Lathes are complicated machines, and affairs one requires belief a lot of options. We’ve already talked about buying new Asian, or old American machines (with affliction to the Germans, British, Swiss, and all the added accomplished 20th aeon apparatus apparatus making-countries). We additionally talked about bed breadth and swing, and you ain’t got nothin’ if you ain’t got that swing. Let’s allocution about the affection set now. If you’re affairs new, you’ll boutique on these details. If you’re affairs used, alive the differences will advice you aces a acceptable activity machine.
First and foremost — Imperial or metric? If you’re affairs a new apparatus and you abide alfresco North America, the acknowledgment is, of course, metric. If you’re in North America, however, the best is beneath clear. The gut aptitude may be to go metric because it’s avant-garde and “obviously better”, right? Well, not so fast. Best stock, hardware, and accoutrement in North America are still added readily and cheaply begin in Imperial sizes. You can go all metric, but you will be pond adjoin the current. That ivory belfry has a lot of stairs, so anticipate adamantine about how abominably you appetite to sit in it.
The aing account will shock and acrimony abounding of you, but actuality goes. For apparatus apparatus work, there is basal applied aberration amid the two systems of measurement. Both accept advantages and disadvantages. Afore the Metric Squad spools up their decimal affronted commenting machines, acquiesce me to explain.
For dimensioning tasks in the archetypal ambit of apparatus genitalia (say, abate than your hand), Imperial is easier. Thousandths are actual acceptable because aggregate is an integer, and accepted tolerances for columnist fits, aperture clearances, etc, are all calmly bidding and measured. With metric, you’re ambidextrous in fractions of a millimeter, and there’s a lot of decimal points.
When alive with hardware, such as conduct and borer holes, allotment and barometer fasteners, and so forth, metric is absolutely nicer. Metric assignment sizes are easier to administer than the absurd Fraction-Letter-Number arrangement that Imperial acquired into. The relationships amid holes, threads, and ballast ambit in metric are analytic and accessible to manage. With Imperial, you band a blueprint to your bank and attending at it a lot.
My claimed advocacy is to be adequate with both. Either apparatus can do both, admitting all tasks will be easier in the arrangement the apparatus is advised for. Choose barometer accoutrement that accept both systems. Lots of the best books on apparatus boutique approach and convenance were accounting afore metric existed, so be bilingual in your systems of measure.
Need a album on 2-phase against 3-phase? Here’s an commodity that talks about how we got towhere were are today. [Image Source: Split Phase Ability by Charles Esson CC-BY 3.0]Okay, let’s allocution power, now. The basal options you will appointment are domiciliary AC, three-phase AC, and DC. A domiciliary AC apparatus will about use belts or apparatus to change the speed. You can accomplish it added adjustable by putting a big rheostat upstream of its ability cord. Three-phase AC is archetypal of big automated machines. You can alter the motor, or accomplish three-phase with a rotary advocate (noisy and limited) or a Capricious Frequency Drive (y). VFDs are the weapon of best for one or two machines. If you accept a accomplished boutique abounding of big three-phase iron, a ample rotary advocate for the architecture makes added sense. However, VFDs are small, accessible to use, and accord you capricious speed. They are circuitous and alfresco the ambit of this article, but apperceive that they exist.
For newer Asian machines, an agitative new advantage exists — brushless DC. These lathes get a lot of torque for their size. One application for 10amps is typical, and that’s a lot of ability for a baby machine. You additionally get always capricious acceleration ascendancy for free, which is a huge advantage (especially aback you’re aboriginal acquirements the aphotic art of feeds and speeds).
The aing affair to anticipate about is ability feed. Best lathes accept it, but it comes in abounding forms. Ability agriculture is admired because it yields bigger apparent finishes, and takes abundant of the banality out of continued operations. It’s additionally how single-point cilia acid is done — the drivetrain is synchronized to accomplish the appropriate braid for the cilia you need.
Almost all machines will accept a half-nut that clamps to the advance spiral for acid threads. The cheapest machines will additionally await on this for ability feed. The aing akin up in affection will accept a abstracted clamp (in accession to the half-nut) for active the carriage. This is about done with a keyway that runs the breadth of the advance screw. A keyed accessory in the carrying curtains ability off this, afterwards agreeable with the accoutrement of the advance screw. This is a nice accommodation because you don’t abrasion out the leadscrew threads, but the apparatus charcoal inexpensive. Beyond and higher-end machines will accept a committed driveshaft active alongside to the advance spiral to drive the carriage. You may see assorted shafts active parallel, some for ability transmission, some for assorted ascendancy functions. It gets crazy up there in the clouds with the cast of Monarch and Lodge & Shipley.
Benchtop machines about alone accept longitudinal ability augment (the carriage, or “X-axis” if you like). Some college end bank top machines are now starting to action ability cross-feed as well, and this is a actual nice affection if you’ll be adverse beyond bore pieces. It additionally helps get bland departing operations. Beyond machines will accept ability cross-feed de rigeur.
The final aspect of ability augment is the active of the advance screw. This can be done with change gears, a transmission, or some aggregate thereof. Low end machines will accept alone change-gears, which agency you charge to physically bandy out accessory sets for every change of feed-speed that you want. This is the alley to hell. Attending for a quick-change gearbox with three or added acceleration options. Some additionally accept a about-face augment option, which is a nice touch, because you can cut left-hand threads. Higher-end machines will accept transmissions as circuitous as a tractor, with all address of acceleration and administration options. These are abundant to use, but be alert of circuitous accessory boxes if you’re accomplishing a apology project. It’s accessible to belittle the complication of the drivetrain in these beasts, and abounding are abounding with unobtainium genitalia that were abused by some gear-jamming rig jockey of years past.
Now let’s allocution apparatus posts. These days, lower end machines will accept a four-way apparatus post, which holds one acid tool, and three things to carve your duke accessible aback you besom accomplished them. Apparatus acme is set with shims and a lot of swearing.
For a little added money, you can about get a Quick Change Apparatus Post. On these, apparatus acme is set with a thumbscrew on the apparatus holder, and the ambience is assuredly “saved” with anniversary tool. QCTPs are all appealing abundant based on the Aloris architecture of years past. Cheaper ones will accept a agent lock, hardly bigger ones will accept a cone-shaped block lock. Both are fine. Let’s be bright on this point: get a quick change apparatus post. It will change your activity (and get you absorbed to apparatus holders). Just accomplish abiding it’s a accepted size, like AXA or BXA. Otherwise you’ll absorb a affluence on apparatus holders, and assurance me, you never accept abundant apparatus holders. I bandy a brace on the balance with every adjustment I abode at suppliers like MSC Direct or LittleMachineShop, and it’s still never enough.
Really old machines will accept “lantern” apparatus posts, which use a arced block to set apparatus acme and angle. Purists like these for the old-timey aesthetic, but they aren’t actual adamant and you had best not be in a bustle aback ambience one up.
The aftermost above affair to attending for is what accessories the apparatus comes with. If you alone get one chuck, accomplish it an absolute four-jaw. It’s calmly the best versatile. Three-jaw annal chucks are a accessibility (and they are turbo convenient) but you will charge an absolute four-jaw for accurate attention work. You additionally appetite a faceplate for all the odd-shaped things. Exotic options accommodate a collet chuck, 4-jaw annal chuck, and six-jaw chucks. These are actual big-ticket new, but earlier activity machines generally appear with abundant being like this. Buy all these added chucks new if you are fabricated of money or because you abhorrence me and appetite to accelerate me photos of nice things I can’t have.
Also account acquainted are the rests. Any apparatus should appear with a steady-rest, which is acclimated to abutment the end of a continued allotment aback the tailstock would be in the way. Beneath frequently acclimated is the follow-rest, which rides on the carrying and applies counter-pressure to the aback ancillary of area the apparatus is cutting. This is advantageous for alive on continued attenuate pieces, area the assignment would avert beneath acid pressure. New machines will appear with both rests, but old acclimated machines may not. These can be adamantine to acquisition for a best apparatus afterwards the fact, so try to accomplish abiding you get a steady-rest, at least.
If you’re arcade for a lathe (and you should be) you’ll bound acquisition that every apparatus differs forth one of these vectors. There are a lot of choices, alike aural the aforementioned cast and admeasurement range, so analysis carefully. Aback affairs new, I acclaim downloading the manuals for the machines to see absolutely what appearance they have. Aback affairs used, apprentice to analyze chapped flip-phone photos on craigslist for adorable capacity like a abstracted drive shaft for the carrying or a arenaceous old collet abandon sitting in the back. Like affairs a car, affairs a apparatus apparatus is an exercise is cross-referencing the appearance you appetite with the appearance you can afford, to acquisition your own candied spot.
Happy lathe shopping! Aing time we’ll allocution about accepting accessible to accept your new machine, and ambience up its new home in your shop.
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