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Thread: Rebuilding a Hardinge Cataract Lathe

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    twalsh341's Avatar
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    Default Rebuilding a Hardinge Cataract Lathe

    I just bought a 5C version with plain spindle journals, and a bunch of goodies. As expected the frosting is untouched under the headstock but worn elsewhere along the bed. I've got quotes out to some local way grinding companies, a copy of Machine Tool Reconditioning which is dense but fun reading.

    My plan is to get the lathe working mechanically, redoing the worn out felts and cleaning out the oil system adjusting the gibs on the compound etc. while I learn scraping and make gauges for testing the angle of the side ways.

    As far as the rebuild goes, would this be a good procedure to follow, Bed ways are ground flat using the back t slot for parallel reference, from this scrape the angled sides of the headstock to fit the bed (the frosted flat surface will level the headstock axis in the horizontal plane to the bed), the angled surfaces will be scraped to allow the flat to seat fully and to align the headstock parallel to the t slot in back, finally moglice the tailstock on jigs to alight the quill.

    In particular I'm looking for feedback from Forrest on this, but does this seem like a reasoned approach? Is there anything I'm missing, recommendations or suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Trevor Walsh
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    L Vanice is online now Diamond
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    The simple solution is to clean off the rust and flatten the dings and burs and forget about the grinding and scraping. In other words, clean up the easy stuff and then see if you really need to do any more. The only reason to work over the whole bed is if the tailstock does not line up with the headstock. And the usual reason for that is wear on the bottom of the tailstock. You want a 1940 model tailstock, or even an Elgin tailstock. Try the fit of the headstock on the rest of the bed. That will tell you if the bed wear is serious, and where it is worst. The bottom of the headstock is your gage and scraping master. You can also try the fit of the tailstock at the part of the bed where the headstock sat.

    I have a dozen or more Cataract beds, some with very little wear and probably ready to use. I also have some 1940 model and Elgin tailstocks. If you have a 1935 or worse yet, a Chicago tailstock, you should start with the better type of tailstock. The Elgin tailstock has the advantage that you can easily make a new barrel and bore and ream it from the headstock, making more or less perfect alignment.

    Then there is the slide rest. Again, the later models are superior to the early ones. You have to decide on whether you are making a museum display or want to use the lathe for fine work.

    Did you get the thread chasing attachment that goes in that rear T-slot?

    Give us more pictures of the rest of the lathe and the tooling you have.

    Here is an old (pre-1989) picture of my updated Cataract 59. The bed is a Chicago 38 inch, which has the chasing T-slot. The headstock is a 1940's ball bearing 59. The tailstock is a 1940 with 2 Morse taper. The slide rest is a 1946. I have the thread chasing and the screw cutting attachments and a few other handy things. The second picture is post-1989. The countershaft is a Rivett, rebuilt with ball bearings and foot pedal controls.

    Larry

    hardinge-bb59-bench-lathe.jpg59-flat-belt-2.jpg

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    Richard King is online now Stainless
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    I was looking on the web and found this interesting site. I will offer some scraping advice later.

    Catarcat Lathes

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    twalsh341's Avatar
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    I have a Chicago model according to details in the headstock/pulley I think it's a late model plain headstock, with the open tailstock (what makes that harder to make a new barrel for, I haven't disassembled it yet)? The tail is low by a small amount, visible to the eye though. The Cataract taper in pretty bugered up and I'm not sure how straight the dead center is for it, maybe it's exsagerating how bad the alignment is?

    Without clamps locked down there seems to be just a little more play at the tailstock end and elsewhere with the headstock as a gauge.

    I want something for fine work, though I'd like to restore it to as new as I can get it. I don't mind working on it before it looks that way, unless the accuracy of the bed is making the work suffer. I don't have the chasing attachment, but I've gotten in touch with another member about paperwork on the gearing and masters used for the Stark attachment and plan to replicate one.

    It came with a selection of hardinge collets 1/8-15/16ths by 16ths, two 3 jaw chucks with spigots to mount in the 15/16th collet and 5C dead center, dog driver plate, steady rest (the other bits are being cleaned), and a deep lever tailstock is on the way. I want to see if I can remount one of the chucks to a hardinge taper backplate and make up a plate for a nice little 4 jaw I have.

    I'm quite mad at one of the previous owners, he sawed off the end of the leadscrew on the compound that attaches to the other screwcutting attachment. I can't for the life of me reason out why someone would do such a stupid thing. I'll make a replacement some day, with square output. It's missing locating and locking pins which I'll make shortly, do yo have

    Serial # on the bed is #1744 if that means anything to anyone. Not shown is a Model E lever slide, I got a good deal on it on account of damage to the t slot. It's not pictured because it's in my office awaiting the repair.
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    Thanks Richard, I've been looking at that particular page a lot. I don't know much about scraping, but I know who you are, so I'm excited to read what help you may have for me on this.

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    stephen thomas is offline Diamond
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    Scraping the bed on a Hardinge 2nd op is the last place to look for accuracy improvement.

    The "ways" don't have the same relationship to performance as they would on an engine lathe. Nothing slides on them to perform the work (unless you use the TS as a tap driver and leave it loose so it can drag in or out as the tap proceeds).

    All the sliding is on the compound.

    You may notice the TS is not adjustable sideways as on an engine lathe. That is because it doesn't really need to be: part of set-up for a job is making sure the compound is set to cut parallel to the axis of rotation. Of course if the TS itself diverges too much, you will constantly be re-setting the compound depending on whether you are turning between centers, or turning cantilevered work in a collet or chuck. In that case, re-scraping the TS base may help if you can shim it, but scraping the bed won't much.

    I would suggest using the lathe and inspecting as you go. If you find issues with the tolerances and convenience, then plan to scrape the compound first. After scraping the lower section ways, scrape or grind the mounting register (loose piece) dead square, or so the slide faces slightly convex. Next would be to rebuild the TS, but I don't think there is much gain for the trouble. If you want to do a lot of drilling, get a turret. These lathes really start to shine with a turret and cutting table (lever action cross slide)

    If you want to easily do good work, get later model slides, turret, TS, etc. If you want to make a period perfect museum piece, go for it but realize it is not the best use of your time for getting better performance.

    I have personally scraped many parts & accessories of Hardinge second ops & think they are great lathes. I have some soft beds, but my working lathes are built on the hard beds. (Well, my TL/toolroom lathe has soft ways, but then again it is not working, either )

    smt

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    I took the compound apart last night, the sliding surfaces seem to be in good shape much of the frosting is visible, however the leadscrew on the cross feed is badly worn, some of the threads are around 25 thou thick! Luckly I have a lathe at work I can turn the replacements on. Does 1045 sound like a suitable material for the screws? Does that make sense? would the cast iron way surfaces wear longer than lead screw on bronze? Does anyone have ideas on removing the leadscrew nut from the cross slide base?

    The lever cross slide seems invaluable, I'm saving the pennies for one, I'll probably make a riser block for the Model E slide in the meantime. But then again, between the compound rebuild and other fixes I might just have the money by the time I get to that point.

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    L Vanice is online now Diamond
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    The slide rest on the Chicago 9" Cataracts have 3/8-10 square thread feed screws, left hand on top and right hand on the bottom. I think i have some replacement screws and blank nuts. The replacement nuts are supplied without the drilled and tapped holes. To rebuild a slide rest, you first make the dovetails fit properly. If the dovetails lost metal from scraping, grinding or milling, it moves the alignment between the feed screw brackets and the old nuts. Then you install new blank nuts. You use bushings in the feed screw brackets to drill the tapping holes so they line up. Then you use a set of rough and finish taps, LH and RH (4 taps) to tap the nuts, again using a bushing to keep the taps straight and centered. I have sets of the old taps for the various feed screws, but they are very rare and cannot be replaced.

    Model E slide is not a particular item. Hardinge stamped Model D, E or other letters on different items, just as an indication of which generation design the item is. Most Hardinge lathe stuff was made in either 7" or 9" swing. The 7" things are an inch low if you try to use them on a 9" lathe. After 1935, the 7" stuff became less popular, and many 9" lathes were made during WWII, so 9" tailstocks, turrets, slide rests and lever cross slides are relatively plentiful But many are pretty worn when you find them now, 65 years of use later. The beds' top dimensions did not change from 1903 to circa 1955 when the last split bed Hardinge lathe was made. Elgin (Chicago era) beds were made to the same standard. Hardinge also sold updated parts, like 1960 slide rests and turrets, as "mail order" accessories for customers to update their old machines.

    Larry

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    jim rozen is offline Diamond
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    That's a pretty old machine. Give us the serial number that is stamped on the front vertical surface
    of the headstock, between the spindle and the bed. It'll be near the hardinge logo, which is stamped
    into an oval or obround circle.

    The tailstock is the same as the one I have for my lathe, a near clone of yours. It will most likely
    have the proprietary harding taper in there which seems like it should be MT-1, but won't be.

    Be sure you understand how the cast iron bearing shells adjust, and don't run the spindle without
    some kind of oil in the oil reservoirs. Your toolmakers compound seems to actually be in pretty
    good shape even if the screws are partly worn.

  10. #10
    L Vanice is online now Diamond
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    I located a NOS set of feed screws and a nut blank for the upper nut. I don't have a lower nut blank, but it is simply turned from bronze bar stock.

    I have not worked on a pre-1946 9" slide rest for years. I think these parts fit any of them, whether Chicago or Elmira.

    Larry

    feed-screws-nut-9-low-res.jpg

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    Joe H is offline Cast Iron
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    Trevor,

    I'm by no means a Hardinge expert but I've rebuilt a number of similar Precision Bench lathes from the same era.
    I never did anything to the ways other than cleaning and ding removal as Larry mentioned. If you have tailstock alignment problems brass shimstock on the tailstock base can solve them. It's highly unlikely that there will be any problem with the headstock alignment.
    I've rebuilt a couple of Stark compounds that were pretty much destroyed by grinding debris. The threads were square similar to the Hardinge (may have been the same). It is not that difficult to make the taps if you have thread capability on a lathe. As Larry noted it will take 3 or 4 long taps to do the thread (a lot of material to remove) .
    How's the adjustment and runout on the headstock? This is the most important accuracy item on the lathe. They are cone bearings built just like a watchmakers lathe. I've found on the ones I worked on that the runout was generally close to factory which should be the case if they have been kept oiled. I had one Rivett #5 that had problems. I lapped it back using Timsavers lapping compound. If you have to lap be sure to drive the headstock concentricaly, don't use the drive belt. I drove it with an electric drill attached to a piece of stock in a collet.
    Good luck with your project.

    Joe

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    Jim, Serial Number is 83, on headstock and compound pieces, I know it's not MT1 so it is indeed likely a Cataract 1 taper. The bearing shells are adjusted into tightness by the screws under and outside of them, there is also a "nut" in the pulley to adjust preload on the thrust bb at the ass end of the pulley. I know they shoild be loose enough for oil film and for the spindle to heat up when it gets going, but can you give me any more ingo than that? I haven't run it dry, I know enough not to do that. I hope to get some work on it soon so I can post photos of the spindle. I think it looks okay but you guys may be able to tell me if I should lap it in. I'll also get a test for runout on it.

    Larry, I will send A PM tonight about the leadscrews.

    Joe, I might moglice the tailstock, all things considered I may even eventually have the top ground and scrape in the angles to get it "new" rather than having shims and a dinged up bed. I plan to get the compound working and use it for a while without doing that though.

    Thank you,
    Trevor Walsh

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    L Vanice is online now Diamond
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    The two oil wells in the bottom of the headstock need to be filled with natural color wool yarn. The oval slots in the bottom of the bearings need to be fitted with wool felt. The oil cup passages on the back of the headstock should have wool yarn or pipe cleaners to keep chips out of the bearings. I was told decades ago by a millwright never to use synthetic felt material in oil systems. I suppose because it could react to oil or because it could melt on a hot journal. You can test the felt by sticking a hot nail in it: synthetic will melt.

    My first Cataract headstock was a number 4. It is in nice shape and I rebuilt it and used it until I got a number 5 headstock. One of the things I did was fit a Torrington needle thrust bearing at the small end of the headstock pully. With antifriction bearings at both ends, you can safely put a light preload on the pully, eliminating all axial play. The original design used a fiber washer at the small end of the pully, and that washer must have a thousandth or so play to avoid binding and wear.

    Those cast iron bearings can break, so be careful.

    The Cataract taper in the Chicago tailstocks is a complete orphan. Dead centers and drill chucks are extremely rare. The Elmira Hardinge lathes all have 1 or 2 Morse tapers.

    Joe, the Cataract bearings are different from what you have seen in your lathes. See Tony's site for a cross section of the headstock.

    Larry

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    I have a bunch of F1 felt from McMaster, which is the hard white felt (all wool) I've cut pieces to fit into the wells and into the bottoms of the bearing shells, just big enough so that the spindle will squish them in. Is that right? I think I have some grey wool yarn that I can use in the oil cups, if that's okay? Would the anti-friction bearings at the end be something specific, or could I use UHMWPE? I have a good amount of 1/8" thick sheets that I could laser cut new anti-friction washers from. I see what you're saying though, replace the fiber washer with a needle bearing entirely.

    I've been very careful with the shells. As for the tailstock taper, I have a pretty good collection of MT1 shank drills and drill arbors and a nice MT1 live center so I will probably make a new quill and ream it for MT1.

    Thanks Larry,

    Trevor Walsh

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    stephen thomas is offline Diamond
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    I had one Rivett #5 that had problems. I lapped it back using Timsavers lapping compound. If you have to lap be sure to drive the headstock concentricaly, don't use the drive belt. I drove it with an electric drill attached to a piece of stock in a
    It sounds like you actually used the lathe spindle as the lap and used loose abrasive, calling it lapping? If so, kind of hard to imagine or commend.

    A lap needs to move in and out axially as well as rotate, or it will be grooving both parts and can trend toward out of round as well. This is the reason it is difficult if not impossible to "lap" tapers, although it can be accomplished with a set of laps if there is very little material to remove or correct.

    A true lap has the abrasive rolled into it, and the loose grit removed before commencing to work. If loose abrasive was used in the shells, the CI becomes the embedded lap, and cuts the hard steel spindle.

    More information please?

    Larry, I have a TS that I always thought was early Elmira, with the Hardinge #1 taper.
    But maybe it is earlier than I thought. "Modern" heavy casting, but non-telescopic. Also have a almost certainly Chicago, light open casting, with a #2MT....

    smt

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    Joe H is offline Cast Iron
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephen thomas View Post
    although it can be accomplished with a set of laps if there is very little material to remove or correct.

    More information please?

    smt
    Stephen,

    I did the work quite a few years ago so some of the details may have escaped me. But yes it was a very small amount. I put the timesavers mixed with oil on the bearings, drove the lathe headstock with an electric drill via a piece of round stock in the collet. Gradually tightened the bearings. Just about all of the eccentricity of the spindle was removed. This was my last ditch effort to get the accuracy back on a lathe that had been abused.

    Joe

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    IIRC, more than one company was doing this for the cast iron headstocks and hardened spindles on their jewelers lathes. For whatever that is worth, because Steven's comments also make sense to me. Maybe that was for a different material combination though, tapered spindle with bronze bearings, set with a hammer tap and run in with an abrasive paste?

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    stephen thomas is offline Diamond
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    I did the work quite a few years ago so some of the details may have escaped me. But yes it was a very small amount. I put the timesavers mixed with oil on the bearings,
    Well you are a brave man to confess that on a professional site.
    Now the bearings are laps forever more. Since presumably the headstock had to be taken apart to get the grit in and inspect, I wonder how thoroughly it was then cleaned and completely re-felted before selling it? Never mind that the bearings will remain laps.

    It actually would have been easier to do it right. Run the spindle in a lathe between centers, and make a split lap out of CI, aluminum, or even wood. Then the journals could be stroked, sized, inspected and corrected in process, and no grit in the headstock. The journals could have been lapped round, smooth, and straight instead of round and grooved.

    smt

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    Joe H is offline Cast Iron
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephen thomas View Post
    Well you are a brave man to confess that on a professional site.
    Now the bearings are laps forever more. Since presumably the headstock had to be taken apart to get the grit in and inspect, I wonder how thoroughly it was then cleaned and completely re-felted before selling it? Never mind that the bearings will remain laps.
    smt
    smt

    Not a brave man at all. Anyone who is familiar with Timesavers knows that one of its special properties is that it does stop lapping unlike regular lapping compound and that is why I and others use it in situations like this and yes it was thoroughly cleaned and I still have it.

    Thank you for informing me of the "professional" way of doing it.

    Joe
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