Monday, 2 April 2018

Introducing the Mini-Lathe

For some while now I have been thinking about extending the capabilities of my home workshop with a small lathe, and have been looking at Myfords and the Chinese mini-lathes that have come to dominate the hobby market.

After reading several books and many articles online, I took the plunge with the aid of a bonus from work and bought a RealBull CJ18A from Amadeal. It's a nominal 7" x 14" imperial lathe, perfect for old biking needs.

The lathe comes with a four jaw chuck, as well as the three jaw self centring chuck. I ordered a live centre, a jacobs chuck and a tailstock die-holder as well. I'm using HSS tools from RGD.

It's the two speed type, and has metal change gears in the headstock. You can reverse the spindle at the flick of a switch, which is very useful when machine tapping, and you can vary the speed infinitely. There is a digital display for spindle speed and I have found an app for Android which helps me select the right speed for the job.

There is a cam operated tailstock lock which is useful; I've centred the tailstock using a dead centre against the chuck.

The high/low change lever is behind the headstock, alongside the lever for the leadscrew.

It was clear from the outset that the lathe was going to become a hobby in itself, attracting many enthusiasts with ideas of how to improve and adapt it for other jobs. I've bought a quick change tool post for it already:

It's held in place with one of those long cap screws - I will practice screw cutting and replace the cap screw with a long stud, so that I am not wearing out the compound slide thread and so that I do not need an Allen key every time I want to move the toolpost.

The first job was to make a couple of stand-offs to improve the location of the chuck guard:

And I have made a sheet aluminium guard to keep the worst of the turnings off the bed ways and leadscrew.

This is about the only useful thing I have used it for so far - I have trued up the tommy bar I filed from scrap...

There's a long list of jobs waiting for it:
  1. Suspension washer
  2. Wheel nut spanner - waiting drawings 
  3. Hub ring spanner
  4. Door knob screws
  5. Oil can spouts
  6. Magneto pinion puller
  7. Handlebar lever spacers
  8. FH brake linkage parts
  9. Front number plate mounts
  10. Push rod tube seal adapters
  11. Chip protector
  12. Tool post stud - waiting material
  13. Damper rods
  14. Carbon steel engine bolts for the SQ4. I want to replace the stainless ones and use some chemical black, to get them back to the original appearance
I've made a new page for the Mini-Lathe, to record details & links relating to lathes, tools and accessories. I'll blog the jobs I do with it here as usual.

1 comment:

  1. Don't know why but like you I find lathe work very satisfying. I use a friends lathe for (many) bits and pieces but would love to have my own.
    If you don't mind me asking, what sort of price did you pay?
    I've had several "finest hours" turning. Top one is making a hub cone adapter for my Cyclemaster, where I used the lathe as a milling machine.I put a side and face cutter in the chuck and mounted the previously turned part in the tool post, then used the cross slide to traverse the part over the cutter. I then used the tool height adjuster to give the slit width I required. It worked a treat!
    Good luck with your turning.

    By the way don't forget to use a full face mask. I always do, since I saw a colleague catch a parted off stub in his mouth. We picked his teeth up from the floor but they wouldn't go back in!