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'Dual Dragon' Vintage Machining Centre

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Gary Ayres

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#1
Hello.

This thread will document a project in which two vintage horizontal milling machines will be combined to form a unique 'machining centre'. The project will be a long-term one, as I'll be developing it at my workshop in France. I only get over there three or four times a year, and when I do I have plenty of other things to keep me busy, so this thread will develop very slowly indeed.

The base of the Twin Dragon will be an old, heavy and very Gothic French cabinet. It can be seen in the picture of the second machine, below. The top of it will be reinforced by a slab of thick plywood (stained and varnished) upon which the machines will sit. From the front, the machine on the left will be the recently restored Burke No.0 which was the subject of another thread . Here it is:

Burke No 0 Restored small.JPG

To the right of the Burke will sit a very interesting antique Swiss seven-headed machine which I bought in England earlier this year. I believe it came from a watch or clock factory in Switzerland and I suspect it isn't far off two hundred years old. One of the beauties of this machine is that a workpiece can be run past seven different cutters - all set to different positions - in succession:

Swiss machine.JPG

Both machines will be powered by one motor. Because the spindles of the seven-headed mill are in 'parallel' and are also adjustable in two axes, the drive for the system will be quite complicated and will involve numerous idler pulleys, a serpentine belt and a counterweighted tensioning arm. The oak post which is just visible in the above picture will be the main support for the motor and drive, and may be braced by fixing to the wall. Other cross-beams will also be required, and the whole thing will be quite a contraption. I'm not sure yet whether to use the old single-phase motor and countershaft that I have, or to add a touch of hi-tech with a three-phase motor and inverter.

When the Twin Dragon is complete it should be a versatile setup for the milling, grinding, drilling and goodness knows what else of small workpieces. But when it will be complete I do not know...

Burke No 0 Restored small.JPG Swiss machine.JPG
 
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JimDawson

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#2
This sounds like a very interesting project. I'll be watching the progress with interest. I love that 100 year old machining center.
 
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Gary Ayres

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Re: Dual Dragon' Vintage Machining Centre

Cheers Jim. I hope it doesn't take me 100 years to build it...
 
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12bolts

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#4
After seeing your Burke Shaper rebuild this should be pretty impressive

cheers Phil
 
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Gary Ayres

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Thanks Phil.

It will certainly be a challenge, and a learning experience.
 
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Don B

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That will look great Gary, the cabinet sure suits the machines or vice versa, either way it will be a nice project and something quit pleasant to look at, how old is the cabinet do you think?
 
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Gary Ayres

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Cheers, Don.

Yes - it will be a real Goth-looking bit of kit when it's done.

I'm no antiquarian, but I'd say the cabinet is pretty old, though not ancient. Maybe 100 years? That's a wild guess though. There's a big charity shop near my place in France where you can pick up old French furniture really cheaply. This cost me 30 euros. If I was into plundering the cultural heritage of a country for profit I could bring a piece back with me in the van every time I go and sell it in Guernsey at a profit - but I'm not.

Thinking about that reminds me of when I lived in Nova Scotia in the 1980's, and made a couple of trips to New York where I saw lots of mid-century retro bits and pieces from Canada for sale in trendy Greenwich Village shops. Didn't seem quite right...
 
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mattthemuppet2

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#8
whoa

you know what your problem is Gary - you need to be more ambitious! Ha, I'm struggling to even understand how it'll all go together. So, please take more holidays in France :)
 
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Gary Ayres

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Heh...

I have no idea how it will all go together either.

I'm not worried about that - I'll make it up as I go along, and - in principle - it will all work out.

I have done quite a bit of thinking - and taken advice - about the serpentine drive for the seven-headed beastie. The rest is detail. But we all know that that's where the devil is. And then there's the 200 years or so that it will take me to build it.

Watch this space. For a long time...
 
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Gary Ayres

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Chuckorlando - thanks for the like on the first post.


I have decided to change the name of this rig from 'Twin Dragon' to Dual Dragon.

It's more accurate as the the two machines are different from each other (apologies to all non-identical twins out there).

It also has a better ring to it.

So there's some progress already... :))
 
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12bolts

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I have decided to change the name of this rig from 'Twin Dragon' to Dual Dragon.......It also has a better ring to it.... )
Will they fight to the death or something? :)

Cheers Phil
 
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Gary Ayres

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Probably... with the two of them ganging up on me, that is. I think they will win...
 
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Ulma Doctor

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I have no doubt that you'll make this one look as good as the last!!!
thanks for sharing
mike:))
 
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Gary Ayres

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Probably... with the two of them ganging up on me, that is. I think they will win...
Mike -

thanks for the vote of confidence. It encourages me.

If the Dual Dragon ends up looking like it does in my mind's eye, it should look good.

I think that machines - first and foremost - have to work. However, they also need to look good. A big part of looking good arises from them being efficient and suited to purpose without unnecessary elaboration and frills. However, aesthetic choices can be made - within the boundaries of functionality - in terms of colour, texture, form and so on.

My sense is that virtually anyone would do better work on what s/he perceives to be a beautiful machine than on an ugly one, even if there was no difference in functionality.

Cheers,

gary
 
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Gary Ayres

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machines - first and foremost - have to work. However, they also need to look good. A big part of looking good arises from them being efficient and suited to purpose without unnecessary elaboration and frills. However, aesthetic choices can be made - within the boundaries of functionality - in terms of colour, texture, form and so on.
For example, look at the beautiful work done by this guy (via my Pinterest page).
 
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Ulma Doctor

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For example, look at the beautiful work done by this guy (via my Pinterest page).

wow!!!!
that is a beautiful piece of work on your pinterest page.
i wish i had that kind of time....
 
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Gary Ayres

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I wish I had that kind of skill...
 
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CoopVA

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This should be really cool! Keep us posted on the progress!

Subscribed.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
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Gary Ayres

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Thanks CoopVA - I will.

BTW does anyone know how I can change the title of this thread (from 'Twin Dragon' to 'Dual Dragon) if it's actually possible at all? I have clicked around all the settings but can't find anything that lets me do so...
 
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JimDawson

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Thanks CoopVA - I will.

BTW does anyone know how I can change the title of this thread (from 'Twin Dragon' to 'Dual Dragon) if it's actually possible at all? I have clicked around all the settings but can't find anything that lets me do so...
Ok, changed to Dual Dragon. It won't change all of the post titles, but from now on it should come up as you requested.
 

Gary Ayres

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Wow - excellent!

Thank you Jim.
 

luckyramu

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Well, this looks like a very interesting project. I can't wait for updates on the dual dragons!
Way to go, and keep up posted.
:D
Jonathan
 

Gary Ayres

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Thanks Jonathan.
 

Gary Ayres

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Well, I have been in France for the past week and - despite having a lot of other stuff to do - managed some progress on the Dual Dragon.

The top of the cabinet needed to be reinforced, so I went for some thick plywood. I have noticed that some of the plywood they sell in France has a nice dark reddish veneer on it and - unlike the stuff they sell in the UK - looks pretty presentable as it is. So, I had a bit of that cut to size. While I was in the shop, I had an eye out for some beading to hide the edge of the plywood. Imagine my delight when I found some chunky, serrated strips of beech which look exactly like the spiny ridge that runs the full length of a dragon's back - you know, these spikes that dig into your butt when you're riding a dragon on some quest or to rescue a damsel from the top of a tower. They also happened to be exactly the same width as the edge of the plywood. I have never seen these in the UK:

beading.JPG

I gave the plywood three coats of super-hard water-based varnish and - staying with chunky - fixed it to the top of the cabinet with hex-head coach screws before attaching the beading with round-headed brass screws. The whole thing looks a bit 'new' but I think it will tone down once it has been subjected to wear, tear, cutting oil and general machining grime:

cabinet.JPG

Next, the pillar which will support the motor and drive system. This is a massive piece of oak that was one of the vertical supports for a dilapidated outbuilding that I demolished a couple of years ago. The bottom end of it had been soaked in water for quite some time as the building deteriorated, and the wood had rotted a bit and split because of that. However, the wood is fundamentally sound, heavy and hard. I dug out the rot and took it back to healthy wood. The split end will be the top of the drive support pillar because IMHO it looks good and funky and will be seen (whereas the bottom end will be hidden by the cabinet):

end of pillar.JPG


I then planed and sanded the pillar (not too fussily, you understand), treated it with xylophene just to be on the safe side, gave it three coats of beeswax and buffed it up. The result is a lovely nut-brown satiny sheen:

pillar.JPG

And now to the machines. The antique Swiss seven-headed machine has had a brown colour to it since I first bought it. Because of this I thought that much of it was made of bronze. However, it's actually a finely textured layer of superficial rust. Some tentative experimentation with WD-40 and Scotch-brite revealed that the machine is made of some kind of silvery steel (I'm no metallurgist). See the spindles nearest the camera:

7-head.JPG

It seems to me that in time, and with patience, it might be possible to achieve the kind of finish that can be seen on this beauty. It will certainly be worth the effort as the seven-headed machine is exquisitely engineered - real Swiss quality.

Meanwhile, it would seem unfair to post a picture of one of the machines without posting one of the other, so in the interests of even-handedness here is a recent photo of the Burke No.0:

Burke No 0.JPG

So, to get an initial sense of what the Dual Dragon will look like when it's done, I sat both machines on the cabinet and propped the pillar up behind them, all in roughly the right positions:

Dual Dragon basic setup.JPG

I may move the whole thing in due course so that I can bolt the top of the pillar to one of the oak roof trusses for extra stability.

And that, guys, is as far as I got this week. At this point I'm looking to use a three-phase motor and variable speed control. However, I'm going back to Guernsey tomorrow and won't be coming back to France until April or May next year, so nothing will happen until then. This is not short-term stuff...

beading.JPG cabinet.JPG end of pillar.JPG pillar.JPG 7-head.JPG Burke No 0.JPG Dual Dragon basic setup.JPG
 
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Ulma Doctor

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Looking Great Gary,
the old oak post and the beading are nice touches, giving a lot of character to your work.
nice work!


the shot of your Burke looks like it could go into Vogue Magazine!
she really looks beautiful!
 
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countryguy

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#26
Awesome project! Brilliant! If you find links/info to the equipments actual history or prior uses I would love to hear about it! Fun stuff! CG.
 
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#27
The post titles are all changed now. It is officially the Dual Dragon. Awesome project.

"Billy G"
 

Hutch

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Very nice work.
 

Gary Ayres

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#29
Thanks for all your comments.

@ Mike - I have just realised that I should use my DSLR more often instead of the compact...

@ countryguy - the Burke No.0 is pretty rare and the seven-headed machine is - as far as I can tell - pretty much unique. A google search for the Burke No.0 will bring up only two or three of them, one of which is mine (before and after restoration). There are lots of Burke No. 4's around but very few No.0's. The '0' is a tiny machine - smallest mill I have ever seen. It has rack and pinion lever feeds on the X and Z axes, suggesting it was designed for production manufacturing of small workpieces. I guess it's about 100 years old. I bought it from a seller in England who was unable to tell me much of its history other than the fact that it had lain untouched in his Dad's workshop for about 30 years (which means of course that it wasn't getting any wear for a third of its life). This other thread shows my restoration of the machine in some detail. As for the seven-headed mill, there doesn't seem to be any info on it anywhere on the net, and no-one I have asked knows anything about it - not even this guy. Tony Grffiths has posted some photos I sent him of it on lathes.co.uk as an unknown machine. I bought it from an amazing gentleman in the South of England who - in his 90's - is building a half-scale aeroplane. He has been an engineer all his life and had considerable contact with the watch and clock-making industry in Switzerland, which was where he acquired this machine. It appears to be designed for production runs of small workpieces, as a blank can be run past seven different spindles, all of which are fully adjustable. This would allow for repetition work as long as the workpiece was the same size and mounted to the table in the same way. My understanding is that sometimes these Swiss horological firms would make one-off machines for a particular purpose, and this could be the case here. Thanks for your interest.

@ Bill - thanks for changing the post titles. Great attention to detail in your role as a moderator. Much appreciated.
 

Gary Ayres

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#30
This diagram shows how the Dual Dragon will be set up. My thanks to Mike, aka Ulma Doctor, who has been generous with his advice. His suggestion of using a drive roller strikes me as being a much better solution than the row of idlers I had previously planned to use:


Dual Dragon Schematic.jpg

Dual Dragon Schematic.jpg
 
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