Bearing Adjustment on a 1916 Cincinnati Bickford 24" Drill Press
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    Default Bearing Adjustment on a 1916 Cincinnati Bickford 24" Drill Press

    Hey all,

    I was farting around at the shop yesterday and decided to put an indicator on my old Cinci drill press to measure the runout and - Yowsa - About 0.010"!
    At this point, I have done very little to the machine other than give it a much needed oiling, relocate the motor, mount a vise, carefully clean-up the taper with a finish reamer, and repair an add-on light that was installed by a PO.

    I am confident the runout has nothing to do with my clean-up of the taper as I measured the same wobble on the inside of the taper and outside of the drill shaft, and only made a few turns by hand with the reamer to take the tops off of any ridges or burrs that were present before I started seating any tapers. The reamer came out of the taper with only the slightest amount of tiny particulates.

    Anybody have any idea how to adjust the main shaft bearings on one of these? Before I contemplate any major surgery, I want to see where I'm really at with everything properly cleaned and serviced.

    Unfortunately, the machine didn't come with a manual or serial number data plate, and there is no applicable reprint posted on Vintage Machinery. I've dated the machine approximately by design.

    Thanks in advance!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20190413_155002.jpg  

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    drill with it, .010" probably will have no effect in operation...drills being what they are.

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    Typical of the time, I would expect that it has PLAIN (Bronze or Babbitt or similar) spindle bearings that you replace.

    The "runout" is likely due to some accident in the forgotten past - bent spindle

    If there is SLOP in the bearing just above the spindle's business end you should be able to push the spindle around to determine SLOP

    If no movement, the runout confirms bent spindle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citxmech View Post
    Anybody have any idea how to adjust the main shaft bearings on one of these?
    They aren't in need of strict adherence to original to remain "as new" functionaly - and even "generally period correct".

    N'er mind IF Babbitt was used, or that Babbitt can actually make for some rather righteous bearings, what's "easier" is to go with all-newly shop-fabbed Bronze.

    Partly because one can probably do the whole lot from a single salvaged drop of "cored" bearing-Bronze stock and hit the sizes needed early-on for minimal hand-fitting hassle or downtime.

    This ass u me es that you have a LATHE or no less capability than a SB 9", of course!

    IF the spindle is bent? You can probably straighten it far faster than you can fab a new one.

    Once done? Should be good for another hundred years of making holes. Real ones.

    Eat yer frail little butterfly heart clear out, Dremel Tool.


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    So, the drive shaft runs into the quill section and at the bottom of the quill, there's the taper. In between the quill and the taper, there's a visible ring of ball bearings. I was thinking that the upper drive shaft bearings were probably plain.

    I figure that there must be a way to adjust the ball bearing(s), but didn't see anything that looks like a top nut.

    I do have a lathe - but it's getting rehabbed right now and I hate to have more than one critical machine apart a time!

    I'll inspect the shaft/quill for play/slop and straightness and go from there.

    Thanks for the responses!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citxmech View Post
    So, the drive shaft runs into the quill section and at the bottom of the quill, there's the taper. In between the quill and the taper, there's a visible ring of ball bearings. I was thinking that the upper drive shaft bearings were probably plain, but figured that there has to be a way to adjust the ball bearing stack but I don't see a top nut or any obvious method of adjustment anywhere.



    I figures that there must be a way to adjust the ball bearing(s), but didn't see anything that looks like a top nut.

    Thanks for the response!
    It's a drill press. Not a lathe or milling machine.

    A "ring" of ball-bearings on a DP of this era is typically arranged purely to manage on-axis or "inline" thrust. Only.

    They don't ordinarily need any more adjustment or "pre-load" than taking up enough slack to not risk loss of the balls on the retract stroke. They'll load up just find as you advance the drill into the work.

    Alignment is not managed by those bearings UNLESS.. they are the angular-contact style. Which could be, but.. was/is not essential for a drill-which-is-not-a-mill because... the helical twist-drills it was used to drive "mostly" are meant to "generate" an on-axis hole off the back of their own tip's cutting-edge and centre geometry and will do exactly that - even when you'd wish otherwise. A "plunge" endmill they are not.

    Until you MEASURED your spindle TIR, your drill press was just making decent holes because no one told the old fool it should do otherwise, yah?

    Sound familiar?

    Maybe you and the DP should just share a chuckle over the similarities - beer for you, oil for the drill press, whiskey for your horses, and carry-on as-is?


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    Glad to hear I'm worried about nothing. I just didn't want to work the thing too hard if there was bearing slop I could take out.

    Thanks again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citxmech View Post
    Glad to hear I'm worried about nothing. I just didn't want to work the thing too hard if there was bearing slop I could take out.

    Thanks again!
    I can't see your one "from here", but.. "back in the day.." automotive and machine-tools sometimes used a multi-part ball-bearing. Can't recall the type/maker name nor patentee of 'em, but the concept was kept alive in Timken tapered-roller bearings, also ... wherein...

    .. the inner and outer races were specified separately from the rolling elements. One selects a "kit" to suit the need, in a manner of speaking.

    The balls did not usually even have a retainer, hence fall-out and scatter to the four corners of Hell unless copiously greased by the wise as the take-apart progresses.

    Most common place to encounter such used to be in bicycle "coaster" brakes, "front fork" bearings, and the common "lazy Susan" bearing one might serve food off of, dining room table.

    "Common" if only because there were more bikes and housewares around than brass-radiator cars or old drill presses.

    So one CAN rebuild that part of your rig, and probably with close-enough present-day stocked parts plus a bit of adaptation.

    But I don't see it a good use of your time if it ain't outright "broke", as-is.

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    You guys have got me thinking... Perhaps I will chuck up a bit and try to measure the runout with pressure on the quill. It will be interesting to see if/what difference there is.

    Yes, I'm pretty sure the ball bearings are of the loose "oh sh*t" variety.

    Really wish I had a manual for this thing...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citxmech View Post
    You guys have got me thinking... Perhaps I will chuck up a bit and try to measure the runout with pressure on the quill. It will be interesting to see if/what difference there is.
    Use a drill blank ... or ground stock.
    Yes, I'm pretty sure the ball bearings are of the loose "oh sh*t" variety.
    Got it in one! That was the patentee name I was trying to remember!


    Really wish I had a manual for this thing...
    What particular "mystery" d'you expect it would reveal that you cannot already see and measure with your own hands and Mark One Eyeballs?

    Half a sheet cover it?

    Chandler-Duplex gets the manual for a whole family of precision boring and facing heads onto about four double-sided pages.

    Ellis covers a dividing head/indexer combination on two + the dividing plate tables.

    Either of those are more complex than this DP be.

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    I have a vintage Cinci speed/feed chart - so that's taken care of. Three things would be nice: An exploded parts diagram or sectional drawing of the internals, the tolerances it was built too, and when/how to make any user adjustments. I have a similar vintage American Tool Works lathe, and those bits of information have saved me a lot of consternation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citxmech View Post
    I have a vintage Cinci speed/feed chart - so that's taken care of. Three things would be nice: An exploded parts diagram or sectional drawing of the internals, the tolerances it was built too, and when/how to make any user adjustments. I have a similar vintage American Tool Works lathe, and those bits of information have saved me a lot of consternation.
    Hear yah, but put the complexity - or lack-therof - into relative perspective:

    Even with the good fortune of assistance from a very seniour figure at Willis - the importer of Alzmettal drill presses - parts of the lube specs remain unobtanium on a 1950-51 AB5/S drill press. While still actively making damned fine drill presses, Alzmettal dropped all forms of support for that old of a model ages ago.

    Most of what I need is right there on the still-good dataplates. However.. while PIV Werner-Reimers listed the volume of the juice it wants, it left the selection of viscosity and other characteristics to their customer. Alzmettal. The machine-tool builder "integrating" their PIV variable-speed drive would have been expected to know best the type of service it was to deal with.

    From info sourced online for other, similar, PIV drives, I have a lube spec.

    From a reputable rebuilder of PIV drives I have ANOTHER lube spec.

    The two are not even close, and the amount it takes is not all that trivial.

    This around 4,400 lbs. Avoir of 7 HP column drill meant to make serious holes all shift, all week, all year, and wants its proper rations whether I use it often or not, hard or light.

    Ultmately, I may buy a Chevron lube more because I am a stockholder in CVX than from any better "technical" certainty!



    Otherwise, the drill press is its own "documentation" and in 3D, given everything meant to be there IS there and was indeed meant to be there, etc.

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    Just got back from the shop... this is pretty funny. So, yesterday I was getting 0.010" runout on the inside of the taper on my spindle. After someone mentioned the roller bearings being a thrust bearing - I figured, duh!, I should try measuring the runout under load so any slack in the bearing stack is taken out. So I put in a brand new Morse center, indicated off of the side of the center, and cranked down a bit on a piece of brass in my vise: 0.002" runout. Now THAT's more like it!

    I'm still not sure what's available in terms of preload adjustment, or what the proper clearance should be, but I'm very happy at this point. Thanks again for everybody's suggestions and support!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20190708_152255.jpg   20190708_152314.jpg  


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