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Discussion of use and sourcing

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Richard Simpson03/09/2020 12:37:38
111 forum posts
74 photos

Many years ago I had a good look at all the lathes on offer at the Harrogate Model engineering show. There were around five 12 x 7 mini lathes on offer, not surprisingly, all were of identical castings and varied only in the paint and the level of accessories. Nowadays the norm tends to be a 14 x 7, but again, they are all the same basic castings. Decide on what level of accessories you need so you avoid buying anything unnecessary. i.e. do you need digital readouts and do you need digital speed displays?

I find my lathe absolutely invaluable for a huge range of requirements and could not live without it.

When it comes to milling machines again decide what level of add-ons you need and look for something that matches your requirement. Just remember that a milling machine can be used as a pedestal drill but a pedestal drill will struggle if used as a milling machine. In fact I would recommend that you don't.

If I only had the space for one machine it would be a mini lathe. Mine are from Chester but, the first thing you do with them is strip them down to give the gearbox a good cleaning and greasing, I also replaced the bearings, and clean all the ways, gears, bearings, gibs and slides, oil them and refit carefully. It should be more than capable for hobby use then.

Make sure the area is very well lit, do not use a single flourescent fitting, and make sure you have good clear access around the machine.  You need to be able to stand or sit comfortably in front of the machine and access all controls.  I strongly recommend that you do not by-pass any safety interlock, despite being tempted and do not bother with cooling systems unless you are really into production machining.  They can be more trouble than they are worth. 

Edited By Richard Simpson on 03/09/2020 12:41:21

Ray Wood 203/09/2020 12:59:08
2089 forum posts
736 photos

Hi Dave,

It really comes down to what your going to make with it, If it's nice to have handy bit of kit do you really need it ? I bought my Myford to build 3 1/2" & 5" gauge steam locos, but as Richard has said as soon as you buy a lathe you will realise you need a vertical mill !!

I bought this vertical drill for £80 30 years ago, and the similar machine for Aldi or Lidl is still still £80 sounds the same as Dave M bought from Machine Mart.

Do your self a favour throw the Wolf Cub away it must be 65 years old ??

Regards Rayimg_20200903_120318.jpg

Dave Cooper 603/09/2020 21:24:53
179 forum posts
16 photos

Lots of good advice again guys - thanks.

OK - sentimental admission time : I recently lost a very old screwdriver at one of our R/C slope flying sites. It wasn't even particularly good, but, it was my favourite !

Also, the Wolf Cub was my Dad's (I haven't seen him since I was 21, but that's another story). It's been professionally re-wired and checked for safety etc and runs well. I have several other makes as well, but, the main thing is that it has a round, parallel collar which enables a secure clamp to the drill press. All my other drills have weird tapers, lumps and bumps and things in the way...

My wife says I much prefer my old clothes to new ones - I think tools must be like this too ?

Roger Clark03/09/2020 22:25:39
252 forum posts
88 photos


if the Wolf Cub works for you, keep it! I also have a pillar drill that my father restored in the early '70s, it must be older than me but it weighs a 'ton' and never lets me down.

For the type of modelling we do (unless you plan to build locos or traction engines) a mini lathe and mini mill can be bought for £1500 along with a reasonable assortment of tools and cutters, the only proviso I would put on that is make sure the motors are brushless and the mill is belt driven, not gears, they can strip in a jam as they are plastic.



Dave Cooper 612/09/2020 11:07:30
179 forum posts
16 photos

Well the 'X-Y' vice arrived this week and it looks very similar to the second photo from Paul T.

It was a budget model and needs a bit of work. The threads and ways are fine but some of the castings will need a clean up around the edges. Also, there is some play in the thread registers /receivers and these will probably need a spring or maybe a bushing or two to remove.

All-in-all, not bad value for the money and 1,000% better than what I've got now ! No doubt it will further my engineering a little...


David Marks 112/09/2020 11:56:27
247 forum posts
44 photos

Dave - Regarding the "play" that you have found. Please note that all devices that rely upon a screw and nut system to provide movement will have a degree of play otherwise movement would be impossible i.e. like a fully tighten nut and bolt. The free-black experienced when changing direction just needs to be taken into account.

Dave Cooper 615/09/2020 12:52:49
179 forum posts
16 photos

x-y table 1.jpgx-y table 2.jpg

Dave Cooper 615/09/2020 13:05:05
179 forum posts
16 photos

Above photos show a trial set-up of the new X-Y Table with the venerable Wolf Cub.

The jury's still out on accuracy ! First test was to rout a block of medium balsa. - this went well with the grain but needed a little clean-up with an X-Acto chisel across the grain. Certainly good for bulk removal of material though using a ball-ended Dremel cutter.

Next tests will be in metal. Probably one milling job followed by a vertical turning in brass I expect.

I think it should be alright for small boat parts. Cost so far under £100...

Tim Rowe15/09/2020 15:00:06
407 forum posts
440 photos

Hi Dave

Be careful with metal. An entirely different prospect from wood. That is not a very rigid set up and you need to watch the cutting tool does not grab in the metal. You also need to be careful that any vibration from the tool does not loosen the chuck. Proper mills hold the tools in collets.

In fact be careful with all materials.

Tim R

Ray Wood 215/09/2020 17:52:13
2089 forum posts
736 photos

Hi Dave,

The poor old Wolf Cub, you maybe reported for cruelty. I admire your optimism though 😢,

A milling head bearing is different.

Regards Ray

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