Wood Framed/Floored Shop and Lathe Leveling
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    Default Wood Framed/Floored Shop and Lathe Leveling

    First: Yes I did a search.

    Okay, I live in Southwestern Alaska, specifically Bethel, Alaska. This area is all tundra which is comprised of the top four to six feet not being frozen, the rest is down to about 1000 feet. The ground moves around. I have to have the house and shop leveled about every two years. The construction method here is post and pad on a large sand pad. Mine is 3/4 acre with 18" styrofoam insulation on the bottom and 8-feet of material on top. The shop rests on 12, 12" square treated posts on the four-foot square 8" thick pads.

    My shop is 28'x34' with floor made from 2x12's on 14" centers sitting on three main 6x18" beams. The floor itself are 1 1/2" tongue and groove plywood, two layers thick.

    My lathe will weigh 2,000 pounds and is roughly 75" long and 30" wide. I have been thinking of welding up 4" rectangular tubing with 1/4" thick walls, two cross pieces, flip it and weld on a 1/2" thick plate. Flip it back and using this as a base to set the lathe on so the weight will be spread, and level from there. I am resigned to using my levels to check it every time I want to use it for serious work. This will lift the lathe so the centerline of the spindle will be roughly 48". Not bad. The easy way would be a 2" thick (or more) plate, but this would be hideously expensive.

    If anyone has any suggestions I would welcome them. I see some of the old South Bend adverts showing the lathes on wooden floors, I think it can be done. Maybe. Hopefully.

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    Warner Swasey has a section in the manual turret lathe manuals dealing with
    setting the machine on a wood floor, multi story ones as well.

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    I'd weld up a heavy thick wall square tube frame on three points for your lathe. Two points on headstock end as wide as you can without tripping on em. Other end at tailstock. Weld in adjusters to the frame for the four points the lathe sits on and try to take out bed twist with them instead of the ground as would be usual. Have done same on smaller lathes like yours in my location which is on a clay old lake bed substrate that wiggles and jiggles rvery time it rains and ruins even thick well re-barred concrete slab. Not perfect, but works.

    L7

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    One thing to consider is that you don't have to keep the lathe level, you need to keep the bed straight. Think of mounting a lathe on a ship.

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    Level is not necessary. Straight is. People use level as a measurement reference only. If your lathe is a cabinet model, be advised that bed straightness is adjusted between the cabinet and the bed casting with shims, not at the cabinet feet. Your wood floor is no problem at all

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    Don't overthink this. Make some plates to go under the legs/base to distribute the weight, bolt it down if you wish and level it. Check the level every so often and if it cuts straight leave it alone. Lots of machines on wood floors that have been in place forever and never given a 2nd thought. If you find this unworkable down the road, you can always build your fancy base.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenton View Post
    Think of mounting a lathe on a ship.
    YES !...What with global Warming right around the corner, and all those ice burgs 'a melting....
    YouTube

    Plan ahead, and "barge mount" the whole shop....

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    Some great advice here. Your floor sounds substantial enough to support the lathe without much concern for spreading the load much, but you're right about wanting to keep the floor movement from impacting the lathe bed and your proposed riser design won't do that. The way to do it is to contact the floor in only three points, or the lathe contact the stand in effectively three points (assuming the lathe is straight normally). Given the description of the lathe it's hard to know whether the cabinet/stand is integral, one-piece, or multi piece. Which yours is would determine the easiest approach going forward.

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    I'm dealing with about the same wooden stick built floor construction problem. A bit lighter equipment and floor construction, but still much the same issues. And yeah I can confirm humidity and temperature changes can and will show measurable changes for a tapered cut in as little as a couple of hrs. Even if you could afford that 2" plate it would only reduce the problem and not eliminate it by spreading the loads out a bit. It takes a lot less pressure and movement to flex even 2" thick plate that it would seem. Traditionally most machine shops did have a wooden floor covering, but it was usually oak blocks with the end grain up as the floor surface. Since there's almost no change in length due to changes in humidity it had little effect on the machine tools alignment. With today's usual and standard construction the joists will move the most across there vertical width. That's variable amount along the length of a joist and certainly variable between different joist's. If it were me, I'd probably try things without doing any changes to see what happens. But I'd expect the good advise about the 3 point contact is going to be something in your future. Power augering holes as large as possible well down into the perma frost and using large concrete and rebar filled sono tubes at the 3 points might do it. But it sounds like your location moves too much for even that to be a permanent solution. Fwiw you have my sympathy and I expect your going to get pretty good at estimating how much change is needed on the adjustment bolts every time you have to tweak your lathe back into being parallel.

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    Thank you for the replies. Food for thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lucky7 View Post
    I'd weld up a heavy thick wall square tube frame on three points for your lathe. Two points on headstock end as wide as you can without tripping on em. Other end at tailstock. Weld in adjusters to the frame for the four points the lathe sits on and try to take out bed twist with them instead of the ground as would be usual. Have done same on smaller lathes like yours in my location which is on a clay old lake bed substrate that wiggles and jiggles rvery time it rains and ruins even thick well re-barred concrete slab. Not perfect, but works.

    L7
    This sounds like a very good idea, I will try this. The lathe has four bolts on the bottom of the base under headstock, and two on the tailstock. I'll make a T out of the rectangular tubing and use leveling feet from McMaster-Carr, two centered under the headstock on the outboard of the T and one under the tailstock. We will see how this goes.

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    Do some engineering...

    Wood floor rated both for weight spread out in pounds per square foot as well as point loading.

    Add in total loads as it may matter

    Our 14.5 SB came with 1/2 inch steel plates cut slightly larger than footprint of the bases for each end.

    We modified the configuration and threaded the holes in the lathe such that the steel plate is attached to lathe and can be leveled by adjusting the bolts through the base of lathe and lock nuts above.

    They are now on concrete but not sure why they were made, looks nice though and no divots in floor.

    Something like that would reduce point loads and spread the weight across more surface area making it more stable while still allowing adjustment.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

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    I don't know if this will work, but after the suggestion to keep contact at three points and the lathe on a ship I went looking for a...lathe on a ship!
    south-bend-ship.jpg

    The headstock is bolted down at two points under the headstock. The tailstock at one point and the tailstock can actually move. Soooo I came up with this:
    lathe-mount.jpg

    We will see how it works. I do intend to build a platform to take into account the lift this'll give the machine and to not trip on the T-base.

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    A WWII Navy machinist said the lathes were on a special mount to prevent flexing when the ship rolled because the entire ship flexed. He never desribed them, but it sounds like you have found it. Note that the lathes like the Monarch 10EE have cast bases that stiffen the bed and a three point contact to the floor. That is definitely the way to do it if you have a moving floor.

    Bill

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    Nitromahn you're on the right track, I was actually looking for a photo of one of those south bends but couldn't come up with one. It's perfect. A couple key points is that especially on a ship it would be bolted down, and I think at both ends. You can see bolt holes on the TS foot. Bolting down the TS foot would readily allow the lathe to be un-twisted by shimming at the joint between the lathe and tailstock leg. The southbend likely has built in screws or something for the same purpose. If that foot isn't bolted, or like your drawing shows is just setting on a pin, shimming between the lathe and leg might just slide the foot to the side.

    Additionally, as the southbend shows there's no need to actually join the HS to the TS end down by the floor. I think you can get rid of that spanning tube but I'd find a way to lock in the TS end so you can actually untwist the lathe as necessary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCByrd24 View Post
    Nitromahn you're on the right track, I was actually looking for a photo of one of those south bends but couldn't come up with one. It's perfect. A couple key points is that especially on a ship it would be bolted down, and I think at both ends. You can see bolt holes on the TS foot. Bolting down the TS foot would readily allow the lathe to be un-twisted by shimming at the joint between the lathe and tailstock leg. The southbend likely has built in screws or something for the same purpose. If that foot isn't bolted, or like your drawing shows is just setting on a pin, shimming between the lathe and leg might just slide the foot to the side.

    Additionally, as the southbend shows there's no need to actually join the HS to the TS end down by the floor. I think you can get rid of that spanning tube but I'd find a way to lock in the TS end so you can actually untwist the lathe as necessary.
    Let me figure this out.

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    I have a lathe that still sits in on a mat of utility cross bucks on a sand floored hay shed. When I say sand I mean fluffy desert sand dunes kinda stuff. I have zero problems with it moving. Unless you are turning long space shuttle parts I think you are more than well equipped already. Just give it a try

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    For some years I had my lathe on a wood floor in a trailer. That is about the worst that you can think of. Even a ship's shop will have a metal floor which is relatively stiff compared to a wood floor on the least expensive steel frame possible. One thing that I learned was that leveling was just a complete waste of time. Not only did the level's bubble move when I walked around the room, but it actually moved when I leaned over to read it, even though I was careful not to even touch the lathe or the bench it was mounted on.

    I do like the idea of a rigid platform. I also like the idea of mounting that platform on three points as lucky7 suggests. I would have leveling legs at those three points with a fairly large (12"), metal pads where they rest on the wood floor to distribute the weight. Those pads should have a pivot for attachment to the leveling legs so they can find their own, best contact with the floor. And drill a couple of holes in them so they can be locked down in ONE place.

    First level that platform. Standard levels should be OK: you do not need to break out the machinist's level there. Lock the adjustments down.

    Second I would check the stability of your floor. Put a machinist's level on flat top of the cross slide and do a rough level. Now, walk around the lathe and watch the bubble. If it stays still you are golden. But I don't expect that. Remember how much movement the bubble has as you change positions. Do this in two directions at right angles and remember the results. Those results will tell you just how far you can go in the leveling process.

    Then level or otherwise set up the lathe on that platform as best as you can. I am not a big fan of adjustable lege for this. I strongly recommend that you use shims. You can stop this process when you reach the limits of bubble movement found above. There is no sense in going any further as that wood floor is moving under you.

    Make the final adjustments using actual cuts to judge the alignment, not the level.

    Once you have done that, the alignment of the lathe should remain fairly constant as long as the platform remains roughly level. You can check that platform level at intervals, perhaps monthly. And after restoring the platform's level, do another test cut to see if the lathe is still performing as you want/need. You should only need to change the shims between the platform and the lathe when you detect a problem with the test cut.

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    Wow!! Seriously, I am humbled by the depth of everyone's experience. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aejgx6 View Post
    I have a lathe that still sits in on a mat of utility cross bucks on a sand floored hay shed. When I say sand I mean fluffy desert sand dunes kinda stuff. I have zero problems with it moving. Unless you are turning long space shuttle parts I think you are more than well equipped already. Just give it a try
    This works because the "floor" is so flexible, likely more so than the OPs, and even the trailer floor mentioned by EPA. The lathe is stiff enough that the sand is not going to twist it. You likely aren't going to untwist it either if it was found to be necessary.

    The OPs floor is likely rigid enough to be able to move the lathe, and his goal is to decouple the two, while at the same time being able to have the ability to straighten the lathe. Three point mounting is the way to keep the floor from influencing the lathe. This is easy to do and if the lathe was straight enough in that configuration that would be all that is required.

    The trickier part is to still be able to adjust the twist if necessary, and that is the beauty of the sound bend design shown. The design of the OP's lathe/cabinet would determine the best way to accomplish this.

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