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Repurpose junk lathe

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  • Repurpose junk lathe

    I had a old lathe I got a few years back for 20 quid, which I experimented with cnc and mach turn software on, but it was originally a button lathe with only the headstock end supported and a round carriage with no end supports, and once it was running it became obvious that you could deflect the bed badly just by leaning on the unsupported end and just moving the turrent towards the end of the travel caused enough droop to measure on a ruler. Junk really. Designed to be accurate only enough to turn buttons on.

    Time passed, and it sat in the corner until one day I nicked the steel cabinet and suds pump for something else (a power honer for cylinders which is still under construction), and the motor is now spinning a cement mixer after a argument with the briggs and scrapem on it, andI had the headstock lying round. Take it the scrapyard or bin it? I'd rather think not...
    Anyway, if you squint and look through one eye funny, a lathe headstock looks a lot like a oversize headstock for a mill to support division plates or carry a arbour between centres for gear milling etc. Neither of which I have as my rotary table is horizontal only and is a bit of a double armed lift monster.

    So whats to do, but jam the headstock in the donkey saw after taking half the vice off to fit it in, and rotating the saw four times to cut the majority of it, then finishing off with a hand hacksaw in the blacksmith's vice...

    Take the vert head off my universal mill and mount a indexing cutter with cast iron inserts right in the socket instead of using the long arbour and overarm with supports (this didn't actually occur to me until the other day watching a youtube video, duh!).

    Clock it in so the spindle runs true to the headstock of the mill (which is going to be definining its truth by dint of carrying the cutter). Much tapping and clamp adjustment later its within a thousandth.

  • #2
    Surface it flat, and then mill some appropriate mounting holes in the foot to suit my mill bed.

    And there you have it, goodly selection of collets, two chuck baseplates and some other odds and sods. I've just dug out a old tailstock from a harrison lathe, and some harrison division plates so they'll be getting fettled to suit it tonight. I quite fancy putting a division master or similar on it now though too

    And what of the offcut?, bin it? not really. Ive hankered after a large ground box for setup purposes for a while but shipping is always a problem to here. So, first mill it square using the single reference surface against the mill table where the table support used to clamp, and the same setup cutter as above with the same clocking in to the bottom of the square surface as a reference to get it square.
    Then onto the surface grinder, which as you can see by the copious amounts of drool hanging round on it now has a homebrew coolant system on it, and left it on hydraulic operation to do its stuff.


    • #3
      Then a quick check with a setsquare and some light behind, and it checks out ok. I checked it today with a surface gauge and indicator and its plenty accurate enough for what I need it for (within 0.003" over the entire face on the worst side). Yes I know it has no real internal ribbing, but for the quick setup jobs I want it for (motorcycle crankcases etc onto the mill bed) it'll do me.

      Deep arms and short pockets, thats me. But worth 20 quid of anyones money... Now what can I use the old turret station to make...


      • #4
        Rig the turret up to go on the cross slide of your lathe. With it on you have a turret lathe. With it off you have a center lathe.


        • #5
          An interesting re-purpose for sure!