What Does "Engine Lathe" Mean? - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Now, I am not a 100 per cent logical man. I like the poetic side of our laguage.

    I think the word "lathe" is one of the most beautiful words ever to discribe any tool, ever.

    "Engine lathe" is evocitave of heavy, masculine machinery. It conjures nostalgia of James Watt's shop and the immense challenges he and his men faced making machines that had never been made before.

    To this very day, I am almost overly proud to say.

    "Yes, I run the Engine Lathe"

  2. #22
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    >>The self-acting lathe, or engine lathe<<

    It was my understanding the term 'engine lathe' described a self-acting lathe meaning the lathe had it's own engine (or electric motor) powering it vs deriving it's power from an external source like the old school flat belt drives that hung down from the ceiling.

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    One might ask " doesnt a bench lathe do all of these things also". Maybe they should call them bench engine lathes.

  4. #24
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    I don't seem then limited to ones with their own motors. --- I see it as a distinction from "foot lathes" which you had to pedal.

  5. #25
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    gvasale, I have to comment on a couple of things....

    "Shop Theory" 5th edition, by James Anderson and Earle E. Tatro, copyright 1934, has the following: " The father of the modern engine lathe was Henry Maudslay who first invented the slide rest." He also combined the slide rest with the lead screw with change gears. " This took place in the early 19th century and made the the lathe the most important machine in the industrial revolution, for without the lathe James Watt's steam engine would never have been built. Because it machined the parts of Watt's engine, it became known as the engine lathe."
    No matter what your books say, steam engines were being made for over 100 years before machine tools came into common use. In fact, it was not until after the 1850's in the USA that machine tools were much used for engine manufacture.

    Cylinders were bored (though probably the first Newcomen cylinders were not bored), but almost everything else before this time was made by hand, ie chipped and filed, plus some hand turning (ie lathe without slide rest).

    I am not saying that engine lathes and planers were not in existance, they just weren't much used for steam engine (or other machinery) building, not in the US anyway, before the 1850's-60's.

    Another thing...James Watts experiments in Glasgow (and elsewhere) resulted in his invention of the seperate condensor (1765), this alone dropped the fuel consumption of the atmospheric engine to about 1/4.

    It was later that he came up with the double acting rotative engine (1783).

    One book I have (see below) suggests that an engine lathe is one driven by mechanical power, and also is "automatic" in operation, ie having a powered slide rest.

    A good book, though a bit of a slog, is Louis C. Hunter "Steam Power: A History of Industrial Power in the United States, 1780-1930".

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    An "Engine" lathe is a lathe driven by other than "Main Force" ie. person or other animal power. A "Plain" lathe without mechanical feeds or lead screw can still be a "plain engine lathe". All sparrows are birds but not all birds are sparrows! A cotton gin, and a spinning genny are both so called as a coloquiall diminution of the word "engine"

    Charles.

  7. #27
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    the gentleman that I trained under(20 years ago)
    his father worked in the "round-house" in Cincinnati years ago.
    This always made me think of engine lathe
    BY THE WAY ...........My Wife supprised me for my birthday with Reds tickets and an overnite stay.So glad our Son was able to join.plus they won

  8. #28
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    It was my understanding the term 'engine lathe' described a self-acting lathe meaning the lathe had it's own engine (or electric motor) powering it vs deriving it's power from an external source like the old school flat belt drives that hung down from the ceiling.
    I have very old catalogs that show only line shaft driven lathes. They are described as engine lathes.

    John

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    "I have very old catalogs that show only line shaft driven lathes. They are described as engine lathes."

    A lathe which is mechanically driven, whether a water wheel through a line shaft, or a motor through a line shaft, or a motor of whatever kind which is independent of a line shaft, is an engine lathe.

    A treadle lathe (man-powered) is not an engine lathe.

    A toolroom lathe is a higher accuracy version of an engine lathe, often having many more thread leads and axial or radial feeds.

  10. #30
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    Philabuster,

    I may have misunderstood you, but the term "self-acting" in the case of the lathe (as far as I have read) refers to the powered slide rest, ie what we call power feed to the carriage. It does not refer to the means of powering the spindle.

  11. #31
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    From what was told to me years ago and makes sense is: A lathe that sits on a bench, when you turn on the motor the spindle starts turning
    ( like a bridgeport mill ) isn't an engine lathe.
    On an engine lathe the spindle starts turning when you pull a lever, push and arm, or step on a control arm.
    The power is already there from an electric motor, water-wheel powered shaft, windmill, hamster in wheel, dog on treadmill, etc.

    The clutch is engaged to start the spindle turning.

    Hope this helps,

    Jackal

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    I was told simply that Engine lathe was short for "engineers lathe".

  13. #33
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    I was told simply that Engine lathe was short for "engineers lathe".
    Well I guess if "you were told" this, it must be the real deal huh ? Doesn't matter by whom... :rolleyes:

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    Well Don, if you MUST know "who" told me, I shall reveal my "source".
    His name is Charlie and he was a watchmaker for more than 2 decades and then went into micromachining building machines that manipulate DNA and other genetic materials. "He" told me that "if you ever hear the term 'engine lathe', it means nothing more than 'engineers lathe'.."
    I guess he must just be some dumba$$ that doesn't know anything!
    Sure seemed to know what the hell he was doing. He was building some machines that extrude glass so small they us them for pipetting to wihtdraw genetic material in eggs for in-vitro fertilization...Then again, he may have just been making that up!! How stupid of me :-O--Grant

  15. #35
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    I guess he must just be some dumba$$ that doesn't know anything!
    He could be the smartest man that ever lived and still not know the historical origins behind certain English machinist terms. After all, he wasn't alive when the term began to be used.

  16. #36
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    I hear ya!
    I was just throwing another option out there that was not mentioned. I did not make it up. I figured that if he had used these types of machines, he may have a clue on origin.

    Now, if "I" had thrown it out there then, yes, it would've been a dumba$$ thing to say as I have little knowledge of this.

  17. #37
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    As far as I know "engine" lathe is a US invention. In Britain and here the term is Centre Lathe. I'm happy to accept any suggestion except we had an old treadle lathe and it definately had change gears and a lead screw.
    Engineers lathe sounds good to diffentiate from wood lathe.
    On the subject of early steam engines I understand that they were not a mechanical device like a beam engine that used pressurised steam to drive a piston to produce rotary motion.
    I think the early steam engines used a difference in pressure to extract groundwater from coal mines.
    This brings up the definition of an engine. I've seen several references to an engine and a motor in other threads and I'm sure lots of folks have definate ideas on the difference. I can't recall any "self-actuating" characteristic as a difference but "self-sustaining" in the case of an internal combustion engine seems reasonable.

  18. #38
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    Damien, I like Centre Lathe better...make more sense really....except you misspelled "Center"

  19. #39
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    And you misspelled mis-spelled. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

  20. #40
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    Memory now drags into this time the expression "computing engine". So I am happy to accept "a mechanical device" for the meaning of "engine". Something that will convert an input to a different output.
    How's that! As they say at the best cricket matches.


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