New/Old-Iron day: Ames Triplex multi-machine
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  1. #1
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    Default New/Old-Iron day: Ames Triplex multi-machine

    So I'm no longer a proud Logan lathe owner. I sold my model 200 a couple years ago, and my 820 went away on Monday (I kept my T-shirt though!). I'm still set with small tool-room lathes so other than the regret of letting go of old iron, I can still turn parts. Letting go of the 820 made some room, which my wife loved, but I got the eye-roll this morning when she saw what I drug into the garage last night.

    I struck a deal with a gentleman south of Houston for an Ames Triplex. It's fairly complete minus a few small pieces. Biggest issue at the moment is that the spindle was partially disassembled by a prior owner. Not sure what the issue was, so I'm doing visual inspection, cleaning out the gear-box, and putting it back together to start with. I don't have time to do a full rebuild right now, so I'm going to focus of getting it running and learning all I can about it.

    There's a good write-up on Lathes.uk Ames Triplex Multi-function machine and a couple other threads on here giving some spindle info and pictures of other machines, but not a lot else, so I'll share what I learn as it comes.

    Mill-Lathes get a bad wrap in general as they're a "jack-of-all, master-of-none" machine, but some initial impressions of this machine now that I have my hands on one is that for its limited size range, it looks fairly ridged and well built. Regardless of how it was marketed, I get the impression that it won't completely replace a mill and lathe, but the size and adaptability of it make it a great 2nd-op machine.

    There's no power feeds or screw-cutting capability, but the spindle has 3 geared speeds and a 2 step belt drive (6 speed head). It has a small but present through-bore that's in the range of a 9" tool room lathe, and accepts tooling in the size/power range of an M-head Bridgeport mill. The ways are built similar in size to a 10" South Bend.

    It looks like you can quickly set it up, but to what accuracy I want to learn. Once it's running, I want to see how well everything holds tram and how repeatable it is. So, pictures to come...

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  3. #2
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    Congratulations on the Ames. I'm extremely jealous, especially since I am south of Houston.

    I'm looking forward to seeing and reading more.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

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    20190403_205835.jpg
    So here was tonight's progress. When I picked up the machine the top shaft was removed. The taper pins, square keys, and nut that held the pulley on were missing, but we had them all in our fasteners. The nut was a 3/4" fine thread jam nut. The keys were 3/16"x3/4" for the pulley, and 1/8"x3" for the selector shaft, which I played with the fit until it was pressed into the pulley shaft and slip-fitted on the selector shaft, that way it wouldn't fall out of place when the shafts slide against themselves(as there's no retaining pins to hold it in). The taper pins for the gears were #4 that I cut to size out of 3" lengths we keep in stock. One is still a little proud and needs a little more work to avoid hitting a gear when shifting. I also flushed out the whole assembly and replaced some broken oil cups. The whole machine has been greasedinside and out, but I'm being optimistic that this prevented rust and it wasn't used enough for the grease to hold grit in the ways ().

    I think there were 2 main reasons the headstock was apart. The quill pinion gear has about 1/2" it's teeth ripped off. I'll try to source an off the shelf gear that I can cut the hub to press onto the shaft.

    And the other reason is that I think the top selector shaft had become damaged on the knob end as someone had turned the outside end of it down and made a slip fitting soft steel bushing to fill it's place. They never finished the OD or re-drilled the taper pin hole for the knob though. I dunno if they either got stumped or distracted, but I made it work. I made the bushing press onto the shaft by dimpling the shaft with a center punch, finished turning the OD, then used the other taper pin holes and the knob to find and re-drill the knobs taper pin hole. Then I had to re-cut one of the detent grooves that had been lost with the bushing. It's a soft steel bushing on a case-hard steel shaft, so it might be an issue later, but it rides on a brass bushing and gets the machine back to work. The selector detent spring, cap, and ball bearing were also missing, so I used some fasteners to get it working (see the big hex bolt head sticking out of the casting as a place holder until I make something more permanent).
    20190403_205943.jpg
    20190403_205919.jpg
    This machine is #1123. Dunno what that says for it's age or history. I emailed B.C. Ames, who are still in business but only make measuring tools and gages, so they might not even have records of these machines anymore.
    20190403_210013.jpg
    I'm working on the motor now, a 1/4 HP 110v sealed frame motor that seems age appropriate to the machine, but the shaft is seized so I'm yet to determine if it's just stuck bearings, or it's toast. The motor pulley looks like it was lost/broken and replaced with a shop made aluminum one. Still should work. I'm going to cut and lace together a 3/4" wide leather belt once the motor is running and in place again.

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    I've always kept an eye out for one of those... they're really neat machines. Will enjoy seeing your progress.

    Andy

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    I owned one once for awhile. Cleaned it up and sold it.

    In all my research I never saw a picture of one in use though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.B. Naegle View Post
    This machine is #1123. Dunno what that says for it's age or history. I emailed B.C. Ames, who are still in business but only make measuring tools and gages, so they might not even have records of these machines anymore.
    That should be a later model. Mine is SER# 1059 and still has Triplex Patents Pending on the base where yours has Triplex BC Ames. If I recall correctly BC Ames bought the machine from Triplex around 1924. There's one on Tony's site with #1148 and is also stamped 1938.

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    Tony's sight also talked about later models having improved bearings, helical gears, and V-belt drive. The spindle bearing on mine appear to be tapered sleeves, and of course it has spur gears and a flat belt drive. I'll get some pictures of the base uploaded next.

    There hasn't been a very clear consensus with the original spindle collet/taper system, and also some owners have updated to other systems. I have one original tool with mine in the forum of a horizontal milling arbor, which has some damage but I think it'll be serviceable. It looks like a longer version of a 3C collet. I'm thinking I'll likely make a few holders of my own once I can get clear specs on hand. I'll start a thread for that adventure later and see if I can make multiples for other owners. I may need to wait until my tool-and-cutter grinder has cylindrical grinding capabilities again, but this would give me motivation!
    20190403_210026.jpg

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    Also, mine came with a driving fork for the spindle, and a threaded back 3-jaw chuck, but they used an intermediate adapter between the spindle and back plate. I need to measure what the 2 thread sizes are, but I'll likely make (if I can't buy) some back plates to thread straight onto the spindle. I'd like to get a couple of good 3 jaw chucks that can give me reversible jaws and soft jaw capabilities, as well as a good 4 jaw. Depending how the collet thing goes, I might see about getting an ER32 adapter to thread onto the spindle too.

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    Thumbs up

    B.C. Ames got back to me!

    ______
    I can give you some history and a web site, but that is about it.



    B. C. Ames split into an indicator company and a machinery company back just after WWII. We are the indicator half. The machinery half stayed in business until 1972 when the company was sold to Stark Tool. The Ames hardness tester is all that still exists of that company. It is now made by ElectroArc in Michigan. I’m not sure what happened to the drawings and records of the machinery half, but as far as I know, they are long gone.



    The only place I know with information about the Ames Triplex and many other old machines is Lathes + Machine Tool Archive.



    Sorry I can’t help more, but that is all the info I have on any of the Ames machines.



    Regards,



    Francis Gardner



    B. C. Ames Inc.

    1644 Concord Street

    Framingham, MA 01701

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    Here's the patent info and drawings if that's of use to you:
    US1510167A - Universal machine
    - Google Patents


    Check out the two alternative versions. I wonder if they ever made a working copy of them.

    p4.jpgp3.jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails p2.jpg   p1.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by bl00 View Post
    Here's the patent info and drawings if that's of use to you:
    US1510167A - Universal machine
    - Google Patents


    Check out the two alternative versions. I wonder if they ever made a working copy of them.

    p4.jpgp3.jpg
    Very cool! Thanks for posting that! I wonder if they had plans to do multiple models, or if they were just patenting the concept and were just showing how it could be made?

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    I emailed ElectroArc, who still makes the Ames hardness tester, but they said that's all they have. No other records.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.B. Naegle View Post
    There hasn't been a very clear consensus with the original spindle collet/taper system,
    Early ones were a 2am, but that may have changed somewhere along the way. Measurements for the 2am are here: C (and similar) Collets

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    20190404_173137.jpg
    Well the motors a goner!
    I was going to open up the case and check the bearings, but the case screws were seized up, so I chiseled the heads off the screws and about a quart of water squirted out! Once the motor was opened up, it looked like it had been sitting full of water for awhile. Luckily I have a good replacement on hand: an instant reversing 3/4" HP Dayton capacitor start 110v motor. I bolted it up to the machine and stitched together a new belt last night. Now I just need to get new wires and a drum switch run.
    20190404_183951.jpg
    I also was able to pull apart the horizontal milling arbor this morning and water piddled out from between the spacers! No rust thankfully, but I'm starting to think some of these parts may have spent some time in a water-filled bucket. OR..... given the machines location, a certain figure that goes by the name "Harvey" may have been involved. All things considered, very little rust....

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    SO, the threaded nose: I'm measuring about 1 9/32-6... I think I'll need to make my plates. I have a small Buck adjust-tru chuck that'll be a good candidate if I can find a new set of jaws for it.

    The chuck that came with the machine (old 6" Cushman) has a back-plate threaded 1 5/16-8. If I can get/make appropriate back plates, does anyone know what this chuck would fit so I can pass it on to someone who can use it? It's a little bulky for this application.

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    20190404_225708.jpg
    20190404_225736.jpg
    The spindle and motor back in place. The clamping plate for the head is missing. The original owner is looking for it, but I may need to make one. I'll need to figure the dovetail angle, arc radius, and hole positions, but I'll have to make it in one of our CNC mills as I don't have any way to manually generate an arc that big (at least not practically), so I'll model it in CAD and let the machine do the work.... unless we find the old one! That's my hope.

    You can also see a little vise on the table. I had put it aside to adapt for my tool-and-cutter grinder, but I think it will work better here. It needs new jaws and a new bearing cap for the screw.
    20190405_190142.jpg
    Here's my one and only tool holder at the moment. It has a fair amount of damage to the taper and shank. There was a pin to mate into the slot in the spindle face, but it had been cross-drilled out and I couldn't save the hole. I desided to leave it out until I can make a new arbor, among other tool holders. Another option would be to drill out and plug the hole, re-cut the taper, and then redrill the hole. The arbor seems well made, but it is softer than I'd expect. This mill is in fact a 2AM nose, so tooling's going to be very rare. I think my first step will be to getting the turning chuck back plates sorted out, and I'll make an ER32 adapter as well to thread onto the nose.

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    2AM tool holders and collets: who wants them?

    I just started a separate thread for my 2AM tooling ambitions. Post or message me what you'd like to see made and I'll see what I can do.


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