular to look out for ?
Any help would be appreciated.

01-21-2013, 12:17 PM
The "iGaging" DROs as sold by Amazon, Grizzly, and eBay are the least expensive. Accuracy is not great, though, only +/- .001". Also there are reports that the cable connector between the scale and the readout is weak, and that only a tiny bit of swarf on the scale really eats it up -- so protection is not optional.

I just got the iGaging 12" for my lathe carriage but have not installed it yet.

If you go with the cheap stuff, you can just put a mag base dial indicator on the carriage or cross-slide when precision counts.

01-21-2013, 01:07 PM
This is just my opinion, but...
You could make a set of oversized dials for your compound & crosslide, and
while your at it give them both metric and imperial scribe lines. I recently looked
at an '80s jet that was setup that way.
For the cost of a DRO I would seriously think about just replacing your leadscrews
and nuts with new. A DRO would only mask the underlying problem (wear and tear)
for a while, not fix it permenently, and I'm guessing that a decent DRO would be
probably be as much or more money than a proper repair.
I would at least look into it, before springing for a DRO.

Rich Carlstedt
01-21-2013, 01:12 PM
I have a Boxford, which is the british version of the Southbend, only better dials and headstck.
Go here to see the Shooting Star Digitals ( Canadian) I put on


to see my lathe , go to this page and click Boxford

If you want a better photo just contact me

Rich Carlstedt
01-21-2013, 03:54 PM
When we put DRO's on our lathes at work back in the 80's , our production rate went up about 40 percent.
You also eliminated errors from dials that moved and the old 100 thousandth error from an extra turn.
It made diameter readings easy, and that matched our prints and boring a hole becomes deadnuts. We had a lot of steps in our dies.
All backlash becomes a non event.
The biggest single change is the ability with Aloris type QC tools,to change tools and never loose dimensions ( if you give the tools offset numbers)
My Shooting Star, and many others too allow this, so i can call my turning tool #1 and the facing tool #2 and the cutoff tool #3.
As i switch tools , i just punch the tool number in and I have a accurate location immediately, as they were preset beforehand.
While the part lenght can change when you toss a new piece in the chuck, the diameter settings stay the same !
Once you do it, you will never go back


01-28-2013, 03:23 AM
Thanks guys, the Star digital stuff looks good, but to be honest for that sort of money I can put towards upgrading the lathe. By time I've converted into NZ$, it's more than lathe's worth.
I only really use lathe for knocking up spacers and that sort of thing so I'll have a look at alternatives. I have seen lathes set up with digital verniers so that may be worth a look.