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What? New issue has an article on fixing up an AA / 109 lathe?

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  • #16
    That's a good idea.

    You may remember, though, that it is pretty easy to get in trouble using that lathe. You may want to see how small a motor you can put on it without making it (more) useless. The smallest that will do reasonable work is probably a good idea.

    I know I over-powered mine, but I managed to avoid doing damage. With less power, there is less chance of damage.

    I would, if asked, probably suggest a Unimat as opposed to a 109, as a suitable machine for what you propose. But, I have basically "seen" Unimats, without having the chance to really use them. I have extensively used the over-powered 109. So I may be too sensitive about that issue.
    CNC machines only go through the motions

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    • #17
      This thread is sort of hilarious.
      It's always easy to put down a lathe that is less in features,quality or versatility than the one you have had before
      So you start with a 109, then you go to a South Bend , and then you go to a Clausing and then get a Mori Seki or a Hardinge
      And each time you look back and say "Why didn't I get this lathe first before buying that thing ! "
      Well, maybe you didn't have the bread to buy it, or the skill level to run it ?

      Modifying a tool is part of the fun of having a home shop.
      I do lots of that

      Rich
      Green Bay, WI

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      • #18
        I've actually never seen a 109, nor the article.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by Rich Carlstedt View Post
          .....................

          Modifying a tool is part of the fun of having a home shop.
          I do lots of that

          Rich
          I think you are seeing it wrong. One thing I have learned over the years, is to modify something when you can really get value added by doing the mod as opposed to other means of getting to the goal. And, of course, to look at the result, and see if it is worth the trouble of working with what you have.

          My favorite "parable" about that is the guy who bought a medium sized boat. But he had only an old VW bug as a car to pull it. Not up to the job. So he worked on getting the old bug modified so that it would actually do the pulling. He added performance parts etc, to no avail. Then he started looking for different modification ideas. What he ended up with was the old VW, but with a trailer setup behind it, containing a large V-8 with a flexible driveshaft, special throttle linkage, etc, to transfer the needed power into the old VW body so "the VW" could pull the boat.

          The expense and time in terms of parts, problem solving, and engineering complexity was far more than sufficient to have bought a used pickup that would have hauled the boat with no problem.

          The point of the parable is that you really have to have a sensible final result possible. And you need to NOT get fixated on the original solution that you come up with. Yes, the boat got pulled, but only by virtue of efforts in "conversion" that were not in any way justified by the device (the VW) that was being modified. By the time it got done, most of the VW was replaced but the result was not as practical as a different vehicle..

          The original path was "modify the VW". Not a bad idea, as an idea. But in the middle, the fundamental fact that the VW was simply the wrong vehicle got lost, due to fixation on the process and not on the desired result, which was "to pull the boat".

          So far, in the 109 article, the spindle, it's bearings, the leadscrew setup with halfnuts, the crosslide, the compound, the drive system, and I forget what else, were all described as substantially changed or replaced. And it took a much larger lathe to do several of the modifications. I stopped reading before I got the whole story.

          Now, if you just want to see how far you can take a cheap old lathe, it's a fine project.

          For someone who has only a 109, well, it is, as described, not possible. And, if you CAN do it, what do you come out with? Your own version of the 427 V8 on a trailer. It's not a 109 any more, but it also is nothing else. And, if you do have the capability to do them, the result does not extend your shop capabilities, which to me, at least, is the point of modifying tools.

          The 109 is not very good, we all know that. Yes, it can be used, I ought to know, because I did things with mine that should not be possible. But, it is an honest little machine as it was made. It is what it is, it does not really pretend to be more than it is (although buyers may "project" more capability onto it than it really has) and it's basic limits are things you can work with, if you try.

          Extreme "mods" seem to be somehow "fake", trying to fool yourself that the result is better, even though the bed etc is the same. Honestly, I think modifications like the feed screws, and dials, are reasonable and add usable value. Adding accessories, such as collets, steady rest, etc also has value. Even replacing the spindle with one that is the same, but has a more robust nose is reasonable, although I doubt it can be done on the machine itself. Much past that, and the basic structure of the machine cannot support the mods, it becomes the limit.

          There is hardly any reason to push that far, except as a "can I do this?" project. If you just want to do it "because", fine. But they are not things that an owner of a 109 can do without access to more machines. They are not "DIY" if all you have is the 109.

          There WERE a number of modifications made by a fellow who posted them in Rec, Crafts, Metalworking decades ago. I think they are in the archives in the 1999 portion if they are still extant. Pretty much all of those could be done, all parts made, etc, on the actual AA/109 with no additional machines aside from maybe a drill press..

          I did some of those and added others. Mine had dials, a block toolpost, and a traveling steady, along with some other stuff. All made on the 109. And, all "in-scale" with the machine.... they did not seek to change the basic machine, they added simple but very useful accessories and features that could be made without anything else other than a drilling machine. . So did the plans that I did NOT use, among those that were posted. Those included collets, as well as some other things which I do not recall (I used to have the drawings on the computer, but that was a long time ago).

          I was on the point of adding useful feedscrews, that would be 0.050, instead of 0.04166666.... per turn, and I had a new larger nose spindle mostly made (on the Logan). But I came to my senses and sold the machine before finishing those mods.

          I realized that I would not actually add anything in terms of capability to the shop by completing those modifications, due to the limits of the machine. There was no "added value". So I made mods to the Logan that improved usability etc instead.
          Last edited by J Tiers; 04-27-2022, 10:56 AM. Reason: 0.050 per TURN, not per division
          CNC machines only go through the motions

          Comment


          • #20
            Jerry your story is gold.
            I have seen the story about the home shopper wanted to make a
            milling machine out of his drill press. Got an X-Y table and beefed
            up the column, etc. Only to find the chuck falls off the taper.
            Made a screw on chuck... blah blah blah....
            It is smart to know when to buy a better tool / machine, etc.
            My mechanic friend was given a 109 Craftsman lathe, and wanted
            me to help set it up. It was the zinc hollow headstock model (there
            were 3 design revisions at least). I told him to trash it and AT THE
            VERY LEAST buy a 9" SouthBend if he was at all serious about
            having a useable lathe. He was not serious. He wanted to SAY that
            he had a lathe, presumably to add some notch of credibility to this
            personal ability or something. The 109 sits full of rust and dust.
            But he owns a lathe......................


            --Doozer
            Last edited by Doozer; 04-27-2022, 08:39 AM.
            DZER

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            • #21
              To add to both Jerry's and Doozers comments, this is the trap I fell into with my Taig CNC mill. If you were to look at my Taig mill, you'd only recognize the X, Y, and Z. Has a beefed up custom frame, a custom R8 servo driven spindle, pneumatic draw bar, TTS tooling, etc.
              It wasn't putting lipstick on a pig, more like giving steroids to an intelligent but weak 90lb nerd.
              Yes, I ended up with a very capable but limited mill. The money spent I could of had a much larger purpose built CNC mill.

              Comment


              • #22
                This thread seems similar to old car restoration type projects. For me, it's the journey and what I can learn along the way. Makes no sense at all if the goal is transportation. Makes no sense at all if the goal is to resell for a profit. Makes good sense to me simply because I enjoy the process.

                Working on an Atlas/Craftsman lathe is the same way in my mind. If the goal is to make parts, you'll be better off buying a nicer quality machine as many have stated above. If the goal is simply to enjoy the process, then go for it.

                I own a nice 12 inch Craftsman lathe with the rolling element spindle and fully tooled up. It was my grandfathers then my uncles lathe. When I got it I cleaned it up real nice, made a nice heavy stand for it, and put it under cover. I intend to pass it along to the next generation. Sons, nieces and nephews, I expect someone will want it. I have no use for it since I have two other far more capable machines. Or perhaps I'll have to move into a smaller space someday as I'm aging. Maybe I'll be glad I have the Craftsman that day... That lathe plus 4x6 saw and a drill press will go a long way if space is limited.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Rich Carlstedt View Post
                  Well, maybe you didn't have the bread to buy it, or the skill level to run it ?

                  Rich
                  Yes Sir, that was my case with my first lathe. Money and zero skill. I didn't want to break the machine, the bank or my body. So I learned on what many here might consider junk. Oh well, I'm glad I get to live my life and I don't have to let them live it for me JR

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                  • #24
                    Stefan Gotteswinter just posted a new video of rebuilding his Chinese D-bit grinder. It includes using Moglice, pretty cool and in the same vein as this thread

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                    • #25
                      I would add one more point to your justification for publishing this article.

                      Around 20 to 25 years ago I decided that I wanted and perhaps needed to develop some better machining skills. I had always worked with wood and had a small machine (Unimat) for decades at that point and they were very useful in my TV engineering career. At one point I was able to save a part of a broadcast video tape recorder by machining a threaded bushing on my Unimat. The part that saved was the base plate which formed the deck of the recorder and I do not think RCA would or could even supply a replacement. Any way, their price would have been more than the recorder was worth. And the bushing that I made had to fit in a specific way so commercially available ones just would not work.

                      But back to my point: I have subscribed to HSM and MW for all of that 20 to 25 year period and to Digital Machining since the first issue. And I read them. Perhaps not every article, but most of them in every issue. Yet, I have never made a single project that was described in those magazines. Why do I subscribe and read? TO LEARN how things are done. And I have learned an awful lot over those years. I pick up tips and techniques from every article that I read.

                      I do not have an Atlas/Craftsman 109 and probably never will. But I will read the article to see what the author did and HOW he did it. That's my reason for subscribing and reading.

                      Over the years, some 78 of them now, I have found that magazines, even hobby magazines, can teach me a lot about a subject. Back in the 50s or so, I subscribed to Popular Electronics and learned a lot from it. BTW, I did build a few of the projects from them. But just reading and learning was the larger part of subscribing.

                      Oh, I lied. There are two things that I do with every issue. I READ THE ADS. George, I am sure your advertisers will like that and it is true. I do buy some of the things advertised. But in addition to that, the ads are also a source of new knowledge. They let me know what is going on at the cutting edge of the hobby machining world. And I look to other publications and their ads for the cutting edge of the professional machining world. And the ads in HSM and MW were a big influence on my first purchase of a "full sized" machining tool, a milling machine. Actually that should read "first and subsequent purchases".

                      And then, those subscriptions have also lead me to another thing. I became an author and have written and submitted several articles for publication both in the Village Press's magazines and in other publications. So I guess that makes three reasons. I better quit listing my reasons while I'm ahead.

                      In closing I say Thank You George. I can attest to the long waiting time between submitting an article and seeing it in print. That was a nice thing you did in moving it up so Mr. Croft could see it. You even put it on the cover. And thank you Neil Knopf, the George before George.



                      Originally posted by George Bulliss View Post
                      I think perhaps you guys are missing the gist of the article. The featured lathe was the author's first lathe, received as a gift in his teens. It's what started his machining hobby and career, but had been gathering dust for decades as his skills and equipment moved on. The modifications address most of the lathe's shortcomings and will allow it to be used as a second lathe in the shop. It's more about giving some life to a sentimental item that wasn't going to get tossed than trying to make the 109 into something it's not.

                      There were tons of these things made and the author is not the only one to feel it might be an enjoyable project to tackle. I heard from a reader who had the same lathe inherited from his dad that he couldn't part with. He intends to fix it up with hopes that it will at least get some use in the shop.

                      Guys build things in the shop all the time that just end up sitting on a shelf. Yes, it's not much of a machine, and the author admits as much, but spending some time fixing up something that is full of memories doesn't seem to be that silly of an undertaking.

                      At least that's how I read it. As to being desperate for articles, no, that's not the reason. We have enough on hand that this article was likely going to take two years to make it into the magazine. However, after one year I heard from the author that he was going blind and was hoping to be able to see the article before he couldn't. So, I moved some things around and bumped up the date.
                      Paul A.
                      SE Texas

                      And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                      You will find that it has discrete steps.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by JRouche View Post

                        Yes Sir, that was my case with my first lathe. Money and zero skill. I didn't want to break the machine, the bank or my body. So I learned on what many here might consider junk. Oh well, I'm glad I get to live my life and I don't have to let them live it for me JR
                        For me a 109 was my upgrade from my first latte. I learned on a Small Machines Inc, DuoLathe. Tiny die cast monarch ee looking thing about 10” long. Sold order the name Manson also. Probably worth more than my Logan now.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by rickyb View Post

                          For me a 109 was my upgrade from my first latte. I learned on a Small Machines Inc, DuoLathe. Tiny die cast monarch ee looking thing about 10” long. Sold order the name Manson also. Probably worth more than my Logan now.
                          People go crazy for functional miniatures!

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Doozer View Post
                            Emotional attachment and nostalgia has lead to more good money
                            spent for bad result than any motivators known to man.


                            -D
                            Yeah...

                            I heard that's why people consider jig grinders.

                            Or repair Sidney lathes.

                            Last edited by The Metal Butcher; 04-27-2022, 11:06 PM.
                            21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
                            1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                              I can appreciate the point of view, and I guess I don't really disagree with using the article. Moving publication up was definitely a good thing to do.



                              I had one. I had no experience at the time, and it did look like a lathe when I decided to buy it. It's where I started, and I am probably only brilliant if I am holding a lamp and remember to turn it on. I was just bright enough to finally wake up and consider that the machine was not ever going to do what I wanted.

                              As far as doing the best with the tool you have, I've certainly been there. I still am, as we all are. But, many of the mods described, require use of a larger lathe, which rather disposes of the "with what you have" idea. You cannot do the mods I saw in the article, unless you already have a bigger lathe. And if you do, well............????

                              I did some reasonable work with the 109, and put a good bit of work into improving it, before realizing it was just not worth the effort. That may be rather distorting my view of the whole deal.

                              When I moved up to a "real" lathe it was a stark revelation of what I had been missing, and I really kind of resented having spent the time on the little POS. When I saw the article, it seemed like encouraging folks to throw money and time at a probably fruitless improvement project.

                              Looking back at my own experience with a 109, it was actually very useful time spent. I really had to work at it to get the good results I wanted, which means I learned a lot purely because it was so bad. Kind of like being assigned to the oldest and most worn machine in the shop.

                              And I should not look at projects as "unworthy". If the article is just looked at as improving something, it seems to be perfectly good shop work. I can understand that, and will take it as that. My grumpy response I can put down to the result of a 3 day tussle trying to line up all the paperwork when buying a used car from a private seller ( Or to just being a "G.O.M"). That's my story, and it's sticking to me.
                              Interesting assessment. As I have heard you use the exact same logic to argue in favor of small 8-10" lathes.

                              For the record, I agree with you. Just wanting to point out a small bias. Because it's the same feeling moving up to a 14-20", 10ee, etc type lathe.
                              21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
                              1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by The Metal Butcher View Post

                                Interesting assessment. As I have heard you use the exact same logic to argue in favor of small 8-10" lathes.

                                For the record, I agree with you. Just wanting to point out a small bias. Because it's the same feeling moving up to a 14-20", 10ee, etc type lathe.
                                I'm not sure it's a bias, it is more a stark contradiction in what I think.

                                The way I see it, there is a difference between fixing up and improving to be useful and do work, vs fixing up and improving "because you can, and want to".

                                If the idea in fixing up a 109 is to have it be useful and do work, when you have other lathes, then I think it is probably time wasted, simply because there are other machines that would be much more useful if improved. The 109 simply has too many compromises in it's basic design, including having only one set of ways for both the tailstock and carriage, having a tiny 1/2-20 or 1/2-24 spindle nose (they had both at various times), extremely noisy back gears (kudos for having them at all, though), very light bed, etc, etc. Some of those can be remedied, but others cannot, at least not without getting into "427 V8 on the trailer" territory. I think eoither a Unimat, or a minilathe may be a better candidate, mostly the latter.

                                If you want to do it "just because", that's another matter, and I can totally appreciate it.

                                So, depending on WHY the project is done, I may think the very same project is silly, or perfectly fine.

                                As for the 8"-10" lathes, not sure exactly where you are going there, but it is a useful size, and most older machines in that size have the standard features (not true of asian imports). Yes, it would be good to have either a 20" or possibly a Bullard, as a supplement to a 10" size. But I am not sure one is very safe from needing a larger machine until one is in the 36" swing category, or maybe a 20" very long bed machine.

                                What you do get once you are past the 14" size (due to imports), is mass and HP. Those can make most 10" machines seem like a 109.
                                Last edited by J Tiers; 04-28-2022, 12:55 AM.
                                CNC machines only go through the motions

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