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Giant Lathe


Sep 27, 2006
I was looking through a book from 1976 Called Machine Tools that are Changing America, and I came across the name of a lathe company called Binns Machinery Products that at that time made lathes of 400hp. I started looking on the computer and found their site in Ohio. It has a good video if you computer can load it. It is pretty amazing. Nice to see something that size is still getting made in the US, I hope they stay around.


I used to have a chip from a lathe like this, it was about a 2lb chip of 316 stainless. Uncurled it probably would have bee over a foot long. Approx 2 inch width and somewhere around 3/32 of an inch thick. I wish I still had it, but I lost it when our company moved.

Hah, video said 17000 lb an hour material removal weight. Hell I don't even own 17000 lbs of machinery.
I used to work in a compay inside the Westinghouse factory in Roud Rock, TX and I used to go watch a friend run those huge lathes. They would turn hugedgenerator shafts for tankers and navy ships. That thing would take off half an inch in the roughing pass. It was unreal. The cutter would just be there glowing red hot.

A few years later, sadly, an operator was there setting up a shaft to rough when somehow the cutter or toolholder broke and sent the piece at him. It went right through him like a bullet through butter. A friend that was there told me that the chunk of metal approximately the size of a large crescent wrench went right through him and bounced around the building before stopping. Saddest part is that he was newly married and his wife, who worked with him, was standing right next to him.

That is one really cool video, very, very, very, very impressive machine. I wonder howmany they made and that the cost was. I pretty sure I can afford not to buy one :D

3" DOC, up to 500hp's. 150pound cutting tools and yet that pencil stays up... just amazing.
Tejano, I worked at Westinghouse and from time to time helped set up that big Niles.

I thought the death there was on the test floor, not the machining aisle?

Anyway, back in the 80's a 3rd shift machinist got fired...he had threaded a stud into the faceplate and turned on the lathe. Every time it cam around, he grabbed onto it and rode it around, kicking his legs to the delight of his co-workers. It failed to delight the supervisor who happened on this activity.

I was also there when the dead center in the tailstock failed and dropped an 80 ton armature on the lathe bed. It looked like a giant Hershey kiss made out of a 9" round piece of steel.
Nice to see something that size is still getting made in the US, I hope they stay around.



They may not if they don't fix their website... then again... a product like that is not really bought over the interwebs and delivered by the UPS guy.

I ended up having to boot a system into Mac OS X and watch the video that way. Kept getting errors in Windows.

I used to run machines of this size when I worked in E. Chicago at Continental Machine and Engrg. A good plant with many comparable machines was Blaw-Knox, but it went down in the eighties. Blaw-Knox built their own roll lathe which could take a 3" D.O.C., but it was with two carriages at once, and the carriages traveled in opposite directions to neutralize end thrust. For instance, they started one carriage cutting at the tailstock end and fed toward the headstock, and the other at the headstock end and fed toward the tailstock. Never saw it run, but heard that it was a full-time job for two guys to keep up with cleaning up the chips the machine made while it ran. At CME we had a 72" Niles lathe with DC drive that would manage pretty close to what that roll lathe would do, but not quite. It was good for 1.5"-2" D.O.C. per side.

Your link doesn't say much about what happened.

Niether does yours, really. "setting up a shaft to rough" doesn't mean much.

I, frankly, can't see a way in which a cutting tool CAN fly at the speed of a bullet, Crescent wrench size (4" or 24" Crescent?), by "setting up to rough".

Spinning something at 3000 RPM and having a tool break could throw a broken tool at you at high speed, if it is an intermittent cut, and some part of the piece can bat it at you. Had that happen numerous times.

TECO took over the Westinghouse at Round Rock? No shit.

What WERE those HUGE lathes? The only one I recall sending to Round Rock was the 180" DC rotor lathe, and that was only about 15 foot between centers. That's 15 foot swing, 15 foot between centers.

All our other large lathes, 60, 70 or 72, 80, 90, 100, 120 inch swing, were from 40 to I think 100 foot between centers. Not conducive to DC rotors. They are short and fat. AC are less fat and very long.

DC, which Round Rock was set up to do, to ship work from that evil UNIONIZED E. Pgh Works, never, from what I have heard, made an operating DC gen OR motor, up to the shutdown of the Westinghouse, but then, neither did any other of the Divisions they split us up into, nor ANY operating Rotating Apparatus.

In 23 years I never heard of a death by machine in a work force of over 13,000. Only one that is even close is a tester on retaining rings of explosive formed forged steel, 4" thick, 4 foot high, 5 foot diameter, that was under 10,000 PSI hydro test. When the Op bent down to flip the switch to 20,000 PSI, a seal let loose and 10,000+ PSI oil burst the seal right where his shoulder was, and shot oil through his torso to emerge at his rectum. Took 3 days to die, heroic efforts, but foregone conclusion.

Never heard of any rotating machine op getting drawn into the machine and being beat to death, as some of you are projecting. I was there when the beats were wearing long hair. A few of them getting parts of their scalps torn off for long hair on DPs and the like. I think the first or second and the beats had to either get a haircut or wear a snood.

A little sense helps you to NOT get hurt on any machine. A little inattention can get you hurt, a litltle stupidity can DEFINITELY get you hurt.

The bigger the machine, the more cautious you are. Simply the size makes you think that that thing is big enough to hurt you even if you don't put a tool to it.

Everything is bigger, period. 10 to 16 foot VBM I used 1 1/2 shank tools. 1/2 plus DOC, 1/16 plus feed.

I think a lot of people are more scared of the machines than they used to be, and mebbe it's because more people are just scared of everything.We have airbags, one, we have sidecurtain airbags, we have doorpanel airbags, we have, at least in Mercedes, headrest airbags.

We go to an SB9 and "Where are the protective devices?" You want to machine in a bubble, which is about the way that production machining IS done. Program the machining center, start the stock, slide the guard/splash shield over the tool and parts coming off, take out a bushel of parts, put in a new bar of feedstock.

Necessary, I guess, to be competitive, but just how many BAD parts do you make because you had a chipped insert?

This is probably going so far OT to this OT post that I am leaving it at this point.



From Texas, were you working for Round Rock or EP in the 80's? If EP, all of them machines were mine. If they broke, I fixed them, after daylight went home.

I don't recall if that DC lathe WAS a Niles. Worked forever, never got called to fix anything on it.

Were you EP, did you work D1 or D2? Was there yesterday, one of the renters has an auto parts business, needed a part for my mech to fix my grandkid's car. Mentioned Holtec before, thought they might be in D aisle, BIG cranes. They ain't. New skin, but I think it is K building.

BIG assed banner that they are hiring across the top of the building.

Still gotta go talk to them people, see if they REALLY want long term employees or fill ins.


George, I too find it hard to believe the lathe could spit a piece that would kill someone. This Niles would spin maybe 150RPM max. I heard the death was due to a piece of steel of some sort coming off a motor spinning on test....maybe 3600RPM. That makes a difference. The guy who died was 25YO so I tend to question they would have him running the Niles.

I can tell you Westinghouse in Round Rock has made many large DC motors from start to finish. Nucor Steel plus a bunch of others I have forgotten the names of. They made plenty of AC motors as well, synchronous and induction. I personally worked on these machines from 1988-1993.

Yes, a lot of their AC production went to Taiwan but the DC always stayed in Round Rock and so did very large AC machines.

Westinghouse is a classic example of a once great company run itno the ground by lousy management. Then again there was always plenty of swag at the blue collar level, too.
I find the tool life they're getting to be quite amazing considering it was in the 50's and carbides, ceramics and coatings certainly hadn't reached the point they're at today.

Is there any way to save this video instead of having to wait for the slow download?
Hi all, I hit the link and all I get is a notice that the web page has expired, any help appreciated as I would like to view this big stuff ! Thanks, Mark