Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

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Weibel
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by Weibel » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:53 pm

Do yourself a favor, buy a Little Engines Atlantic. It will cost you less than this idea will in the end by a long shot.

CapnMatter
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by CapnMatter » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:55 pm

I do eventually want to get a metal lathe, but the ones that appear to have good reviews are $550+, which I can get, but it's not optimal. How are the cheaper ones?

I've looked into clubs, but the closest one in general, Ozarks Live Steamers in Fordland, Mo, but it seems to be defunct. The closest 1:12 ones that seem to be active are about a 3 hour drive away, quite a bit to go there frequent enough to us the tools they have. I think, for my first locomotive, I'll send parts to family that have the machinery.
Building live steam without a metal lathe :D

rkcarguy
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by rkcarguy » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:06 pm

You'll need access to a good lathe, and it's going to take a decent sized one with some good HP to be able to turn wheels, especially larger diameter ones, for steamers. I would not pay money for the little horrible freight 6x12 and equal lathes They are too small, not enough power, not rigid enough, and have sloppy screws and controls. I'd buy a block of time at the local tech school machine shop before I bought one of those.

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Builder01
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by Builder01 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:34 pm

I wish my club was only 3 hours away. I travel 4 hours to get to mine. They have an awesome 4-3/4" track.

For $550, you might get an okay used lathe, but as for new, you will not get much. The lathes that are $550 are really just toys. A real lathe, if new, will start at about twice that.

If you saw the lathe on my web site, it is about an 11" by 30" lathe and will swing about 7" over the saddle. It cost about $900 about 30 years ago. It is not a fully geared head, it's old school belt drive and has a quick change gear box. It is still a joy to use and has served me well. It will make cast iron drivers for a 1:12 scale locomotive no problem! Equal lathes on Grizzly are now about $1500.

David

rkcarguy
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by rkcarguy » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:45 pm

I'll second builder01's comment, "Real" lathes, run about $800 on up here on craigslist. As I am building my gage around 1" axles, I'm having a hard time finding anything that is 110V or 220V single phase with a thru-spindle diameter big enough to handle that.

James Powell
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by James Powell » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:57 pm

I've built one with a homemade mill of about 4" by 4", and a 9" lathe (in 3.5" gauge/1/16th size). I _think_ it would be possible to make an engine with just files, drills & tapes & dies...but it would take many thousands of hours more than having access to tools to do the jobs would.

My 9" cost, IIRC, $350 (or possibly $0 and a bunch of time...) as it was made up from the leftovers from Toronto Society of Model Engineer's deals in the mid 1980's for ~40 9" lathes ex school board. I'm fairly confident that a lathe is practically the required tool for making a live steam engine. As others have mentioned, you can mill in a lathe, far better than you can turn in a mill. This project will take you at least 1000 hours, and if the lathe costs you $1000, that's a dollar an hour...very cheap for the entertainment value.

James

CapnMatter
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Location: Southwest Missouri, USA

Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by CapnMatter » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:54 pm

I think I'm going to wait and think about it, maybe try to figure out a way to get my hands on a metal lathe.
Building live steam without a metal lathe :D

Weibel
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by Weibel » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:58 pm

The master of building locomotives on the cheap himself (LBSC) could never stress enough how valuable a lathe was. That was LITERALLY the only critical expensive tool in all of his locomotive projects- which were designed largely to be done with hand tools.

Reason being?
There are some parts that no matter how much you would like to avoid it, cannot be made accurate with out a lathe.

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Trainman4602
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by Trainman4602 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:04 pm

I think this guy is beyond help. NO WAY can you do it without machine tools be it a lathe or mill.
ALLWAYS OPERATING MY TRAIN IN A SAFE MANNER USING AUTOMATIC AIR BRAKES

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by Greg_Lewis » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:19 pm

Something else to think about is that the vast majority of parts will be less than three inches in diameter and less than six inches long. So a small swing lathe of about six inches will do perhaps 85 percent of what you need. Then you can find alternate ways to get the larger stuff done. But beware of some of the Asian small lathes as they vary greatly in quality. But by all means get a 12-inch swing lathe if you can. I'd check out any local machinery dealers and let them know what you're up to and ask them to keep their eyes out for you. Their professional customers are probably not too interested in used South Bend 9 or 10-inch lathes, but one of those would be a good choice and the dealer just might know where one could be had.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

Steve Goodbody
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by Steve Goodbody » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:01 am

Hi there,

The advice from others is fundamentally correct, unfortunately you simply cannot build a loco without a lathe and the ability to mill (but the mill can be a vertical slide on the lathe).

Something that I think is also important, especially when new to machining and on a limited budget, is that it is unwise to begin with anything too big and complex. Big locomotives generally require more money in materials and tooling. Many of us started out in exactly your situation, beginning with a smaller and proven locomotive design and then increasing in size as skills, finances, and time allowed.

Personally, as some who have read my other posts may know, I enjoy working with limited equipment and figuring out how to get around the inherent limitations. Search on this board for "A Long Term Project" and "Building a Loco on a Budget" and you'll see what I mean. A lot can be done with hand-tools, 'sweat equity' and patience. But to reiterate my initial point, and echo what others have said, it's unrealistic to expect to build a loco without a lathe and the ability to mill.

Good luck with your endeavors and keep us posted on progress.
Best regards
Steve

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: Hello, I am new here and am trying to build an Atlantic without a metal lathe.

Post by Greg_Lewis » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:13 am

One more comment: I think the modus operandi also depends on your goal. If you like to build and like to spend time in the shop, and having a finished engine isn't that important, that points you in one direction on shop equipment. (I think about 60 percent of the parts I've made for my Allen 10-wheeler could have been done on a Unimat, but painfully slowly.) If your goal is to have a completed locomotive as soon as possible, your shop equipment needs will be greater.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

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