Author Topic: My Cowells ME lathe  (Read 17810 times)

Offline raynerd

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My Cowells ME lathe
« on: December 30, 2012, 05:21:57 PM »
I was just updating my blog and did a post on my cowells. I know I`ve posted some pics on the other thread but this keeps it specific to Cowells and allows me to update progress as I do have quite a few additions and modifications to make to this lathe.

This actually is a very early cowells. In fact, after a couple of brief chats with the director over at cowells, he is pretty sure that this is one of the first cowells just after the transfer from Perris lathes. The big give away is the absence of the cowells casting "stamp" on the bed. In actual fact, my lathe is likely to be a Perris made bed sold under the new name of Cowells. All fairly immaterial since the design has not changed.

The lathe came with very little in the way of tooling and accessories but for the price I could afford, I'll have to add these as I go.  Cowells is still going strong and so all parts are readily available, but sadly at a price! -  check out their website for more details.





The lathe came with a 3 jaw chuck but no key and despite all the strong words flung at me over in the "finding a chuck key" thread, I'm really really still struggling sourcing a key! I`ve had an opportunity to take it to rdg and one other local tool shop and neither could help.



I have also added an ER16 collet chuck since it is a good scale size for this lathe and I already have a set of collets.



The standard ME lathe came with the change wheel set for the auto traverse gearing but not with the suitable gear cutting change wheels so obtaining these was first on my "to do" list. I now have a full set of gears including some teeth count that should give me imperial BA threads on this metric lathe.

Blank gears:




The cut gears, including the extra few...





The tail stock is a zero morse taper. I was lucky enough to pick this threaded original cowells arbor and original cowells sold chuck off eBay very reasonably priced.



 I'd like an independent 4 jaw as soon as I can afford one. Secondly and perhaps less urgent would be a quick change tool post but I am considering making this. For completeness, I'd like a fixed and travelling steady at some point.

Really enjoying it so far.
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Offline Swarfing

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 05:39:39 PM »
Chris if you can cut those gears you can surely make a key for that chuck? start with a MOD profile if the lathe is metric and give it a go? make it out of plastic first for a trial fit.
Once in hole stop digging.

Offline raynerd

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 05:42:44 PM »
lol... Paul, after the thread where I got a right pasting, let's leave the chuck key. I`ll get it sorted!!  :lol:   EDIT: Inciddently, I believe it is a Toyo chuck originally sold by Cowells with their ME model lathe. It looks very similar to the current 3 jaw Proxxon chuck but it seems like they don`t sell the key alone!

I didn`t cut the gears. I cut the blanks and they were hobbed for me.
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Offline Swarfing

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 05:47:06 PM »
Ok fair enough, beasley tools in Swindon came up trumps for me with weird key i needed for my pillar drill. They had a few oddments so might be worth giving then a call. Don't expect them to know what you are talking about so get some measurements ready
Once in hole stop digging.

Rob.Wilson

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 05:56:20 PM »
Very nice looking lathe Chris  :thumbup:

Whats your reasoning behind getting another smaller lathe ?  clock making    :thumbup:


Rob

Offline raynerd

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 06:08:08 PM »
Rob
Although over the last 4 years I`ve enjoyed everything I`ve made in my workshop, clockmaking is the way I want to focus in the future.

I totally appreciate you can do small work on a large lathe, but to sit down with my optivisor on and turn small wheel arbors on my precise but small Cowells is more comfortable and enjoyable. Also, with the little ones now in the house, it means that it can also come out on the dining room table while everyone else in the house sleeps - as it currently is now!! (don`t tell the wife, she`ll kill me!)

When I was first ever looking at lathes in 2000, I use to go on the Cowells and think, "I`ll never afford one of those". This one came up at a price I was happy with and I couldn`t say no. To be honest, it is quite a dream having it! They always say a poor work man always blames his tools and that is certainly the case with me!! At least I know now I can`t blame my lathe anymore.... damn!!   :lol:

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Offline hopefuldave

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 06:11:09 PM »
Quote:
 I now have a full set of gears including some teeth count that should give me imperial BA threads on this metric lathe.
Unquote

A pedant adds....

BA are actually Metric by design...

0BA is defined as 6mm major diameter, 1mm pitch - but then it gets messy!

First, as you probably know, the included angle is 47.5* - not shared with any other system, not easy to construct in old-fashioned drafting...
  For each BA number, there's a repeated pitch reduction on each in the series - by a factor of 0.9, so 1BA p=0.9mm, 2BA p=0.81mm, etc. so the pitch defines the rest of the thread measurements for instance:
  The major diameter similarly reduces on the series, but based on the pitch - D=6 x p^1.2 (lovely, use a non-integer power to make life easy).
*Then* round everything to the nearest thou" (I kid you not) because they were designed to be Made In Britain!

I use taps and dies for BA myself :) I missed the "accessory gear set" (in its nice polished oak box) on Ebay a few months back - 10 extra gears (half of them prime numbers) for BA / DP / Module, *before* it gets to the QCGB... Bum.

That Cowells looks a nice little lathe - I keep thinking I should get one from that end of the spectrum!

Dave H. (the other one)
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Offline raynerd

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 06:19:45 PM »
Hi Dave
Thanks for your post. If I`m being honest I need to cut some more metric thread first! With my boxford imperial, I`ve only ever cut a handful of threads as I mainly use metric fastners.
The extra gears come from this thread started by Jo - cutting BA and imperial threads on a Cowells: http://www.modelenginemaker.com/index.php/topic,1020.90.html
I was having my gears hobbed and thought I may as well chuck in the extra  37T and 47T gears to be cut. I make no pretense that I could use them to cut BA gears yet but I have them if I can use them in time. Like you, I only ever use taps and dies for BA.

Thanks again Dave,
Chris
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Rob.Wilson

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 06:22:23 PM »
Hi Chris

Totally agree , as you say you can make small parts on a large lathe ,but  it is easier to make say clock parts on a smaller lathe , especial hand turning using gravers , were you can sit at a table with your legs under the machine .

I have a Lorch  :dremel:


Rob 

Offline raynerd

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 06:24:33 PM »
 :offtopic: -but then it is my thread!
Does your Lorch have a cross slide. Something I feel my Boley is missing but the cost of buying one on ebay would cost more than the value of the lathe itself!


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Rob.Wilson

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 06:28:04 PM »
It dose Chris



Rob

Offline raynerd

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 06:29:42 PM »
AHHHH! I see what model lorch you have! Yes, very nice and with the cross slide this makes it a very nice rigid machine, bigger than my Boley and actually more similar I expect to my Cowells.

Chris
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Rob.Wilson

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 06:37:33 PM »
About the same capacity as your Cowells , just no lead screw .

I have been meaning to make a new base for the lathe for the passed two years , I have a nice lump of mahogany I would like to use to  make the base out of , something with  with a couple of draws underneath for the tooling .   :proj:


Rob

Offline raynerd

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 06:40:29 PM »
Funnily enough, mine came with the originally supplied Cowells fibreglass base but I agree with the previous owner and the current wooden slab that it is mounted to does a better job. A mahogany base and draws seems a nice idea! Good night.
Chris
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Offline andyf

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 06:45:19 PM »
You'll get a lot of use out of that Cowells, Chris; it looks in very good condition.

It's certainly an early one, judging by the single clamp bolts on the headstock bearings. Don't be tempted to tighten those up unless absolutely necessary. The weak points in the casting where the bending stress will occur are the thin bits directly above the spindle, and are further weakened by the oil holes. Mine broke above the outboard bearing, but I managed to repair it; If the inboard one ever lets go, there isn't enough room for a second bolt at the back.

One thing which surprises me is that the dials seem to be fixed, rather than zeroable as on my Perris.

Oh, and another word of warning from personal experience: if you ever dismantle the dog clutch, the interior of the box it sits in connects directly to a void in the foot at that end of the bed. Stuff a bit of rag behind the clutch to stop bits falling down there; you can't get your fingers in to recover them, and will end up inverting the lathe and shaking them out.

Andy
Sale, Cheshire
I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Offline raynerd

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My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2012, 08:37:16 PM »
Cheers for your tips and information Andy. I have seen your repair you had to do on your website...seems an odd design.

Funnily enough, the none zeroable dials are the only thing that annoy me but the price of changing them out works out at I think near 40 per axis since the lead screws need changing for longer ones. The main lead screw is of course even more than this! Someone out there had modded them and made them zeroable but I think if I attempted that it wouldn't turn out great. I must admit, I seriously have considered DROs but expect most people would be against this on such a fine lathe? I presume even if I was willing to pay for glass dials, I couldn't get any small enough. Any thoughts? - only it certainly would make the fact that the dials can't be zero'd, an irrelevance. However, I don't want to cheapen the lathe!
Chris
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Offline caskwith

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2012, 03:30:27 AM »
That chuck does look very similar to my proxxon chuck. If you would like to borrow my proxxon key for testing and if successful measuring to make your own you are more than welcome to for the cost of postage, i can certainly afford to be without it for a few days.

Offline andyf

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2012, 04:09:49 AM »
I think you might find DROs would get in the way on such a small lathe, Chris. They would certainly spoil the lathe's looks. It might be possible to mount them to the back of the saddle and cross slide, and to the end of the bed and the RH side of the saddle, so one of them stuck out behind the saddle and the other to the right of the lathe, but they would be very vulnerable to being knocked and in the latter case would need a lot of room.

Zeroable dials could be managed without too much trouble, I reckon. Your lead/feedscrews look as though they project as far as those on my Perris, so you could make up new handwheels and dials to the same design. Basically, the handwheels are like yours, but with a graduated collar fitted over the boss, friction being supplied by a spring and ball bearing in a radial hole in the boss. The handwheel is retained by a grubscrew through the knurled rim of the handwheel. Sketches in my Perris build instructions show them, and there's a scan of those on the files of the Yahoo Cowells group. I'm not sure if you are a member there as "mnbylcr2", but I can always send you a copy if needed.

Musings:
Another less troublesome way might be to make up dial collars to slip over the bosses of your existing handwheels, with an internal annular groove for an O ring to add friction. That wouldn't involve any alteration to your handwheels, but the collar would be unrestrained axially and might catch up on the ends of the cross slide etc, causing the dial to alter itself. If you could bring yourself to turn a corresponding shallow groove around the handwheel boss for the O ring to bed into, that might provide enough axial restraint.

Andy 
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 06:01:27 AM by andyf »
Sale, Cheshire
I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Rob.Wilson

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2012, 05:48:02 AM »
Hi Chris

Just out of interest were did you get your gears hobbed ?

Rob



Offline raynerd

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My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2012, 06:59:20 AM »
 I advertised for a set of 32dp cutters on homeworkshop and this very interesting chap said he'd do them for me on his setup if I provide blanks. They look top quality and work great. Cheaper than 165 for the Cowells set!
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Offline raynerd

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My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2012, 07:06:56 AM »
Andy, really interesting thoughts and I like the latter suggestions as it involves less possibly destructive modification. I'll have to think about it more... I've not made any graduated rings but have the gear to do it.
I am mnbylcr2 on yahoo - it is a very old yahoo mail address but the only way to access yahoo groups.

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Offline andyf

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2012, 09:06:23 AM »
Hi Chris,

In case it's of any interest, I've created a temporary page on my website and put three annotated pics of my cross slide dial on it, both dismantled and mantled (that should be a word, but is it?) .

http://andysmachines.weebly.com/perris-dials.html

I find that easier than using Photobucket.  The most time-consuming bit of the exercise was finding the 2.5mm ball bearing after dropping it on the floor  :bang: .

Let me know when you've seen the photos, and I'll then delete that page (so download them if you want to see them again).

Andy
Sale, Cheshire
I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Offline dsquire

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2012, 12:17:11 PM »
Hi Chris,

In case it's of any interest, I've created a temporary page on my website and put three annotated pics of my cross slide dial on it, both dismantled and mantled (that should be a word, but is it?) .

http://andysmachines.weebly.com/perris-dials.html

I find that easier than using Photobucket.  The most time-consuming bit of the exercise was finding the 2.5mm ball bearing after dropping it on the floor  :bang: .

Let me know when you've seen the photos, and I'll then delete that page (so download them if you want to see them again).

Andy

Andy

It would be appreciated by myself as well as future viewers of this thread if you could put a link to the photos in question in Photobucket or attach them to this thread. Once you delete them from your website they will no longer be available to interested readers.

These posts get read for years and it might be just what someone such as yourself needs but the infomation is no longer there. I have many times read old posts on forums and the missing photos left me very dissapointed. Thanks for understanding.

Happy New Year.

Cheers  :beer:

Don
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'til your good is better,
and your better best

Offline andyf

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2012, 12:33:21 PM »
Don, all my pictures in other topics are on P'bucket, but I didn't think the details of dial collars on a relatively rare micro-lathe from 40 years ago would be of much interest in to posterity.

But your word is my command  :bow:  :bow: , and I'll stick 'em on P'bucket and embed them in this thread before deleting my web page.

Andy

 
Sale, Cheshire
I've cut the end off it twice, but it's still too short

Offline dsquire

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Re: My Cowells ME lathe
« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2012, 01:15:15 PM »
Andy

It is very much appreciated. Granted it will probably not be the most popular ever topic on MadModder but if one member comes along sometime in the future and it helps them out than it will have been worth while.

Quote
I didn't think the details of dial collars on a relatively rare micro-lathe from 40 years ago would be of much interest in to posterity.

If it showed up once in 40 years there is a good chance it will show up again in the next 40. Thanks again.

Cheers :beer:

Don
Good, better, best.
Never let it rest,
'til your good is better,
and your better best