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Van Norman dividing head

JD Bouchard

Aluminum
Joined
Jan 5, 2023
Location
Canada
I scored a Van Norman dividing head at an auction last week. Looks like it’s a 10” horizontal swivel model. It came with the 4 dividing discs and a couple of change gear in what looks like an original VN box. Overall I’m verry happy with it!
I’m trying to date it, can I assume from the serial number that this was sold with a #16 milling machine that had a serial number finishing with 405? Looks like #16-5405 would have been produced sometime in 1953.

Also, I tried to remove the chuck to access the bearing behind it for cleaning and regrease but no luck. Is this thing simply threaded on the spindle or is there another locking mechanism?

Thanks!
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The spindle on the one I have is also threaded on the outside and takes the VN collets on the inside.
Are there any real advantages to this horizontal swivel type compared to the more normal type? Maybe total height when used at an angle.
Did you get any of the other parts for it?

Andy
 
OK so before I start prying harder on this can anyone confirm that this is a standard RH thread and that there are no other positite stop like a set screw or anything like that?


Are there any real advantages to this horizontal swivel type compared to the more normal type? Maybe total height when used at an angle.

Yes, I think total height is a big factor as vertical space is limited on these combo horizontal/vertical machines. Last year I bought a K&T dividing head that was way too big for my machine and that also made me realize that on these ram style machine you really want the DH on the LH side of the machine so it is never under the ram. With the DH under the ram I would have needed an unnecessarily long tool stack to reach the workpiece.

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Also on most Van Norman the spindle can go from horizontal to vertical with every angles in between but there is no side to side tilt like on a bridgeport. I have a feeling that the horizontal swivel on the DH is a better match with the capability of the Van Norman. If you want to cut a helical gear, instead of having to rely on a subhead like the picture below you could stay in pure horizontal mode and swivel the dividing head instead.

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If you want to cut a bevel gear you put the machine in vertical mode and again use the horizontal swivel of the DH to get the angle you need. These are just theories since I have not used it yet. The real reason I got this is that it gives me the warm and fuzzies to have a dividing head that matches my machine :D.

Did you get any of the other parts for it?

Everything I got is in the pictures so I'm missing a couple of parts to make this all work.
 
Are there any real advantages to this horizontal swivel type compared to the more normal type?
I have a feeling that the horizontal swivel on the DH is a better match with the capability of the Van Norman
Certainly the drive-on-the-left-so-DH-is-not-under-the-ram situation is real, and explains the consistent hand (drive on left, index plates on front) of all three VN DHs.

I've got all three VN DH's, and don't really understand the 10" horizontal swivel. The 7" horizontal swivel is a decent match with the smaller (#6, #12, R1) VN models. The larger (#2X, #3X) models have lots of knee travel so the relatively lower height of the 10" horizontal swivel is not a killer advantage.

The horizontal style DH might have been easier to combine with the VN head nod and the drilling quill accessory for drilling compound angles. But the universal DH drive (helical drive) would not have been used for that.

As I understand it, without a universal (swivel) table, even the horizontal swivel DH is seriously limited in the helixes it can produce. Since the X axis table motion is not aligned with the work centerline (when the DH is swiveled off zero), the part will not stay under the cutter. I suppose you could reset and take multple cuts to extend the effective length of the helical cut, but that's much less convenient than using a universal table.
 
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jdbouchard60 I did a quick check with a tape measure before heading out the door for work this morning. Mine is not exactly like yours ( not sure of the model) but the thread is right-handed and looks to be 2 1/4" 12tpi.​

Andy
 
The larger (#2X, #3X) models have lots of knee travel so the relatively lower height of the 10" horizontal swivel is not a killer advantage.
I think this is true for the 3x serie machine but the 2x really doesn’t have a lot of vertical space. On my machine (26) the knee has 19” of travel BUT in the vertical position, the spindle nose to table distance is 13.25” which is not a lot. By the time you put a vise on the table and a tool in the spindle you probably have 7” of maximum part height.

For comparison, a Bridgeport serie 1 has 18.5” of spindle to table distance.

If you add a universal table to the mix, the vertical clearance drops to 11.75”… In other words, you permanently lose 12% of vertical clearance to gain the ability to machine long helixes. To me the horizontal DH give me the best of both world, I can cut helical gears (only reason I would want to cut helixes) but I keep all my vertical clearance.

The serie 3X machine have 16.5” of spindle to table clearance so I guess this is less of an issue on these machines.
 
I scored a Van Norman dividing head at an auction last week. Looks like it’s a 10” horizontal swivel model. It came with the 4 dividing discs and a couple of change gear in what looks like an original VN box. Overall I’m verry happy with it!
I’m trying to date it, can I assume from the serial number that this was sold with a #16 milling machine that had a serial number finishing with 405? Looks like #16-5405 would have been produced sometime in 1953.

Also, I tried to remove the chuck to access the bearing behind it for cleaning and regrease but no luck. Is this thing simply threaded on the spindle or is there another locking mechanism?
...
The "serial number" looks to me to be 16-3405:
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But that makes no sense. The 16-3xxx serial numbers were assigned to Van Norman No. 16-L millers, manufactured from 1955 to 59. But if I'm reading the serial number book correctly, the last 16-L was serial number 16-3111.

I have two VN 10" horizontal dividing heads. The one that I could get to has the spindle nose threaded 2-1/4 - 12 RH and has a Van Norman No. 2 (aka Hardinge 50V) internal taper. It's an older model than OP's. The other is buried, but I can see that it has a Van Norman Style "C" internal taper (aka Hardinge 5V); it's the same basic model as OP's. I don't see anything that would prevent OP's chuck from being removed by rotating it CCW; it's probably just stuck.
 
VN serial numbers are notorious for being all over the map. Several models were given multiple non-contiguous blocks of number. Later machines were not always numbered higher than earlier machines!
 
As I understand it, without a universal (swivel) table, even the horizontal swivel DH is seriously limited in the helixes it can produce. Since the X axis table motion is not aligned with the work centerline (when the DH is swiveled off zero), the part will not stay under the cutter. I suppose you could reset and take multple cuts to extend the effective length of the helical cut, but that's much less convenient than using a universal table.
VN's sales catalog more or less agrees with you. The key, apparently, is that you need one of the universal heads to make up that angle difference.

http://vintagemachinery.org/pubs/2109/3376.pdf page 4
An enclosed gear drive is available for VN models...With this gear drive the Dividing Head can be used on universal saddle models for cutting straight spirals. In combination with the Subhead Attachment or Universal High Speed Attachment it can be used for cutting straight or tapered spirals on the plain saddle model.
 








 
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