Cutting grooves for regulator winding drums; Any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Clock Construction' started by Paul Madden, Oct 28, 2018.

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  1. Paul Madden

    Paul Madden Registered User
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    Apr 24, 2017
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    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking into purchasing a lathe for clock construction at the moment, and as I would like to make weight driven clocks in the future, I'm considering to already buy a lathe which has a lead screw for thread cutting.

    My question to forum members is; Do you have any recommendations into types of lathes suitable for cutting grooves in regulator winding drums?

    Also, are there other simpler alternatives than a lead screw lathe, such as some type of home-made rig that can cut grooves, even manually operated? (I'm thinking of a simple rig that could be purpose built which already has an appropriate spindle/thread ratio for cutting grooves).

    If any members know if such a home-made rig exists already, and would be prepared to share the idea that would be greatly appreciated. If no such rig exists, and I would need to buy a lead screw lathe, I would welcome suggestions.

    I actually have the possibility to purchase a second-hand Schaublin 102-80 VM in very good condition for much less than what one costs outside of Switzerland, so this is actually a viable option for me, however, I would be interested to know what other members approach is to groove cutting operations.

    On the subject of the Schaublin 102-80 VM, a friend told me that it could potentially be good for other tasks in clock making such as for passing cuts on brass weight shells. He said that a lead screw lathe will give a much better surface finish, and using power feed is also better in general for the cross slide and cutter.

    These appear to be additional arguments that would support purchasing a lead screw lathe.

    I would be very interested to hear other members thoughts on groove cutting of winding drums, and lead screw lathes in general. All recommendations warmly welcomed!

    Best wishes,

    Paul.
     
  2. Allan Wolff

    Allan Wolff Moderator
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    Mar 17, 2005
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    Hi Paul,
    If you have a chance to buy a Schaublin 102 lathe in good condition, buy it!!! You will not regret having a good precision lathe this size for making clocks. Make sure it has a large assortment of accessories as these can be difficult to find, and expensive to buy individually.

    Here is a rig I used to cut fusee threads with a Taig lathe that did not have thread cutting capabilities. It was a pain to set up. A lead screw lathe would have been much more rigid.
     
  3. John MacArthur

    John MacArthur Registered User
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    Feb 13, 2007
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    Paul - I have never considered cutting barrel grooves with anything but a lead screw lathe, though I imagine it could be done somehow. That said, you couldn't go wrong with a Schaublin - they are fantastic lathes, and you could make everything else for your clock with one. You'd want to be sure there is a pretty good selection of collets and chucks with it, and hopefully a 4-way tool rest. You'll be the envy of most clockmakers with one. Good luck.
    Johnny
     
  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Jan 7, 2011
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    Hi Paul,

    In case you haven't come across it, this site has a great deal of information on the Schaublin and many other lathes.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  5. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    May 31, 2005
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    #5 Jerry Kieffer, Oct 29, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
    Paul
    Since machine tools are a personal preference thing, It is difficult to suggest specific machines since each person will likely have different goals.

    As such, I will outline my personal types of work and the Machines used and reasons for using them.

    My machines are used for duplication of one off parts and bar stock construction from smaller than watch up to mechanisms about the size of a five gallon bucket including Horological. Another words, general machining of all types and all types of material. Unfortunately, within this range, no one size machine has been practical. For example, in what I call a mid size Lathe at about 7"- 8" swing, they are never large enough for large parts and always to large for small parts. While nothing is impossible, this statement takes into consideration the practicality and efficiency as well as the quality of the work I wish to do. After purchase of many random machines where none worked with each other in the early days, I have now narrowed it down to four machines for 99 percent of all work that I do. Per your comments on Leadscrew Lathes, I could no longer imagine using a Lathe without thread cutting capacity but rarely if ever use power feed in the size work that I do.

    The four Machines that I selected for use were based on Quality, capability, Versatility and interchange- ability of accessories scaled to the size of the machine itself.

    On the large end of the scale I selected a Emco Maier V13 Lathe (13x40) and a Emco Maier F3 floor type Milling Machine. A Lathe by itself without a compatible Milling Machine will greatly limit ones machining capabilities. A Milling Machine/accessories that are not compatible with a Lathe so work pieces can be readily and accurately transferred from Mill to Lathe or Lathe to Mill when required will greatly decrease capabilities and efficiency. In this case, the Mill has both a Horizontal and Vertical Bed plus a tilting bed. In addition, the Headstock is both a vertical and horizontal headstock that can rotate 360 degrees. This versatility Allows for almost any setup possible within one machine and is fully compatible/interchangeable with the Lathe in regard to work holding and other accessories. For size and type reference, I have attached photos of this Lathe and Mill.

    For Small work I use a Sherline 4500 Lathe and a 5400 Mill.

    These Machines offer even greater versatility than described above. In addition, Sherline offers 6 and 8 sided adaptors with standard Lathe/Mill spindle nose per third attached photo. While the Emco and Sherline equipment take off and pickup from each other, the adaptors allow for interchangeability among the large and small machines. For example, Fine detail can be machined in a part on the small machines and then transferred to a large machine for heavier machining, or the other the other way around if planned and desirable.
    The Sherline Lathe offers a factory thread cutting option that allows for both power and manual operation. The manual operation option is especially useful in that it offers precise control that is not practical in the power feed options. Thread pitch options in either Inch or metric have the widest range offered in any brand I am aware of. Winding drums/Fusee`s of about 2" and smaller are easily machined on a Sherline Lathe. I use Sherline equipment for the making of parts on movements from the typical English Bell strike Grandfather down through watch parts. No photos since I suspect everyone is familiar with these machines. For anything larger, I shift over to the larger machines.

    Versatility is something that must be experienced to be understood. Now at this point, almost anything is pleasant to work on rather than a setup nightmares of the past.

    Jerry Kieffer

    DSCN0225.jpg DSCN0221.jpg fullsizeoutput_301.jpeg
     
  6. Paul Madden

    Paul Madden Registered User
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    Apr 24, 2017
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    Dear Allan,

    Thanks very much for your thoughts, and sharing photos of your fusee cutting rig. Its very interesting indeed, and its possible that your rig was in the back of my mind when inquiring about set-ups for groove cutting (I was certain I had seen something on a forum or on YouTube). You have definitely given me some points to consider, along with the other excellent responses from members.

    Thank you for sharing Allan.

    Paul.
     
  7. Paul Madden

    Paul Madden Registered User
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    Apr 24, 2017
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    Jerry,

    Thank you for your extremely comprehensive reply. I can appreciate the principle of having a lathe or mill to suit the scale of the work, as well as interchangeability. It seems you have discovered the best combination equipment to cover the scope of your machining activities. I had also been thinking along these lines.

    Its interesting that Sherline offers a thread cutting option, and can handle 2' winding drums. (my only real exposure to Sherline lathes is through Clickspring, but he certainly gets a great deal of use out of his). I also like working with a hand held graver, and feel comfortable doing this on a watchmakers lathe, however, I don't feel comfortable doing this on a larger lathe (Schaublin 70 and bigger).

    I have turned free-hand with a t-rest on a Schaublin 70, but for these operations a small Sherline or 8mm watchmakers lathe is much more comfortable.

    You have some very nice equipment in your shop Jerry. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

    Paul.
     
  8. Paul Madden

    Paul Madden Registered User
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    Apr 24, 2017
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    Hi Graham,

    Yes, this is an excellent website, as well as Anglo-Swiss Tools, another UK based company that has excellent manuals and catalogs in pdf format on just about every major European machine manufacturer since the 1930s. Both of these sites are great resources for machinists looking for information on second hand equipment. Its particularly useful to know what type of accessories were made, and therefore could be potentially available.

    Thanks for sharing this site Graham. Its a good one!

    Paul.
     
  9. Paul Madden

    Paul Madden Registered User
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    Apr 24, 2017
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    Thank you Johnny,

    I'm very fortunate that where I live, second-hand Schaublin 102's are in abundance, so even if I saw a VM in good condition for a good price, I have the possibility to obtain accessories such as collets and chucks fairly readily, although of course, its always best to get some as complete as possible from the very beginning.

    Johnny, thanks for your opinion on cutting barrel grooves. It seems that using a lead screw lathe is the choice for clockmakers.

    Best wishes,

    Paul.
     

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