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  • USA vs UK & Europe

    Ok, we know size and capacity of lathes is measured differently on the two continents. Swing in the States and centre height in the UK and Europe. So a 12x24 lathe in America is a 6 x 24 lathe in the UK and Europe.
    But what i find interesting, is that before digital calipers became popular, most Americans used a dial caliper and most Brits and Euros used a vernier caliper. I can't ever remember seeing anyone use a dial caliper in any workshop i've ever been in.
    Me personally, being a Luddite and having a phobia of all things electronic, only use a Mit vernier with fine adjustment. And have done for the last 35 years. Obviously we all have and use mic's for the real accurate stuff but that's not what this topic is about.
    Secondly, the majority of Brits and Euros have the top slide (compound in 'Mercan) set parallel to the bed ways, yet the vast majority of American books, manuals and You Tube videos i watch, the top slide (compound) is generally set in it's favoured position of 29-30 degrees for screwcutting. Why?
    Would be interesting to know rigidity, cutting forces etc of where best placed for general turning work the top slide is positioned. And i'm not talking Monarchs, DS&G type lathes, more the 9-10" swing Southbends, Logans (my Boxford) et al.
    Discuss...

  • #2
    I use the dial type, which is actually NOT a dial, but a combined dial and scale..... the dial reads the 0.01 and 0.001 decimal places, the scale reads the inches and 1/10 inches (or the metric equivalents).

    Primarily because the dial I find easier to read, and actual vernier calipers are more expensive here, likely due to less use.... chicken and egg.

    The topslide issue is simply due to threading.

    If you look at an old-time model-maker's lathe in pictures, you will see, in the US, the topslide parallel to the bed. Probably because that way you get calibrated travel. We now tend to use micrometer carriage stops, or DROs. So we can use carriage travel. And most US lathes have hand travel, as opposed to clamped-down slide assemblies. (so do myford, boxford, etc, of course)

    I do not think there is much of any change in rigidity with position. Possibly it is more rigid when the topslide has a tilting force along its ways, as opposed to across, but it is likely to be minor.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 03-15-2018, 01:02 AM.
    CNC machines only go through the motions

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    • #3
      I keep my cross-slide about 30 degrees mainly for visibility, away from the chuck, and easy access to the handle. it's calibrated too... sin(30) = 0.5.... automatic diameter mode.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by lakeside53 View Post
        I keep my cross-slide about 30 degrees mainly for visibility, away from the chuck, and easy access to the handle. it's calibrated too... sin(30) = 0.5.... automatic diameter mode.
        Setting 30 deg off of PARALLEL (to spindle) would be diameter mode, is that what you mean? Many keep it ~~30 off perpendicular, so one needs to ask which. (let's not get too far off topic)
        Last edited by J Tiers; 03-15-2018, 01:36 AM.
        CNC machines only go through the motions

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        • #5
          1–2-3 blocks or equivalent are lot less common in europe, same with telescope id T-sticks and thread wires.
          Quite many? American machinist’s still buy their own measurement tools so they tend to be more ”cost-effective”
          Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

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          • #6
            I keep it parallel. 30 degrees is nice, but using the compound moves the cutting edge in two axis, and I have enough problems tracking movement in one direction at a time.

            BTW, I don't think that you can generalize it that way. There is not a central training center in the USA that teaches people to use machinery. The closest you come is probably the big corporations and the armed forces. I just looked at the army training manual and it does not advocate leaving the compound at 29 or 30 degrees.

            Dan
            At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

            Location: SF East Bay.

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            • #7
              I am in the US and I have Vernier, dial, and digital calipers. And I use them all, but must admit to using the digital ones most.

              Each type has it's own advantages and I take advantage of those when I need to. Digitals are fast. Vernier is very trustworthy. And dials can read to finer increments, perhaps 0.0002" or so.

              So I must be a man of the world.
              Paul A.
              SE Texas

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

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              • #8
                Dial callipers are more expensive so were so not so affordable in the UK. Much less likely to be stocked by the ME suppliers too.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                  If you look at an old-time model-maker's lathe in pictures, you will see, in the US, the topslide parallel to the bed. Probably because that way you get calibrated travel. .
                  A lot of the "old" small lathes didn't have any form of longitudinal travel but instead had long top slide travel so it was left in the parallel position for "longitudinal" turning.

                  British lathes traditionally use the height of a lathe (12" diam. = 6" swing or height) but I can't say that the rest of Europe did.
                  The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                  Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

                  Southwestern Ontario. Canada

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                  • #10
                    The "American" way of cutting a thread by setting the compound at 29 1/2° from perpendicular is almost unknown in Europe, in particular Germany. When I first explained the advantages of cutting a thread by using the American way in a German technical forum - I ran into a wall of NO WAY. We have always done it by feeding straight in and moving the compound (parallel) slightly forward and back.
                    Took a while until some people tried it - the American way - and were surprised how easy it was. Some people you could never convince. We have always done it the "straight in" way. Period.
                    Same thing about using a threading dial. Even if the lathe has a metric threading dial. You NEVER open the split nut until the thread is finished. The bad part about this is you will have a hard time when cutting against a shoulder.
                    There is a way to use a inch threading dial when cutting metric thread on a inch based lathe. After you change your gears or switch your lathe to metric you can engage your your inch threading dial on a certain number. Let's say "1". With the split nut closed and the dial on number 1 you cut right up to the shoulder, disengage the split nut. Your compound will stop but your dial will start turning. Pull out, stop and reverse your lathe. the dial will reverse and when the number "1" or your mark comes up again than engage the split nut. Now you are back in the same place as before.
                    Ps.: If your dial does not match up with a number than you can make a mark on the dial and use that as a reference point.

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                    • #11
                      I keep the compound on a shelf, with a big scraped piece of cast iron with T slots in its place

                      Verniers are for a young mans eyes. I keep some in larger sizes for the infrequent use they see, but recently lucked out on a Mit 24" digital so even they will go. I like dials, and have a few. Their (slight) advantage is that's its analogue - when roughing or picking stock the approximately position of the needle even at an angle is sometimes easier than reading numerals. Having said, that 98% of the time I reach for the Mit digital caliper
                      in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Juergenwt View Post
                        Took a while until some people tried it - the American way - and were surprised how easy it was. Some people you could never convince. We have always done it the "straight in" way. Period.
                        People ought to be embarrassed at being so stubborn, its a character flaw imo. You can get it anywhere I suppose, but personally I think its a bit of European thing, 'our ways is the best'. imo comes from so many distinct and prideful cultures crammed so close together. Then again that's going against my own philosophy, don't generalize and take 'em as the come. I should stick to it more stubbornly.
                        in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                        • #13
                          I used to have a 150mm Tesa dial caliper, but gave it away when I got my Mitutoyo digital. I also have 5" and 6" Mitutoyo parallax free mechanical verniers. I find that the digital is so much easier to use and is much less likely to miss measure. I also have some cheap Chinese digitals which are not trusted like the Mit.
                          I keep the compound parallel to the bed and only set it at an angle for clearance. I single point threads with laydown inserts, although I have some Kennametal top notch which stand up. I always thread straight in, but I can see the point of using the 29.5 degree angle for thread flank cutting, it would take extra care setting up though.
                          Last edited by old mart; 03-15-2018, 05:30 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Juergenwt View Post
                            The "American" way of cutting a thread by setting the compound at 29 1/2° from perpendicular is almost unknown in Europe, in particular Germany. When I first explained the advantages of cutting a thread by using the American way in a German technical forum - I ran into a wall of NO WAY. We have always done it by feeding straight in and moving the compound (parallel) slightly forward and back.
                            Took a while until some people tried it - the American way - and were surprised how easy it was. Some people you could never convince. We have always done it the "straight in" way. Period.
                            Here is a great video about the feed straight in vs 29.5

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Juergenwt View Post
                              The "American" way of cutting a thread by setting the compound at 29 1/2° from perpendicular is almost unknown in Europe, in particular Germany. When I first explained the advantages of cutting a thread by using the American way in a German technical forum - I ran into a wall of NO WAY. We have always done it by feeding straight in and moving the compound (parallel) slightly forward and back.
                              Took a while until some people tried it - the American way - and were surprised how easy it was. Some people you could never convince. We have always done it the "straight in" way. Period.
                              I suspected that was the case from previous experience.I used to do some repair work for a local wood treating plant that had an Austrian immigrant as a millwright.One common job was building up and re-machining the threads on some large T-bolts,these were 2"dia 4-1/2 pitch threads about 10" long.He would drop 16 of them off at the shop one day and I would call him to come pick them up the following afternoon which always left him amazed at the quick turn around.

                              One time he came back early with another job and saw me single pointing the threads in the lathe."[email protected]!I thought you were using a die head all this time!" Then he explained he had never seen anyone thread on the flank before.He had also never seen anyone put a machinist jack bteween the toolholder and the top of the crosslide to aid rigidity.
                              Last edited by wierdscience; 03-15-2018, 07:25 PM.
                              I just need one more tool,just one!

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