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  1. #1
    Registered User jmtaylo3's Avatar
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    Default Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe

    I'm interested in buying a lathe strictly for clock work. I see many lathes for sell at clock marts and on ebay. Many come with several collets included. The question that I have is what size collets do I need for general mantel clock work? I eventually plan to attend a lathe workshop at the School of Horology so I was planning to hold off on a purchase until I attend, but if i find a good deal I may buy.

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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: jmtaylo3)

    John
    There has been much past discussion on the type of lathe for Clockwork. While some may use watcmakers Lathes for specific clock related tasks they were designed for watch work and are best suited for that work. Researching past posts on this topic will give much insight. I would as in the past strongly suggest a hands on demonstration of various types of lathes before purchase. This will give you a chance to find something that is compatible with your natural skills. It will also avoid fighting procedures you may find personally difficult that can delay skill development.

    Having said that Collets will be required regardless of the type of Lathe that you select. I would suggest that you consider WW collets since they are the most common regardless of the type of Lathe you select.
    You will also see 8mm collets for sale that are generally identical to WW Collets except that they have a body diameter that is about .002" larger.
    Most lathes that are designed to for 8mm collets will also except WW collets without accuacy issues. However 8mm collets will generally not fit into a lathe designed for WW collets. At least one commonly used Lathe uses adaptors for both WW and 8mm collets resolving problems with mixed brands and types of WW/8mm Collets.

    As far as the size of collet required is easy. Unless you have a full set you probably will seldom have what you need. I would purchase any good quality collet regardless of size if the price is right. Sizes from about #5 to about #50 will generall be the most common for clock work. This of course will depend on how much and the type of work you wish to do.

    Jerry Kieffer

  3. #3

    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Jerry Kieffer)

    What I shall add that Jerry didn't say, and the kind of lathe that I use is a Sherline. Taig is also good, but I haven't ever used one. So, speaking from experience, I use the Sherline collets as well as some WW collets with the proper adapter for my Sherline. I use my Sherline exclusively for all clock work. My WW lathe sits idle, because the kind of lathe work I do on clocks is better suited for the Sherline. Save up the money for the Sherline. My two bits worth....................doc
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    Exodus 31:6 "...and I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you."

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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: doc_fields)

    I have and use a Unimat 3. I used the Sherline when I took the lathe course at the NAWCC lathe course, and I like my Unimat 3 better. Do not confuse it with the Unimat SL which is not much better than junk. I have not used a Unimat 4 but I understand it is a Unimat 3 but made in taiwan.

    My beef with the Sherline is that the traveling bed that moves with the lead screw is too wide and limits the length of a cut evcen when working between centers. The Unimat 3 is much better in this regard. If you can find a Unimat 3 in good shape it's worth a long look.

    I would also take a look at a Unimat 5 which is much larger lathe but still portable (Meaning you do not need professional riggers to install it).

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    Registered User Scottie-TX's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Dr. Jon)

    About buying it - when to buy and how - you might consider buying a lathe BEFORE you take the course. Reason I suggest that is you'll already be familiar with the lathe, it's parts - nomenclature, lathe procedures, etc. BEFORE you attend class. That will put you ahead of the learning curve and you'll have more pertinent questions.
    I also recommend a good reference book on lathes as soon as you have a lathe or perhaps even before you buy one. The book may help you make a good buying decision. I recommend "The Modern Watchmaker's Lathe and How to use it" by Archie B Perkins. ISBN 0-918845-23-8

  6. #6
    Registered user. Joseph Bautsch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Dr. Jon)

    To up date the problem Dr. Jon referred to with Sherline is that it has been corrected. Sherline recognized the limitations of the cross slide when having to make a cut close to the tailstock. So for the past two years their lathe has had a redesigned tailstock that allows a close cut. There is also a tail stock adapter that extends the tailstock further out over the cross slide table which corrects the problem for those with the older models.

  7. #7
    Registered User jmtaylo3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Joseph Bautsch)

    I really like the vintage lathes. I try to find as many antique clock maker's tools as I can...they tell a story. If parts become too hard to find then I will certainly consider a modern lathe. I took Dave LaBounty's course on "pivot finish" (www.ClockClass.com) and I am polishing and burnishing pivots on a drill and drill press (I lay it on it's side) I highly recommend any of Dave's courses. Sounds like if I purchase a Levin, Bowley, etc that I need a complete set of collets.

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    Registered User richiec's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: jmtaylo3)

    that is the rub, I found a lathe in Delaware for a reasonable price but the price of buying collets is up there, i see a few sets on ebay but they always get bid up. If I had known Harvey Schmidt from Long Island was liquidating his equipment I would have bought some at the last Chapter 2 meeting in White Plains, NY, he had some good stuff. This is the second lathe I have purchased, the other one was cheap but lacks a tailstock so that is why I purchased the next one. I took the lathe course at the NAWCC school, it was informative, they teach you a little about tempering metal and they let you spend a lot of time experimenting to learn your own techniques. I highly recomment Perkins book on the lathe, it is pricey, about $72, but well written and illustrated.

  9. #9
    Registered User jmtaylo3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: richiec)

    Hi richiec,

    You make a good point there. A complete set of collets (ww type 8mm) on ebay cost about $400.00...more than the price of the lathe and you haven't even started with the milling attachments. I talked to Harvey Schmidt at the York, Pa show and he also felt the Sherline was the way to go for clocks. ( I was surprised because he sells vintage accessories) He likes the fact that you can use collets on the tailstock. Merritt's has a ww collet set for the Sherline lathe that costs $90.00, but it only contains five collets. Is that enough? I will check out Perkin's book...perhaps the library has it.

  10. #10
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: jmtaylo3)

    Please let me qualify my comments and direct them to those who want to do "clockmaking" in a traditional sense...make parts and perform operations to repair/restore/make new parts for clocks...

    I have owned a large number of lathes including several Sherline's as well as a lot of WW style lathes. Personally speaking I find the Sherline an excellent buy for the money spent, they can be very well accessorized, and there are a wealth of groups that build everything from soup to nuts on them. A WW lathe is not as practical for clock work as the Sherline IMO. It is a watchmakers lathe by both design and implementation.....

    But, to my point, and I have to qualify my recommendations with a "what do you intend to do"? I would look for a slightly larger lathe than a Sherline. Why? As suggested above it has some issues for clockmaking...issues that make certain normal operations more difficult. What do I mean by that? For example, the top speed of the standard lathe is what 2200 rpm? That is too slow for certain polishing and grinding operations. Yes, it can be done, but the operations may work far better at 10,000rpm or even more, and the Sherline cannot run at those speeds. And yes, Sherline does offer a high speed modification for their headstock but that is still too slow for some operations. Other example might be working between centers...the tool carriage is always in the way......maybe just a personal issue, but I find a removable compound to be a far better solution....

    There are several lathes that are a much better solution for clockmaking IMO. They can be expensive, but are available used from dealers as well as on line auctions...specifically there are 3 lathes I think worth consideration for a "clock maker" including a Schaublin model 70, and 2 Derbyshires, a model 750 (10mm), and a model A(3C collets). Both the Schaublin and the Derbyshires are built very much like a WW lathe, just about 2 times as large. They have similar accessories. Both Derbyshires as well as the Schaublin are available today, new, but they are extremely expensive new. Used, another story. I would be more than happy to discuss off line further thoughts with interested parties.

    Regards collets, I recommend bitting the bullet and getting a full set, no matter what lathe you select. In the 8mm/WW world Starrett collets are perhaps the best buy new....several members sell them in sets from sizes 5-80. As a clockmaker, I use sizes 10-80 frequently, as well as 3 jaw chucks and 6 jaw chucks, as well as centers....and arbors etc...I actually prefer the 10mm collet lathes as they offer larger sizes more often used in clocks, as well as the 3C (up to 1/2" through the headstock) I have 8mm, 10mm, 3C, and 5C sets that I use for clockmaking pretty much all the time....

    Also, back to lathes, I recommend even if you conclude my favorites to be too big for your purposes, or too expensive or too whatever, that you consider at least getting a lathe with a ball bearing headstock, and 10 mm is still preffered over 8 mm, for clock work. Why? Cone bearings have some very excellent points, but they are limited in speed as well as side thrust, both of which can come into play cutting gears as well as grinding polishing pivots, cutting stones for pallets and the like.....

    By the way, please excuse my messy shop photos, I never did learn to work neatly...and the Schaublin photo is from lathes.co.uk...I didn't find a photo of my Schaublin, since departed....
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 100-0001_IMG_2.jpg   Scan0091.jpg   Scan0092.jpg   schaublin mod 70.jpg  
    Last edited by Jim DuBois; 12-21-2008 at 08:42 AM.

  11. #11
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Jim DuBois)

    And if you still prefer a WW style lathe this is my favorite 10mm that I use a great deal, in this case it has a high speed drilling accessory mounted on it as well as a compound....and this is WW geometry, just modern robust construction with high speed ball bearing headstock and the like.

    The Boly would be an example of a really fine lathe that was completely accessorized, but just "too small" absolutely great for watch work, not so great for clock work. I sold it.....can't keep them all...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 103-0381_IMG_3.jpg   103-0391_IMG.jpg   103-0392_IMG.jpg   103-0393_IMG.jpg  

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    Registered User jmtaylo3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Jim DuBois)

    Hi Jim,
    Good suggestion on the lathes. I know what you mean about a 10mm lathe for clock work. Dave LaBounty of www.clockclass.com likes and does most of his work on the 10mm. I took his "pivot finishing" course along with others and he demonstrates his 10mm. Nice photos of your lathes. They are very nice... So the answer to my question is I need a complete set of ww/8mm collets size 5-80, no matter what lathe I buy.

    Thanks,

  13. #13
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: jmtaylo3)

    Quote Originally Posted by jmtaylo3 View Post
    Hi Jim,
    So the answer to my question is I need a complete set of ww/8mm collets size 5-80, no matter what lathe I buy.

    Thanks,
    Well, not exactly. My point was to get as wide a range of collets as you can for what ever lathe you buy. And I certainly used the WW 8mm as an example. And I have adapters to use 8mm collets in both my 10mm and my 3C based machines, so I can use them in all 3 machines, if you you should get a larger machine please consider the possibility of using an adapter and the WW / 8mm collets. They are the best bargain in small collets.....10mm are much more expensive, and 3c are not available in a wide range of sizes at any price these days....

  14. #14
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Jim DuBois)

    I received a note from one party asking for more detail regarding how a Derbyshire Mod A or Mod 750 compares to a more conventional WW style lathe. I figured a photo might be worth a lot of words....so here it is. As you can see, it is very similar to the Levin 10mm ball bearing headstock lathe in the forground, just sunstantially larger. By the way, there are others who made these larger lathes including Elgin, Waltham, Stark, etc. I generally do not encourage looking for these other lathes as they almost always have non conventional sized collets...unavailable.....
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_2087.jpg  

  15. #15
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Vintage Watchmaker's Lathe (RE: Jim DuBois)

    and here is an even larger lathe that is a "clock makers" lathe, it is a Waltham/Stark and was extremely well accessorized with gear cutting, thread chasing, a powered tailstock, and a herd of accessories, but really strange and for that matter typical Waltham collets. I sold it to a collector...a lot of the accessories were new/unused, and this lathe predated WWI....with few collets it was not worth the effort to try to use
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails MVC-007S.JPG   MVC-009S.JPG   MVC-012S.JPG   MVC-014S.JPG  

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