Quick Change Tool Post

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Steffin T
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Quick Change Tool Post

Post by Steffin T » Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:10 am

While looking over the different threads concerning QCTP's, it looks like the subject has been well covered but had a couple additional questions:

The models I have been researching have been: Phase II, Aloris, Dorian, KDK and Aloris "Clone" types, each appear to have their pros/cons and "seem" to be driven mostly off of cost and personal preference. I am looking at the wedge style QCTP, BXA series for my Clausing 5914. I am favoring the KDK model (from feedback) but I believe the tool holders are specific for that brand while the Aloris (and Clones) can accept different manufacturers tool holders (cheaper), is that correct? With that said, based on adding "value" and maintaining future options, which would be best, in your opinion.

A. Since I know absolutely nothing... just buy a Phase II or Clone style set and call it a day.
B. Quality matters and should pop for a KDK, Aloris or Dorian set.
C. Buy a quality tool post (Aloris, Dorian) and a bushel of tool holders from places like Shars tool.

randyc
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by randyc » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:07 am

Hello, controversial opinion follows, LOL.

QC tool posts are useful - almost indispensable - when heavy cuts aren't required. The cutting tool is cantilevered quite a distance away from the point that the tool-holder is clamped and there are several loose, sliding joints between the clamping point and the ways of the lathe. Mostly, that's not a problem but the common complaint from hobby machinists is the "parting" operation. Parting successfully is an indication of a rigid, well-adjusted lathe and cutting tool. BIG lathes with BIG compound geometry handle parting operations with ease. Clearly, the ability to remove lots of metal quickly is also related to the ability to "part".

Unhappily, imported lathes - even those up to 14 inch swing - don't have compound slides that are appropriately sized for their "capability", so QC toolposts aren't very rigid - both by design and by the limitations of the machines to which they are mounted . As an owner of an old, small lathe (8 x 18), the rigidity of my machine is the limitation to the work that I can produce. I've considered (DOZENS of times) purchasing a small QC system for my lathe but it just doesn't make sense to ME.

In order to perform heavy work, the pressure on the cutting tool needs to be directed DOWN against the slides and carriage of the lathe - NOT levered from cutting tool to the compound which results in tilting all of the vee ways (compound and cross-slide) and lifting the carriage, relative to the ways. The cutting angles, direction of cut, relief - all of the dimensions that we carefully try to establish in our cutting tools - are lost when the various sliding parts and cantilevered toolholders start flexing and wiggling.

This is a personal pet-peeve, I guess ... it is possible for small machines to do heavy work when the machine is properly adjusted, with a toolpost that doesn't allow flexibility that contributes to "chatter" and broken parting tools (not to mention scrapped parts). I won't bore regular viewers of the forum with the "expediencies" that I've developed to allow my little machine to routinely make up to .100 DOC in mild steel (at the correct spindle speed, of course) using a sharp HSS cutting tool.

The temptation to equip one's lathe with a universal tool system is great but be aware that - if your lathe isn't heavy and rigid - you may actually LOSE capability by installing a QC toolpost. There is the temptation to equip ones machine with carbide tooling, for example ... that's another problem with QC toolposts. Carbide tooling is indispensable for certain tasks - I couldn't get along without it - but generally the use of carbide requires greater cutting loads (because the tooling is not very sharp). The greater cutting loads are translated through the QC system and the clearance required by the various slides in the lathe. The greater the load imposed on the cutting tool, the greater deflection, chatter, wear .... and so forth. Additionally, because carbide is brittle, the flexing of the system results in snapping small carbide boring bars and similr tools.

Hoping not to ruffle anyone's feathers with these opinions - I just plug along with my 30 year old EMCO (not ENCO) that has seen lots of rugged service - I think of QC systems from time to time. I designed one (posted here a while back) that eliminates some of the shortcomings of the cheap QC systems (in MY opinion, of course) but I haven't the motivation to build it. I have the normal four-way toolholder and five or six special-purpose toolposts (home built) ... at this point in my life, I'm strictly a hobbyist and there's no need to improve on my simple tooling.

It's all working well for me - no need to speed up the time required for tool changes, which is the only reason for installing a QC system. When the DOC can be increased by 50% with a more rigid tool-holding system, the time-savings of switching tools is lost.

Cheers,
Randy C

Torch
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by Torch » Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:45 am

OTOH:

In my limited experience, many of the aforementioned problems can be overcome by using nice sharp tooling of the correct profile. Because changing tools and setting up new tools is so quick and easy, there's really no temptation to use a slightly dull tool bit. Pop it off, touch it up on the grinder, slide it back in and adjust the height in seconds. Compared to starting over with the trial-and-error of shims. Less of an issue with some turning tools but I personally have found that parting, facing and boring operations really need precise tool height adjustment.

Also, while there is undoubtedly more leverage applied because the tool centre is further away from the center of the mounting bolt, there are some operations that are infinitely more rigid than using the generic 4-tool turret that comes with most Chinese machines. Boring in particular. My stock toolpost can accommodate a 1/2" bar at best without the use of some sort of holder. With or without a holder, it relies on two little set screws to keep it from rotating out of the turret's slot when a side-load is applied. Compare that to the rigidity of the QCTP dovetail holding a 3/4" or 1" boring bar of the same length! Boring is now fun. As for the chatter induced by the extra leverage, first of all, the additional (and considerable) mass of the holder has a damping effect. Second, a strategically placed machinist jack under the holder pretty much reduces the leverage to 0. Further, while a piston-type QCTP may be less stable at the joint between the tool holder and the tool post, the wedge type may as well be cut from a single block of steel once that lever is locked.

I bought a cheap wedge BX/200 style Chinese clone from eBay (http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie ... 0611022253) and I'm not looking back or regretting the purchase. The smorgasbord of supplied holders give a good taste of what can be done with the various styles. They fit the post perfectly and do the job well. A 3" block of Chinese steel isn't much less rigid than a 3" block of North American steel. It is possible that a more expensive unit would have some other advantages (for example, positive stops and/or indexing) but whether or not those small advantages are worthy of the huge jump in price is a question for each individual circumstance. As a home hobbyist, I could not justify the price difference. A production shop may have a different outlook.

As for extra tool holders, I plan to try my hand at making my own using the included examples as a guide. As a home hobbyist I have to make something to learn on, and my time is not an economic consideration. If I am successful, I get a free tool holder. If I'm not, I get experience. Again, a production shop may have a different outlook.

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GlennW
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by GlennW » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:09 am

If it were my 5914 I'd go with a AXA size wedge type QCTP.

The only thing a BXA will get you is cantilevering the tool farther from the center of the compound decreasing overall rigidity.

Depth of cut discussions can be misleading, as there is usually no mention of feed rate. Metal removal is measured in cubic inches per minute, not just depth of cut.
Glenn

Operating machines is perfectly safe......until you forget how dangerous it really is!

PixMan
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by PixMan » Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:02 am

I dunno. If it were me I'd go with the biggest toolpost that is practical for the machine. If a BXA size holder can drop to put a 5/8" shank toolholder on center, that's what to use. IMO, it's better to be able to use larger shank tools. You can always raise the QCTP blocks up for smaller tools, but it's PITA to be milling or grinding stuff to fit into an AXA's smaller slot. A QCTP setup doesn't necessarily introduce less rigidity. Certainly it can be better than the immovable 4-way indexing posts I see in the photos of his new lathe. Overall mass means a lot in terms of vibration (chatter) damping.

If the QCTP is mounted in the compound slide's T-slot intelligently, cutting forces can be directed nearly straight down onto the cross slide. On my dad's lathe with its Dorian CA QCTP I rarely extend tools beyond the cross slide, especially if I have roughing or cutoff operations to do. The Clausing 5914 is never going to be taking the cubic inches per minute that dad's 16 x40 lathe can, and that's not the main feature of a QCTP. Are we forgetting that the main feature is quick change, not heavy loads? It's for quick adjustment of center height for differing tool sizes, and doesn't mean you have to run carbide insert tooling. You can put a 5/16" HSS tool bit into a BXA block as easily as a SCLCR 10-3 insert holder, though you'd have to fight to hold onto the shorter HSS bit in the same way as you would on the 4-way indexing post due to the longer distances between fastening screws. You might be unnecessarily limited with an AXA size system on that particular lathe, but the smaller holder has inherently shorter distances between the clamp screws. That makes it easier to use short HSS bits. My point there is that you face similar issues with clamping short tools in both the 4-way you have and a future QCTP, but when you have a library of holder blocks you only set the tool ONCE.

Another member here has a BXA setup on his Harrison M300. That machine seems to be about the same size and HP as the Clausing 5914, and it's an excellent setup for his machine. With a 5/8" shank tool in a standard No.1 or No.2 block and set to be on-center, there is about 1/4" under the block and plenty on top for the adjustment screw. An AXA setup might actually ride pretty high in the blocks. Think about the mass thing when choosing.

I get good deals on used Aloris and Dorian blocks from Ebay. I get acceptable quality blocks new from Tools4cheap.net and/or CDCO. The KDK holders are nice, but I think they're out of that business now and you won't find blocks easy or cheap. Better to go with the common BXA size if it makes sense to YOU.

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GlennW
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by GlennW » Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:33 am

The first thing to determine is if a QCTP is really what you need for the type of work you plan on doing.

If you plan to make one off parts using ground HSS tool bits, a simple four way tool block may work out better. Keeping the required number of tool bits on hand to a minimum, may be another to stick with a four way.

My take on a QCTP is that it gets oriented square to the spindle and lives that way. The orientation of the cut is determined by the cutting edge of the tool, not the tool post or holder. I square my tool post up with a parting tool in it and indicate the parting tool square to the spindle using a DTI. This is done with the compound oriented for threading toward the chuck. In order for the system to be “quick change” you need to have tool bits in tool holders and ready to go. I have turning tools, facing tools, threading tools, parting tools, boring tools, chamfering tools, knurling tools, etc. all ready to drop in and go. I recently bored a part that called for a 15° chamfer, so I ground a tool bit to a 15° angle, put it in a tool holder, set the height, and chamfered the bore. Now the tool will be ready when needed again. In my opinion, if you are changing tool bits in a single tool holder and/or rotating the tool post to arrive at various angles for chamfering etc., a QCTP is not the system for you, as it defeats the purpose. If you are making multiple parts, the system, the way I use it, pays off as the tools remain indexed and the repeatability is excellent, as I use a wedge type. That’s what makes it “quick change”!

If you are hand grinding HSS tool bits you may benefit from a four way style as the cutting edge of the tool may not always be oriented relative to the shank. A HSS turning tool is also a problem in a QCTP if the tool post is to remain square to the spindle as it will be difficult to turn to a square shoulder if the shoulder has any substantial depth to it.

The way I view QCTP size is from the stand point of “what are you going to gain by going larger”. Is a .625” square HSS threading tool going to do anything for you that a .250 “ or .312” square tool won’t other than let you stand in front of the bench grinder far longer? I believe there is a reason for what seems to be fairly standardized insert sizes relative to shank size on indexable tooling. For example I use a BXA and a 5/8" shank tool holder takes a CNMG 43X insert, so unless you can take a depth of cut in steel that exceeds the available cutting edge, a 5/8 shank tool will do the job.

I’ve run 5914’s before, and like them, but are you really going to bend or break .500” square tooling if properly using the machine? I found it a very nice machine for parting, by the way!

I use a BXA on a six hp lathe with 5/8” shank tooling and can spray very large purple chips in a 6’ radius of the machine and have never thought “gee, I sure whish I had gone with 1” shank tooling”!

Just my opinion! :)
Glenn

Operating machines is perfectly safe......until you forget how dangerous it really is!

Richard-TX
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by Richard-TX » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:29 am

I have a 12x36 import lathe and have not had any rigidity issues with the imported BXA QC tool post/holders. I have taken off .250 at a crack without issue.

EdK
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by EdK » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:31 am

For most turning on the lathe I find I don't need the compound so I use a plinth to mount the QCTP to. I think this is a more rigid setup, but that's just my opinion. :)

Ed
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QCTP on plinth.
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platypus20
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by platypus20 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:09 pm

I have a customer that uses numerous Aloris AXA wedge type tool posts, to hold slitting knives, in their paper making operation. the knives are from Europe and have a 16mm square shank, to allow this to work, I've opened up at least 2 dozen of the AXA holders to accept the knives. They set up holder with the either new or newly resharpened knives so they can change them on the fly. They have had knives snap and twist, but never have had a tool post or holder failure. I just finished another batch for them last month. I've also opened up some so I could use some specialized 5/8" and 3/4" tooling on my lathe, but most of the tooling I use is 1/2" or below. I have never had a rigidity problem using the QCTP.



jack
jack

randyc
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by randyc » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:57 pm

Richard-TX wrote:I have a 12x36 import lathe and have not had any rigidity issues with the imported BXA QC tool post/holders. I have taken off .250 at a crack without issue.
Richard, I picked your post, not because I'm disagreeing with what you said but because because coincidentally I happened to make a couple of arbors this morning from 1 inch 1018 CRS. The requirement was to provide a No. 8-32 threaded portion x .575 long and then shoulder the 1 inch rod to .812 dia x .400 long. The roughing cut was .250 DOC as shown in the photo below:
P1010651.JPG
Note that that's the depth of cut, NOT the reduction in diameter, and the feed rate was .005/revolution - the coarsest I could feed without slipping the drive belt. One more finishing cut was required to get to the .162 dia before threading no. 8-32.

So, what's my point?

The fact that the .250 DOC and .005 feed occurred on an EIGHT inch lathe, with a rigid 4-way toolpost. Over one cubic inch of steel removed each minute - no sweat, no strain. The mating part of the arbor, also made from 1 inch CRS, was easily parted off on the same 8 inch lathe. Translating the cutting forces directly downward, rather than cantilevering the cutting tool away from the centerline of the toolpost allows a 350 pound machine to perform much the same work as a 1000 pound machine if the tool is rigid and if the work is within the envelope of the lathe.

The convenience of the QC is indisputable. For those that dislike shimming cutting tools to height - why do it? I don't - I made four or five adaptors for 1/4, 5/16 and 3/8 square tools that fit snugly in my 4-way and bring the cutting tool exactly on center. I don't even remove the tools for sharpening, I sharpen in place on the toolpost with a diamond file. It's routine maintenance - like clearing the machine of chips, vacuuming, lubing critical areas and so forth - makes machinery last a l-o-n-g time when carefully maintained, right?
P1010657.JPG
P1010658.JPG
I rarely grind any top rake on the tools, just side rake and front relief, so the top of the tool is never touched with a grinding wheel and is always centered. Same for parting tools: I made two holders that fit in the 4-way for 3/32 x 1/2 HSS parting blades and the tip of the parting blades are always on center. In the above photos, a carbide tool is seen (for roughing) and a 1/4 HSS with lots of rake (for finish cuts on aluminum - the project-du-jour).

Please note that, although there is significant positive rake, the cutting edge is exactly coincident with the edge of the 1/4 blank - grinding back the front of the tool to sharpen it doesn't disturb the relationship of cutting edge to spindle centerline. It doesn't take much time to grind a tool like this and it will last for scores - maybe hundreds - of hours with only a touch-up every 1/2 hour of operation.

As I mentioned in my original post, every two or three years I toy with the idea of making or buying a QC system but why? What I have is a setup that will take cuts in my 8 inch machine as heavy as the average 12 inch lathe can take with a QC toolpost ...

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with anyone in particular, I've used Aloris systems on many larger machines and they work just fine. BUT when one has a SMALL lathe, one quickly learns to take advantage of every detail to allow the little machine to work harder and mine has been working real hard for over thirty years now, LOL.

I have no problems boring either, I simply remove the 4-way toolpost and substitute my home-made boring bar. If there is any problem with deflection, I support the tool with a small machinist's jack:
P1010304.JPG
As mentioned several times previously, the best improvement I ever made on this small machine was simply adding a support rod directly beneath the edge of the 4-way toolpost, at the location where it can be most useful for improving rigidity:
P1010345.jpg
The addition of this 3/8 diameter rod between cross-slide and toolpost makes the structure as rigid as a "plinth" while still allowing the use of the compound-slide. I perform many operations with the compound and cannot think of taking it off and on when I don't have to.

Cheers,
Randy C

P.S. edited to clarify a few points
Last edited by randyc on Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PixMan
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by PixMan » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:07 pm

Glenn Wegman wrote:The first thing to determine is if a QCTP is really what you need for the type of work you plan on doing.
True of every tool one buys, except sometimes a great bargain or pure desire get in the way. People buy for two fundamental reasons; You want one or you need one. Sometimes its both reasons, sometimes not. ;)
My take on a QCTP is that it gets oriented square to the spindle and lives that way. <snip> In my opinion, if you are changing tool bits in a single tool holder and/or rotating the tool post to arrive at various angles for chamfering etc., a QCTP is not the system for you, as it defeats the purpose. If you are making multiple parts, the system, the way I use it, pays off as the tools remain indexed and the repeatability is excellent, as I use a wedge type. That’s what makes it “quick change”!
Even if you only have a couple of tool holder blocks for the QCTP (as most any of us would starting out), they're still worth investing in. I often square the compound slide to 90º to the cross slide. This makes for a pretty rigid configuration. Not as rigid as the method shown by EdK, but still good. I quickly square the QCTP block by simply using a solid square coming off a bar in the chuck rather than dragging out a DTI & mag base. Fast and plenty accurate.
If you are hand grinding HSS tool bits you may benefit from a four way style as the cutting edge of the tool may not always be oriented relative to the shank. A HSS turning tool is also a problem in a QCTP if the tool post is to remain square to the spindle as it will be difficult to turn to a square shoulder if the shoulder has any substantial depth to it.
Many 4-way tool posts cannot be swiveled at all because of the indexing system employed as part of the T-slot nut. Pain in the butt, they are. Also, those type of tool holders often use much large-diameter screws to hold the tool in, usually big square-head bolts. Those tool blocks can be every bit or more cumbersome to use than any QCTP system. The few times I've need to use a small HSS tool bit in a QCTP block, I just sandwich it between two heavy, wide pieces of flat stock. Works fine.
The way I view QCTP size is from the stand point of “what are you going to gain by going larger”. Is a .625” square HSS threading tool going to do anything for you that a .250 “ or .312” square tool won’t other than let you stand in front of the bench grinder far longer? I believe there is a reason for what seems to be fairly standardized insert sizes relative to shank size on indexable tooling. For example I use a BXA and a 5/8" shank tool holder takes a CNMG 43X insert, so unless you can take a depth of cut in steel that exceeds the available cutting edge, a 5/8 shank tool will do the job.

I’ve run 5914’s before, and like them, but are you really going to bend or break .500” square tooling if properly using the machine? I found it a very nice machine for parting, by the way!

I use a BXA on a six hp lathe with 5/8” shank tooling and can spray very large purple chips in a 6’ radius of the machine and have never thought “gee, I sure whish I had gone with 1” shank tooling”!

Just my opinion! :)
I agree with this. And what fun it can be to make purple chips. The trick is to make them heavy enough that they drop right into the chip pan rather than fly about. :D

I initially had a couple of 3/4" shank insert tools for dad's lathe, and some 1". I've since standardized upon the 1" for two reasons. One; until we gather another 1/2-dozen No.1 blocks, it's a lot easier for now to switch from a turning tool to the lay-down threading tools. No height adjustments needed. The second reason is that when the day eventually comes that I add a CNC lathe, it's going to be one substantial enough to use 1" shank tooling. ;) We've got right hand holder for CNMG43x, left & right hand for DNMG43x & VNMG33x, one 45º lead SNMG43x, lay-down threaders for 16ER inserts in RH, LH and drop-head styles, a cutoff blade block and a couple of different style of groove holders. All are 1" shank now in looking ahead to what the future may hold. Few others would consider that course, but that's something I envision. But I've gone off on a tangent here.

Maybe pick up an inexpensive rocker style post and some holders for those times when small HSS bits make more sense, and make them easier to hold than some convoluted way in a QCTP. I also can't see the sense of grinding giant HSS tools when small ones do the job. For the home shop guy with a 5914 and a desire to have quick-change capability, the BXA seems to really make sense.

randyc
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Re: Quick Change Tool Post

Post by randyc » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:06 pm

OK, here is an irony.

Recall that, in an earlier post, I was mentioning advantages in rigidity gained by supporting a 4-way with a post under the leading edge of the toolholder? The post that I installed in my small lathe is 3/8 diameter with a 1/4-20 threaded shank that threads into the cross-slide casting. I mentioned earlier that I use my compound slide frequently and that was the situation today when I removed the support post to obtain greater compound travel.

After completing the task, I re-installed the support post, threading it into the cross-slide OR attempting to ... the tapped hole obviously had eaten a few of the chips from the previous operation. No problem, blow out the hole and thread the post into the casting. Problem: my bro-in-law borrowed my compressor. Well, I thought that I'd run a 1/4-20 bottoming tap to break up the chips and then pick or vacuum them out.

You can see where this is leading, right? Yep, snapped off the tap - how is it POSSIBLE to break a 1/4-20 tap? I'm guessing it's because the operator is a wise-guy, know-it-all, LOL. (No, it wasn't funny at the time.)

OK, another lesson in machine repair - look on the bright side, right? Removed tool post, removed compound slide, uncoupled the cross-slide from the lead screw, loosened the gib screws, removed the taper/copy attachment and FINALLY removed the cross-slide. Well, something had to go right, at this point ...

I wish that I'd photographed this procedure but I was too frustrated to think of it. I chiseled out the fragments of the broken tap that I was able to reach and then carefully measured the location of the tapped hole from two machined surfaces. Flipping the casting over and mounting to the table of the vertical mill, I positioned the spindle over where I thought the tapped hole should be, LOL. Installing a 4-flute, solid carbide end mill and running the spindle speed to it's highest (3200 RPM), I let fly.

No, not really. I carefully fed the cutter, using the spindle boring downfeed, through the cast iron until the change in sound let me know that the carbide cutter had "found" the end of the broken tap. Critical moment, LOL, feeding down about .030 or .040 at a time, withdrawing to remove chips and squirt some nasty sulphur oil into the hole. Whew - smoky, smelly mess until WOW - I felt the mill break through the tap.

Now I am not a religious man but at that moment I had the inclination to thank SOMEONE for my good fortune. Without disturbing the alignment of the machine, I tapped the hole to 5/16-18, smiling at every 1/8 of a turn of the tap.

After putting the lathe back together, I spent five or ten minutes making a new support post (from 1/2, instead of 3/8 CRS). All is well but that was a scary experience. The closest anecdotal experience I recall is breaking a tap in a '93 Mauser receiver (for a 'scope mount), ten years ago. The "fix" for THAT catastrophe was totally weird - science fiction stuff - reserved for the day when I have nothing to say, LOL.

Thanks for "listening" and cheers to all, this was a VERY good day -
Randy C

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