I just bought a lathe... some questions

Discussion in 'Horological Tools' started by Phil G4SPZ, Dec 11, 2019.

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  1. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    I have just bought, very cheaply from a local retired horologist, a modified 8mm Telco watchmaker’s lathe with an incomplete set of accessories. Some research has revealed that this model is a British-made version of the popular G. Boley ‘bevelled-bed’ watchmaker’s lathe, and probably dates from prior to 1920. A previous owner has fitted a lead screw and modified slide to drive the tool rest.

    Essentially, I bought the lathe to speed up the burnishing of pivots, which I currently do by hand but it’s a time-consuming chore. Ultimately I’d like to progress to more advanced tasks like re-pivoting.

    The pictures show what I’ve got. Now here come the questions!

    The centre is missing from the tailstock. The collet set is incomplete, with mainly the larger sizes missing. Any suggestions for sources? The collets are numbered, for example I have numbers 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24 and 26, plus four concave cone collets numbered 1, 3, 4 and 5. What do the numbers stand for, and are they related to size?

    There are two tubular handles which I think might be tool holders, is this correct?

    Finally, can anyone recommend a good book that would help me get the most out of this lathe?

    Many thanks for any advice,

    Phil

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  2. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Sorry, I think I can answer one of my own questions... after experimenting with some pivot wire, the numbers on the collets refer to the diameter in mm/10, e.g. collet number 6 accepts 0.6mm wire, number 18 accepts 1.8mm wire and so on.

    Phil
     
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  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Phil,

    There's some information on your lathe here. One thing to check is that this lathe was made in both 6.5 mm and 8 mm versions, that is the diameter of the collets, so a vernier on the parallel section of the collets will establish this. It's important, because 6.5 mm collets are not at all common, whereas the world is full of the 8 mm size. Collet sizes, as you've discovered, are usually expressed in tenths of a mm, so 24 is 2.4 mm.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Phil,

    There are a couple of good books on these lathes; 'The Modern Watchmakers Lathe and How to Use it' by Archie B. Perkins and 'The Watchmaker and his Lathe' by H. Jendritski. I think the latter is probably rather cheaper.

    The two items in your last picture look like drilling quills. Tailstock runners should be easy enough to come by, if they're a standard size.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  5. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Oh, dash it! The man told me it was an 8mm lathe, but my dial gauge tells me that the collets are the rare 6.5mm size. That’s probably going to limit my options. It also explains why he only wanted £100 for it...

    Never mind. I have been playing with it tonight and it seems like it will still be useful for lots of tasks, such as cutting off pinion wire to make lantern pinion trundles.

    Thanks for your help, Graham.

    Phil
     
  6. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Phil,

    That's a shame, but 6.5 mm collets do come up occasionally on eBay, (other auction sites are available . . .). A plus is that if some are offered for sale, there are very few people out there who have one of these lathes, so you won't have much competition!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  7. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Every cloud has a silver lining...!
     
  8. wefalck

    wefalck Registered User

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    Another useful book is Carlè's book on 'Watchmakers' and Model Engineers' Lathes'. It should be easy to get second-hand in the UK.

    I got some 6.5 mm collets that were sold to me as 6 mm ones. Have to check the make, as also Wolf, Jahn & Co. made 6.5 mm lathes and the thread is not the same as on the Boleys.
     
  9. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    I couldn’t find a copy of Jendritzki’s recommended book, but I spotted that one by Donald deCarle and as I enjoy his writing, I’ve ordered a copy.

    I may be interested in some or all of your 6.5mm collets, if they’ll fit my lathe. I’ll take some detailed measurements later, try to identify the thread size and come back to you. Many thanks,

    Phil
     
  10. wefalck

    wefalck Registered User

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    Send me a PM, as one is not supposed to do any 'deals' here ... it will be a few days before I have the time to check what I have.
     
  11. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Phil,

    Jeffrey Formby has copies.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  12. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Thanks Graham. That’s odd, my search didn’t find it, although I do know of that supplier and have previously bought from them.

    Wefalck, of course, I’ll send you a PM.

    Thanks for all the advice,

    Phil
     
  13. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    PM sent.
     
  14. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Thanks for that, Graham. I have discovered that the drilling quills are a snug fit and slide inside the tubular piece which passes through the tailstock and holds the Jacot drum or the lantern runner. I am having to learn another new subset of horological terminology! So I guess that there would have originally been a set of drilling quills with various sizes of drill bit fitted into them. I only have two quills, one of which is empty and the other contains what looks like the remains of some sort of twist drill about 2mm in diameter.

    This acquisition is posing a bit of a detective story, but more is coming to light and I like the fact that the lathe could be nearly 100 years old and is still eminently usable.

    Phil
     
  15. sharukh

    sharukh Registered User
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    There's a set of 6.5 mm collets on sale on the big auction site. The rules forbid linking to an auction but I'm sure you can find them with a quick search.

    Sharukh
     
  16. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Thank you Sharukh. Someone else pointed those out to me and I’m watching them out of interest, although I already have collets in that size range.

    However, I’m not 100% sure that they will fit my Telco lathe anyway. Despite the Telco being a close copy of the Boley lathe, the collets’ threads are slightly different. It appears that I need either Telco/TCM or Wolf Jahn 6.5mm collets having a 40TPI thread.

    I currently have collets up to 2.6mm, but for anything bigger I am having to use the box chuck. Some larger collets and some tailstock runners are due to be purchased shortly.

    Phil
     
  17. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Here are a few pictures of what I’ve done to the lathe to get it working.

    First, I replaced the leaky 2.5uF motor run capacitor with a modern equivalent, lubricated the motor bearings and it now runs nicely. I cut and fitted a 3mm drive belt, tightened the headstock bearing to get rid of the end float, gave everything a good clean and oil, and now it all runs beautifully.

    Last night I tackled the tool rest problem. A previous owner had modified the slide and converted it to a screw-driven slide, for what purpose I’m not sure, but the T rest was sitting way above the centre. As the original slide had been lost, I felt the easiest thing was to make a new, lower, T rest. Rather than work in steel, I had some 7mm brass bar and a scrap brass hinge, from which I cut the new rest. The angle was chosen to put the rest in line with the centre, and it all works perfectly. Obviously, brass isn’t the ideal material for lathe parts, but it’s quite thick and solid, and it works.

    The first thing I made on the lathe, just visible in the last photo, is a 1mm pivot burnishing runner which fits into the 6.6mm tailstock. I’ve yet to finish that, but I plan to make a set in popular pivot sizes.

    Happy New Year!

    Phil

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  18. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Phil,

    That's a good piece of ingenuity; although brass may not be ideal for a tool rest, it does have one advantage in that the graver is less likely to skid about on the softer metal.

    It's surprising how good these old lathes can be if they're properly cleaned and setup again.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  19. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    Thanks, Graham. It’s almost 50 years since I used a lathe in anger, and that was a full-sized engineering lathe when I was a student. I’m slowly getting to grips with sharpening and using gravers. So far I’ve managed facing off, parallel turning, finding a centre and centre drilling. It’s all good fun!

    Phil
     
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  20. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    I’ve made a couple of safety runners to support the pivot being burnished, plus a crude carrier to enable arbors to be rotated between centres. This works well, although with the well-known limitation of having to hold the burnisher in place before starting and stopping the lathe to prevent the pivot jumping out of the runner.

    Tonight I fashioned a simple spring-loaded retainer from a paper clip. This is a tight-ish fit in the groove around the safety runner, and can be swivelled to press gently down on the arbor to keep it in place before starting the lathe. It is simple, versatile, costs nothing and works better than I could have hoped.

    The challenge, of course, will be to make a proper engineering job of all this that will work as well as the lash-up does!

    Phil

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  21. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Phil
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    After posting the above, I started to feel a bit embarrassed by the crude nature of the carrier.

    Amongst some items I purchased recently was a proper carrier pulley, so I made up a better arbor to support it, turned from 7mm dia brass rod down to 5.6mm so it can be gripped in my largest collet. It has a tapered section which grips the pulley and, after many failed attempts, a conical depression in the centre to support the pivot of the arbor being rotated.

    I’m less embarrassed by this version!

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    Phil
     
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