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The History of Industrial Development and Toolmaking in US


 
  English and American Lathes by Joseph G. Horner, 1900    

One has only to walk through an engineer's shop to see that the work done on the lathes exceeds that done on all the other machines combined. As it was the earliest machine tool invented, so it has remained unchanged in cardinal design for a hundred years. It is still capable of performing a wider range of operations than any other machine tool whatever.

Turning, boring, drilling, milling, wheelcutting, screw-cutting, chasing, etc., are done on it, not as make-shift operations, but as perfectly legitimate and, under suitable conditions, economical processes. Except in increasing differentiation, there is little radical alteration in the types of the newest lathes of to-day and those of fifty years since.

Simple though a plain lathe is, and its elementary forms ancient, yet it has become, without exception, the most highly specialized machine tool of the present day. I think some readers may be skeptical when I state that, without going outside of engineering, there are something like forty distinct varieties of lathes manufactured now, and most of these in a considerable range of dimensions.

The following is a rough enumeration:

Hand-lathes; Self-acting lathes for sliding only, for sliding and surfacing only, for sliding and screw-cutting only, for screw-cutting only, for sliding, surfacing, and screw cutting. Lathes without Gaps, with fixed gaps, with movable gaps. Large Break lathes, lathes for heavy Surfacing and boring, Railway wheel-turning, tire-turning and boring lathes. Lathes for Wheel-bossing, for Quartering, for Axle-turning, for Shaft-turning, for Pulley-turning. Hollow mandrel lathes for pin and stud turning; Lathes for Cutting off, facing, and centering; Special Capstan or Turret lathes of numerous types) Ordinary lathes fitted with capstan rests. Vertical Boring lathes, vertical lathes for turning and boring. Taper turning lathes, Roll turning lathes, lathes for Brass finishing, Form lathes, Copying lathes, Chasing lathes, screwing lathes.

Lathes for Grinding and for polishing, Boiler-end turning, Nut-facing lathes. Front slide, Geometrical, Ball-turning lathes, Spinning lathes, and a good many of Duplex types for performing two or more sets of operations at one time, either on separate pieces of work, or on the same piece, by the use of different sets of tools.

And in every form there are details peculiar to each manufacturing firm, details of arrangements, differences in proportions, in methods of fitting, etc., so that one can often tell, without looking at a name-plate, by whom a lathe has been manufactured.

More than this, many of the modern engineers' lathes are very complex machines, and the noteworthy fact is that this complexity is due less to the arrangements by which a given machine is constructed to perform a variety of different operations than to the designs required for highly specialized work. Some of the special lathes are more complicated mechanisms than the plain, self-acting, sliding, and screw-cutting types.


 
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