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Thread: Alexander 1A Pantograph engraver
04-14-2010, 03:46 AM #1
Alexander 1A Pantograph engraver
I'm new to the forum and pleased to have discovered it.
I have a home workshop in which I make one-off items to help in the restoration of old HiFi turntables. I also build tonearms and will have a go at making pretty much anything I can.
I recently bought a G H Alexander 1a pantograph engraver complete lettering and a few cutters. I converted it to single phase by using a motor from an old bench grinder.
I would really like to get hold of a copy of a manual for this machine as I seem to be more adept at pushing metal out of the way and blunting or snapping cutters as opposed to engraving.
Can someone offer me a manual, or help and advice on how to engrave successfully ?
04-14-2010, 05:14 AM #2
You have found a magic website.
Go to lathes.co.uk
Top centre of page click on manuals
When list comes up go down to MA 500A etc
There are a number of manuals available (to buy) for the Alexander pantograph engravers.
P.S. Is your cutter rotating the correct way. ? !!!
Last edited by davycrocket; 04-14-2010 at 05:19 AM. Reason: Spelling
04-14-2010, 05:43 AM #3
Once you have an engraver, you need a cutter grinder. Alexander makes a very nice one, basically a copy of the Deckel SO grinder. A Deckel will do just as well, and there are Chinese copies available. They cost from a few hundred dollars up.
You can possibly buy cutters and semi-finished (split) cutter blanks. But availability depends on your machine's shank type/size. Are your cutter shanks tapered or straight? I have an Alexander grinder for sharpening my Green engraver cutters. One of my Deckel collets has a B&S 1 taper bore and is marked GA (George Alexander), so I suspect Alexander used taper shank cutters, at least on some models. It is a lot easier to find straight shank cutters. My Green D2 engraver has collets that hold straight shank cutters up to 1/4 inch, and I sometimes use ordinary milling cutters instead of half round engraving cutters.
As far as selecting and sharpening cutters for various jobs, instructions for Green, Gorton or New Hermes machines should be just as applicable as any other make. Keep in mind that materials that can be machined easily, like leaded brass, cast iron, wood and some plastics and aluminum alloys, can also be engraved easily.
This is the US dealer for Alexander grinders (the engravers are no longer made):
PG Technology Ltd. - Alexander 2CG Single Lip Cutter Grinder - Precision International
Tony's web site has information on the Alexander and Deckel grinders:
04-14-2010, 06:44 AM #4
A friend of mine in North Wales, (aboard_epsilon) runs the Yahoo pantograph site. They have information, resources and some manuals, with focus on Euro made machines like the Alexander.
Pantograph_Engravers : Pantograph Engravers
There's a ton of material from Gorton on their website. As far as cutters and process, it is applicable to any pantograph. Here's a previous thread on the subject, with links to manuals and other sites. Gorton P1-3 Manual
04-14-2010, 11:08 AM #5
Thanks for the replies, everyone.
I found the pantograph owners site and put a couple of questions in there. I know about Tony's lathe site and will buy a manual from him if I can't find some free info !
It's amazing what a little thought and care will do. I'm getting reasonable results at the third attempt; including in Stainless Steel. The mistakes I was making were many; mainly going too fast and cutting too deep. Also, I hadn't appreciated that the quill has a 40 thou fine feed on it so was dropping in at full depth in one go at 14000 revs. Now, I'm being a little less ham fisted it seems to be working better. Also, a couple of the pantograph bearings had play in them but all they needed was adjustment. The races looked fine when I took them apart.
All my cutters have a plain D profile so I assume that they will cut in either rotation but the cutters spin clockwise in my machine.
A cutter grinder; is this another machine I have to sneak past my wife ? D profile cutters have been sharpened on my Diamond whetstone with reasonable success so far.
Yours with thanks,
04-14-2010, 12:24 PM #6
Half round or D-shape cutters can be sharpened in many ways, but they do not cut in either direction of rotation if properly sharpened. It is customary to grind them right-handed; the end of the cutter is ground at an angle. You can also have quarter round cutters.
Here is a link to a place that sells cutters and provides tons of useful information. Poke around on their site. The link only gets you to the home page.
Welcome to Antares, Inc.
More good info on cutters:
04-14-2010, 12:37 PM #7
Hi again Jolly
Ref the 'D' cutter direction.
All cutters whether twist drills. reamers, milling cutters. lathe tools, gear cutters etc need to have a clearance angle so that the actual cutting edge is the only part of the cutter that touches the job.
So even a 'D' cutter must have a clearance angle ground at the bottom. This in turn means that a 'D' cutter when new or properly re-sharpened can only cut when turning in one direction.
If the bottom of the cutter is just flat, it will rub on the workpiece as it is cutting metal away and will cause pick-up on the cutter, and ruin the finish.
You beat me to it whilst I was typing ,
Last edited by davycrocket; 04-14-2010 at 12:40 PM. Reason: Saying sorry to Larry
04-14-2010, 01:08 PM #8
I use a Taylor Hobson engraver from time to time and get excellent service from Pantograph Services in Leeds. Pantograph Services - Suppliers to the Engraving & Sign Trade
These people can supply cutters, a cutter sharpening service and all sorts of consumables for engravers. I have no connection with the company except satisfied customer. worth checking out their web site
04-14-2010, 01:59 PM #9
Thanks again, everyone.
Of course, it makes perfect sense that cutters should backed off behind the leading edge so as not to drag in the work. Why on earth I didn't think of that I just don't know. I do that all the time when sharpening drill bits. I just assumed that as I couldn't see the edge of the cutter without my glasses their finish wasn't that important !
So, looking at the size of the cutters it seems clear that some sort of special jig is needed to hold and rotate them appropriately. There's a tool and cutter grinder on ebay at the moment for £400 (that's nearly $3 at the current exchange rate !) so I suppose I'll be making one.
I just want to make THINGS not machines for machines. Will it ever end ?!
Yours with thanks and regards from the UK.
04-14-2010, 02:13 PM #10
Thanks for the link. Super site. I have been looking for a company such as theirs.
04-14-2010, 02:24 PM #11
Did you look at this one, £199.00 at present?
ALEXANDER .... PRECISION TOOL & CUTTER GRINDER ........ on eBay (end time 19-Apr-10 16:07:47 BST)
This one sold last week for £215.00.
Alexander Cutter Grinder on eBay (end time 08-Apr-10 17:09:18 BST)
I think the grinders sometimes sell for more than the older engravers.
04-14-2010, 03:52 PM #12
That's about double the cost of my pantograph. Come to think of it, there's a machine shop near me that has what looks like the remains of a cutter grinder covered in dust and swarf in the corner of their shop. I think a visit is in order. And there's a model engineering show on nearby this weekend.