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Thread: Jones & Lamson FC-14 Comparator
03-15-2017, 08:47 AM #1
Jones & Lamson FC-14 Comparator
It seems that the more I try to get caught up, that's when the projects I can't live without pop-up.
I had to schedule a service call over to Austin and was going to be out of the shop all day yesterday between picking a machine up from a customer, dropping it off at our Yoakum shop, and driving across the terribly large state of Texas.
Well, my mistake was looking on Ebay and discovering this jem in Corpus at auction. We have been wanting one for years but money always went elseware and we found other ways to check stuff. I thought about it and dropping down there would add another 5 or so hours of driving, but it was doable. I bid and won it for $115. I considered it a fair price as I bought it sight-unseen and as discovered later the coastal air hasn't been fair to the exposed metal.
So far as I can tell it's all there. No extra screens but a couple extra lenses and a sparce bit of tooling. Wiring and electronics might be salvigable, but I'm researching doing some retrofiting.
This unit apparently was bought off of one of the naval bases in corpus by a gentleman who used it in his garage. He gave it to his buddy, the guy I bought it from, who says it was alot more machine than they ever needed, and it was last lit-up about 6 years ago.
So.... another project. Need to rearrange the inspection area. I'm a little tired today as I was on the road between 4:00am and 11:00pm.
I'm still googling and I'll post as I make progress. Anyone have any wisdom they could impart? I need to get a line on a manual for sure.
03-15-2017, 04:52 PM #2
Its an Ebay Miracle!!!
The old Mercury Arc lamp system still works!!! The lens selection carasel works too. The fan on top of the side electrical box is locked up but it looks like a generic replacement will fix that. The Reflection attachment on the side still needs some love and the vertical adjustment motor isn't coming on yet.
03-15-2017, 05:17 PM #3
With the right lens and overlay those machines are incredible, amazing what can be measured without touching a part. Got rid of mine years ago, actually scrapped it and salvaged the tooling which was salable at the time. I may still have a manual for that machine, I'll have to check. Only advice I have is just don't touch the mirror, unlike others the mirror finish is on the front surface. J&L Metrology and Fellows merged a while back, I was able to get a manual and a bottle of lens cleaner and a few odds and ends when I contacted them then, maybe still there.
03-15-2017, 05:17 PM #4
IIRC, that mercury bulb needs to have the fan to run a while longer after the lamp is turned off to cool the bulb.
03-15-2017, 06:25 PM #5
03-15-2017, 06:32 PM #6
One of our guys was saying that though this machine is nicely equipped, the top-notch ones are set up so you can see a mirror image of the part and not just the outline.
Well I got the reflection attachment going and learned what it does!
Won't he be excited in the morning!
All three fans are running now too. (We had a couple spairs on the shelf)
03-16-2017, 01:12 PM #7
It's on the floor in the Inspection area now. I hoisted it off the skid last night with a lifting eye and set it on pipes to roll it into place. Our inspection area is a 12' by 10' caged area. At our old shop "inspection" was scattered throughout the shop. Now we're outgrowing the cage. Later, we want to upgrade from a 4-3 granite block to a 6-4 and when that happens we'll have to stretch out the cage or go on a diet.
A few questions:
The Mercury Arc system isn't always starting right away. The bulb will glow when the button is depressed but doesn't always fire up. Is this normal, old age, or is there a specific part to fix? I'm thinking long term we'll upgrade with the new tungsten lamp system.
The electric height control is still dead. It looks like a rat lived in the lower compartment for awhile and most everything down there saw considerable corrosion. I cleaned the vacuum tube board and checked that all the sockets were clear. It light's up when the machine is on but no motion and if I leave it on it will randomly spark and trip a breaker. SO, I'm thinking it either needs considerable servicing or more likely, replacement. I'm trying to understand what is that system accomplishing? Does it just function as a complicated reversing drum switch or does it change speed somehow? What am I looking for if I were to replace/upgrade the system?
The stock screen's lines are wore down to faint shadows. Can they be re-lithographed?
I'd like to Add a DRO to this machine soon. The longitudinal travel is fairly straight-forward, but where would I mount a scale for the height adjustment? It seems that the stages swivel action would make things tricky. All our other machines use Acu-rite DRO's so I'll likely stick with that for this unit.
I need to make a call to J&L and talk to them. From what I've seen online, they stand behind these old machines, but are there certain things I'm better doing/sourcing myself? I have a service manual coming in the mail, so that will help. It looks like I'm missing some parts from under that table. I think it was removed at some point for transit and they lost half the rollers and whatever connects the adjusting screw to the table.
03-16-2017, 01:54 PM #8
A couple of tips from another J & L comparator owner:
The stage on these units has loose floating rolling elements. Be very careful to dismantle it prior to shipment. The rollers may indent the ways. Sorry I didn't know to warn you prior to your acquisition.
Second, the mercury arc bulbs have been discontinued and to my knowledge are no longer manufactured. Probably due to the fact that they cost @ $700.00 to buy new. Now you will only find old stocked ones. Good news is there are retrofits available to halogen bulbs that cost @ $15.00. You should upgrade as soon as you can.
Agree with Danny VanVoorn not to touch the mirror. Screen should be cleaned with mild soap and water only or you'll loose the lines. New screens are available but be sitting down when they quote you price @ $300.00 each.
Nice features with that comparator. I think you did very well. Locate a local service tech to line it up for you and assess the optics. Good luck!
03-16-2017, 02:51 PM #9
I just got off the phone with J&L. Very nice and encouraging to talk too. They're emailing me a quote for DRO brackets, Height and Projection retrofits, and a screen catalog.
I'm glad I got such a deal on this thing cause it's going to come together on a payment plan. Part here, retrofit there, eventually a high end machine.
03-16-2017, 03:15 PM #10
03-16-2017, 03:32 PM #11
There were some spair parts in the cabinet that make me think someone scavanged some stuff off another machine at one point. I had 2 sets of cylindrical rollers and their cages, but I thought that the front rollers for the table were ball bearings. The J&L guy said they should be cylindrical like the back, so it turns out I've got both sets of rollers! Still need some other parts for the table though.
03-16-2017, 05:07 PM #12
I'm following along because I have a J&L I'd like to get working. I thought it was a FC-14 but I just went out and looked and all the name I see is Vertac 14. If anyone has a manual I'd like to buy one or I'd be glad to scan it and make it available to others.
I'd to know more about the LED conversion too, the original lamps can't be long for this world.
Mine seems to work, the lights light and the lens turret changes, but it seems real dusty inside because the image on the screen is not distinct, and I'm afraid to start cleaning without more knowlege.
03-16-2017, 05:28 PM #13
They said an LED conversion runs anywhere from $900 to $1500 with a 5 year warranty. From what I understood, the LED light gives you more control of the light in terms of brightness, intensity, etc. It's also simpler as it eliminates most of the extra electrical for the lamp control. We'll probably end up going with the Tungsten conversion on ours. It's similar in function to the Mercury Arc and is cheaper, It runs around $900 with parts trade-in. For now, I'm trying to make the old Mercury Arc last so We can invest first in a vertical adjustment retrofit.
I'm new to these things coming from a material-removal perspective. I see 3 axis and think 3 dimensional motion, but only "X"(longitudinal) and "Z"(vertical) move the part and image. The "Y" (cross travel) axis is for focusing the image and I found If you focus on a higher magnification image (100X), the lower magnification images are much clearer.
I've been using alcohol on the lenses for cleaning. My screen's lines are already gone so I used it there too.
On Edit: I see your lens points down, so then "Z" is your focusing axis.
Mud liked this post
03-16-2017, 06:39 PM #14
03-17-2017, 10:29 AM #15
This is what I've got for tooling so far. The riser and part of the micrometer stop were in the cabinet and were rusted the worst out of everything. I was very luckey that with some media blasting, Kroil, and gentle persuasion, every piece came apart and cleaned up. Unfortinatly its heavily pitted but it seems that it will still function and the carbide anvils are fine. The micrometer head's plating was stripped leaving the potmetal exposed. After polishing on a lathe, I painted it silver and the numbers and lines are still visible. I might throw it in with some of my 53' chevy's potmetal parts to get replated one day. The V-channel between the anvils is interesting as you can stack gage blocks, pins, or other reference parts in it to set a dimension.
The riser was also pitted but is still flat and usable.
The rottary table actually came out out of our tooling. For the longest time I thought it was for an Atlas mill or something but now I'm 90% sure its a comparator stage. It's not J&L but I can make clamps to adapt it.
03-19-2017, 10:32 AM #16
Those rollers for the front v way should be staggard like crossed roller ways. Example:https://sc01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1lj8KK...Xq6xXFXXXG.jpg
Hope this helps