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Big time lathes


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Anyone else notice the lack of eye protrction?

Those remind me of where my Dad worked, Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo California. They had a lathe with a 10' chuck, and another with 100' between centers. The big vertical Betts had a 24' diameter table, and could swing a maximum of 30'. Cool stuff. My biggest lathe is an 18.5 x 78 Axelson.

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Incredible!! It never ceases to amaze me what we accomplished back then. All without the luxury of computers! :) Thanks for the link Bill!


They had computers back then: a computer was a "girl" running an adding machine and there were whole rooms full of them. The engineers had to break the problem down into a bunch of smaller operations and then send it to the "computers".

The word used to refer to a person who did computations. Mechanical devices were "mechanical computers" "analog computers" and "digital computers"
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They had computers back then: a computer was a "girl" running an adding machine and there were whole rooms full of them. The engineers had to break the problem down into a bunch of smaller operations and then send it to the "computers".

The word used to refer to a person who did computations. Mechanical devices were "mechanical computers" "analog computers" and "digital computers"


Semantics... :rolleyes:
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I have run lathes that big and the least of your worries is eye protection the chips that come off will cut your head off. I didnt like running stuff that big it takes for ever to load the part you need overhead cranes and all the tooling is so big that it just tears you up changing it out. Once you start cutting it is not so bad put it in power feed and grab the newspaper and a cup of coffee and sit on a stool with in reach of the oh #### button and listen to it groan away, cuts can take hours on long pieces. I have spent a week hogging down a big shaft, if you dont have helpers shoveling chips sucks real bad the stuff is heavy and sharp. Mistakes are insanely expensive on big parts the material costs thousands of dollars and it is stressful I like parts around 100 lbs the cuts last long enough that you can sit around but they wont kill you if somthing bad happen small parts are a pain because it is constant work they are done real fast, no time for coffee.

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I have run lathes that big and the least of your worries is eye protection the chips that come off will cut your head off. I didnt like running stuff that big it takes for ever to load the part you need overhead cranes and all the tooling is so big that it just tears you up changing it out. Once you start cutting it is not so bad put it in power feed and grab the newspaper and a cup of coffee and sit on a stool with in reach of the oh #### button and listen to it groan away, cuts can take hours on long pieces. I have spent a week hogging down a big shaft, if you dont have helpers shoveling chips sucks real bad the stuff is heavy and sharp. Mistakes are insanely expensive on big parts the material costs thousands of dollars and it is stressful I like parts around 100 lbs the cuts last long enough that you can sit around but they wont kill you if somthing bad happen small parts are a pain because it is constant work they are done real fast, no time for coffee.



I can relate to all you said here Kevin,the only real difference is in my case they were verticle lathes the biggest one we had was German made "Froreip" probably spelled wrong it's been years since I read her name plate but she had a 214" dia. table Now I never ran one that big I was the guy shovelling up the turnings off of it. I saw the opperator change tips on the left head and step up on the table and ride it over to the right head to index tips over there.
As an opperator I ran VBMs from 42" to 84" we made seemless rings for various applications aero-space,Industrial,mining some of the parts for aerospace were thousands of dollars and it wasn't pretty if you "scrapped"one. And yea once you had her all set up and start a long cut you get a coffee and newspaper and listen to her sing,she'll tell you when to look up and start to pay attention. Man I like to cut steel.
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I love that big stuff. I have 100's of hours on a 24 ft Vertical turret lathe. It had three heads. You could turn two od's and bore at the same time. I also have plenty of hours on a 30 ft chuck 60 ft between centers machineing steam turbine rotors. I have also turned big hydraulic cylinders 40 ft long and 4 ft in Dia. Plus years it seems like on smaller stuff. I have machined thing that went to war, outer space and the ocean deeps. But my stomach is torn up from the stress of tight tolerance and tight time so I don't do it anymore. Now I weld and fabricate and a tight tolerance is a 1/16 not .0002.

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If youll also notice, most Lathe pictures look like the guys are hand feeding... no worm gear auto feedrate on conventional machines back then?

 

the biggest i have seen was a horizontal lathe with a 15foot diameter 4-jaw chuck, chucking on a 9foot square block... HOW DO YOU EVEN INDICATE THAT?! A 4.5 FOOT INDICATOR?!

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