Anyone still using capstan/ turret lathes?
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  1. #1
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    Default Anyone still using capstan/ turret lathes?

    I picked up a Ward 3DB off of CL for $300 from a company that manufactures compressor parts. It came with a large amount of expensive through-coolant tooling which I figured could be sold for far more than what I gave for the machine if I decided to not keep it. After setting it up, I was very surprised how quiet the headstock still was after years of abuse and thousands of parts. The machine holds tolerances very well. It's pretty easy to hit stuff within 1/2 of a thousandths. I use it as much as my Okuma center lathe. Anyone else have any thoughts with these machines?

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    A lot of them still used in the UK, and many were exported to India and China.Sold a toolpost for a really big Ward last year, to a company using it because of the huge through capacity of the headstock spindle. If you use a million dollar machine to make 10c parts you will be a long time before making a profit!

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    They were great little machines. Well prove design and manufacture. Easy to operate as long as you aren't a giant. I would imagine spares are still easy to get although "Wards" went to the wall years ago. They were everywhere in the old days along with " Herbert " capstan and turret lathe. I liked " Wards " but the " Herbert " Pre-Op was the eighth wonder of the world. I went on a 1 weeks course to their factory in Worcester many years ago. I was looking through some papers the other day and came across the itinerary for the visit ! Given the right work and good tooling they'll still make you plenty of money.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    They were great little machines. Well prove design and manufacture. Easy to operate as long as you aren't a giant. I would imagine spares are still easy to get although "Wards" went to the wall years ago. They were everywhere in the old days along with " Herbert " capstan and turret lathe. I liked " Wards " but the " Herbert " Pre-Op was the eighth wonder of the world. I went on a 1 weeks course to their factory in Worcester many years ago. I was looking through some papers the other day and came across the itinerary for the visit ! Given the right work and good tooling they'll still make you plenty of money.

    Regards Tyrone.
    I went to Wards on a NC course.

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    I always wondered why more of them didn't come with threading gear boxes. A turret lathe with threading, big bore spindle, rapids seems like it could come in handy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Carel View Post
    I picked up a Ward 3DB off of CL for $300 from a company that manufactures compressor parts. It came with a large amount of expensive through-coolant tooling which I figured could be sold for far more than what I gave for the machine if I decided to not keep it. After setting it up, I was very surprised how quiet the headstock still was after years of abuse and thousands of parts. The machine holds tolerances very well. It's pretty easy to hit stuff within 1/2 of a thousandths. I use it as much as my Okuma center lathe. Anyone else have any thoughts with these machines?
    Ward capstans and combination turret lathes are nigh in distructable and as you've found out, even when ridden hard still capable of good work

    The headstocks are superb, - all mechanical, no electrical reversing etc etc (though some had 2 speed motors - to special order) just keep the clutches adjusted and the right level of the correct grade of clean oil (nothing fancy dancy there either)

    The aprons to both the front carriage and turret slides can (aka - WILL) fill up with coolant and chips, …….a good cleanout (which involves some stepdown) is a wise move, ……..plus (IIRC) on the turret apron (but it could be the saddle / both ) there is a cam that engages a wormwheel to gear drive, ……...and said cam - after prolonged use wears, causing the worm to not engage fully with it's wheel, ……….and from then it's a short road to disaster.

    Again IIRC (it's well over 40 years) said cam isn't hard to get at, .....but is easily built up with weld and ground back on a bench grinder (don't worry about heat treat, if you're old enough to know what a turret lathe is and be able to use one - that fix will see you off this mortal coil )


    On Edit ;- Forgot to ask, have you got the 1.5'' or 2'' spindle bore?

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    Quote Originally Posted by camscan View Post
    I went to Wards on a NC course.
    Me too, if you consider " Auto-Wards " to be NC. What year would that be ? I think I went there about 1974.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    They were great little machines. Well prove design and manufacture. Easy to operate as long as you aren't a giant. I would imagine spares are still easy to get although "Wards" went to the wall years ago. They were everywhere in the old days along with " Herbert " capstan and turret lathe. I liked " Wards " but the " Herbert " Pre-Op was the eighth wonder of the world. I went on a 1 weeks course to their factory in Worcester many years ago. I was looking through some papers the other day and came across the itinerary for the visit ! Given the right work and good tooling they'll still make you plenty of money.

    Regards Tyrone.
    Hey, Tyrone! What can you tell me about my lathe? I have a Herbert #5 Senior Preoptive with no manuals. The foot pedal/button does not do anything being as it is stuck and it has been rewired to simply start, stop, and reverse with a replacement motor. Any suggestions on where to look?

    Thanks, Ed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazemaster View Post
    I always wondered why more of them didn't come with threading gear boxes. A turret lathe with threading, big bore spindle, rapids seems like it could come in handy.
    Lots of them did have threading. You had a basic gearbox in conjunction with a series of short ( 12" long ) interchangeable lengths of lead screw and a series of inter changeable nuts.

    On some of the lathes it was " Screw cutting for dummies ". They had a device which pulled the whole cross slide back when you hit a stop on the ankle high stop rail. You put your cut on and threw in the special feed lever. The saddle would travel down the bed until it hit the stop. The saddle flew back about 1/4" and you just wound the saddle back to your start point, put another cut on, push in the feed lever and away you went. Easy peasy but look out for the feed lever flying out and hitting you on the shins when it made the stop !

    Some of the big ones had a rapid, especially on the turret.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    Lots of them did have threading. You had a basic gearbox in conjunction with a series of short ( 12" long ) interchangeable lengths of lead screw and a series of inter changeable nuts.

    On some of the lathes it was " Screw cutting for dummies ". They had a device which pulled the whole cross slide back when you hit a stop on the ankle high stop rail. You put your cut on and threw in the special feed lever. The saddle would travel down the bed until it hit the stop. The saddle flew back about 1/4" and you just wound the saddle back to your start point, put another cut on, push in the feed lever and away you went. Easy peasy but look out for the feed lever flying out and hitting you on the shins when it made the stop !

    Some of the big ones had a rapid, especially on the turret.

    Regards Tyrone.

    & big OUCH .I can still feel it

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    Quote Originally Posted by atex57 View Post
    Hey, Tyrone! What can you tell me about my lathe? I have a Herbert #5 Senior Preoptive with no manuals. The foot pedal/button does not do anything being as it is stuck and it has been rewired to simply start, stop, and reverse with a replacement motor. Any suggestions on where to look?

    Thanks, Ed.
    Hi Ed, I never worked on the " Herbert " No 5's. The " Herberts " I worked on didn't have a foot switch.

    If you go on the " Tony's Lathes " site on the internet he has a vast library of machine tool manuals including quite a few for the " Herbert " No5 Senior Pre-op. He advertises the full range, operators manual, maintenance manual, wiring diagrams etc. They aren't cheap but well worth it in my opinion.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    I meant more like this swasey6.jpg Just seems like a handy machine for a job shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blazemaster View Post
    I meant more like this swasey6.jpg Just seems like a handy machine for a job shop.
    Because ( I think ) most turrets etc were sold for production shops, often with a machine spending it's entire life making just one part, oe a very narrow range of parts where it would be set for weeks or months, thus there was no need for quick change boxes etc etc , ………...all of which added to the cost of machine tools, .........….when they were already very expensive items.

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    Also, the fact that much of the threading done on a capstan lathe would be done with a Coventry die head.

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    My ward came with the original paperwork and had a brochure that explained how single point threading was done with it. Just as Tyrone said, you had several different pitches of leaders that needed to be interchanged for different threads, so they aren't near as versatile as a center lathe for threading. Luckily mine came with a die head and chasers if I have any production threading to do.

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    Mine is a 2"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Carel View Post
    Mine is a 2"
    Nice FWIW the 2'' bore jobs always fetched a premium over the 1.5''

  23. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Carel View Post
    My ward came with the original paperwork and had a brochure that explained how single point threading was done with it. Just as Tyrone said, you had several different pitches of leaders that needed to be interchanged for different threads, so they aren't near as versatile as a center lathe for threading. Luckily mine came with a die head and chasers if I have any production threading to do.
    Hi Matthew, It's horses for courses. Capstan and turret lathes are designed for volume production. You'd set the screw and nut up and it might stay like that for weeks on longish runs. If you have one of the lathes with the " Fly Back " screw cutting they are a dream to use.

    Regards Tyrone.

  24. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    Me too, if you consider " Auto-Wards " to be NC. What year would that be ? I think I went there about 1974.

    Regards Tyrone.
    I was a bit earlier than that, probably late 60s

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    These old workhorse,s are a good cheap addition for anyone who has the space cant beat the value you get and like yourself a lot have a load of tooling thrown in if you have the space keep it


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