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bobm12

Recommendation For Watchmaker Lathe

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Hi everyone,

 

I know nothing about watchmaker's lathes -- although I have worked on regular, vintage ones -- and I'm looking for a recommendation and as much information one them. The goal is to get one in the very, very near future. Please help!

 

PS. I'll also appreciate information about compatibility of parts/tools for them. Thank you in advance.

 

Bob

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Hi Bob,

Make sure that you buy a watchmakers and not a small modelmakers lathe. There are a few good makes to choose from, Boley, Lorch, Levin, Pultra and Rolls Royce of lathes Schaublin. Whatever you go for make sure that it is in excellent condition and with as many collets and attachments as possible. The reason I say this is to purchase the attachment separately will cost a lot of money.

Lathes such as Unimat are excellent for modelmakers, but do not have such a comprehensive selection of collets and attachments that you will require for doing watch repairs.

I have a Boley Lienen WW bed lathe and attachments. If you check out this http://lathes.co.uk/leinentradwatchmaker/ and http://www.lathes.co.uk/leinenmodern/ you will get some idea of the sort of things available. If you go to the homepage of the link, you will be able to look up information on just about any lathe, both large and small.

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Went there and...found lots of things I wasn't counting on. It is so complicated I'm not sure if I should buy it now. Maybe later when I understand more about watchmaking...considering it is a substantial investment and my space is limited. but I still would like the most information about it as possible so I'll keep getting into it little by little.

 

Thanks Geo, those were excellent links.

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Hi Bob, if you're buying new, look for a vendor near you, they can provide valuable guidance. You will also be needing tool steel and raw stock and these guys will be able to put you in touch with the right people (if they don't stock it themselves). They also supply stuff like cutting fluid etc.

 

Anil

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BobM12,

The biggest problem with most watchmaker lathes is that most of the companies that manufactured them are no longer in business. This means that finding quality accessories can be a bit of a problem. Eight millimeter collets are still manufactured but six millimeter collets are not. There are a number of used Wolf-Jahn and lorch 6mm lathes available for a reasonable price but finding collets for them can be a matter of blind luck. To the best of my knowledge the only companies who manufactured watchmaker lathes in the past that are still in business are LEVIN, DERBYSHIRE, STAR and DIXIE (marketed under the BERGEON name. I don't know how long the SINCERE brand has been out there but they currently make a high quality lathe. Both DERBYSHIRE and LEVIN have shifted over to a slightly larger instrument size lathe but the precision and quality of these machines is so fantastic (20-50 millionths of an inch spindle runout),  they can certainly be used to make watch parts. As a matter of note both of these machines use ultra precision ball bearing headstocks while the Star, Dixie (Bergeon) and Sincere use the old fashioned cone bearings. While cone bearings are not as accurate as ABEC 7 OR ABEC 9 ball bearings, they have enough accuracy to make suitable watch parts. 

This brings the selection down to availability and affordability. Any of these five currently manufactured lathes can make suitable quality watch parts. Out of the five the Sincere lathe is the most affordable as are its accessories.

As an example a  Sincere milling attachment is less than $400.00 while a Bergeon milling attachment is around $7000.00. Both milling attachments are light duty accessories that lead to deflection problems under a cutter load. A 175 pound Harbor Freight (CENTRAL MACHINERY) bench top mini mill (once tweaked in and adjusted) will cut better than a watchmaker lathe milling attachment. The mini mill has more size, mass and power than the watchmaker lathe accessory, so the cutter is more likely to go where you want it to go.

If I were to give a recommendation it would be to stay away from machines with  aluminum beds. Aluminum headstocks are stable but aluminum beds can cause deflection and/or wear problems.  This is true for lathes but especially true for milling machines. Aluminum is not as rigid as steel and tends to bend more easily under a load. Cone bearings are OK but you have to learn how to clean and adjust them. You also have  to run them at lower speeds. Modern ball bearings are more accurate to several magnitudes and can run much faster than cone bearings.  

Just thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth.

david

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JDM,

The Sincere is also marketed by a German company under the name VECTOR. The VECTOR comes in a beautiful wooden box and the SINCERE comes in a cardboard box packed in foam. The VECTOR costs a lot more than the SINCERE but does not have the advertising stigma of "made in China" attached to it. Other than that, once they are set up and adjusted properly, both machines can make good parts. 

A few years ago I read an article on the NAWCC web page written by someone who purchased a HORIA  Lathe. Apparently he paid a lot of money for the machine, but unfortunately,  the tailstock did not line up with the spindle. He shipped it back to Horia and they shipped it back to him with the same problem. In short, he was stuck with an expensive designer label machine that did not function properly.  I do not own a Horia lathe but I do own a set of Horia turns and they seem to work properly.  I believe that the most important aspect in a machine is that it functions properly for the job at hand or it does not. Trying to select a machine based on its brand name can sometimes lead to a bad place. If you are unable to fix the problem you just may end up with an expensive door stop.

david

PS:   I failed to mention the HORIA LATHE because I forgot about it. This means that there are 6 companies that currently manufacture watchmaker lathes.

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2 hours ago, vinn3 said:

a milling machine is more important than the lathe, for general use.

That's a sweeping statement that I don't agree with Vinn.  It very much depends on what you intend making or repairing.

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David, what are "turns"? There are a lot of terms in machining which I don't know (English is not even my language). I've lost my chance to learn it when i dropped out of professional school, but that saved my sanity. I still want to make or repair parts, perhaps I should switch to clockmaking and do with one of these toy lathes I mentioned in another thread :)

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I have a Star lathe & over the years I have gradually built a nice collection of collets & tools. All are used but work just fine.
The hardest part when making parts using a watchmakers lathe is not the make of lathe but the skills required to use one. My brother in law purchased a Chinese lathe a few years ago & he produces excellent work from it. 
 

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Clockboy,

That is well said.  The important thing is that the lathe is set up and properly adjusted to do the job. Earlier today I watched a video on this forum showing a Dremel tool wired down to a bench and a piece of angle iron used as a T-Rest. He then proceeded to make a watch stem out of a nail. After more than 30 years in manufacturing as a tool and die maker, CNC programmer,   machine designer  and automation circuit engineer, I have to say that this video rocked my world. I could not have dreamed what I saw in that video; hats off to that guy.

david

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JDM,

Turns are an early form of lathe that utilizes  two dead centers instead of  a rotating headstock. The piece to be turned is secured to a driving dog that is engaged to a pulley with a pin. As the pulley is turned the pin pushes against the driving dog and rotates the part. A Jacot tool is really a specialized form of turnes. The pulley can be driven by a bow, handwheel or motor. The advantage of turning this way is that rotating the part around dead centers is extremely accurate. The disadvantage is that the work has to be rotated very slowly. Using this method the part can be removed from the lathe, measured and repositioned with almost no loss of accuracy.

There is a Steffen Pahlow video on Youtube called TURNING BETWEEN CENTERS ON A LATHE that shows a part being turned on a set of turns. 

david

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JDM,

Go to Youtube and take a look at this video:

Watchmaking, Lorch LUD Drehbänkchen, Small Lathe

by Steffen Pahlow

It is another good video showing the set up and use of turns.

david

Edited by david

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Fafal,

I have only seen pictures of a Cowells Lathe. They are beautiful looking machines but seem to be very expensive and are not radially available in the USA. 

Here is a picture of a Derbyshire Instrument Lathe from Tony Lathes:

img69.gif

 

Image result for cowells lathe

The bottom picture is a Cowells Lathe.

david

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Cowells model you posted above is ME which is made for metal engineering, they have another model for watchmakers - CW 90 (I think) There is a website where are offered used ones, but mostly ME type:

http://www.myford-lathes.com/other_lathes.htm

Its from UK so it may be a problem for those on other side of big pond. But prices are more acceptable... Those are great lathes, I hope maybe I will get one of them :)

Edited by Rafal

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Rafal,

Those are nice looking machines. From the pictures the ME and CW models seem to be similar except for the chucking components. One of the pictures shows an IME Lathe. IMEs are among the finest watchmaker lathes ever produced. The good news is most people don't know about them and they can be purchased for a reasonable price.

front view ime watchmakers  lathe for sale

david

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Cowells CW90 is on my whis list... it takes 8mm. collets. At the same time powerful enough to produce mostly tools ... I will say that it is option number 1 to a schaublin 70. Read more about it here >>>>>

Hint ... realy good stuff at that website!!

 

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