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[4]

I am on a Quest....

January Project of the Month [3]
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Tony Wells

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#1
I have a request for all members involved in Horology. It's been a fascination of mine for a long time. Many years ago, I was able to visit an oilfield customer of mine who ran their own micromachine shop, with certified Horologists on board, and involved in making very specialized instruments that were used in the downhole measurement packages. I met some of them, and got a brief tour of their facility. It was remarkably clean, as might be expected, and full of every sort of machine necessary to produce virtually any sort of miniature component. In their spare time, they build all the dial and test indicators, along with special tools, for the QC department. Among the downhole products was a particcular piece that caught my fancy. it was ~3/4" OD and probably 5 inches long. I was told that the internal part count was well over 500 pieces. That impressed me. Since then, I have had the desire to try my hand at small part manufacture.

In that vein, I have looked for a watchmakers/jewelers lathe for some time now, and they simply aren't available in East Texas. We just don't build small parts.....at least for the part of the oilfield in my area, or in my shop. So, instead of buying, I am seriously considering designing and building my own. I have a few features in mind that I would like to incorporate, but what I would really like is for all you guys that own these type of lathe to take s many pictures as possible from all angles so I can get a true feel for the proportion, and perhaps as importantly, the design aesthetics. I can build one that i perfectly functional, but the seldom seen artistic side of me won't be satisfied with that. I want it to exude classic design and machine beauty.

I will design the mechanicals, but I really need pictures to guide me on the rest. Any and all help will be appreciated. This will take a considerable amount of time, as it is no small task, but I will take whatever time is necessary to achieve my goal.

I thank you in advance.
 

Tony Wells

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#3
That is a nice B & L. I'm not familiar enough with all the processes to recognize the accessories there. I'm sure my first effort will be more basic. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up making a couple, with the second one designed around any refinements based on the first lathe's shortcoming.

Joe, thanks for that link. The illustrations will help my mindset to capture the aesthetics. There are several very different designs presented there.
 

DMS

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#4
Clockmaking is what initially pushed me over the edge in my decision to buy my first machine. I am taking the slow path, but having fun doing it.

I have found that may be useful to you.

Stephan Pahlow has a lot of great videos on watchmaking and clockmaking using traditional tools. I covers nearly everything including wheel cutting, case making, sprint cutting and tempering, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/user/spahlow

Another good resource is Hugh Spark's page. He has a lot of useful info on watch repair, gear cutting, and making involute gear cutters.

http://www.csparks.com/watchmaking/

Jewelers lathes are tricky. They are uncommon, and often extremely expensive, especially if you can find them in good condition with all the accessories. I think a lot of modern hobbyists use small engine lathes like the unimat or sherline. There are several videos on youtube on sharpening and using a graver, which is the trick needed for cutting hardened pivots to a high finish.

The simplest jewelers lathe is a set of centers, and the work is turn with a horse hair bow, cut with a steel graver guided by hand. It is mesmerizing.
 

Tony Wells

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#5
At this point, the methods and operation are secondary, to a degree. Seeing them done, and reading about the procedures will assist in the lathe design, I'm sure. I agree, specialty lathes are costly. I have shopped some, and it does seem to me that collectors or some other factor has driven the cost up. That's one reason I want to build my own, plus the satisfaction of doing it. Since machining in general isn't a hobby, and I can't show you guys the work I do, I was thinking that once I settle on a design, it would make a good build project to document. Besides, it will be fun. Once I get it built, then I will concentrate on processes and methods.
 

jumps4

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#6
hi tony
I was looking to modify my sherline mill and priced the lathe bed dovetail long version it was really reasonable at $89 new from sherline. that would make a really good precision bed for your lathe if your going to build your own. the only problem is it has a 59* dovetail but there is a dovetail cutter available on ebay.building your own sherline type of lathe from steel or cast iron would probably be a pretty good lathe.
steve
 

Tony Wells

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#7
Thanks Steve,
but this will be a scratch build. The bed will either be cast iron like Durabar, or a piece of 4140 round that I already have which can be heat treated pretty hard, then ground. Mostly right now I am seeking all the close up and detailed photos I can get. I have amassed a collection from the Internet, but haven't found what I want yet. I was hoping that any members here who owned actual jewelers or watchmakers lathes might be able to get some good closeups. I may end up with my own design, if I can't find what I want. Probably, in fact. Some features seem to exist one some lathes, some on others. I may combine what I want and end up with a custom. I have a feeling it will be like that. If I go to all the trouble to design and build, it likely will be my own design.
 

Tony Wells

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#8
Thanks Steve,
but this will be a scratch build. The bed will either be cast iron like Durabar, or a piece of 4140 round that I already have which can be heat treated pretty hard, then ground. Mostly right now I am seeking all the close up and detailed photos I can get. I have amassed a collection from the Internet, but haven't found what I want yet. I was hoping that any members here who owned actual jewelers or watchmakers lathes might be able to get some good closeups. I may end up with my own design, if I can't find what I want. Probably, in fact. Some features seem to exist one some lathes, some on others. I may combine what I want and end up with a custom. I have a feeling it will be like that. If I go to all the trouble to design and build, it likely will be my own design.
 

DMS

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#9
I don't know if any of this helps, but here is a brain dump of what I have seen during my searches.

* Most watchmakers lathes I have seen use plain bearings. The spindle is hardened and and polished. I have heard of some that ride in babbitt bushings.
* Most common spindles take WW collets
* Speed is fairly low, 500rpm or lower.
* Most turning is done with a graver using a tool rest.
* Most spindles have an integral indexer located near the step pulley (for gear cutting)
* Most I have seen have narrow dovetail ways on a semi-circular bed. The bed is often mounted to a pillar one the HS side, the pillar in turn is mounted to the bench.
* Gears are cut on the lathe using a milling attachment (check out the spahlow videos I linked before for an example).
 

Tony Wells

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#10
So far, that agrees with what I have seen as well. I plan on incorporating most of those elements in my design.

Thanks for you input!
 

Tony Wells

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#11
I've seen that too. It seems easier to make the bed, with grinding even, but the head and tailstock would need to match that profile precisely, and that would be a little harder than the bed.
 

Tony Wells

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#13
I love that Fleurier! I don't know the make of the first one, but that's kind of what I have in mind. Too bad it's on the west coast. Not much chance I'll make it out there any time soon.

I don't suppose you caught the make of the first one, did you?

I can't really decide to go with an art inspired design or a modern approach. That's another reason I am researching.
 
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Nelson

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#14
Check this site out if you haven't already:

http://www.csparks.com/watchmaking/Lathes.html

I have used the lathe to polish pivots at my mentor's shop. They are polished by hand using a special pivot file, followed by jewelers rouge. We also drill holes into arbors to replace broken pivots. At home, I have a Sherline to do these functions.

Also check out the Horological Tools forum at www.nawcc.org : http://mb.nawcc.org/forumdisplay.php?13-Horological-Tools for a lot of info on lathes.

One of the foremost authorities is Jerry Kieffer jlkieffer@charter.net. (It would be great if he would visit here).


:tiphat:Nelson
 

Tony Wells

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Have those sites in my Favorites, and have spent a lot of time browsing them. Great information on them.
 
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Nelson

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#16
Have those sites in my Favorites, and have spent a lot of time browsing them. Great information on them.
Reach out to Jerry- he is a teacher of the use of these machines, and knows a great deal. He is very willing to share.


:tiphat:Nelson
 

mckay3d

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#17
Hi Tony,
How is the quest going? I have several watchmakers lathes and would be glad to take pics and send dimensions. Have you acquired a copy of Ward Goodrich's book "the Watchmakers' Lathe" ? Although it was written in 1902 it has a lot of good info and diagrams. There are reprints on eBay.
Regards... Maurice
 

stupoty

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Tony Wells

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That Levin is certainly a nice machine, but I am going more for the classical look. Probably some modern features, but love the lines of the older style lathes. Not a bad price either I think. Rather have the desk setup.....I think. If I wanted to start building instruments for a living, then the Levin shown would be the way to go, I'm sure.

Love the cheese platter in the desk. Good idea for keeping tooling clean, yet displayed. I have a couple of those the wife dislikes, so I guess the shop gets them.

Good book links too. Some of those I have read, some not.

A kind soul has given me a head start to my build, and I hope I can repay that kindness in some way. When I build the parts for this project, I'll document everything I do, and try to post it as I go, although that will actually be a hobby time investment for me, and in my shop unfortunately I have little time for fun. So it may take a while, but I'd like to share it with you guys. And you can tell me where I go wrong.
 
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