Turning a 1942 lathe into a functional piece of art

A couple of years ago, [macona] picked up a 1943 Monarch 10EE lathe. This monstrous machine is not only an amazing piece of engineering but an awesome work of art; not only can this lathe manufacture parts with exacting precision, it’s also a wonderful piece of machine age design.

The Monarch 10EE lathe was extremely high-tech for its time, and the War Dept Detroit Ordinance District tag on the cooling pump bears this machines lineage: this lathe was most likely used to make very precise military equipment such as the Norden bombsight.

After 60 years of faithful service, [macona]‘s lathe picked up several coats of paint in different colors and generally fell into a state of disrepair. [macona] spent a great deal of time overhauling this lathe by replacing a bent feed rod, troubleshooting the motor problems, and eventually replacing the whole motor with a modern AC brushless servo. You can check out the improvement the AC servo made in a video after the break.

Of course no post about a rebuilt lathe would be complete without a few beauty shots. We’re extremely thankful for [macona] for not only restoring this machine, but also for sharing it with us. Thanks to [macona]‘s restoration, this machine will hopefully be around for another 60 years.

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3d printing a mini lathe

While browsing on one of our regularly visited sites, RobotsDreams, we found this interesting little video. Here, [Sublime] is showing off his 3d printed mini lathe. In the video he mentions that all the files are available for download so you could make one for yourself, but there were unfortunately no links. A quick bit of googling and we found some more information.  We found the project on Thiniverse, though reading through the comments it seems that [Sublime] no longer uses Thingiverse. You can now find the files on his GitHub account to make your own.

The design seems very solid and looks like it could handle some basic jobs. As [Sublime] points out in the video below, you already know what parts are going to wear out fast and can simply print a few extras to have on hand.  While that may seem somewhat wasteful, he also points out that he’s using PLA which is compostable and much easier to recycle.

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Laser so easy to build anyone can burn their eyes out

The boys over at North Street Labs built a handheld burning laser and made it look super simple. Well it’s not. We don’t think it’s hard either, but the only reason it looks so easy is because they really know what they’re doing.

The first step was to source the best parts for the application. They’re using a handheld flashlight body which is small but still leaves plenty of room for the components. Next they ordered a quality lens made for the wavelength of the diode, as well as a prefab driver board.

Now the real build starts. They hit the metal lathe and machined a housing for the diode out of some aluminum stock. To marry the parts together they applied some thermal paste, and used a wrench socket to protect the diode from the pressure the vice jaws exert. It slid into place and the whole thing fits perfectly in the flashlight housing. The project wouldn’t be complete without video proof of it burning stuff. You’ll find that after the break.

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CNC conversions with [Bob]

[Bob Berg] emailed in to request that we take a look at his website. We did, and we liked what we saw! [Bob] has done a couple CNC mill conversions and documented the process quite thoroughly.

The first one listed on his site is a Sieg x-3, seen above. [Bob] explains that the first thing he did when he received it was tore it apart and  cleaned it meticulously. We’re not sure if [Bob] was being insanely neat, or if he bought a used dirty unit. Either way, you can’t argue that a nice clean machine is the way to start. After a short while using it the way it was, he added a digital read out for a little more accuracy. From there, he went for a fully motorized conversion.

Keep looking around his site. There is another full build (a lather master RF45) as well as some miscellaneous other projects that are quite interesting.

Repair a misbehaving motor controller board

It can be a real drag to fix a circuit board which has stopped working as intended, especially if you don’t have any reference material for the product. That’s the position that [Todd Harrison] found himself in when the controller for his mini-lathe gave up the ghost. He undertook and hefty repair process and eventually mapped out and repaired the driver board.

First off, we’re happy to report his success at the end of a year-long troubleshooting process; the entirety of which occupies six different posts. The link at the top is the conclusion, and you’ll find his final test video after the break. But as you can see from the image above, he was met with a lot of problems along the way. The first two segments show him reverse engineering the PCB, with a giant schematic coming out of the process. In part 3 he then started probing the board while it was live, with the smell of hot electronics causing him to disconnect the power every thirty seconds. One time he took too long and blew a resistor with the pictured results.

In the end it was a shorted PWM chip to blame. He tested a couple of different replacement options, dropped in the new part, and is now back in business. [Read more...]

Simple machining process repairs broken control knob

[Francisco] is helping his mother with a repair to the headlight knob on her Ford Ranger. Above you can see the broken knob on the left, and what it is supposed to look like on the right (taken from [Francisco's] own vehicle for reference). We’ve encountered split shafts on plastic knobs before and decided it was not something that could be fixed. But he didn’t give up so easily. He mentions that you can purchase a replacement for a few bucks, but he has the means to repair the knob by machining a metal bushing.

The idea is that you mill a metal ring whose inner diameter matches what the outer diameter of the plastic shaft should be. By inserting the broken knob in the ring, the plastic is held tightly together as if it had never broken. In the video after the break [Francisco] uses a metal pencil body from his junk box and a mini-lathe to cut the bushing to length, and mill the inner diameter to his specifications.

He talks about the difficulty of getting replacement parts in Chile, where he lives. But we think this kind of thrift is a great example for all hackers. If you’ve got the tools why not use them? And if you don’t have them, here’s a great excuse to procure them!

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They may be for developing countries, but we want a concrete lathe

At the 2009 Ghana Maker Faire, [Pat Delany] met a young carpentry student that saved for three months to buy a cheap Chinese wood plane. He was confounded by this distribution of resources, so [Pat] created the Concrete Lathe project that aims to get useful machine tools out to where they’re needed most.

The idea for concrete machine tools came out of the US involvement in World War I. America had been staunchly isolationist before committing to the war, and production of arms did not match the needed output. A man named L.I. Yeomans came up with the idea of building concrete lathes to produce artillery shells for the war effort.

Of course, the concrete lathe project is a bit more peaceful in its intentions. The concrete lathe is meant to be a cheap machine tool for developing nations. Both the concrete lathe and the Multimachine are meant to be built cheaply using scrap materials, reduce training time for machinists, and create other machine tools in a Reprap-like biological distribution.

There’s a ton of documentation on the concrete lathe wiki like the bed instructions torn from the pages of Ikea instructions, and the thread follower. While they’re still a lot of work and testing to be done, giving some manufacturing capability to those who need it most is a pretty noble cause.

Thanks [Rob] for sending this one in.