1928 Brown & Sharp #2 Surface Grinder - back to life ...
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  1. #1
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    Default 1928 Brown & Sharp #2 Surface Grinder - back to life ...

    Hi all,

    About 2.5 years ago I collected some boxes of rusted parts for a Brown & Sharp #2 Surface Grinder SN # 8183. I believe it to be 1928. The location is Melbourne, Australia and there are not too many of these about. Post WWII tariffs on machine tool imports saw to that.

    The machine had died long ago I think, likely been bought at auction maybe 10-15 years ago, dissembled for inspection, and then given the apparent scale of repairs needed, discarded in boxes and left to properly die in the elements. The body and column was mostly saved mostly from the elements by being 'inside' but lived next to an open barn door.

    It was me or the metal scrapper. I thought it stood a better chance with me, so I loaded 650kg of rusted and abused misery onto a trailer ....

    imag0111.jpgimag0102.jpgimag0109.jpgimag0103.jpg

    And yes, that is the rusted spindle you can see in there.

    I am happy to say it is now fully operational again. All mechanisms are go. The paint is original largely except for those bits left in the weather.



    I'm a computer programmer. I've never used a surface grinder. I began this project not even knowing what a grinder spindle looked like. At the end of it, I had a shop-made hand-lapped spindle and taper bearings to about 0.0001" clearance. Not boasting, just saying how much learning can be involved with such a project. I encourage you to give it a go.

    It has been quite a journey, full of frustrations and joy, but mostly full of education. Given how much stuff needed to be made or fixed, I am now a more confidence and experienced machinist than I was when I began by a long way. I'm no expert, in fact I am a novice - but to all novices out there, you can do it, just take your time and think about it. You'll be a better machinist for it.

    I do truly recommend to anyone to undertake what seems like lost-machine-tool cause. They don't make 1928 BS#2's any more - and they sure don't make stuff like this any more. Heck, you cant even replace your phone battery. Save the old machines.

    Except for cutting the gear the gears, pretty much everything was made on my (rather tired) 1941 South Bend 10" lathe.

    Full story here: Brown and Sharpe No 2 Surface Grinder - the basket case. Apols, but you do need to log in to see pics. I may make a longer vid. I'll post link here if I do.

    Comments welcome,

    Greg.
    Last edited by StrayAlien; 04-24-2019 at 05:11 AM.

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    Good to see it back together again!

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    Great job! I wouldn't even have attempted it. FWIW, there's always something around that needs to be ground. I end up putting more hours on my surface grinder than my lathe and mill, though I never would have guessed that could happen. IMO, grinding is the easiest job in the shop because it's so controllable.

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    M.B., Conrad, thanks, it sure was an effort - but, better to have one more BS#2 in the world than the cheap garden ornaments it may have become. :-)

    Conrad, interesting what you say about how much you use the grinder. I've not used one before so I've got some learning do to on this one. Likely though, making a wheel balancer is my first start .... :-)

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    Very cool nice work

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    An amazing resurrection of a classic machine tool that, for practical purposes, was "past the point of no return". When I read about a machine tool such as your B & S surface grinder being restored (more correctly, completely rebuilt), it is always quite impressive to me. When I read about someone who learned and did the work as they went along, this speaks volumes for the person who accomplished the work. It makes me want to get off my dead a-- and do more with the machine tools I've got !

    Aside from all else, you were dealing with a surface grinder that was imported into Australia and is a good 90 years old. You were on your own, and to compound matters, were dealing with US screw threads rather than (I would think) the Whitworth threads in common usage in places like Australia.

    Your surface grinder is old enough to pre-date WWII, so has quite a history to it. Why the original buyer did not order a surface grinder made in England vs a US built machine tool is lost to the ages. It is a surface grinder with a story to it, and thanks to your work, it is a fine working machine tool. I imagine Brown & Sharpe had a sales agent in Australia, and the order was "cabelled" to the works in Providence, Rhode Island using the "sales code" to minimize words on an overseas cable. The grinder was made in Providence, Rhode Island, and coated with preservative and crated with board lumber (no plywood used back then). Off it went to a port of embarkation- maybe crossing the country by train to be put aboard a ship at a West Coast port, maybe going to the Port of NY where merchant ships from all over the globe tied up. Down into a ship's hold, with the stevedores (or longshoremen) wedging the crated grinder with other heavy crates against movement, or setting timber dunnage to keep it from moving when the ship pitched and rolled on the high seas. Quite a journey for the grinder to reach Australia. It would be a sad end to it had you not taken on its restoration.

    As has been written in this thread, once a person has a surface grinder in their shop, it seems like one of those machine tools that you wonder how you lived without having. I have a little Sanford surface grinder in my own shop. It saved the day a few times on jobs. In one instance, we were putting the final drive back together on my buddy's 1975 BMW R 90S motorcycle. He had ridden to my home from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (about 1200 miles) with a "borrowed" final drive having a "sidecar" gear ration on his motorcycle. He wanted to get back to the original gear ratio. Setting the contact and gear lash in the final drive required having an assortment of heavy shim "washers" from the BMW dealer (costly). I decided to make the heavy shim, so machined it out of round stock and surface ground the faces flat and parallel. I tried it for tooth contact and gear lash, and skimmed off a couple of thousandths, tried it again, and kept working closer, taking less with each run thru the grinder. Got the gears in the final drive setup right on the "gnat's a--" as we say in the USA. The final drive took my buddy back to the Upper Peninsula and he reported it ran with no appreciable heat, and he was cooking along at 90-100 mph on stretches of interstate highway. Without the surface grinder, I would have had to have an assortment of expensive shim washers, and had to select the one which "came closest". I plan to move up to a larger surface grinder so I can handle bigger jobs, and sharpen larger end mill cutters.

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    Joe, thank you very much. Very kind words indeed.

    I have sometimes thought about the journey such a machine would have to make to get it to Australia. No super-carriers and pre-dating shipping containers by 30 years. Pre WWII, US machine tools were in demand here in Oz. Post WWII there was a very (very) large duty slapped on US made machine tools - to encourage local and UK production. My South Bend 10" was imported in 1941 for the war effort, but there sure are very little or no SB 10" lathes imported after WWII!

    Surface grinders were not made locally at the time. They came later: THIS MACHINE, ONE OF THE FIRST PRECISION SURFACE GRINDING MACHINES TO BE MADE ENTIRELY IN ... | The Australian War Memorial, so I guess options may have be been limited. Certainly, buying a US made grinder was not a risky option.

    Re being useful in the shop - I sure hope so!! But .. the first part is made was for itself - the cross-feed mechanism needed shimming to stop some wobbling, so I made it on itself. Beautiful eh!

    Though, to get a better surface finish I think I need to make a balancer. Next-ish project I suppose.

    As for the learning involved in such a project .. that is why I encourage anybody to take on a basket case project. Save them all I say, and learn what you can doing so. We're losing all-too-much knowledge at the moment.

    Thanks again.

    Greg.

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    Great save, bringing the grinder back to life from a pile of parts.

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    I just want to echo what others have said. Your rebuild from what you started with, in both parts and knowledge, is impressive and inspirational!

    Have you consider motivational speaking? (LOL, but really only half joking)

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    Quote Originally Posted by StrayAlien View Post
    Hi all,

    About 2.5 years ago I collected some boxes of rusted parts for a Brown & Sharp #2 Surface Grinder SN # 8183. I believe it to be 1928....

    Greg.
    In 1979, I bought B&S No. 2 surface grinder s/n 8515. B&S was still in business then and told me it was built in 1929, so it was exactly 50 years old then. I have some old B&S No. 2 grinder parts lists and operating manuals that I got at the auction of an old machine shop.

    Mt grinder was complete, but worn. The original paint was black and kind of looked like coal dust in hard tar. It had a couple of peeling coats of green or gray on top. It was the model with a motor in the base and bronze spindle bearings. I had to get it down my basement stairs, so I had to take it apart and hire men to move the big pieces for me. I ended up taking it apart to the last screw and giving it a good cleaning. Then I bought a Starrett 30" granite straightedge and scraped the ways. I repainted it gray. I made a phase converter and was not too thrilled with the surface finish I got when I first ran it.

    I found a Parker Majestic motorized spindle that was meant for this type grinder and cleaned it up. I then had to mount the grinder headstock on the carriage of my 12" lathe and make a long 3MT shank boring bar, supported by the tailstock. Using the lathe as a boring mill, I bored the tapered seats for the bronze bearings in the grinder head to a straight bore to fit the cartridge spindle. I put a small motor in the base that just runs the table feed. I got a new 6 x 18 fine pole mag chuck. It then worked fairly well, but I thought the manual table feed was pretty stiff and knew the ways would eventually get worn again. I inquired from a magazine ad I saw for Dunbar roller table bearing kits for surface grinders and bought one. That was a very worthwhile expense because the table glides easily and the long ways will never wear. The table cranks so effortlessly that I have not used the power feed for many years.

    Around 1983, I bought a rebuilt spare XLO cartridge spindle from General Electric's die shop auction. It was a perfect fit and ran a lot smoother than the old Parker Majestic. And for the last few decades I have had a really nice surface grinder.

    Larry

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    Great job Greg, you certainly can have pride in your accomplishment. Yours was in the realm of industrial archeology when you began for sure. Would the appropriate Aussie compliment be "good on yer cobber" ... Regards, Jim

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    We have one of these at work, it was pretty neglected and sat under a leak in the roof! I cleaned it up and got it going pretty well, I’m probably the only one who uses it, but I have done so to great effect, very handy machines to have, from grinding shims to making custom gauges and even some work on my own parts after hours, ours lacks any power feed unfortunately, sometimes making bigger jobs a bit of a chore.

    You did a beautiful job on that, you will learn to love it even more once you really start using it, hats off to you sir!

    One more thing, you can never have enough wheels!

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    Great job! Hard to believe when one sees the starting stage and the finished restoration. How accurate is the machine now? What sort of flatness you get on the full travel area?

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    Being you are new at this you DO have a mounted diamond to dress the wheel with ? Surface finish can be effected by the wheel dress. Grinding is a whole 'nother world, wheel grit ,bond , dress all have a bearing on stock removable rates and finish. Got a big wake up call when I first got my surface grinder on what I did NOT know !!

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    Awww shucks guys. Thanks for the kind words. Reggie, TKehl, Larry, Jim, Rusty - thanks, appreciated.

    Wlodek, I've not yet done any dialing in or grinding of the chuck / measuring and so on - still quite some things to do. The vid above is actually within the first hours of having it run properly!

    The mag chuck was also a basket case so it got fixed and re-magged etc - but the handle I made is not that great so the chuck may have to come off as yet.

    The spindle and its bronze bearings are also fresh - they are all newly shop made and lapped so just taking it easy first and when running it keeping an eye (and hand) on the spindle temperature - it seized once during testing when a bit of grit got in so steady-as-she-goes - I don't want to repeat that.

    When the chuck is okay and I can get a reasonable finish on test pieces, I'll attempt the chuck grind.

    John, I do have a diamond wheel dresser 'stick'. I've some 'balance-able' wheel adapters that I think might not be very well balanced. The best finish I have seen is with an 'unbalance-able' adapter but it doesn't fit under the wheel cover - so I don't like to run it at speed.

    So, I'll need to make something to balance the wheel/adapter combo before anything more serious can happen I think.

    Rusty, I only have one wheel that is useable so, as John says - it is a whole new world so I've lots to learn. But truth be told - that is why I wanted one in the first place - I wasn't looking for a resto project!

    Greg.

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    looks good so far, its come a long way........

    The diamond stick should have a base then it can stick to the mag chuck and dress the wheel a norbide stick is more useful on a tool and cutter grinder but look into a norbide stick as they are handy to have, easy to pick one of those up.

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    I have one just like it, mine didn't need work, it was in excellent condition. I did paint the handles and some of the machine. Works great! Quite some time ago in the late 60's another shop owner I knew also had one, was grinding work for IBM. Did quite well decided to buy a new B&S grinder, dealer gave him trade in few bucks for the old one. He had a problem, new grinder would not grind to the surface finish required, was accurate but could not come near the surface finish the old grinder as getting! He called the dealer and wanted his old grinder back, dealer told him it was sold the day it came in! B&S did get the new grinder to work, disconnected the motor from the spindle and installed a flat belt pulley. Mounted a motor on the spindle housing a short distance away and connected the pulleys with a short flat belt! Then it would grind and meet the surface finish required.

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