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Thread: Crazy Long Term Lathe Project

  1. #1

    Crazy Long Term Lathe Project

    Well I am about to embark on a rather strange and unusual lathe project. I think I am going to build my own lathe. While that is nothing new I guess, the way I am going to do just might be.

    I am not a wood turner, but I use an engine lathe a lot. Since an engine lathe is too pricey for me, and my current lathe is too small, I thought i would make my own. I have the equipment to do it, and I think (big word there being THINK) I can make a functional engine lathe with all the features I want, that can do both metal and woodworking turnings.

    My plan right now is to tear down this old tiller I have kicking around, a Gilson Rear Tine Tiller. I'll use the piston bore to accurately hold the headstock on sturdy bearings that can allow for pass-thru stock. The bore is already accurately machined and the mass should be pretty strong. I plan to use another small engine block for the tail stock and am in hopes to have this be adjustable on several axis.

    I am not sure how this will go all together right now, but after I tear down the Rototiller, that should give me some parts to play with. For instance it has numerous pulleys, clutches and idlers. It also has a right angle drive, some bearings for the wheels and maybe the rims themselves can be of some use.

    Its an ambitious project, so wish me luck, help me out by giving me some advice, and follow along as I try to make this into a lathe. It might end in utter failure, but what they hay, I had a marriage do that so what can I lose?

    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Inside the Beltway
    Posts
    2,666
    Um, Travis,

    I love you, man, but going flat out across a frozen lake in half darkness is nuts. And dropping a tree on a bunch of power lines, and then getting it off them, that's a little nuts too...

    But making a lathe out of a rototiller? Now, there's a project!

    Thanks,

    Bill

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tokiwadai, Japan
    Posts
    2,882
    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    Well I am about to embark on a rather strange and unusual lathe project. I think I am going to build my own lathe. While that is nothing new I guess, the way I am going to do just might be.

    I am not a wood turner, but I use an engine lathe a lot. Since an engine lathe is too pricey for me, and my current lathe is too small, I thought i would make my own. I have the equipment to do it, and I think (big word there being THINK) I can make a functional engine lathe with all the features I want, that can do both metal and woodworking turnings.

    My plan right now is to tear down this old tiller I have kicking around, a Gilson Rear Tine Tiller. I'll use the piston bore to accurately hold the headstock on sturdy bearings that can allow for pass-thru stock. The bore is already accurately machined and the mass should be pretty strong. I plan to use another small engine block for the tail stock and am in hopes to have this be adjustable on several axis.

    I am not sure how this will go all together right now, but after I tear down the Rototiller, that should give me some parts to play with. For instance it has numerous pulleys, clutches and idlers. It also has a right angle drive, some bearings for the wheels and maybe the rims themselves can be of some use.

    Its an ambitious project, so wish me luck, help me out by giving me some advice, and follow along as I try to make this into a lathe. It might end in utter failure, but what they hay, I had a marriage do that so what can I lose?

    Nice looking "Gilson"...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Mason Michigan
    Posts
    455
    So this is going to be a gas powered lathe? Seems like the noise would get to me but good luck!

  5. #5
    Sorry Greg, snagged the picture off the internet. I wanted a picture to show what I was dismantling. The Snapper is a dead ringer to my Gilson...errr...was...It took me longer to get it out of the frozen snowbank then it did to tear it down. That is as far as I have got at this point, but so far I have got:

    (4) 2 inch pulleys
    (1) 4 inch pulley
    (1) 8 inch pulley
    (1) 1 inch pulley
    (2) angle drives/ reductions (chain driven)
    (2) 35 pound counter weights

    I figured once I tore this machine down I would be like scratching my head, but as it was dismantled, I was more and more encouraged by my idea. The angle drive/reductions are very slow, maybe 1-8 though I did not check the speed. They are also robust and yet very compact. Its hard to describe your vision to others, but I am VERY encouraged by the parts I got sitting in my shop.

    By the way, I was not sure if you were joking or not Pete, by my machine won't be powered by gasoline. I wish I could claim credit for this idea, but others thought of it. You basically use the accuracy of the cylinder liner (bored to within .0005) to hold bearings that support the headstock. Since a piston on a 5 horsepower engine is 2.690 in diameter, you can put some decent sized bearings in, and still have room to have a through-the-head hole. This will let you pass say a long piece of dowel through the head instead of mounting everything between centers...a nice feature.

    When I describe this, I know many people are thinking that I will use the crankshaft since this is rotating motion and already has bearings. I won't be using that. The bearings are too small and not machined as accurately as the cylinder liner. Instead you have to picture a bare block, with new bearings inserted in the cylinder bore. The head will be removed of course, but where the head would normally bolt, that is where the three jaw chuck will be mounted and spinning once in use. You really have to think of this thing abstractly.

    My only wish is that this was a vertical shaft engine. It would make mounting the engine block a bit easier to the bed of my lathe. Still with a bit of welding, some fabricating and some machining, I am sure I can get a nice sturdy lathe with plenty of swing. Speaking of the swing, what would be a good swing for a wood/metal lathe? My Craftsman is 12 inches but I think that is too small. Maybe 16 or 18 inches????

    This is a huge project, and is definately long term. There are so many phases of this project that I could not begin to list them now. Just way to early in the game, but so far no snags and a lot of pleasant surprises on the disassembly. I'm encouraged for once.
    Last edited by Travis Johnson; 03-30-2008 at 07:28 PM.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Drums, PA
    Posts
    292
    I Love It!
    Keep us posted with progress pictures.

    BTW - Any relation to Tim Taylor?

  7. #7
    Maybe a picture will help. This guy built what he calls a multi machine, or drill press, lathe, milling machine. Here is a picture of it. I am in hopes to make mine a bit cleaner, but be degraded to only being a lathe and lathe only. Still you can see how he used a 8 cylinder engine block to securely hold his bearings.

    I am going to do the same thing, but will use a 5 hp Briggs and Station engine block. To compensate for the lack of weight and mass, I will securely mount this thing to a stand loaded with sand to deaden vibration.

    My angle drives/ speed reductions will transfer power from the headstock pulley, down to the carriage feed. My idea right now is to find an atv tranny to mount at that point. This will give me 5 speeds in which the carriage, holding the cutting edge, will cut steel/wood. I am in hopes that between the step pulleys and the 5 speed tranny, I can find a speed that I can thread wood and steel with.

    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Mason Michigan
    Posts
    455
    Travis,

    No, I was not kidding. I know nothing about engines but this really interests me. That contraption looks really scary! If you pull this off it would be really special!

  9. #9
    Travis, this sounds like a fun project and take some pictures of the pieces and parts from the tiller, to make your own lathe can be done it just takes some planning.

  10. #10
    Think you might have it completed by Tuesday?

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