Something I’ve been considering buying for ages is a small lathe. It seems I’m about the only one left in RGB that doesn’t have one! Only joking … I remember when I was collecting the Fury back from Andy Bates after the Snetterton repairs last year he commented on how scarcely a day goes by that he doesn’t use his lathe for something or other. In this case he’d turned a couple of small aluminium bushes to replace packing washers for an engine mount on my car.
There are loads of places I’ve got stacks of washers used on the car – engine mounts, suspension rose joints, prop centre bearing. I also wanted to make some rather nicer drop links for my front ARB. And of course learning to use a lathe is something I’ve fancied doing in itself, like I did welding. What’s put me off so far is that the cheapest ones are nearly £400 in Machine Mart and although one of those would do the job they’re of relatively low quality. Given the amount of use I’m likely to make of one spending a lot on one was never an option.
So when my rallying friend Phil was round a couple of weeks ago we were talking about it and he said he though he might know of a second hand one for sale. The friend who had it was away on hols but at the weekend Phil said he’s back and it is for sale. So we went and got it last night. It’s a Hobbymat MD65 and although it’s pretty old it’s in lovely nick and has clearly been well looked after. The nearest current equivalent in the Machine Mart catalogue is just over £500. Mine comes with a load of bits and pieces, a 4 jaw chuck, a couple of dial gauges, faceplate etc. The asking price was a very reasonable £150 so I didn’t bother haggling, just paid the man his cash and got it home and tucked up in the garage.
I’m too lazy to take a decent pic of mine but here’s a pic from the web of the same model, mine just has simple rotary switches for the main motor switch and the direction rotation reverse. This page has quite a bit of information about the lathe.
Now I’ve got a bit of a learning curve to climb. Before doing his electronic engineering degree and started working on Eurofighters my brother Andy actually served an apprenticeship in turning so as well as my RGB buddies I can call on him for help too.
So this morning I made some room on the bench in the garage and heave-ho’d its 45 kg into place. The chap selling it had demonstrated it to me with an old 12mm bolt in the chuck so I spent a happy half hour this morning turning that into a piece of scrap steel It’s got a rather nice autofeed mechanism which apparently allows it to cut screw threads, there’s a rather complex plate on the front with a table containing lots of numbers which seem to indicate which drop gears you need to install for various thread pitches.
I’d better order some ally bar then …