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Watchmakers lathe garage find

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  • #46
    If nothing else it could be a very fancy lathe for turning pen bodies....

    I'm looking at a listing on Ebay for a 50mm three jaw self centering chuck. I'm tempted to get one for my own jeweler's lathe.

    I've had mine for years and really don't see using it for much. But I'm not into the whole clock and watch making deal.

    At one point I thought I might use it for very small parts where the big lathe simply does not turn fast enough. But when I start thinking that way I start leaning towards the idea of a Taig with the ER16 collet head stock setup as far more useable.
    Chilliwack BC, Canada

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Dan Dubeau View Post

      The mating surfaces on the headstock are just milled though, so I don't think it's all that fussy....
      Yes, that is what I am trying to say ... It's not all that fussy like a regular lathe. Start out with some plate glass, bring it up to a fine polish, and you're good. Only thing to watch out for is the spindle-tailstock alignment.
      25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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      • #48
        Originally posted by BCRider View Post
        If nothing else it could be a very fancy lathe for turning pen bodies....

        I'm looking at a listing on Ebay for a 50mm three jaw self centering chuck. I'm tempted to get one for my own jeweler's lathe.

        I've had mine for years and really don't see using it for much. But I'm not into the whole clock and watch making deal.

        At one point I thought I might use it for very small parts where the big lathe simply does not turn fast enough. But when I start thinking that way I start leaning towards the idea of a Taig with the ER16 collet head stock setup as far more useable.
        I stumbled on an er11 "collet" for watchmaker lathes while browsing ebay last night. https://www.ebay.ca/itm/ER11-Collet-...cAAOSwpJlgDEbY I could probably make one, but for that money it's tough to beat as long as it is not machined to badly. I'll still keep my eye out for proper collets in the meantime.

        I have a feeling this will be Jr's first lathe. I'll set him up to turn wood on it, and he'll have the time of his life. It's small enough that with proper safety precautions he won't get into too much trouble.

        I got it apart at lunch with no issues. Doesn't look too bad, but there is some definite scoring of the bronze at the edge of the cone most likely due to running dry. . Ah well. Spindle still felt tight, so I'll continue cleaning it up, flushing the oil passages and proceed forward.


        Deceptively simple design.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by BCRider View Post
          I've had mine for years and really don't see using it for much. But I'm not into the whole clock and watch making deal.

          At one point I thought I might use it for very small parts where the big lathe simply does not turn fast enough.

          But when I start thinking that way I start leaning towards the idea of a Taig with the ER16 collet head stock setup as far more useable.

          .
          I think you've come to right conclusion although I have never seen a jeweler use one of these lathes or for that matter any lathe (albeit there are ring lathes). What's shown above is a watchmakers lathe

          For those guessing at the use and function, who have never turned a balance staff say, I'll try explain a bit their purpose. The handle 'watchmaker" is a misnomer for those who use these lathes. In reality, those people repair watches . They may have made one watch if they went through a classic Swiss school (4 year program irrc) however that is an exercise for learning. They earn their daily crust by servicing (clean and oil) and repair, not making watches. This isn't denigrating the skill level, only point out that these lathes are made for them and their repair work, the large majority of which would have been making balance staffs.

          The person who makes a watch isn't using this lathe. He's assembling a watch from components brought in from lots of outside vendors and maybe some in house production. In either case, said production is done on production machines, not a lathe like this.

          There a few exceptions, the late George Daniels (greatest watchmaker ever) and his protege Roger Smith (who a friend of mine worked for) who make an entire watch. They sell for $100,000+. But they are the extreme outliers and as such not relevant. Furthermore they use lathes more like a WW83 or a Schaublin 70 (as reported to me).

          Almost all watchmakers lathe you come across are equipped like above - graver rest and a tailstock. The reason is, this is the ideal set up for what the watchmaker (watch repairer) most often does with them: make a replacement balance staffs. Why? Because that's what breaks. 99% were not even sold with a slide rest - slide rests are useless for parts like a balance staff. The excel at concentricity, having a array of excellent split chucks and being of a form factor where you can safely get your head into where the works going on. That's mostly it. The could be used for repivoting and burnishing, but there are better special tools for that. Many first class watchmakers today wouldn't have a lathe. 50 years ago everyone had a mechanical watch, its how you knew the time. So any watchmaker had to be able to crank out an endless variety staffs in short order. Today its an expensive fashion statement; they're hourly means they are only working say Omega's and if the balance staff breaks (less likely with current designs) you order a new one from Omega online and arrives in a week or less.

          There were watchmakers lathes sold with elaborate sets of accessories, I think they largely appealled to the few watchmakers bit by the toolaholic bug than being the sort of most really needed. They were probably only a few percent of the market. These set ups with, with chucks and slide rests etc, can quite useful as miniature machine tools.

          you also mentioned turning speed. Not a big factor for watchmaking. In fact when doing say a balance staff you more use speed to control the removal rate; i.e. with a given touch on the graver, slower rpm slows the removal rate as you try to come up on a diameter. Or at least I find I do that.

          A clock maker/repairer would be poorly served with a watchmakers lathe imo - better to get something a tag bigger in the instrument lathe class. Levin 10mm, Pultra 10mm or best of all a Schaublin 70 or 120. All of those would be equipped with a slide rest making not just hand graver work. A Sherline or Unimat also works for a lot of clock stuff.
          Last edited by Mcgyver; 03-17-2021, 05:30 PM.
          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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          • #50
            I am a huge fan of electrolysis and wet buffing with 0000 steel wool on this kind of project.

            For my American Watch lathe, I made a spindle to the dimensions of the collet that fit the lathe threaded on the end for a nice 2 inch 4 jaw chuck I found on Ebay. All that is needed is a properly fitting collet for a pattern. Turn between centers and single point the thread and it will be very true running.

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            • #51
              Mcgyver, that's a nicely informed and informative post. Thanks.

              It also fits in well with what is seen on various YT videos. The folks there are making parts to repair other watches. Or they are using this size lathe to make smaller table and mantle clocks which are small enough that this is the proper size of machine. But then the Sherline would also be a suitable size of machine.


              One thing that the cross slide assembly fails at pretty miserably on the setup I've got is that there is only 1/4 inch between spindle axis and the top surface of the cross slide. As in a 1/4 sq cutter with no top surface removal is right at the proper height. But of course that fits in with the idea that 1/8 square cutters would be a suitable size for this sort of lathe. So something under 1/2" diameter would be absolute max that I could hold. Which, to be fair, is perfectly big enough. By that time I'd be doing the work on the big lathe.
              Chilliwack BC, Canada

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              • #52
                Originally posted by BCRider View Post
                One thing that the cross slide assembly fails at pretty miserably on the setup I've got is that there is only 1/4 inch between spindle axis and the top surface of the cross slide. As in a 1/4 sq cutter with no top surface removal is right at the proper height. But of course that fits in with the idea that 1/8 square cutters would be a suitable size for this sort of lathe.
                what i was trying to explain was that what is suitable for them, really suitable as in what its made for, is work with a hand held graver. One doesn't make balance staffs with a slide rest, ergo why maybe 1% of them have the slide rest. I'd stop short of calling them a completely specialized machine because there they are pressed into use for a wide variety of taks, but where they really shine and they were used most of the time is quite specialized - miniature work done with a graver
                Last edited by Mcgyver; 03-17-2021, 05:31 PM.
                in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                • #53
                  I have seen videos of old German watch makers and repairers. Steffen Pahlow is one, he specializes in 18th century pocket watches. And what amazes me is seeing him in his old age, turning a pivot only .010" in diameter, by hand graver, with one of these. I also like Erwin Sattler, but that is far out of my reach -- I study their design because its so perfected. They use Invar and glass rods to hang their pendulums on.
                  25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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                  • #54
                    The slide rest would be more for making parts that have longer parallel sections. Most watch parts are not big, and have only short sections of straight shafts. I know of folks who make replacement pins for obsolete electrical connectors, as part of their repair and restoration work. For that, one might well want a slide rest.

                    Yes I have used my watchmaker's lathe.... For a number of things.

                    Her is a picture of a practice piece I made while learning to work with the graver. All the parts are separate practices, it was not intended to be one functional part, just different practice, although in the form that a real piece might have.

                    It's huge and clunky, and completely useless, but was good for practice when starting.



                    Actual practical item made, for the Rivett, not a watch etc.

                    4357 2773 5647 3671 3645 0087 1276

                    CNC machines only go through the motions

                    "There's no pleasing these serpents"......Lewis Carroll

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                    • #55
                      pocket watches are the giants of the watch world....pivots (think the shaft part that rides in a journal bearing) on some wrist watches can get down to .003". It is challenging and you screw up often, but when in there with a loupe and you starting cutting you realize it is quite doable. I doubt its beyond anyone here, just a new skill to learn (that can be frustrating and takes some time). Old boys I've chatted claim to be able to make a balance staff in 45 minutes and do so all day long. As an amateur I'll never get that proficient and don't really care, so long as I can get acceptable results.
                      Last edited by Mcgyver; 03-18-2021, 07:08 AM.
                      in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                      • #56
                        Just saw this - you need to be careful buying collets for a Levin, they are a very slightly different configuration than standard WW. I have a Levin watchmakers lathe that fortunately came with a set of these, and they don't fit my other WW lathes.
                        Johnny

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                        • #57
                          I’ve used mine to make watch parts. As it happens this is a mantle clock balance - it’s about the same size as a pocket watch. The large white object is a grain of rice.
                          I found Graver turning quite simple to get the hang of, and although my lathe came with a cross slide assembly I have yet to use it (in several years). For parts which need it I prefer to use my Unimat or the CVA - it’s large, but it’s very accurate and has power feeds...
                          Biggest thing that makes a difference was ensuring the graver is properly sharp and mirror polished.

                          Dave
                          You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
                          Just south of Sudspumpwater UK

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                          • #58
                            I need to retract that post about Levin collets - I think they work in WW; it's Rivett that are different.
                            Johnny

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