Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Precision Tool Department Grows

March 1, 2013

Now and then you come across deals that you simply cannot pass up. In my case, this seems to happen with greater frequency than I would have expected, possibly due to the fact that I’m always watching, or maybe my patience.

 I once again found myself staring at possibly one of the best deals I’ve bought in ages – better than free 50’s lights, WW2 Toolboxes, or 600sqft of 60’s flooring for $50. This time, $50 saw me loading a vintage MYFORD metal lathe into the back seat of my Echo, complete with chuck, tailstock, toolpost, bits, and a few odds and ends. It had been cluttering my Uncle’s garage and with the going rate of $50, I snapped it up. Weighing in at 200lbs, it’s a little awkward to get in and out through the back door of the car, but we managed without destroying the car.

Brief Overview:

This is a British made lathe, and although I haven’t narrowed the year down yet from the ID stamp, I know it’s between the late 40’s and late 70’s. This was one of MYFORD’s most popular lathes, and parts are still being made by the original manufacturer today, so replacement parts should be attainable. It sports a 20” bed with 7” swing, and is backgeared with screwcutting capability. The 1/2HP motor drives a system of v-belts like you’d find in a car of the same era, and each of the main bearings have a small oil canister that drips oil while running. To the best of my knowledge I can use this on metal, wood, plastic, Renshape, and all kinds of other materials. A little bit of fabricating can turn it into a modest milling machine, with the cutting bit in the headstock and the work attached to the carriage (although the ‘mill’ would lack motion in the y –axis direction)

   The Good
    - Fairly complete unit, although it does not have the brigade of accessories that these lathes came with.  
    - It’s in running order.  
    - Has had very, very little use over the past 20 years, meaning the bed and carriage show very little signs of wear.  
    - The heavy grease was a blessing in disguise, protecting all the vital exposed metal components and much of the original paint

    The Bad: 
     - The rack-pinion gear for moving the carriage down the main ‘Way’ is missing, so to move the carriage I have to use the wheel at the end of the screw cutting shaft… nuisance until I get the part I need. 
     - The main 65 tooth backgear is missing 3 consecutive teeth. I believe this is for gearing down the lathe but I haven’t figured it out yet.  
     - From years of sitting some of the tooling on the carriage is very, very sticky. A good cleaning and oiling has helped immensely but I may need to make fine adjustments.

This does in fact pertain to the old Willys pickup, in that I should now be able to manufacture small parts such as knobs, bushings, shaft components, etc. 

For now it’s undergone a light cleaning and oiling until it’s moved into my new house, where I will build a stand for it and hopefully get years of use out of it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Better Than Stock

February 15, 2013

When my quote came back from the fabricator and I found it to be less than 1/10th the price of a reproduction bed, it felt like I’d discovered some secret restoration cheat code. Granted, the bed I designed does not have a corrugated floor, and none of the alignment holes have been drilled, but for savings of about $3100 over a reproduction bed, I can easily live with that. The other plus with this bed was that the difference between 16 gauge and 14 gauge was only about $20, so I opted for the thicker steel, giving me an extra .015” over stock thickness. This may not sound like much, but the heft is considerable, and should stand up to years and years of use without showing as much wear. 

Getting this load home in the little echo was not a task for the faint of heart, as it hung out the back of the trunk and touched the back of my seat. I did manage to mock it up in my garage for some pictures and an oiling, since I won’t be welding it for a little while. Note that the bed floor is placed in upside down, otherwise the centre flange wouldn’t let it sit flat.

This bed looks great, and only the trained eye would be able to spot it as a 'homemade' reproduction, since it was made using most of the same methods as the Willys factory some 53 years ago.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


January 30, 2013

First post of the new year, again a short one. Back when I worked on the replacement bed, I had figured on cutting the old 'cap rails' off the top of the bed and welding them on. Had this been a warehouse find that had sat since 1961, that would have been ok, however the current bed is pretty beat up and rusty, so I opted to redo the rails as well for a fresh look. 

I left enough steel in the cap rail to allow me to bend it around a die to achieve the rolled rail, and made the bed from 2 pieces that meet in the middle. I designed it in 14 Gauge for strength, but the factory stock 16 Gauge would be doable if 14 is too expensive. I nixed the custom bed supports underneath to save some pennies, and can use pre-fabbed steel for this, or just bend my own supports in the garage. 

Lastly, I added the maple strips and gave the model a nice blue for looks.

Note, the cap rails are not rolled down in the model. The finished product will look like a reproduction bed

At the moment, I have loads of other higher priority things on the go (wedding soon, new house, etc), but I still sent the parts in for quote... who knows?