A workshop tour

While waiting for the HP cylinder boring to finish, I decided to take a set of panoramic shots of the workshop to prove that it doesn’t take flash new machinery to build stuff…

The Lathe

The Lathe- an early L5. This is an early “Mark2”  Harrison L5, built in around 1947/6, it serves me very well.The Lathe, Shaper and Mill - an early L4

It’s a 4.5 inch centre height, but a large removable gap-bed means you can swing some pretty big stuff! The all-geared head (and more importantly the clutch drive) make it a real pleasure to use – the speeds are a bit slow for inserted tooling, but I have been waiting for the motor to pack up for about 25 years now, so I could replace it with a faster one!

The only downside is that the bore in the headstock is only 3/4″ so a bit restrictive. Also (I now realize) that it has an L5A top slide, which made fitting tools really hard; earlier in my relationship with it I made a set of dog-leg tool holders to bring the tool bits down to the right level, but in the end I milled the top off the slide, and put a far-east “piston style” quick-change holder on it. While this makes the slide look a little thin, the machine is so massivly built that it casued no problem – parting off steel at top spindle speed is still de-rigeur!

It comes with an ABC feed gearbox, so it’s still juggling with change wheels when screw-cutting, bit no problem really… I think it’s a long-bed version (I’ve certainly seen shorter ones). I recently bought a 3Morse ER20 collet chuck for it – and this really improved things.

When I first got it the headstock Timken bearings were not “great” and on stripping it there was some galling on the spindle – new matched bearings were a lot of money (£200+ in 1980), so it got a pair of “less matched” ones, and some carefully attention with a swiss file – this probably explains the imperfect finish you get  (slight patterning) – but hey  ho…

When I first got the lathe the chuck was so firmly fitted I actually knocked a couple of teeth out of the change wheels, when I tried to lock the headstock by putting a wooden block in between two change wheels :-(… but repaired the broken teeth by just milling a slot in the wheel and brazing in a mild steel block, and filing  it to shape – still working 20 years later, and it doesn’t even tick as it’s running now!

The Lathe, Shaper and Mill
The Lathe, Shaper and Mill

The Shaper

I’ve always loved shapers, probably as a result of the old Boxford? at school and it’s rythmic noise and motion triggers the same neurons as does the dance music I love today! Firstly I got an old Drummond hand shaper – a quaint piece of Victorian Engineering, but attempt to tackle any thing too big, and it was major arm-ache time!

So I snapped up a Rhodes 7-inch shaper, that I believe arrived as part of the US lend-lease program in the late 40’s. Manufactured in Hartford Connecticut, it’s a nice little machine. It lost its counter-shaft drive, so it only has a single speed, via an nonadjustable and ancient and decomposing v-belt. (replaced now with a tensioner and a new belt!)

The Mill

The Adcock/BridgePort mill with DRO

The Adcock/BridgePort mill with DRO

This has a chequered history. The original is a Adcock & Shipley 1AD? from 1954. This was donated to me by a machine shop in Runcorn, who just wanted to be “rid of the thing” – so I donated a fiver to their beer fund, and the deal was done. I replaced the 3-phase motor with a Clarke 3HP single phase thing (Which exploded within 45 mins of first use  – sadly about 3 years after fitting it, so no warranty there!) So Farborough Rewinds provided the biggest single phase motor I have ever seen, and this got the machine running…..

I “learnt my trade” with this horizontal mill, but yearned after a vertical machine… then ME (Model Engineer) had a man selling Bridgeport J-type milling heads  – so £750 and the deal was done!! I mounted it on the overarm of the horizontal machine with a set of straps fitted into the knee v-ways to hold it in position… this was 3-phase, so I purchased a converter from Transwave (the one with the motor in to allow one to run small motors too) and this has performed well.

The final upgrade was to build and fit a DRO. I built a shumatec DR350 and fitted “glass scales” to the table, and a cheap “vernier style one” to the quill feed… this changed my life! I cannot believe how much this speeded things up – on a par with the ER20 collects on the lathe!

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