Monday, November 4, 2019

Turret Lathe!

Hey, remember how I was going to automate that Enco aftermarket turret, which would then be fitted to a South Bend 16" lathe?

Well, scratch that.  We just got an actual turret lathe instead.  Look at this beautiful beast:

It's a Warner & Swasey No. 4 Turret Lathe.  It's 8 feet long, 5 feet tall, and weighs about 4000lbs.  The above image is the lathe while it was a the shop that we acquired it from, Nasin Machine Co. in Moosup CT. 

The Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland Ohio has a very interesting history.  Worchester Reed Warner and Ambrose Swasey, the founders, were icons of the New-England machine-tool building industry during the industrial revolution.  Starting at Exeter Machine Works in Exeter, NH, the two then went to work at Pratt & Whitney (in the company's early days, it was a machine-tool builder) where they managed and developed novel and improved methods of accurate gear manufacturing.  For that reason and others, their story is close to my heart, and I am proud to acquire a piece of their legacy.

The below images are of the lathe once we got it home and cleaned it up a bit.  I have images of how we moved this beast and got it to our second-floor shop space which I will post later.

It's 15" swing over the bed, 8" swing over the carriage, but the reason I picked up this model is the 2.5" through-spindle capacity.  You can stick a 2.5" round steel bar in one end, and just crank out parts all day long.  Gear blanks here we come!

This beast is powered by a dual-speed 7.5hp Louis Allis 3-phase induction motor.  The first time we wired up the motor and turned it on, the friggen thing sounded like a jet engine spooling up.  It was terrifying and amazing; my two favorite qualities in machine tools.

There is one little kink about the electrical demands of this motor though.  Originally a 220-volt single-voltage motor, at some point it was rewound for 550-volt, single-voltage. That's an odd number; 3-phase service around here is basically always 208, 220, 240, or 480-volt, and so we are having to rig something special to supply this 550-volt motor.  I briefly considered using this motor as "my first motor re-winding project", but after stacking up the costs for magnet wire, fish paper and resins (mostly the cost of magnet wire), I decided that we should instead take advantage of a derelict 30kva delta-star-conversion isolation transformer that we already had kicking around the shop.  7.5hp ends up being something like 9kva, so the transformer is more than happy to supply that.  Having a 30kva transformer (which is ~400lbs and is the size of a mini-fridge) supply this lathe is definitely a bulky arrangement, but it will do for now.

More on the current state of this lathe, and it's electrical work, coming soon!

For now, here's a picture of Andrew Birkel with the Warner & Swasey No. 4.  Andrew did all of the cleaning on this machine, and has been an immensely helpful right-hand man for my machinery salvaging activities, for a very long time.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

July 2019 Update; Resurrecting the Blog!


Many years have passed since I last made a post; many things have happened, and many developments have been made since 2013.  The vast majority of machinery I've acquired, was acquired since 2013; the period of rapid machinery acquisition is itself an entire story involving getting access to a 7,500 square foot shop facility in Waltham as well as a small industrial space in Lynn MA, designing and building portable lifting and rigging equipment, many many Uhaul trailer rentals, etc.  A LOT has happened since my last post in 2013.  I will work at documenting that period of time.

I am resurrecting this blog for primarily one main purpose; to reach a wider audience or community of makers/creators and engineers.  In watching other creators, designers, and engineers, the necessity of documenting my work has become clear.  Simply trying to verbally explain machinery, processes, design and methodology, is not an effective way to communicate design.  For a long time, I thought I could avoid rigorous documentation of my work, by simply showing relevant people physical examples, with verbal descriptions of processes.  But I've been finding that I hit a brick wall with this method, with any audience who isn't involved in an extremely similar line of work or hobby.

Current project: Automation of ram-type turret for 16" South Bend Lathe:

Now that gearcutting is extremely easy to do, I'm trying to work at reducing the burden of the next most machining-intensive part of the gear-making process: machining the blank.  At the moment, making a gear blank involves cutting a slice off of a bar of stock or a section of flat steel plate, drilling the piece at it's approximate center in order to hold it on a mandrel, installing the piece on either a mandrel that I have also turned for that specific purpose, or an expanding or tapered mandrel that I already have, and then turning both faces and the outside diameter.  This is a fairly tedious and uninteresting process, and so I am trying to put together some automatic means of making gear blanks.  I'd like to be able to set up a turret lathe to do the work; a turret lathe or CNC lathe with through-spindle capacity somewhere in the range of 4 to 7 inches would be ideal for making blanks that my Fellows machines can handle, but at the moment that sort of machine is far out of my budget.

Behold!  The aftermarket lathe turret:

Enco Mfg. "Hexturret" for a Colchester 15 Lathe

Amongst other things, Enco made aftermarket lathe turrets.  Basically, these are ram-type turrets that are universal in construction, that the end-user (or possibly the factory) custom fits to a particular machine.  I bought this turret from a guy in Staten Island for $75.  It was originally fitted to a Colchester 15" lathe, but I will be re-machining the underside surface in order to fit it to a 16" South Bend lathe.

The 16" South Bend lathe:

South Bend 16" Lathe

This is the lathe that the turret will be fitted to.  There is also a 10" South Bend lathe in the shop, which is used much more often that this one, and so semi-dedicating this lathe to gear-blank fabrication, makes sense.

Automation of the Turret:

The point in turret-izing the turning and boring operations of gear-blank making, is to reduce as much as possible, the effort needed by the operating to make a gear blank.  A conventional turret lathe looks something like this:

Wade Turret Lathe

The signature feature of the turret lathe is the multi-sided turret, which is in place of the tailstock on a conventional engine lathe.  The turret is a six or eight-sided block which rotates on a vertical axis, and can be locked into place with any of it's faces facing the headstock.  So, the operator can mount six or eight different tailstock tools (drills, reamers, counter-bores, end-mounted turning tools, die-heads, collapsing-tap arrangements, etc.), and rapidly change between tools without having to re-calibrate tool settings or positions.  The turret lathe was en extraordinary leap forward in the mass-production of turned parts, and is often credited as being the most important technology which facilitated the massive war-related production that enabled the Allied victory in World War II.

Turret lathes have all sorts of fancy features like power-feed on the turret, automatic bar-feeding (stock-feeding through the spindle), and automatic turret indexing.  My Enco turret does have automatic turret indexing (the turret indexes when the operator cranks the handwheel backwards, into the end-of-travel), but does not have any of the other fancy features.  But, now that I can make basically any gear that I can possibly need, I decided to add a two-speed power feed to the turret.

Two-speed geared power-feed for the Enco turret, the plan:

Gearbox CAD

I did some very crude CAD modelling of the power-feed gearbox; it's crude because it's exclusively for the purpose of figuring out gear center positions and tooth counts.  Generally for my own personal projects, I don't put an excruciating level of detail into CAD models.  Because I don't need to hand the design off to another engineer, or make drawings, or communicate with vendors, I will only put as much detail into CAD models as is absolutely necessary for my own calculations of dimensions and part features, etc..  Anything that I can reliably calculate "on-the-fly", I'll leave out of the model.  So, you'll notice that the gears don't have teeth, and no bushings or bearings are shown.  For each gear, the sketch for that part contains the pitch-diameter circle as a construction line, and an outside-diameter circle for defining the edge of the boss/extrusion.  In the assembly, the gears are mated by their pitch circles. 

Here are the specs for the gears in the model:

A: 36 teeth, 12DP, 14.5PA, 3.167" OD, 0.750" thick
B: 12 teeth, 12DP, 14.5PA, 1.167" OD, 0.750" thick
C: 24 teeth, 16DP, 14.5PA, 1.625" OD, 0.750" thick
D: 12 teeth, 16DP, 14.5PA, 0.875" OD, 1.5" thick (this gear will slide axially, so it is 2x long)
E: 24 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 1.300" OD, 0.625" thick
F: 60 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 3.100" OD, 0.625" thick
G: 12 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 0.700" OD, 0.625" thick
H: 24 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 1.300" OD, 0.625" thick
I: 12 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 0.700" OD, 0.625" thick
J: 24 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 1.300" OD, 0.625" thick
K: 12 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 0.700" OD, 0.625" thick
L: 24 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 1.300" OD, 0.625" thick
M: 12 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 0.700" OD, 0.750" thick
N: 60 teeth, 20DP, 14.5PA, 3.100" OD, 0.750" thick

This gearbox will fit on the front side of the saddle, to the left of the handwheel stem/shaft:

Gearbox CAD superimposed on turret image

This gearbox has two geared speeds; a "slow" ratio (moves the turret roughly 1.2 inch/min) for advancement of the tool into the workpiece, and a very fast speed ( ~100 inch/min) for the backwards-return of the turret and turret indexing.  Speed-switching will be done via dog-clutch, which I will actuate either with a hand-lever, or with a solenoid.  The dog-clutch will be located between gears 'E' and 'N', and so the design may end up such that the shaft that gear 'D' sits on, slides.  For that reason, I've made gear 'D' twice as long as the gear that it mates with, to accommodate axial sliding action.

This will be powered by a Bodine 1/20th hp motor (shown below), which will be mounted to the opposite side of the saddle; a shaft will run through the saddle (under the ram mechanisms) to connect the gearmotor to the power feed gearbox.  I also have a DC version of this gearmotor which I might use instead, so that I can do electronic variable speed control.

Bodine Motor
Bodine Motor

Cutting the gears!

I have already begun cutting the gears for this gearbox on a Fellows 7a gear shaper.  I spent a lot of time augmenting one of my Fellows 7a machines so that it would be ready for universal usage, without the need for a lot of special fixturing or setup each time I need to make a gear.  This augmentation involved fabricating an adapter plate to attach a 3-jaw chuck (Bison 8" Set-Tru chuck) to the work-holding table, installing 3 inches of riser block to the top-half of the machine to compensate for the 3-inch tall chuck, making shaft extensions for the various drive shafts within the machine to connect shafts that were spaced apart by the inclusion of the 3-inch riser block, etc..  The "Set-Tru" system on the Bison chuck is a system of four radially-located set-screws that allow you to accurately center the chuck when you install it.  I copied this design into my adapter plate; the adapter plate also has radial set-screws for accurate centering. 

This Fellows machine could definitely use a paint job, but mechanically it's in good shape:

Closeup of Fellows 7a machine

To date, I've fabricated gears 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D', and 'N', (shown below).  Gears 'B' and 'C' are part of a cluster gear.  If I was hobbing these gears, or milling them with form tools, all of my cluster gears would need to be two-piece gears; I would make each gear and then press them together.  But, the Fellows process has a very interesting capability; because the gearcutting process is a reciprocating profile-shaping process, I can use the machine to cut a gear-tooth profile up to a stop; no exit clearance is needed.  Therefore, gears 'B' and 'C' were cut into one single piece of metal.

Gears cut so-far, also a Fellows cutter

Where did all of this machinery come from?

Back in December/January, I found a number of gear shaper machines for sale out in Springfield MA.  There were four Fellows 7a gear shapers, one Fellows #6 shaper, a couple Barber Colman No. 3 gear hobbers, a gigantic Gleason bevel-gear planer, and a couple Illitron gear inspection machines for sale, for prices that were basically scrap value or below.  So, I acquired all four of the Fellows #7a machines, the Fellows #6 machine, one of the Barber Colman No. 3 hobbers, and two Illitron gear-inspection machines.  Before this acquisition, I had already obtained a Barber Colman No.3 gear hobber, a Gauthier W1 gear hobber, and a Hercules 8-inch gear hobber; I will do a post with greater detail on these machines and their features, in the near future.

My rigging and heavy-haulage hobby started several years ago when I purchased a small Pratt & Whitney turret lathe from a guy who was using it to make designer bicycle parts.  I enlisted the help of a long-time friend, and we were able to move that machine (roughly 800 lbs) using two people, a johnson bar, and a small Uhaul trailer pulled by a jeep wrangler.

The next machine acquisition was a 14-inch F.E.Reed engine lathe from the early 1900's.  This was the first of the 2000lb+ class machines that I acquired, and in order to move it I constructed a portable gantry crane.  This gantry crane is capable of lifting 6000lbs, disassembles into a modest flat pack, and is fully assemble-able and disassemble-able by two people in about ten minutes (I will do a post about that build at some point). 

From there, the rigging hobby and machinery acquisition really took off.  With the help of close friends and my partner Emily, I've moved somewhere around 43 machines.  Most of these are machines that I salvaged or acquired, some of them were my father's machinery when he moved his shop across town, and some of them were for another close friend who I helped set up a small machine shop for restoration work in Lynn, MA.  The rigging hobby has taken us to some extremely interesting places, allowed us access to a lot of extremely interesting industrial history, and gained us great friends in great places.

After de-constructing a 1902 American Sawmill Machinery Co. sawmill in Riegelsville, PA, and hauling it to family land in central Massachusetts, Emily set up a youtube channel to chronicle our machinery-related adventures.  You can find the youtube channel here:

"Reeve - Giroux Youtube Channel"

If the link stops working, just search "Reeve-Giroux" in youtube and click on the one that looks like this:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Project: Hydraulic Tracer


Over the last few days, I've been developing a new project idea.  The idea came out of an application where I need to produce a cam for a cam-follower setup.  Currently, I don't know what the shape of that cam is going to be, but I would like to be able to have a method for producing cams that would work for nearly any shape of cam.

I don't have CNC control on my lathe or milling machine, nor do I currently have a way to synchronize a rotary table with the movement of a linear axis.  So, the last method apparently available to me is the 'drill and file method', wherein a disk (in the case of a disk cam) has holes drilled at the periphery of the intended cam shape.  The disk is then cut so as to remove the disk material excess to the cam shape, and then filed to finish.  There might then be some grinding, but that's at least how the rough shape is obtained.

I would love for the fabrication of a cam out of metal to be as easy as the fabrication of a cam out of wood; just cut out the rough shape by hand with a saw which gives you sensitivity to the shape you're forming (a coping saw), and then file and sand until you've reached your intended shape.

Just think about how great it would be to have a way to shape metal with the same sort of free-hand creativity that a carpenter might use in shaping something out of wood.  We can't really have the same type of organic control over our forming of metals as we do for wood...or clay...which is due to the significantly higher forces required in the machining of metal parts.

Well, what i'm looking for then is some type of force amplifier.  It turns out that something very much like this already exists, and was used quite extensively before the age of CNC machinery to produce complex and curved profiles on metal parts.  It's called 'the hydraulic tracer'.

Basically a hydraulic tracer is a system wherein a stylus, which actuates a set of valves, follows the edge of a 'pattern' guide, and is moved by the hydraulic rams which it's valves are controlling.  More or less, this is a hydraulic 'line-follower'.

Take the case of a single-axis tracer; one ram is moving one stylus head along one axis.  As the ram slowly moves, the stylus eventually makes contact with an edge of the pattern.  Shortly after the stylus makes contact with the edge of the pattern, the pattern pushes on the stylus and causes it to shift, which in turn shifts the valves connected to the stylus so as to stop the movement of the hydraulic ram.

If this system is operating on one axis, and a slow constant movement is applied to the pattern in a perpendicular axis (assume that the edge of the pattern which was found by the stylus, extends into this new 'perpendicular axis'), then the system will cause the stylus to follow the edge of the pattern.  Attach a machine tool to the movements of the pattern and stylus head, and the machine tool will then follow the same path as the stylus, which is the path prescribed by the shape of the pattern.  Voila!

This system was used on all sort of equipment; I'm under the impression that it was first used on lathes, in order to copy a 2D pattern onto a round part, so as to produce a revolved version of that 2D pattern.  I also know that these systems were used on milling machines for both linear and rotary axis.  Sometimes the control for multiple axis is performed with a single multi-directional stylus.  Other times, it can be more useful to break the three control systems into three separate stylus and ram system, which is shown in the last photograph below.  The last photograph below is particularly interesting because the hydraulic tracer systems used in the application shown, are controlling hydraulic motors rather than rams, and these motors are moving a linear axis as well as a dividing head (a rotary axis).

[ A 'T-ram' Bridgeport with an X and Y 'True-Trace' tracer system.  Two copies of a pattern can be made with the two milling heads mounted on the T-ram. ]

[ Another picture of the True-Trace system on a two-headed 'T-ram' Bridgeport ]

[ Hydraulic tracer systems on a linear axis and rotary axis, for machining turbine components. ]

So, I'd like to have a better understanding of the design of the valve system in the stylus head.  As an exercise, I'd also like to design my own valve system.  To that end, I've begun investigating OpenFOAM, which is an open-source computational fluid-dynamics software package.  Once I've developed a design that performs well, I will fabricate the valve, purchase a hydraulic pump and a ram suitable for the Y axis of my lathe (or, possibly the X or Z axis of my milling machine), and begin using this tracer system to replicate hand-made wooden parts (such as hand-made cams) out of metal.  The rotary table rotation will be driven by a gearmotor, and the tracer system will respond to the shape of the cam pattern in the radial direction.  The cam pattern will likely be mounted coaxially with the metal cam blank, although the only actual requirements are that it be the same size and be at the same angle about it's central axis as the blank at all times.

If I make a second one, I can have an X-Y stylus, which I can then control by hand so as to produce shapes quasi-free-handedly on my lathe or milling machine.  I suppose servo-motors could be connected to the stylus so that my computer can have in on the fun too.

First Post: Introduction and Past Projects


I'm Robert Reeve; this is my first blog post.

The first thing I'm going to do is to provide an introduction:

I'm an engineer; my M.S. degree is in Mechanical Engineering, my bachelor's degree was a dual B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering.  These are both from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.  Most of my professional experience has been in manufacturing-related engineering, but I really miss the sorts of things we did RPI in the nuclear engineering courses.

When I say that I'm an engineer, I don't just mean that in the professional arena.  I would say that I am an engineer at work, at home....while sleeping...while daydreaming...everything; it's an obsession.  I think that a large number of people who are also engineers think about it in the same way; as a way of viewing the world rather than just a profession.  The desire to design things, to build them and see your own creations function, to take things apart in order to gain an understanding of their inner workings; these are habits that strive to take over brain capacity that would normally be dedicated to other things like....normal social interaction, haha.  Some of us manage to handle that balance better than others.

At any rate, here are some interesting pictures of things that I've done, or places that I've been, in the years before I started this blog:

 [ A project to automate a Bridgeport milling machine: ]

 [ Purchased a Lathe!: ]

[ Some late-night woodturning during finals week: ]

[ Urban exploring in New Britain, CT: ]

[ Home-made motor mounting and belt-tensioning system for my Unimat lathe: ]

[ Gear hobber project:  converting my Atlas lathe into a mechanical gear hobbing machine: ]

[ A special spring-collet that I made one day: ]

[ The new z-axis for my watchmaker's lathe (the Unimat): ]

[ A British food product, 'Bovril', supposedly invented for Napoleon for transporting beef to his troops in liquid form: ]

[ I'm calling this a 'knee' for my lathe; it's a home-made table and carriage which will be mounted on my lathe in order to use it like a sideways vertical milling machine.  For comparison, the stock z-axis for the lathe is on the right. ]

[ Some practice with the watchmakers' saw-blades.  I can produce letters equivalent in size to the text on a quarter, which is done by hand with a saw-frame and a blade. ]

 [ This is what the watchmakers' saw-blades look like under a microscope.  Notice the scale bars. ]

Turret Lathe!

Hey, remember how I was going to automate that Enco aftermarket turret, which would then be fitted to a South Bend 16" lathe? Well, s...