Trying to identify some 8mm ring and step collets

nw10

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May 25, 2021
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Hi,
I bought a Boley 8mm lathe on eBay which came with some ring and step collets but unfortunately don't fit the lathe. Judging from appearance they are from 2 different manufacturers. They don't have a makers name and I hope they will look familiar to someone?
Thank you.

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wefalck

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Mar 29, 2011
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They look a bit like the modern Chinese ones or the old East German ones because of the rather massive rims.

I noticed in the past the spindle cone outside angle differs from manufacturer to manufacturer so that in particular ring-collets are not interchangeable.
 

nw10

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Thanks for that pointer. I had a look on eBay, there are some very similar looking Chinese M7 x0.75 ring and step collets for sale.
 

nw10

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May 25, 2021
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I’ve now checked with a screw gauge and the collets are not 0.75, they look like 40 Whitworth thread (same as Boley collets).

But one of the step collets is just too big to fit into the headstock. It measures 7.8mm diameter at the level where the slot starts compared to 7.75mm at the same place for the Boley.

The other 2 step collets fit into the headstock but the drawbar / spindle only will only tighten half to one turn. But the external diameter at the threads is 6.99mm compared to 6.83 of the Boley collet.

Maybe a Chinese drawbar would work? I tried looking on ebay but could not find one...
 

wefalck

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If you are sure the thread is 40 tpi, you can buy a die to chase the thread to the correct diameter. Check GG-tools.
 

Betzel

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Having occasionally bought a few tools I was not sure I would need (step and odd sized spring collets) when you have to hold something and don't want to mix up some sealing wax and shellac, it's great to have a full set 1-5 from one maker so you can pass the wheel through the set until you find one that actually fits "right" with a half turn of the drawbar. The German makes (both collets and chucks) also usually have a slight inward taper to help grip the work snugly, as the contact area is by nature very slight. Don't know much about the Chinese versions.

If you can make them work in your lathe, having a full set is great. Having two full sets might be even better, but poking around an assortment of various makes is likely more a curse than a blessing? The wasteful beauty of the online auction experience is relisting what does not work out with your other group purchases. I'm not a fan of modifying collets, but the body will usually be soft enough to reduce with an old pillar file if you can run it true which is harder than it sounds. The more critical part (I believe) is the trumpet flare and it's fit against your spindle nose register.

It's also very easy to slip "in" with a hand graver when using these, ruining a step, so eyes wide open or a cross slide with a stop may work better...
 

wefalck

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This is what I like about the watchmakers lathe systems, that there are so many workholding options, without having to resort to 'emergency' collets.

As I said earlier, the wheel-chucks seem to be quite interchangeable apart from the slight difference in threads, as the the spindle-cone is the same on all makes. On the other hand, the outside shape of the spindle-nose varies from make to make and in consequence, ring-chucks may not fit - I had this problem with Lorch, Schmidt & Co. chucks on a Wolf, Jahn & Co. lathe.

Apart from the standard sets of five wheel- and ring-chucks, I also got a set of those midget ones made by e.g. Levin, whose head is not larger than the head of a normal collet. They are handy for very small objects.
 

Betzel

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I just noticed the OP got a few of those "expansion" chucks as well as the "compression" style. I've only rarely used the ones that expand, but the Levin midget step chucks are indeed quite handy.

My 8mm Geneva headstock is unbranded, but identical in almost every way to the W-J I have in the States. Almost everything Lorch I have acquired (except the indexing arm!) has worked, but have not tried their expansion collets. You're right, the Lorch has a nose profile like a wax chuck. I got a Leinen set for my WW83 from a guy in Germany (they're hard to find anywhere) and they fit this cone well enough. Leinen keyways are 2.0mm and this uses a 1.9mm index pin, so it all works.

The compression chucks in the photo look like my Lorch set, with the very wide bevel, but the keyways look way wider than 2.0mm which is what a lot of the Asian collets use. Like Leinen, G. Boley used a 2.0mm keyway, and they were cut very precisely. These also appear to be un-numbered, which I suspect the Eastern Europeans would have faithfully copied. So, I think you are right about them being Asian. Maybe Merlin or Sincere could ID them as theirs and supply the missing ones if they can be purchased with WW threads? Without numbering, measuring the steps for identification will not be easy. And, I'll bet the .05mm difference in the one oddball is "within tolerance" for them. It could easily be filed and stoned down to fit if the collet can be made to run fairly true. Shellac it face-to-face to brass and do a light shave? If it will not run true, just let the file and stone follow the collet's eccentricity by feel. Not ideal, but it will work to make it usable...

Good luck!
 

wefalck

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De Carlè has a table with dimensions of the steps, which seem to be more or less the same for all makes.
 
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Betzel

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Really? My copy is in storage. Is that info easily available? If these are Asian and they used those dimensions in their production (?) perhaps the OP can self-ID his collets and can order the missing ones, or buy them used? Having mine in order helps me run through a test fit pretty quickly...
 

nw10

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May 25, 2021
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Thanks.
Partial success.... (!)
The step collet that was too big to go into the headstock I gave a gentle shave on a stone. Lost about 0.02mm diameter, it now fits.
Now I'm left with the 3 step collets with a diameter at the threads too big for the drawbar (6.93, 6.94 and 6.97 compared to the regular Boley collet 6.83mm).
I think I will try a 40 TPI die to reduce the diameter. I had a look on GG tools, didn't see a suitable die there but RDG tools in the UK has got one....
Here's a picture of the step chuck chart from deCarle....it looks like I've got a number 2 and two number 5s
Any idea please where to go for Merlin or Sincere for missing step collets (?) - I couldn't find them online.

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Betzel

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Good work lad. Wallace and Gromit also had a close shave.

Perhaps the variation confirms wefalck's suspicion of their far east origins. The RDG stuff, though also mostly Asian, is usually good in that it gets a UK-based look over. They have been "out of stock"on things occasionally due to "quality control issues." Though that could be hogwash, and GG is generally always top quality, I have had good luck with RDG. Remember there are two "WW" thread patterns, which are close, but not identical. I've chased interchangably and it has worked, but there's a funny feeling cutting a metric thread with an imperial die that I should give myself a yellow card...

Anyway, we need to respect the forum's rules about commercial activity, even when helping each other solve problems or look at something unusual we want to discuss, and I have forgotten this a few times. But, if you go onto that online auction site and search for new watchmaker's lathes, and can specify the item origin as China, etc. those two vendors should float up to the top in your search results. Or, search for new step collets, full collet sets, etc. If you have any trouble, just PM me?
 

Betzel

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Well, just poking around this afternoon it looks like all those old guys have either quit, changed their names or gone into business for themselves, etc. So, you may have to trial and error it with other vendors of these products, or pounce on a numbered (and hopefully matched) used G. Boley set, and keep these as "emergency/spares" (they are probably soft, so could be altered). Having a chasing die is a good idea anyway.

I'm pretty sure most of the old school tools from Germany were made in Esslingen am Neckar, branded then sent out to the various "makers" so it would not surprise me to find these are all made in a similar way (Shenzhen?) and sold any way they can. All the best!
 

nw10

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May 25, 2021
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I was having a look at the online aution site for new watchmakers lathes (then Chinese origin) - many look the same. Most don't have a makers name or it's not clear on the photo. But one comes up in the first page of the search (photo includes a distinctive purple collet box and a green lathe belt) - it has a Sincere label on it ....... (maybe new old stock?)
 

wefalck

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It would be interesting, indeed, how these Chinese manufacturers/supplier relate to each other and to certain supply houses over here in Europe.

I did buy occasionally from Merlin and Sincereclocks, but compared to 10, 15 years ago, their prices have gone through the roof, sometimes more expensive then the European supply houses ... their shops seem to dormant at the moment, but they have items listed for auction.

Georg Gottwaldt has a die 6.85 x 40 tpi listed at the moment, which should be good enough. Otherwise just drop him a line. Normally, he offers all these items to either Boley or Lorch specifications. RDG seems to have less choices, but when you are based in the UK, you might rather drop them a line.

It seems that many collets where actually made by a company called Ortlieb to the specifications of the respective manufacturers. Just before they moved to new premises, I was able to get some stuff, but I understand that they are not trading in such collets anymore.
 

Betzel

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it has a Sincere label
Like wefalck, I would be interested to know who builds these and what happened to those old guys. My curiosity has no limits. Perhaps they were the original distributors for most of these producers, and are now specialty middlemen for "fat" products that can be hand finished and boxed in the EU for markup and resale to the commercial "Made in Germany" trade (Flume, Boley GMBH, etc.) If the raw materials, alloys and treatments are decent, though few rest or age cast iron anymore, many modern machine tools can be made cost-efficiently useful through inspection and hand finishing of the work that the Chinese (or Indians, for that matter) started, but did not finish. Steffen Gotteswinter has moved on, but aptly demonstrated this cost-conscious and quality focused principle in some of his older videos, but for larger work, when he had more time on his hands.

I'm also interested to know what manufacturing techniques they use to make their spindles and hard (or bronze) bearings. Probably CNC in large oilbath machines with much less final grinding, but I remain curious to know. I'm glad I got most of my old/good stuff in the past as prices have gone past my tolerance, but just as the desire to make what's missing in my sets from scratch has risen ;-)

made by a company called Ortlieb
Ortlieb today are 30 minutes from Esslingen and, according to their website, are still making high quality clamping and work-holding technology, but not small or for watchmakers, etc. The modern watch industry has changed such that many standard old tools are now practically obsolete. It's just for restoration of old and rare things now. This is why I work on clocks, and will probably drift over to model making someday...
 

wefalck

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It appears that Vector lathes, sold e.g. by Flume and Southern, but I think also by Bergeon, were made in China, at least after the Wall came down. Before that time they may have been made in the GDR, but I didn't verify this. In the mid 1990s I had a look at a kit in the Flume showroom in Berlin, but was not impressed at all by their castings - gas bubbles even in bearing surfaces ... They look virtually identical to the Chinese ones that are now on the market.

I started with my first lathe kit (a pretty complete almost unused 6 mm Wolf, Jahn & Co. one) in 1988 and was able to collect through direct contact and later the Internet the stuff I have today - this would be out of question at today's asking prices, which went completely through the roof.
 

nw10

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May 25, 2021
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So the plan was to get a 40 TPI die and to take a small amount off the thread diameter of my step collets (6.99mm) to try to get them to fit my Boley drawbar...... (Boley collet threads are 6.85mm).

As well as ordering a die I also ordered an adjustable Chinese drawbar with WW size .275" x 40 on one end and metric size M7mm x 0.75mm on other end.

Pleased to report that the WW end of the Chinese drawbar will accept both my step collets and also my Boley collets.
 

Betzel

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Congrats. Sounds like a win! :cool:

Page Title Tony has a pretty good collection of old charts and specs which is helpful to me.

Most old collets were either 6.82/.625mm --or .275" (which is 6.985mm) / 40 TPI. I have been able to clean both up with one split die, but should probably be using the right one for each, as some long-threaded and "tight" drawbars (I'm thinking of the one on my Wolf Jahn milling attachment) seem to choke collets not made just for it. Too fat? With oil, wear and previous "adaptations" from the previous owner(s) most of what I have available work in most situations. I have a big flat washer for the others :)

What to do with that Chinese (7x.75) grinder/sawblade collet...sigh.
 

nw10

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May 25, 2021
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Having bought the Chinese double ended drawbar (it also has a metric end 7 x.75) and had a good result I would say give that a go for your grinder / sawblade collet? The drawbar is length adjustable which helps... it is 7.8mm diameter

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wefalck

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I wouldn't bother with MF7x0.75 mm threads. These arbors are also available with 6.85x40 tpi thread either directly in China or through UK/German suppliers.

It is also not so difficult to make your own draw-bars or -tubes once you have the right tap. I have done this several times now on my Lorch, Schmidt & Co. lathe. If it is only for a solid arbor, it doesn't need to be bored through either.
 

Betzel

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Thanks. Both are good suggestions. It is likely soft all the way through. When we get to France, if I dont make something odd for it, like an M3 male drawbar or something I'll relist it and pay attention to the threading when I buy another. I only use the good collets for good wheels; this was for freehand grinding on a wheel I will not be dressing or using precisely.

Like IT, so many standards to choose from, eh?
 

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