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ShenzhenAdam

Watchmakers lathe vs mini lathe

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I'm considering getting a mini lathe and swapping out the bearings for tapered type as in watch makers lathe ... I know some modification required and it would be an interesting project ... But I believe I would be able to get similar accuracy esp. if I had  a belt drive instead of gear drive ... of course other parts would need to be improved also ... Any thoughts??

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I'm considering getting a mini lathe and swapping out the bearings for tapered type as in watch makers lathe ... I know some modification required and it would be an interesting project ... But I believe I would be able to get similar accuracy esp. if I had  a belt drive instead of gear drive ... of course other parts would need to be improved also ... Any thoughts??

What are you making with lathe?

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Mini Lathe, do you mean these ones? (See pictures)
I've  been experimenting with these small ones for a different purpose but haven't thought about using them for watchmaking.
One might be able to do some small gadgets and rings in brass and plastic with them since they usually have a small weak 12V motor which are belt driven.
To do something else requires you to modify them heavily with new motors, a better XYZ table with micrometers and so on, the cost of this probably reaches way beyond the price of a used watchmakers lathe so I doubt it is worth it. But as an interesting project just for the kicks  it would be a fun project.  

Lathe_M1.jpg

Lathe_M2.jpg

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I have a Unimat 3 with the millling attachment for clock work. I sold my watchmakers lathe with foot control years ago. My unimat can deal with center Longcase clock wheels and the barrals, so it can handle any size clock part. 

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9 hours ago, ShenzhenAdam said:

I'm considering getting a mini lathe and swapping out the bearings for tapered type as in watch makers lathe ... I know some modification required and it would be an interesting project ... But I believe I would be able to get similar accuracy esp. if I had  a belt drive instead of gear drive ... of course other parts would need to be improved also ... Any thoughts?? 

what sort of equipment do you have for this project? 

The double taper bearing at the front of a lathe headstock might just be the most difficult thing to create to the fit and finish needed for a highly accurate plain bearing.  Other than a series of extremely precise laps I'm not even sure how to get there from here, heck its bloody difficult machining mating tapers to a shoulder....now you have mate two tapers mate and to the best finish you ever done, and from hardened steel?  Please take lots of pics :)

 

 

 

Edited by measuretwice

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Mini lathe could mean a number of different machines, could you be more specific? As Measuretwice said, making the double taper solid bearings as seen on most watchmaker's lathes would be something even a seasoned master machinist would stress about. If the machine uses regular deep groove ball bearings those can be preloaded or angular contact bearings installed which are meant to be preloaded. Even that is tricky, as parallelism and concentricity and preload force are measured in microns or less. If you want the precision and collet holding ability of the usual watchmaker's lathe headstock, and the other capabilities of one of the mini lathes, you might have less trouble adapting an orphan headstock to the machine. Do it in a way that you can switch out the original with the other easily.

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I’ve got a 6mm Lorch running a sewing machine motor and foot control, I’m also getting the Axminster C0 micro lathe, comes in at 36cm all in for length. Here’s the tech stuff on it.

 

 
A high quality, miniature metalworking lathe, constructed to a very high standard around a cast iron, hardened and ground bed. The spindle is powered by a 150W motor through a variable speed drive giving spindle speeds of 100-3,850rpm. With a swing of 110mm and 125mm between centres, this is an ideal machine for making small parts for models and integrating metal parts into woodturning projects etc. Weighing only 13kg, this is a very portable but capable machine. It is fitted with a 3-jaw self-centring chuck with reversible jaws, single tool post taking 8mm tooling, splash guard and interlocked chuck guard for safety. The spindle thread is 14 x 1mm and has a 10mm bore.
 
im going to see if I can do any watch work with it, I might have to sort out some collets to fit.
ive been looking at trying to get a compound slide for my Lorch (my graver skills aren’t fantastic) to allow me to get perfect spindles etc but prices for 2nd hand units were almost the same price as this complete large, and I had no idea how true they would run etc or even fit my lathe bed. 
The reviews are a little cruel as my father ( engineer, machine fitter ) had a proper look and a play with the display model in the shop and with the reviews in his mind he still thought it was a good little lathe and worth getting.
Edited by transporter

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Hi

 

In my opinion you will be better off getting a good quality second hand machine that is a few years old that has seen little use. The reason I say this is that modern made lathes with either cast iron beds or extruded aluminium beds are made to a budget and this shows. I recently looked at Proxxon etc in a showroom and the fits and tollerances on these machines were appaling. Yes you can adjust the gibbs and freeplay on the leadscrews and compound slide screws but they are so far out in the first place you will be very frustrated in buying a lathe and then spending many hours tweaking it and changing out parts etc to get accurate results. Also new machines have stresses etc in the beds post being cast in the foundry so may twist on you gradually over time where the older lathes have been made of better grey metal and the stresses have relieved themselves over the years.

A nice Unimat lathe or similar will be a very usable machine and they are very well made and good ones are still out there. I have the Unimat SL version so you end up with a lathe, pillar drill and light milling machine all in one so less space taken up on the bench. The lathe is belt driven so is very quiet in comparison to a spur gear type lathe that will generally run with a lot more noise. If you don't do a lot of long thread cutting operations then buying the odd threading die for those odd jobs will be better than buying a lathe for threading in my opinion.

 

Just my thoughts but hope this helps.

Andy

 

Edited by Andyworks

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