CNC Lathe conversion

After a number of years and several conversions of milling machines I decided it was time to do a lathe conversion. My first plan was to use one of the common 7x12 lathes sold by all the tool importers. I purchased one form Cummins Tool because they were the cheapest.

I started by disassembling, cleaning and deburring the machine. It was fundamentally an OK machine, but somehow I wasn't really into the project, and I diverted at the slightest distraction. It was around the shop for nearly a year with little progress. Finally I reassembled it and sold it to a model boat friend.

At the Cabin fever Expo that year I found an Emco PC5 lathe for sale by one of the vendors for a good price, so I bought it.

The PC 5 turned out to have a bad driver board, so I completely gutted it of electronics and installed all new parts, using Gecko drives, and new stepper motors. Here is a photo of it after the conversion.

This was a nice little machine, but I found it really to small for my needs, so when someone was looking for one on a Yahoo group I offered and sold mine.

I looked at lots of lathes to pick a new one for conversion. After lots of looking I decided on the 8x12 Harbor Freight lathe. From my reading this is exactly the same lathe sold by Lathemaster as an 8x14, for considerably more money.

One of the 9x20 lathes might have been an even better choice, but they have quick change gearboxes and cost nearly double. Since the gearbox would be removed for CNC use it seemed a waste.

This has turned out to be an excellent machine for a mid-size CNC conversion. It is considerably bigger than the 8x12, much more than the 1 inch in the name would suggest. It weighs more than double the 7x machines, and most important has a large, wide and flat cross slide. My machine did not come with the chip shield shown in the photo.

As with all imported machines the first step is to dismantle it, cleaning off all the 'cosmo-goo' its covered with, scraping out the crud from inside and under the castings, etc. As I did this I became quite impressed with the fit and finish of this machine, better than any import I have worked on.

I removed a lot of parts that I would not be using, all the gear train for the lead srew, all the gears and half nut mechanism under the saddle, most of the sheet metal covers, etc.

Here is a photo of my machine after it was finished and in operation.

On the next page Ill go through the parts step by step.