The HF mini lathe hasn't been used since I got the slightly bigger much older, and much better HF lathe. I wanted to use it the other day though because it has gear selectable forward and reverse carriage feed. The I remembered I stripped those little nylon gears. I am sure I can get a hold of HF customer service and get a part number for those gears if its not in my manual for the machine, but I was wondering if somebody knew of a source for metal replacements? I know Little Machine Shop was the threading gear set in metal, but I didn't see the rest of the gears for the machine.
My next thought was maybe to try and make some metal gears, but I have never done that before. Any suggestions on the approach for that? Best alloy for reasonable wear?
I don't know in that particular case, but sometimes it's best to leave the "weak link" weak, so it can protect all the other links, and buy a few spares of it so you can get back running after you break it again. Worth considering, anyway.
I don't have a dividing head, but I did recently fit my little rotary table with a lathe chuck, that is reasonable centered and parallel. Is that "good enough", or do you think a head with dividing plates is a must.
Involute gear cutter? Is that one of those "wheel" type cutters I often see in videos on a horizontal mill being used for gear cutting?
I could certainly cut aluminum. You wouldn't worry about galling in this application? I don't really think of aluminum usually when I think of an interacting mechanical part. As a static or linking part sure, but aluminum to steel with mechanical interaction and friction?
LOL. On the mini lathe they would outlast the entire rest of the machine.
I have seen some gears cut with a slitting saw, but I wasn't super comfortable with the process. What do you think? Probably go pretty quick if I went with aluminum.
Its not at all a bad thought, and I probably won't destroy them all that often anyway. I don't recall exactly what I did, but it seems I did something stupid to destroy them in the first place. Hey. Better to learn on a mini lathe than a real piece of machinery right?
The gears on the 6" Sears/AA lathe are white metal. On mine the ways were seriously worn from use but the gears are still fine.
This aluminum gear has held up well to heavy loading:
ground the cutter bit with straight sides and rounded the teeth afterwards with a file. Law's book gives a more accurate way to shape the cutter.
This is my fixture to shape a cutter bit more closely to the tooth gap, in this case a 30 degree involute spline on a hydraulic pump shaft. The brass-tipped screw centers the pump shaft tooth space on the slot the bit slides in.
I ground the bit freehand after marking the face beside the contact areas with a fine-tipped felt pen. For the close fitting I pulled strips of plastic-film sandpaper from the hobby store between the splined shaft and the bit.
Bluing didn't stain the smooth surface very well. I think smoke from a candle flame would work better.
LMS had ALL the gears plus extra pitches last I looked. And like the man said, you need a weak link in the chain, otherwise things could get more expensive than just a stripped gear. They are standard metric module gears, guys were using ones scavanged from laser printers and the like for oddball threads.
You must not have looked very hard:
They also have a spare parts kit with some of the other gears, a belt and some fuses.
Yes -- even easier with a horizontal spindle mill with lever feed, but not bad with a vertical spindle mill.
However -- the first trick (aside from getting a dividing head) is finding the proper gear tooth cutter for *your* gear. Given that it is an HF machine, the gear will probably be metric, which here in the US makes both the proper gear tooth cutters, *and* the tools for measuring the gear pitch. IIRC, the pitch is specified in "module" for metric gears, while in either diametrical or circular pitch for inch gears.
Of course, it is possible to grind special lathe bits to the shape needed, and mount them in a rotating shaft to take the place of the gear tooth cutter -- but it will be slower since it has only one tooth, while the cutters probably have eight or ten teeth.
That sounds like a good choice -- with one caveat:
*If* it is going to mesh with another aluminum gear, you will have galling (transfer of metal from one gear to the other) at the pressure points. You want unlike metals (e.g. stainless steel meshing with aluminum, or brass, or whatever. Stainless and Aluminum are probably the worst for galling.
So far, I've made one gear (and planned others). It was a brass gear to replace a broken plastic one, and I've previously posted the URL documenting that project, but if you are still interested, here it is:
You don't want it *too* strong, or some other part of the machine will die when the load gets too high.
Before I answer that (assuming that your rotary table does not have dividing plates), I have to ask *you* -- how many teeth should the gear have?
If is is something like 30 teeth, no problem. Most rotary tables have a 90:1 ratio, so three full turns for each tooth and you are fine.
However, if it were say 28 teeth, you need 3.2143 turns per tooth. that is 4 degrees for the full turn, and 0.8572 degrees left over. That is 51' 26" added per tooth. Even if you use a spreadsheet or other program to print out a chart -- how long do you think that you could go before you made a mistake? Now, if you have a dividing plate with 14 (or some integer multiple like 28) holes, that works out right. Set the arms on the plate to allow an extra motion of 3 (for 14), or 6 (for 28) holes. Then reposition the arms after that, so the next division advances the same number of holes, and keep going until you reach the starting point again. (And be careful to remember to turn three full turns before going that extra three or six holes, or you will still be out of line.)
*This* is why people use dividing heads for making gears.
"Involute" is a term for the math defined shape of the gear tooth, and an involute gear tooth cutter is one which will form close to the precise shape needed. These shapes are so the teeth roll against each other, instead of sliding and wearing.
No friction with a proper involute shape -- just rolling friction. But this is for *one* gear made of aluminum meshing with the other original plastic gears. If you have to make two or more gears which must mesh with each other, you want dissimilar metals (unless you are using well lubricated steel or cast iron gears) to avoid galling. Aluminum on steel? Fine! Aluminum on brass? Fine. Brass on steel? Fine. Aluminum on Aluminum? *No*!
Almost anything will outlast the rest of the machine. Those plastic gears are made to be the "fuse" -- the weak point which breaks before other more expensive parts break.
A slitting saw? *No*! Not for power transmitting gears. Now, if you were making a really large gear (say 1" between teeth or larger), and had the shape laid out with layout die on the flat, you could use a vertical bandsaw to cut a rough approximation, leaving a little extra metal, and then using a file to take to to final shape. This is the way old machinists made large gears. But your gears are not the right size at all for this.
A slitting saw *might* work for the gears used in desktop clocks, which don't handle much torque, and which have the flat gear meshing with a cage of rods one of which goes into a slot at a time. And even with this, you would probably have to file the ends of the teeth in the flat to allow the rods to enter properly.
Now -- an involute gear tooth cutter looks a lot like s slitting saw -- until you examine the shape of the teeth.
Oh yes -- each involute gear tooth cutter has a different shape, precisely appropriate for a specific number of teeth, and close enough for a number around that value. The larger the number of teeth, the wider the range that is close enough. One end of the set is capable of cutting any tooth count from 135 teeth to a rack gear (infinite number of teeth). However, when the number of teeth gets small, the range is also small. The cutters are marked #1 through #8. If you have to cut two gears of different numbers of teeth, the odds are that you will need two cutters unless you are quite lucky. These different cutters make up for the different angles at which the gear teeth mesh.
Well, I probably wouldn't do it quite that way. I'ld do a quick spread sheet. Cell 1 would have the tooth count. Cell 2 would have the formula
360/T with T being the number of teeth. Every cell after would have the formula ((360/T)+PC) with PC being the value in the previous cell. Instead of trying to keep track of the number of turns etc, I would just advance the table rotary table to the value given in the numeric table generated by the spreadsheet and tighten the lock screw. Obviously I would only turn the table in one direction so as to account for backlash in the screw. I could do it on paper almost as easily. It would just take a little longer.
13 Tooth Count
13 is only selected for example purposes. You could apply this for any number of teeth. I would have no cumulative error. Just whatever level of accuracy I was capable of with the table.
Well, I guess I need to look a little further than that link as well. It doesn't include the 20 tooth reverse gear or 25 tooth forward gear. Neither does the spare parts kit found here:
This set does, but it is the only one I could find that does.
Its not a bad option if I used the mill more. 2 yards is a bit steep for basically one gear though.
Ah... here we go:
Thanks Stanley. I was all prepared to be pissy about your comment, but it lead to a cheap solution without setting up to cut gears. Thank you. I may cut some gears anyway just for the experience, but...
When I mounted the chuck on the table it was my intention to convert it to CNC eventually. Both of my little machine controllers have an unused 4th port. Its would just be a matter of making a mount and adding a motor. The problem I see is that the drive screw for this rotary table has too much back lash in it. I have not looked yet to see if there is anything I can do about it, but I was thinking it might be easier to just make a spindle for a
4th axis. I was thinking I would like something with a much bigger bore than the average lathe spindle or rotary table. If I keep it under 3000 RPM there are some pretty big bore bearings out there.