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Thread: George Thomas "Universal Pillar Tool" on the cheap and easy?

  1. #1
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    Default George Thomas "Universal Pillar Tool" on the cheap and easy?

    So I've got a copy of the book "The Universal Pillar Tool" by George Thomas. CLICK HERE to see a google image page of a variety of these tools in use.

    At its most basic it's a nice tapping stand. At it's most fancy it's a sensitive drill press. In between he provides a wide variety of options for use in a lot of ways including staking parts for horology and setups for holding number and letter stamps and indexing the parts being stamped along so the results are neat and tidy.

    Looking it over I had a bit of a "EUREKA" moment when I thought that we might be able to do a lot of these functions starting with a cheap HF or similar drill press as the base and column. And the selection would be worked around a model which has a column size where we could buy standard iron plumbing fittings and bore them out and add locking toggles to more easily make up the other various accessory arms.

    The original tool is a think of art and beauty. But on an hour by hour basis I won't live long enough to use it often enough to add up to the amount of time it would take to make the original version. But it performs a lot of rather slick features. Hence why I'm thinking of this other option idea.

    Whatcha think?

  2. #2
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    I should have checked the photos a bit closer myself. Apparently someone else already had a similar idea to use pipe fittings and nipples to build a pillar tool of their own. But he didn't start with a cheap drill press ! ! ! !

    https://www.haythornthwaite.com/pillar%20tool.html

  3. #3
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    The cost to ship the pillar tool castings to the US is about the same as the price of the small HF drill press. I have been thinking along the lines of converting a drill press. The depth through the head of the drill press to too great to allow its use for stamping graduations. I may go the route Hawthornwaite did.

  4. #4
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    I thought one of them would be handy, and bought a little ancient drillpress to convert.

    Then I found a fairly heavy-duty Cedarberg tapping stand for 2 bucks at a sale, and made new collets. And decided to keep the little 18" tall drill press as it is and use it with the jeweler's lathe on that workbench.

    Just as well, I do not think the UPT would really have served my needs/wants very effectively. Might have had more "daylight", bur wouldn't have handled a 5/16" tap as well.

    I have seen the UPT set up as a staking tool, drill press, tapping stand, and other stuff that I do not recall, but I figure it might end up like a "3 in 1" machine, always set up for the wrong use, and a pain to convert..

    This is the thing I had wanted to convert, looks like a good start on a UPT if I still wanted to. I made the two pulleys and their adjusting block after I decided to keep it as a DP. Only problem is that the poly belt slips on the big pulley, leather or a big o-ring made of bulk stock might grip better, the poly belts have a harder surface.



    Last edited by J Tiers; 12-28-2018 at 08:18 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Well, that would be the idea. To remove the head and only use the base, column and table. Then make up the one or three "dog bones" for the functions we want from iron pipe T fittings and suitable short nipples. The T fittings being bored out along the joining ends and given a split wedge key locking feature.

    And yeah, the original Thomas design is nice. But the castings would not be cheap by the time they were here in our hands. And then there's all the work to machine the parts. That's why I'm thinking the plumbing fittings is the way to go with the Hawthornwaite style but simplified and using plumbing fittings screws together and use the easily found threaded faceplate from a wood lathe. Again the idea is to find rather than make the more fancy parts and get this thing in action instead of making a year long art piece project.

    Another option, now that I consider it, would be to pick do a

  6. #6
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    JT, that's sure a pretty little drill press. And clearly not far off GT's original inspiration for his UPT.

    The "V" on the spindle pulley seems way too open. No side grip like you see on the half round grooves on a clockmaker's lathe running round belts. I'll bet a new pulley would spark that cute looking drill into operation just fine.

  7. #7
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    it was made for a larger leather round belt, that accounts for the "groove". The large "skirt" I assume is on account of s belt-loosening "clutch", it would tend to keep the belt from slipping off. Could be a different reason, I'm purely guessing.

    It's about 18" tall or so. I have it powered by a sewing machine type motor. I asked about the possible maker, and neglected to give a size... some folks thought it was a lot bigger, the pic did not show the motor

    I like the pulley. I might change the belt to get it to stop slipping on heavy feeds.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 12-28-2018 at 07:15 PM.
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

  8. #8
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    Martin Model and Casting, out of Oregon, has castings for standard and long arm universal pillar tools, Quern universal tool, and Thomas's book on workshop techniques, all made in the USA. Taint cheap though!

  9. #9
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    you do not have to have castings, although cast iron does feel better. I made the drill head for mine from barstock and it turned out ok. One of those 6" x 1" CI disks for the table and a length of bar for the arms is all you need

    As for the rest of the features and nuances? You can pay me now or pay me later. The tool is such a pleasure to use because of that upfront work on all the details. Discard at your peril.

    .

  10. #10
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    Hey Mcgyver, what's with the keyway in your split cotter?

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