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    Default Photo...Warner & Swasey Turret Lathe at Work...Vahl Inc...

    ...in business since 1938...formerly of Brooklyn, New York...now of New Brunswick, New Jersey...

    ...click photo for full size...



    ...more info CLICK HERE ...

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    This is another machine I would like to run and own. Turret lathes have always fascinated me. I have all the parts and pieces to convert my little Logan 820 to a turret lathe, but it would of course not be anywhere near in the league of a WS.

    I seem to recall reading that the set up of one could be pretty interesting, although time consuming. Running one on the other hand was drudgery, especially so when doing the same part for days on end.

    A few years ago, I picked several Warner-Swasey publications/catalogs on turret lathes. The complexity of the numerous parts one could rapidly turn out was impressive indeed, and the various set ups were ingenious.

    I seem to remember that the author of one of the books stated that the golden number range for a turret lathe was from around 100 or a little more, to about 1000 piece-parts. Below 100, it is more cost effective to use an engine lathe. When getting into the thousands, a dedicated automatic machine of some type was better.

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    That's another goodun Lathefan, form the looks of the swarf and they're running coolant I'd say bronze or brass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdleach View Post
    This is another machine I would like to run and own. Turret lathes have always fascinated me. I have all the parts and pieces to convert my little Logan 820 to a turret lathe, but it would of course not be anywhere near in the league of a WS.
    I have a nice #3. Nowhere the muscle of the machine in that photo - looks like a #4 or 5 - did 5's have that type of shifter? It was fun to stand back and watch the chips pour into the coolant pan while the power feed rammed an insert into the steel bar stock, and wait for the stop to trip the clutch out, no eagle eye needed on a dial or DRO.

    I seem to recall reading that the set up of one could be pretty interesting, although time consuming. Running one on the other hand was drudgery, especially so when doing the same part for days on end.

    A few years ago, I picked several Warner-Swasey publications/catalogs on turret lathes. The complexity of the numerous parts one could rapidly turn out was impressive indeed, and the various set ups were ingenious.

    I seem to remember that the author of one of the books stated that the golden number range for a turret lathe was from around 100 or a little more, to about 1000 piece-parts. Below 100, it is more cost effective to use an engine lathe. When getting into the thousands, a dedicated automatic machine of some type was better.
    Not necessarily, we did tens or less, even one part at a time, depending on the complexity. If something needed drilled and tapped it went right to the turret lathe, even only one part. I never sold it, just for that reason.

    If something needed real close Z lengths I went to a lathe with a DRO, or if it needed single point threading or a taper turned it went to an engine lathe, otherwise I waited to get on my #3

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    Default Vahl is still in business, now CNC

    Vahl is still in business, and they use that very same photo on their website!

    About | Vahl Inc.

    Their Equipment page lists Mazak, Haas, and Do-All machines, but no Warner & Swasey

    John Ruth

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdleach View Post
    This is another machine I would like to run and own. Turret lathes have always fascinated me. I have all the parts and pieces to convert my little Logan 820 to a turret lathe, but it would of course not be anywhere near in the league of a WS.

    I seem to recall reading that the set up of one could be pretty interesting, although time consuming. Running one on the other hand was drudgery, especially so when doing the same part for days on end.

    A few years ago, I picked several Warner-Swasey publications/catalogs on turret lathes. The complexity of the numerous parts one could rapidly turn out was impressive indeed, and the various set ups were ingenious.

    I seem to remember that the author of one of the books stated that the golden number range for a turret lathe was from around 100 or a little more, to about 1000 piece-parts. Below 100, it is more cost effective to use an engine lathe. When getting into the thousands, a dedicated automatic machine of some type was better.

    A couple years ago I did a job on a smaller W&S (maybe #3), doing several ops on about 50 or so parts; adapter pins to regauge some streetcar trucks. It was a mixed job of turning to shoulders, threading with a die head and some facing/chamfering. The machine was equipped with a pneumatic chuck for rapid change of the workpiece. It sure saved a lot of time compared to a manual job but cranking on that hot machine in the summer-time shop just sucked the water out of me.

    I didn't design the tooling but the guy who did was a pro, carbide insert tooling, doc set to make a single pass for to the shoulder and the rotary work stop allowed the same tool to be used for the two different length shoulders. The pieces were about 1.5" bar, mild steel and he set the DOC to complete the cuts in one pass so the machine made big hot blue chips. It ran emulsion coolant which sprayed around a bit but it ended up warmer than the ambient air after a while so the spray was not refreshing lol.

    I finished the parts, only screwed up one. We wore out the insert half-way through but finished with the second. Sure am glad I don't have to hammer out work day after day on a turret lathe though. I suppose my piece-rate was pretty high but it was volunteer job though so I still didn't get paid lol...

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    ^^^^This.

    Read the W & S set up book, and looking at the example jobs, you'll see a couple of trends:
    1. Heavy roughing cuts if the part can take it.
    2. multiple cutting tools in the cut at the same time, hence those odd looking turret holders.
    3. Get that cross slide turret in there, facing, chamfering , etc. when you drilling or boring from
    the turret (let the power feed do it's job, the stop will kick out the feed when done) so you can concentrate on the cross slide, many times, you can actually face right up to the hole your drilling,
    if you wait until the spade drill passes by (the holder shank being smaller in dia, gives you clearance
    to face the part completely)

    4. multiple tools, "clip on" chamfering rings to knick in a chamfer on a bore when the drill reaches depth.

    You end up changing your thinking about how to run a job on the lathe.
    Last edited by digger doug; 04-03-2017 at 07:19 PM.

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    Oh yeah...forgot to add...Knee turners.

    To totally change your thinking, notice how many turned diameters
    are done from the turret using "Knee turners".

    Not all O.D. turning is done on the crosslide, as in a standard engine lathe.

    Those goofy looking turret attachments with 5 or so holes ?
    They can hold a couple of knee turners, enabling (with one stroke
    of the turret) cutting a couple of diameters at once.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Oh yeah...forgot to add...Knee turners.

    To totally change your thinking, notice how many turned diameters
    are done from the turret using "Knee turners".

    Not all O.D. turning is done on the crosslide, as in a standard engine lathe.

    Those goofy looking turret attachments with 5 or so holes ?
    They can hold a couple of knee turners, enabling (with one stroke
    of the turret) cutting a couple of diameters at once.
    There ya go!

    THAT is what makes turret lathes soooo... cool. There just isn't much wasted real estate on the cross slide or the tail stock. Very little wasted movement or space.

    I recall reading a machine shop primer published around the late 1930's, and the author related how a truly talented set up man could get some amazingly complex parts done in very few moves. He further stated that, the turret lathe, with its overbuilt saddle, tail stock, gear head, etc., was made to handle cuts and rapid feeds that would croak about any engine lathe.

    To quote: "A properly set up turret lathe should literally smoke as if afire when in operation."

    Now that, is a helluva machine.

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    ...I never used to pay much attention to turret lathes...now I am fascinated by them...below is a photo from the W&S "Turret Lathe Operators Manual" that shows two outside diameter cuts and a boring cut being taken by the turret...while the cross slide takes another outside diameter cut...now THAT'S A MACHINE!...


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    If you take the virtual tour on the Vahl website, you will see they have house plants in the shop (turn around 180 from where the tour starts you). I never thought about having plants in the shop. I think it might cheer the place up a little.


    My #4 is a good support machine for the shop. I get a good bit of deep hole drilling work from a local shop. Often their turning centers don't have enough travel to accommodate the long drills. Even if there is room, they don't like to do it anyway. They do their part and I put the deep or through hole in it. Often the parts get heat treated and ground, so I will see the parts a second time for grinding (they don't like to do the grinding either).

    I have an adjust-true chuck and full sets of the round, square, and hex collet pads. The W&S centers the stock and/or drills and taps the ends before the part heads to one of the engine lathes.

    Smallish parts will get moved to the Mori SL1 when it arrives in a couple of weeks.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by lathefan View Post

    Very good picture showing the 5 hole turret adapters, and (2) knee turners at work
    with a boring bar.
    Also note the "alignment bar" above and behind the headstock,
    that engages the turret adapter to add ridigity for this cut.

    One thing that can't be seen, is the orientation of the boring bar.
    Sometimes it would be clocked to place the cutting edge up, to oppose the
    forces from the external knee turners, making it "Pinch turning".

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Oh yeah...forgot to add...Knee turners.

    To totally change your thinking, notice how many turned diameters
    are done from the turret using "Knee turners".

    Not all O.D. turning is done on the crosslide, as in a standard engine lathe.
    ......
    Knee tools, box tools, hollow mills, balance turning tools, all ways to turn the OD from the turret.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lathefan View Post
    ...I never used to pay much attention to turret lathes...now I am fascinated by them...below is a photo from the W&S "Turret Lathe Operators Manual" that shows two outside diameter cuts and a boring cut being taken by the turret...while the cross slide takes another outside diameter cut...now THAT'S A MACHINE!...

    That's a real goody lathefan, like you I'm into turret lathes, I have a smart and brown in storage as I've no space.

    But jobs like that were run day in day out - it's what the machines were built for, and back in the day I loved jobs up to say around 200 off, especially the bigger lumps like that.

    Turrets aren't as set and forget as a lot think, on the sort of work in the pic you at least needed a good operator if not skilled man, there's a lot going on at once, and if you lose a tool edge and don't notice it, you can do a lot of damage, or at the very least time down for major resetting.

    And the cross slide stops don't automatically index with the toolpost rotation or saddle movements, (well not in the UK anyway) and a bad operator not moving the stops when indexing can cause some unholy messes.

    That said - especially when I was on bonus, setting up and running a job where I had say big drilling (1'' plus) and 3 or 4 tools on the turret on the turret really hossing it off to get the job done fast, was cool .......even if at times all you felt you were was a chip shoveller

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    Quote Originally Posted by JST View Post
    Knee tools, box tools, hollow mills, balance turning tools, all ways to turn the OD from the turret.
    The genius of turning or boring from the turret is that the tools are at the top of the part, not the side. So no matter how worn or wobbly the machine gets, the tool is pushing up or down on the turret, and won't move much compared to side to side movement. I think that's why you saw turret lathes still in service long after they were worn out because they could still hold size from the turret. There were also box turners, that worked like a screw machine tool to cut very long small diameters. Also specialty tools like quick acting slides that looked like a boring head, stick the tool down into the bore, pull the lever on the slide and presto, an internal groove.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Limy Sami View Post
    That's a real goody lathefan, like you I'm into turret lathes, I have a smart and brown in storage as I've no space.

    But jobs like that were run day in day out - it's what the machines were built for, and back in the day I loved jobs up to say around 200 off, especially the bigger lumps like that.

    Turrets aren't as set and forget as a lot think, on the sort of work in the pic you at least needed a good operator if not skilled man, there's a lot going on at once, and if you lose a tool edge and don't notice it, you can do a lot of damage, or at the very least time down for major resetting.

    And the cross slide stops don't automatically index with the toolpost rotation or saddle movements, (well not in the UK anyway) and a bad operator not moving the stops when indexing can cause some unholy messes.

    That said - especially when I was on bonus, setting up and running a job where I had say big drilling (1'' plus) and 3 or 4 tools on the turret on the turret really hossing it off to get the job done fast, was cool .......even if at times all you felt you were was a chip shoveller
    ...Sami...you need to get that Smart and Brown working...make some widgets and doohickeys for beer money...

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    Quote Originally Posted by lathefan View Post
    ...Sami...you need to get that Smart and Brown working...make some widgets and doohickeys for beer money...
    Bear money? .....I could really use it to LIVE ON, but no room, 2 mills a 10'' long bed SB clone, shaper and pillar drill, bandsaw and several bench grinders and a bench, a filing cabinet plus tooling and stock in a 19-6 x 7-6 shop is a very tight squeeze ;eek: as it is, and no room to expand. .oh and the shop is fully shelved where ever possible.

    PS My S&B is the late square head Model L with the single lever cut off slide and 3 station capstan handled turret - here ;- http://www.lathes.co.uk/smart-and-brown-model-L/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Limy Sami View Post
    Bear money? .....I could really use it to LIVE ON, but no room, 2 mills a 10'' long bed SB clone, shaper and pillar drill, bandsaw and several bench grinders and a bench, a filing cabinet plus tooling and stock in a 19-6 x 7-6 shop is a very tight squeeze ;eek: as it is, and no room to expand. .oh and the shop is fully shelved where ever possible.

    PS My S&B is the late square head Model L with the single lever cut off slide and 3 station capstan handled turret - here ;- http://www.lathes.co.uk/smart-and-brown-model-L/
    ...that looks like a well made...capable little lathe...could have some fun with that...and make some money with it too...


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    Thanks for that, and yes Smart & Browns are very nicely made, mine has the 2 speed motor with instant reversing switch gear

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    Thanks for posting the Smart and Brown Limy, that is a manufacturer I have not heard of before. Your post prompted me to go to the lathes.uk site to read about them. Can't say I care for the later "square" design, but can see that the quality was still there, albeit in an uglier package.

    This thread also prompted me to get out a couple of my Warner and Swasey publications and review the different types of turret lathes made by them, along with the various tooling. Looking at the Turret Lathe Tools catalog #38B from 1938, one is confronted with a literally bewildering array of tools, attachments, and repair parts. At the time of the catalogs publication, W&S made 12 different sizes and types of turret lathes. In the ram type, there were the #2 through #5 sizes (four lathes), the saddle type in sizes #1-A through 4-A (four lathes), and the Electro-Cycle series in #1-3 sizes along with the 16" (four lathes).

    If anyone is serious about studying and operating a turret lathe, I strongly suggest they pick up at least three books on the subject, all published by W&S.

    The first would be a copy of "Turret Lathe Operators Manual" by Bailey and Longstreet. My copy is the 1940 edition. This hardbound volume will give the uninitiated a good overview of turret lathe types and their operation, with examples of different set ups, tool types, etc.

    The second is "Modern Tooling Methods for Turret Lathes" by M. E. Lange. My copy is from 1926. Great for seeing various set-ups of a wide variety of parts.

    The last, but certainly not the least, is one of the catalogs W&S put out over the years. My copy is the one noted above. These are not small publications. By 1938, the tooling catalog had swelled to slightly over 200 pages, was enclosed in a heavily embossed plasticized cover, and had wire-bound pages.

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