This thread is for a project I've been thinking about on and off for a long time, and is likely to drag on a bit, as I pour out various ideas I've got.
First, a bit of background.
I've always wanted a CNC lathe, and although I do have the Conect 121, it's abit small/under powered for what I ultimately want to use it for (it's been a brilliant thing for learning during the retrofit, but it's still not seen much use as it's been summer and I've had other things to distract me!).
At the moment, I have Clarke 500 mill/lathe with the milling head back in it's box under the bench, and I've found it quite a capable machine, and about the right size for the majority of stuff I tend to do. Plus I know a lot of the ins and outs of it, and what needs fixed to get a good machine.
Second, the somewhat semi-organised random thoughts!
I had been thinking about picking up a Clarke 430 (same machine but without the milling head/drive), and converting it to CNC. However, after seeing numerous videos, I'm now thinking about going the weldment route, or big steel box section, with linear slides.
Benefits of using the CL430 as a base, means I get a headstock, and a nice stable cast iron bed, however I really want more than a 28mm through hole spindle.
Benefits of going the linear slide route, would be far more accurate slides with less friction, howevere there is the whole issue of building a headstock from scratch (but that would give me the option for bigger through hole), and stress releiving the base.
Third, the dream list of features.
Servo powered spindle, as I'd like to add a milling spindle to the cross slide at some point, and servo will allow for positioning.
Big cross slide, to allow for gang tooling.
Tool changer (just because even with the above, I like being lazy about changing tools!)
Plus numerous other random features I've thought about and forgotten.
So anybody willing to comment on any of these random ideas, please do.
As for time scale, not anytime soon!
My general aim is to get the Conect 121 up and running fully (I've been going pretty much non-stop all summer helping with various events, so barely been in the workshop), and start making and selling some stuff, with the aim of that paying for shiny bits for other machine projects. I've still got the Triumph lathe to get a better motor on to try under power to decide if I want to keep it or not, before I go the hassle of getting it in the workshop, and I also need to finish converting the mill to CNC.
Not really had many more thoughts about this, but have just had the chance of a Clarke CL430 lathe for a very good price, so have been out measuring up the existing CL500.
The base would be ideal for mounting some linear rails on, with two 33mm(ish) flat surfaces with a 68mm gap inbetween.
However using 25mm Hiwin rails and HGW carriages for the X (36mm overall height), and 20mm HGW (30mm overall height) for the Z, leaves only 19mm of clearance between carriage and the bottom of spindle mounting (85mm above flats), which is no where near enough room to fit in enough metal for the carriage and still be able to clear the spindle.
However I don't think it would be too major a problem, as I don't think I'd be doing many large jobs where I'd need to fit the carriage under the spindle.
My current plan is max 70-80mm diameter parts, mostly about 100mm long, but possibly upto 200mm, combined with plans for a bigger bore spindle, so perhaps the CL430 may be a wise purchase (even if it just means I get lots of spares for my 500!)...
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