Author Topic: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses  (Read 7570 times)

Kludge

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The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« on: August 18, 2008, 12:35:33 AM »
I recently purchased a Clisby lathe which arrived Saturday.  The delightful lady (I did mention loving living in Hawaii, right? ;)) delivering that day handed me a box that would have done well to hold the bed of a watchmaker’s lathe and nothing much larger.  Now, I realize the Clisby is considered the smallest lathe in the world but this small?  Something wasn’t right by half!

I opened the box.  In it was another box and a small Ziploc bag of bits and pieces.  They were the extra parts I ordered, including the spare motors.  Then I opened the other box which contained the lathe itself.  My GOD (Sorry, boss.), it’s small!  :o

Imagine, if you will, a Sherline shrunk down to a height of around 3-1/2”.  That’s to the top of the headstock chuck.  Imagine, if you will, one each 3-jaw scroll chuck and 4-jaw independent chuck with outside diameters of 45mm, those being the largest chucks that will fit.  Imagine, if you will, a motor only slightly larger than the ones we used for racing 1/24 scale slot cars back in the 60s driving this machine.  (The motor is a 5-pole rated at 12vdc, 4 amps.)  That, folks, is a Clisby lathe.

Okay, why did I do this to myself when I already have several perfectly serviceable lathes already.  For the same reason a Sieg C0 is in the offing; I’m curious what they’ll do with some serious TLC … and that’s not thrashing, lashing and caning! :D   

First impressions – beyond the word “tiny” …

First off, it really does closely resemble a miniaturized Sherline, not surprising since the same gentleman, the late Harold Clisby, designed both.  Everything threaded that causes something to move is threaded at 20tpi, a nice number that allows for some decently fine positioning for the cross slide and the tailstock poppet.  While the photos at the website show it as coming with a single tool post, mine came with a double one – two tools, one post.  Magnificent.  (It uses 3/16” tools, by the way.  This is somewhat a bother since all I have is 1/8” and 1/4” but I can fix that.)  There are no T-slots in the cross slide which is a bit of a limitation but not enough to make me want to Do Bad Things to the Purple Brain.  On the other hand, there’s enough room between the top slide and the spindle centerline that very well thought out accessories are possible and fabricated with what’s on hand – which happens to be 1/8” thick aluminum stock of the same flavor as the lathe.  How convenient.

The swing over the bed is 2-1/2”.  My watchmaker’s lathes can swing at least 3-1/3” over the bed.  Even my SL-1000 can turn bigger.  The Clisby can handle 4-1/2” between centers according to the specs.  That I’m not so sure about but I’ll let it stand for the moment.  All my other lathes can do better than that. 

Downers …

Two things struck me right off.  First, the cross slide has a hitch in its gitalong which appears to be from a slightly bent lead screw.  The carriage is fine, just the slide has a problem.  Second, the tailstock poppet adjustment handle has no retainer and has to be held in place when extending the poppet or the silly thing will come out instead.  Okay, according to the Gospel According to Kludge, NO machine leaves a factory ready to run without a complete disassembly, inspection, reassembly (with lapping as required), complete lubrication and adjustment.  I don’t know how it is with the big boy toys but even my factory fresh Taig got a teardown, inspection, reassembly, adjustment, lubrication etc.  (I guess it’s a good thing I never worked for an auto dealership, isn’t it. ;D)  This machine will get the full treatment during which time I shall correct it's oopsies.

Beyond that, after Mr. Clisby died, someone got the bright idea that outsourcing would be a Good Thing, during which time the headstock was changed from plain bushings to ball bearings.  Now, if The Harold felt ball bearings were proper there, he would have designed it that way.  He didn’t and it wasn’t.  Meanwhile, the other half of the machine combo, the matching milling machine disappeared completely.  In any event, the only remaining machine is the short bed lathe (The long bed even disappeared from spare parts.) and now the company’s closing its doors.  Hopefully they’ll hold out long enough for me to get some spare parts. 

The future …

Well, if I were to have a wild fantasy for a moment, someone would buy up the original tooling and put the machines back in production.  They might cost more but they’d at least be available.  It’s not going to happen, but it is nice to think about.

For my own machine, it will get the Full Treatment as described above during which time I’ll do what I can to repair the two problems noted.  One of the things I bought was a pulley to replace the existing drive (single speed cog belt) so I can install a slightly bigger motor and a jackshaft to give me better speed control.*  Right now, a variable speed controller will max it out around 1500 rpm which is fine for an upper speed limit.  (It’s specs say it’ll do 4000 rpm but this will work for now.)  What I’d like is smoother operation at lower speeds so a multi-step pulley like used on a watchmaker’s lathe (or a Taig) coupled with a PWM controller should help a lot.  (Motor to multi-sheath pulley on jackshaft, jackshaft to lathe using something close to the existing ratio.  This works, right?) 

After all this, I want to make a compound/sphere-making top slide as well as a milling adapter since the mills aren’t available anymore and the cross slide bits are disappearing from their parts stock from which someone else already made one.  After that, who knows.  Tricking out a lathe that will be an orphan by the time I’m done does seem a bit of a waste of energy, especially for one so small.  But it’s such a cute little bugger and I really do want to know what it can do when it’s all big citified. 

Getting back to why, though …

I like working on truly itty bitty things.  Within the limits of vision (that’s MY limits of vision!), I enjoy pushing as hard as I can to shrink things as much as possible.  Ironically, this also works in making large projects since small detail pieces are even more important in them, especially when my sense of humor is working overtime.  (I’ve been known to put things like the Klingon - which Word wanted to autocorrect to “Clinton” :D - “national ensign” hidden in plain sight.  I am sooo bad!  Or I’m that good, dependent on point of view.)  Anyway, the Clisby is a “pocket sized” answer to my enjoyment of working small that will run from a motorcycle battery plus is a potentially neat project in itself.

One of the accessories I’m ordering in September is the woodworking tool rest since I can use it with gravers just as easily.  Gravers are good.  They’re fun.  They’re great for very fine work.  Plus I have a gazillion of them.

Best regards,

Kludge

* My Unimat is getting the same treatment.  Since I have two headstocks, the lathe one stays in place but I’ve never been really happy with all this belt changing and the whole “eight minutes on-two minutes off” thing.  As a result, it’s getting a DC motor (Actually the motor on it is a universal which is much happier running on DC but that’s another issue.) and jack shaft with a PWM speed controller.  This is a future project which will be somewhat amusing since I want to retain the ability to swivel the headstock.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 03:10:42 AM by Kludge »

Offline Brass_Machine

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Re: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2008, 08:22:49 PM »
Got any pictures?

Eric
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Kludge

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Re: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2008, 09:43:55 PM »
Got any pictures?

Coming, along with a few of the hand tools and lathe acessories I like to use.  They should give a good idea of the scale of what I like making.

Best regards,

Kludge

Offline Mudbone

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Re: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2009, 01:43:46 PM »
Hey there!  I'm looking to buy a Clisby Lathe... :coffee:  If you are interested in selling let me know please.  :D...my email address is "syellon@yahoo.com"...thanks a lot...

Offline Bernd

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Re: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2009, 10:42:45 AM »
Hi Mudbone,

I believe Kludge is no longer a memeber as his status has changed to "guest". You might be able to get hold of him at this site.

BTW welcome to the collective. Use the "Introduction" and post a bit about your interests.

Regards,
Bernd
You can't fix "STUPID".

Offline Brass_Machine

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Re: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2009, 04:57:05 PM »
No Bernd... I looked last night and didn't see Kludge on the member list there either.

I take that back... He is still a member at HMEM.

I don't have his email anymore either.

Eric
« Last Edit: March 19, 2009, 08:26:13 PM by Brass_Machine »
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Offline Bernd

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Re: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2009, 08:30:32 PM »
Eric,

Did I write that wrong?

I guess I didn't phrase that right. I meant he is no longer a memeber of Madmodder, but may be gotten a hold of at HMEM.

Bernd
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Offline Brass_Machine

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Re: The Clisby Lathe ... or, Why Kludge Needs New Glasses
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2009, 07:38:14 PM »
Nah it was written fine.

I noticed a member had left the other day. I don't have it logged to see who it was. I figured out is Kludge when I saw him as a guest. As he didn't tell me he was deleting his account, I went over to HMEM to see if he was still there. I didn't see his name in the Member List, I assumed he left there as well. Then I saw he had a post and stile has his Profile

Why he left... I dunno

Eric
Science is fun.

We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.