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Things you made with a lathe/mill

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  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 10:38 PM
Thanks for the great help and links guys. I went to a 'hobby' show last weekend (our club didn't have a display) and there was a pretty good table of guys that build steam engines. I got to spend quite a bit of time picking their brains too. Always nice to see some of the stuff in person. Nobody had a lathe or mill working, but they had lots of pictures to help me out.

Now...unfortunately I seem to think I *need* one of these babies... my budget seems to think otherwise...

Thanks again. Much appreciated...

Murray
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Foothills of Colorado
Posted by Hoser on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 3:24 PM
I build mostly car kits and have turned air cleaners, breathers, coils, disc brake rotors, shocks, pulleys, radiator caps, etc. I recently turned an air cleaner for an AMT '67 GTO from reference pics 'cuz the kit part was inaccurate.
I use a Unimat-SL DB200 I picked up on eBay a few years ago for about $280. It has a post attachment to mount the motor / headstock vertically to convert it into a milling machine. It's a great little lathe ('little' being about 17" long) but unfortunately the company stopped making them about 20 years ago. Now about the only place to find complete units or parts is eBay, and prices can go pretty high. But a search for 'Unimat' will usually return 2-3 pages of hits so there still are quite a few out there.

Try these -
http://www.unimat.homestead.com/index.html
http://www.cuttingedgecnc.com/links.htm
"Trust no one; even those people you know and trust." - Jack S. Margolis
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 10, 2003 8:11 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by TenchiMuyo81

Can I scratchbuild scale gun barrels on a lathe?
Also, how much does a lathe cost?

See the previous posts for suggestions as to types and references. Expect to spend about $500 minimum for a decent lathe including basic tools (tools in this context are the parts that do the actual cutting).

If you are thinking about 1:48/72 scale airplane barrels I think there are better solutions offered in the airplane forum, but you can certainly turn out larger barrels like for armor or ship cannons on a lathe, right up to your basic 1:1 Saturday Night Special (oops, maybe I shouldn't be giving you ideas ...).
Bruce
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 10, 2003 1:23 PM
Smithy is indeed still in business, http://www.smithy.com/ecom/index.asp

My lathe experiance is with an 8' engine lathe with a swing of about 24" (8" through the chuck) and my mill work was done on a Bridgeport.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 10, 2003 1:17 PM
Can I scratchbuild scale gun barrels on a lathe?
Also, how much does a lathe cost?
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 10, 2003 1:16 PM
I use one of the 7x12 import lathes. It takes some work to rebuild the unit once you get it (look on it as a pre-assembled kit of a lathe), but after I finished I found I could hold 1 to 2 thousandths quite easily. In essence, you can use the lathe on itself to improve the alignment, etc.
It is a bit tricky to machine very small parts because they tend to bend when you try to cut them. The normal procedure is to support the work with a live center in the tailstock, but that compresses the metal (I generally use brass or aluminum) making the problem worse. I am working on a system that will allow me to put tension on the part between the tailstock and headstock, thereby alleviating the bending problem.
This type of minilathe costs about $300 - 400. There are a lot of sites dedicated to this mill, I suggest you start with Varmint Al's site first. He has a lot of good tips and alignment suggestions. He also has links to all the other major sites.

http://www.cctrap.com/~varmint/alath.htm

Personally, I just enjoy machine work. I bought the lathe to build bits for models, but I have found all sorts of other uses for it around the house. Now for a minimill....
  • Member since
    December 2002
Posted by SNOOPY on Monday, November 10, 2003 11:51 AM
Sorry for the wrong name, Smitty, it is actually called Smithy. I think they are still in business. I think back in the real early 90's Smithy use to advertise in FSM. I think that is how I heard of them.
  • Member since
    December 2002
Posted by SNOOPY on Monday, November 10, 2003 11:48 AM
I use to machine parts when I was modeling rairoad items. Actually, the otems were more along the line of jigs to help lay ties or make buildings. I was looking into a lathe once but could not afford it. There is a company called Smitty. They make small to medium size lathes and lathe/mill maching that are combined. They can range from $2200 - $6000. That was a bout four years ago. You can find cheaper ones at factories that are closing down. The is a newspaper out just for machinery, wish I could remember the name. If anyone is looking for this type of machine, you can also look at Harbor Freight. They usually have some cheap stuff.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 10, 2003 11:41 AM
I agree with what has already been said here; check out model engineering mags and local schools or clubs.
I use a Taig lathe, which is a small jeweller's lathe. It can be set up for wood or metal turning, and while not quite as versatile as a Sherline it does most of the same operations quite well. Another decent brand of small lathe is Unimat.
I make deadeyes, belaying pins, ship's wheels, etc using the wood chuck and tool rest; and some of my own tools (like pin punches), wheels, cannons, etc. using the metal chuck and compound slide attachment. A compound slide lets you cut tapers. Some lathes like the Sherline rotate the headstock to do the same thing, however you cannot support the tail of the workpiece with this method. There is also a milling attachment for the Taig that I find useful but somewhat limiting as to the size of things you can mill.
Small lathes generally do not have thread cutting attachments, but I find you really don't need them for model work any way.
The one thing I do miss on the Taig is a copying attachment (follow rest). Having one would make turning multiple parts easier.
Materials are as close as your nearest scrap metal yard; you can probably get small lengths of rod or tube for next to nothing.

A good reference (that got me started) is 'The Home Machinists' Handbook' by Doug Briney. It explains pretty well everything you will need to know to get going and walks you through half a dozen useful projects.

Good luck, and let's see your first project!
Bruce
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Washington State
Posted by leemitcheltree on Monday, November 10, 2003 4:20 AM
Murray,
Yech - that's a nasty question!! There are so many different types of lathes for so many different uses.
Personally, I'd like a small lathe (like a watchmakers lathe) or a little lathe that has a bed of about 200-300 mm, with a swing (the max radius that can turn on the chuck) of about 75-80mm. I'd be able to do much finer work than I ever could on a big lathe.
I currently use a 60 year old turret, technically not really a lathe, but we've fabricated a tool post with slides so it can be used as a lathe.
The turret is a lathe - sort of - that has a station of tools that can turn and be pushed into the work (stuck onto the chuck in the headstock) to perform a specific function - for example, the first tool moves in and drills a pilot hole then moves out, the turret turns and the next tool moves in and reams the hole then moves out, the turret turns and the third tool moves in and cuts a chamfer on the hole , etc etc etc..........
I'd recommend seeking out a group that either restores real live steam apparatus (like trains or tractors) or try to find a model engineering group who can give you first hand, personal instruction on the uses of lathes and milling machines. Making, repairing or maintaining live steam vehicles or apparatus requires extensive knowledge of machining and lathe work.
There should also be classes in lathe work and machining at your local community college that you might be able to join.
Or maybe, just have a chat with the manager of a local engineering shop, take some of your models with you so you can explain what you want, and I'd be surprised if the manager would'nt show you around and explain things.
I'd love to do that myself, but it's a long, wet walk to Canada.
Cheers mate
LeeTree

Cheers, LeeTree
Remember, Safety Fast!!!

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 9, 2003 5:20 PM
Hey leetree,
What type of lathe do you have or use? Is it mostly trial and error? I dont mind trying but I feel as though this maybe something that might be over my head!
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Washington State
Posted by leemitcheltree on Sunday, November 9, 2003 4:47 PM
Murray,
I use a lathe all the time to make bits for my models.
Sometimes it's landing gear, hydraulic rams, pitots (for larger scale stuff), and the latest bit is a set of wheels for the Tamiya Jaguar Mk.ll - my father-in-law has one, but It's got pressed steel rims (not the spokes that come in the kit) - I made the rims, the centres, and also the chrome trim and the hubcaps - all on a lathe.
Do yerself a favor - if you're seriously planning on getting a lathe, get something a little larger that you think you'll need - cuz you'll find you'll use it for much more than just modelling.
I'm not sure about links - I've never looked.
But if you have a look at miniature engineering mags, they help explain a lot. There are heaps of those mags - many with working steam trains as their main theme, but there's lots of info in them you can use.
Cheers
leeTree

Cheers, LeeTree
Remember, Safety Fast!!!

  • Member since
    November 2005
Things you made with a lathe/mill
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 9, 2003 12:34 AM
I've been interested in lathes/mills lately and am wondering if anyone here makes pieces for their models with either of these tools. If you've got some interesting links/pics, please let me know.

Murray
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