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Wide Bed/Big Swing Leblond Lathe & Cinncinnati Hypro Planer Mill

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
I got the word that my employer is going to be selling the heavy machine tools I had a hand in selecting and purchasing back in 1998-99. The job we bought them for is done with. Since we are a power company and not a heavy machine shop, investment recovery won out over keeping the machine tools. The machine tools consist of:
-LeBlond wide bed/big swing lathe. This lathe swings work 60" in diameter over the cross slide x 24 ft between centers.
the lathe was built in that size right from the factory. It was ordered in 1957 as a tracer lathe and went to Aerojet General in California. It was used on missile work. Aeroject sold the lathe to Louis-Allis of Milwaukee, WI. L-A had the lathe converted to a manual engine lathe, and used it to machine shafts and rotors for large electric motors as part of a Navy contract. L-A went bankrupt. We bought the lathe out of L-A's plant.

If you follow the link, below, you will see pictures of the lathe and the planer mill.

The job in the lathe is a wicket gate from one our hydro turbines. A wicket gate is basically a butterfly damper that regulates the flow of water admitted to the turbine runner (wheel). The wickets are arranged in a circle around the outer circumference of the turbine runner and open and close in unison to regulate speed and load. Each wicket gate has an "airfoil" shaped paddle which is assymetric on the stem. The wickets were about 600 lbs out of balance. I designed a static balancer, and we bolted strips of steel plate temporarily to each gate paddle to balance them. As balanced, you could place a wicket gate in any position with your hands and it would stay there instead of flopping so the heavy spot went to 6:00.

We turned the journals undersized and did one of two things. On the turbines made by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton, the wickets were steel castings. We turned the journals undersized and shrunk on stainless steel journal sleeves. These were centrifugally cast stainless, precision ground inside and out. No margin for error, no further machine work or grinding was needed.

On the turbines made by Allis-Chalmers, the wickets were another story. One of them is shown in the lathe. Those wickets were fabricated from plate steel using subarc welding. They were horrible to machine as the stems were too limber. There was not sufficient material in the stems to take a cut and shrink on a sleeve. Analysis of the stems showed they were crowding the envelope as it were. On the A-C gates we skim cut them, then built them up using an automatic orbital welder. A base layer of 309L stainless was used, followed by a harder alloy of stainless. the gate stem journals were then machined.

The Planer Mill was built in 1939 as an openside planer and delivered to the US Naval Shipyard at Norfolk, VA. It was sold in 1947 as surplus and went to a machine shop in Philadelphia, PA called Bissinger and Stein. B & S used it as a planer until 1976. At that time, they contacted Yancey Machinery of Portland, OR. Yancey built and installed the two milling heads. B & S used the machine as a planer mill until they closed the shop in Philadelphia. B &S had gotten out of heavy machine work and was getting into gas turbine and jet engine related CNC machining, and exists in the suburbs of Philadelphia. We bought the planer mill of the floor of B & S 's Philadelphia shop. We sent it out for rebuild. Some ex Brown and Sharpe men rescraped every way and sliding surface on it. It was upgraded with a new lubrication system, new vector drives for the table and feeds, and digital readout.

On the table of the planer mill, you see some heavy vee blocks with jacking screws. This was fixturing I designed. The wickets had no center in the bottom journal. To put a center in, we used the planer mill with the right angle head and a spotting drill followed by a larger drill, reamer, and then a 60 degree countersink. To establish the wicket gate on the table, we put it in the vee blocks and dialed it in. The vee blocks could be jockeyed with the jack screws so the gate stem was DNA for parallel with the table in two directions. Once we had that, we then swept the bottom journal with a dial indicator on the right angle head's spindle and moved the Y & Z axis as needed to bring things so the spindle was centered to the journal. Once we had the center in the bottom journal, we drilled holes thru the paddle for temporary studbolts to hold the balance weights.

The balancer I designed used hardened steel "knife edge" wheels from Anderson Mfg. It was on a massive steel weldment of a stand with levelling screws and machined surfaces to level off of. The balancer was set up and dead level. We had a stack of steel plate flame cut & drilled for bolting to make balance weights. We got a rough weight on the gate for imbalance using a scale, then bolted on the temporary weights. we sometimes had to weld some smaller pieces of plate to the balance weight plate stacks to fine tune the balancing.

We installed both of these machine tools on heavy reinforced concrete inertia block foundations, and levelled them using laser levelling as well as regular precision levels and optical levels to get in the ball park. The machine tools were well maintained and did us a good job.

Initially, when I was approached to be a part of this project, there was much skepticism and negativity in corporate about it, let alone using used older machine tools. However, a few people in corporate stood with me, and we got the machine tools you see here in the listing. We took men who were mechanics but not machinists. We sent them to a fast course in basic manual machining, then made heavy machinists out of them. Initially, we were given several months to machine the first set of 16 wicket gates, people thinking we'd be on the learning curve, fearing we'd turn gate stems undersized and have to order special journal sleeves, etc. The first set of gates was done in 6 weeks. Then we had another problem or two. We had gotten done so far in advance of schedule the outside coating shop was not ready for the gates, nor was the installation contractor. We had zero rejects and no rework or repairs due to turning a journal under tolerance.

Now, the party is over and the machine tools are to be sold. No one in our organization seems to have any further use for them and no one seems to have too much regard for them other than me. Hopefully, they will go to a good home.

Auctions International - Government Surplus Vehicles & Equipment
 
Believe me, I burnt out my keyboard and phone trying to make a case for keeping these machine tools. The bean counters are steering the ship, and old iron that is not working every minute has to go, I guess. The new breed has the "outsource" mentality. The breed of VP who made this heavy machine shop happen were powerplant men who came up from the floor, some ex Navy or ex Merchant Mariners. The new breed are the MBA's with the soft hands and manicured nails who never step foot into one of the running powerplants unless there is a high level staff meeting or dedication to get them there.

BTW: The one shop item NOT on the auction list is the pizza oven. We needed a good sized oven to heat the sleeves for the shrink fits. One of the other engineers suggested a kind of electrically heated pizza and calzone oven. It was bought locally from a restaurant supply in Utica, NY and did fine for heating the sleeves for the shrink fits. To confuse the brass even more, we all brought assorted cans from home. I contributed some gallon olive oil tins, and other guys brought in institutional size tins from plum tomatoes. We placed these cans near the oven so it would look like we were baking pizzas. To really confuse the brass, we put cutting oil in some of the olive oil tins. As were were to discover, some of the brass lacked imagination and had no sense of humor. I think the pizza oven was a source of embarassment as it looked to uninformed people like we were having pizza parties in the heavy machine shop. It was probably the only pizza oven with a calibration sticker on it for the temperature control & thermometer.

I had thought that heavy machine shop would outlast me in my time with the NY Power Authority. Initially, we were on a roll and were trying to convince the powers that were (as opposed to the powers that be) to let us put in a radial drill and a Bullard so we could do all the pump work and a lot of other jobs from around the system. This went nowhere, unfortunately.

I won't go further except to say that the old guard, the VP's who came up from the floor, were a different breed. They had the mindset that a power company has to run no matter what, so they had better have the resources in house to handle anything. They listened to the engineers and mechanics and people who kept the generating plants and transmission facilities going and completely reliable. The new model for the utility industry is the polar opposite. Make sure you get a good generator for your home and shop....
 
The purchasing department is handling the sale. In the Power Authority, when we are done with something, it goes, no matter how little it fetches on the auction block. Getting rid of the "stranded assets" and freeing up the space (probably for parking vehicles, warehouse storage or training rooms) takes priority. I do not think the powers that be often think in terms of "investment recovery" or "how much did this cost us in the first place". It is more like: "These machines earned their keep, did what was needed, now it is time for them to go..."

I had a real active role in specifying, selecting and purchasing those machines, and saw them through from initial inspection, rebuilding, erection, startup and initial use. At the time I was spec'ing these used heavy US iron machine tools, I was locking horns with corporate types who would not know a lathe from a beer tap, who were talking to salesmen for imported iron. Fortunately, the powers-that-were had come up from the plant floors and engine rooms and valued what I had to say. I was "borrowed" from my regular berth to help set up this shop, and my recommendations held sway back then. Now, the whole thinking is changed. I've seen stuff go to the "liquidators" and get sold for below scrap price regularly. Mostly, this is powerplant equipment we've replaced, or spare parts for stuff we no longer own. Occasionally, there will be compressors, pumps, motors, and re-usable stuff. One time, we had a 15 ton Pettibone crane, one of the older style all terrain cranes on rubber tires, 4 wd/ 4 wheel steer, telescoping boom. It had a Hercules gas engine in it with a fresh reman long block. Since a new mobile crane was budgeted, the old one had to go. I think it went for less than 5 grand as a running crane. We had a GMC truck tractor, a cab over with a single screw rear, 6 V 53 Detroit engine with a fresh rebuild on it, 10 speed Road Ranger tranny with a fresh rebuild, new rubber, new batteries, and lots more. It was a kind of odd vehicle for a powerplant to have, something that was bought as a stopgap thing and then rebuilt on site prior to my arrival. It was really too light for anything we did. The fleet management people caught up with it and it had to go. At auction, it fetched $ 350.00, which was less than the batteries had cost us. We had a Johannsen radial drill and a 25" Nordic Lathe. Both were operational, tho the Nordic needed a repair to the magnetic clutches in the headstock. I was replacing those two machine tools with a LeBlond heavy duty lathe and a Carlton radial drill. Those two machine tools wound up in our salvage yard, out in the weather, and were lumped into the contents of the salvage yard. The contents of the yard are generally bought as a single lot by local scrappers. They usually do not pay a great deal of money. The sales are handled off site, often by an outside liquidator.
I think the name of the game is to move stuff out and be done with it. I usually do not get remotely sentimental or concerned with stuff going for surplus, but when the word came down about this sale of the the big leBlond lathe and the Cincinnati planer mill, I've been taking it hard.

Not too many shops are left who will want a big LeBlond lathe and even fewer who would want a planer mill. I'm just hoping the two machine tools get a good home. When we put them in, we spared no expense in the foundations and alignment and levelling. As I said, I hoped the heavy machine shop would outlast my career at the NY Power Authority. I've passed the 30 year mark and am old enough to have retired. Sometimes I wonder if sticking around to see something like this happen is worth it.
 
I am sorry to hear you are losing such great machinery. I wish I had the room and extra cash right now. I definitely could use them now.

It is unfortunate how the world is now run by the College Educated Dumbasses. They will never be able to see the forest thru the trees. Hopefully I am not around when they destroy the rest of the country/world.

Josh
 
Wow,that's the biggest LeBlond I've seen!
Does anyone know what thier biggest lathe was?

I believe 80" swing was their largest LeBlond made according to the catalogs I used to have.

There's one Houston this same size but with a shorter bed, but not as nice!

Ken
 
Wow, that's nuts! To be handed the facility,the knowlege base, and the culture to do any repair in the system, immediately and no doubt cheaper, and not consider it an asset to be conserved.

Re your advice to keep a generator handy: We moved up here from MD in fall of '93. During out first winter here we could not believe how often and how long the power would go out. Then came spring, summer, Fall, and winter again, and it seems to be pretty routine to have a power outage at any time. I guess we've gotten used to it by now with NYSEG, not unusual to have a half dozen power outages/year. Had 2 or 3 last month long enough to cause me to lose a couple days work in the shop Probably had less than 1/yr with Chesapeake, and it took a pretty major storm or someone shearing a power pole locally to cause it.

So how often do those gates need re-manufactured? Don't you do the bearings and other maintenance on the turbines and generators, too?

smt
 


I believe 80" swing was their largest LeBlond made according to the catalogs I used to have.

There's one Houston this same size but with a shorter bed, but not as nice!

Ken

Ken,

I recall LeBlond building a lathe that would swing 120 inches sometime in the late '70s. I think it was a 9372 Wide Bed (93 inch swing over the bed & 72 swing over the carriage) model with huge risers under the headstock & tailstock. It had a TV camera mounted vertically on the compound with the lens oriented straight down at the cutting tool. The monitor was down at eye level near the manual controls.

The steady rest was far up in the air (also on a riser) but had an unusually small thru hole, maybe 24 inches???

I'm guessing this lathe was built to swing large diameter impeller or turbine that was mounted onto a much smaller shaft (if a 24 inch diameter shaft is considered small :D)

Mike
 
I just spotted the Yancey Machine Tool sticker on the planer mill. Yancey is a local outfit, and for decades was a big-old-iron rebuilder, but I think they've cut way back on what they do in the last ten years. (I'd be delighted to be incorrect!)
 
sfriedberg:

here is the story on Yancey Machine Tool:

When we went shopping for the lathe & planer mill, we were coming up with lots of mis-represented junk. Eventually, we got steered to the planer mill. At that point, we did not have a lead on the engine lathe we needed, as we kept finding junk or lathes that were raised with blocks and too light for the work. When we saw the planer mill, we knew it was the machine for our job. We had never heard of Yancey Machine Tool, so I called them.

Mrs. Yancey took the call, and explained that I needed to talk to her husband, Bob Yancey. At that point in time, Mr. Yancey was slowing down a bit and working part time from his home, part time in the shop. Mrs. Yancey gave me their home phone number. Mr. Yancey was incredible. He asked what we needed the planer mill for, and I started to explain, asking if he was familiair with hydro turbines. Mr. Yancey said he was well familiar with hydro turbine work, and had furnished heavy machine tools for a number of shops working on hydro turbine parts. He asked if we had a heavy engine lathe to turn the wicket gate stem journals with. I said we had not found one, and he said his preference was a wide-bed big swing LeBlond, "raised in the sand" (to use his expression) rather than something with raiser blocks as a modification.

A few days later, Mr. Yancey called me to tell me he had found us a LeBlond lathe meeting our requirements. It was in Milwaukee. That was when we met Mr. Yancey and did buy the LeBlond lathe listed in the auction notice.

Subsequently, we bought another smaller LeBlond lathe from Mr. Yancey. This is our 25" x 96". It is also a wide bed heavy duty LeBlond. We went out to Portland, OR to Mr. Yancey's shop to inspect the 25" LeBlond lathe under power and to go over modifications and upgrades to it.
The work done on this lathe and some photos in Mr. Yancey's shop appear in Tony Griffith's Lathe Archive site under "LeBlond".

The story on the Yancey Milling Heads is quite interesting. In the 1950's, Mr. Yancey saw a need for a heavier duty milling head to convert planers into planer mills. He designed his own milling head. The head uses a hypoid ring and pinion gear set bought new, as stock automotive rear end parts. This is the heavy speed reduction from the motor to the spindle. A compact "saw arbor motor" as used in resaws and other production sawmills saws was used to drive the milling head. The speeds are changed in the milling head by a set of loose change gears. The loose change gears were made in Mr. Yancey's shop, hobbed, broached for spline drives, and sent out to be heat treated. The loose change gears run inside a cast housing with a hinged/gasketed door. There is an interlock switch to keep the spindle from being started if the gearcase door is open. Inside the gearcase, there are spray nozzles to spray oil onto the gearing, and a self-contained shaft driven oil pump. The heads have a 50 spindle taper.

Mr. Robert Yancey was a very remarkable man and a genius in his own right. He was born and raised in rural Arkansas. As a young boy, he often helped his uncle, driving a team of mules pulling a wagon to haul garbage- his uncle used that to feed hogs. Mr. Yancey hung around the local blacksmith shop and learned the basics of smith work, heat treating, and simple machine work. He recalled wanting to make a hunting knife as most young boys seem to. The smith bought Mr. Yancey a piece of good tool steel from a "drummer" (travelling salesman who travelled rural routes, selling various lines of goods). The smith let Mr. Yancey use the power hammer to draw out the stock for the knife and took him through it step by step.

As a young man, Mr. Yancey tried owning a "Bantam" car and recalled it was too narrow a track width for the wheel ruts in the dirt or gravel roads in his area. He switched to a Harley Davidson and rode that for a number of years.

During the Depression, Mr. Yancey joined the CCC's. There, he learned the trade of diesel engine mechanic. When WWII broke out, Mr. Yancey went out to the Bremerton, WA Naval Shipyard. His job was to work on Detroit Diesel Engines in busses used within the Naval Shipyard. However, in his free time, Mr. Yancey hung around the heavy machine shops and shops where they bored and rifled the big guns for the battleships. The machinists there taught him. It was there that Mr. Yancey became a lifelong adherent to the belief that LeBlond was the ONLY good heavy engine lathe.

After WWII, Mr. Yancey found his way to Portland, OR, and started his shop. At some point, he had actually met R.K. LeBlond, and got Mr. LeBlond's ideas as to what made a good lathe.Mr. Yancey got into all sorts of jobs in his shop, rebuilding machine tools turned into building specialized machine tools. Mr. Yancey and his sons designed this incredible machine used to machine the turbine runners on site at the Three Gorges hydroelectric power plant in China. It was built from parts of WWII era machine tools, used CNC and state of the art instrumentation to monitor the work. Mr. Yancey had made the leap from riding behind a mule drawn wagon over dirt roads to the era of CNC machine tools. He specialized in taking heavier older US iron and rebuilding it into really great user friendly CNC machine tools.

In some of the last conversations I had with Mr. Yancey, it looked like his shop was not going to last much longer. It seemed that they leased the property, and while the shop had been built to suit Mr. Yancey's needs, the area was getting yuppified. The land under the shop was (at least at that time) too valuable to remain a machine shop. The landlord had notified Mr. Yancey that when their lease was up, they would have to vacate.

Mr. Yancey did have a few warehouses around Portland that were stocked with older heavy US iron. When he got an inquiry for some sort of specialized machine tool, he usually had what was needed in his warehouses. His sons were great at figuring out the modern types of drives and feed drives, designing circuitry, and designing and installing CNC. Mr. Yancey said the other major problem was finding machinists and mechanics to do the work on the machine tools. Finding people who could make the parts, scrape, fit, grind ways, and all else was impossible and his regular workforce was aging out.

Sadly, Robert Yancey died last year. One of his two sons had predeceased him. Mr. Yancey's widow and their remaining son were still in the shop, but I do not know what kind of work they are still doing. I was very fortunate in meeting Mr. Yancey and getting to know him, if even for a short while. Mr. Yancey was an upright, honorable and good man. He took an interest in what his customers were going to be doing with the machine tools and made sure the machine tools were right for both the work and the customer. Mr. Yancey took an interest in me and used to call me from time to time to check in and visit. I do not often use the word "genius", but Mr. Yancey and his sons were certainly that. I would also say the word "remarkable" applies to the Yancey family. I look at the 25" x 96" LeBlond lathe in our powerplant shop, and think of Mr. Yancey and his family and shop every single time I go near that lathe. I do not think we will see the kind of man Mr. Robert Yancey was again.
 
Not too many shops are left who will want a big LeBlond lathe and even fewer who would want a planer mill.

And the Power Authority - like many others - will pay someone like Brodeur Machine of New Bedford, MA (or even now the Fay Clan at French River) to do their large OD machine work for them.

My own experience along these lines: Seabrook Station had issue with tearing out the rubber liners of Emergency Core Cooling System Valves back in the 1980s. On site I developed a methodology to centrifugally cast a rubber liner using a lathe and then machine the valve body rubbers to size. But who to do the work of 30+ Valves, all of which needed a lathe capable of 48" swing minimum?

Raynor Machine of Portsmouth, NH came to the fore. My first visit on a "shop inspection" included a view of their literally EMPTY shop. And I watched as Raynor shipped in a specialized 60" swing lathe from their sister plant at South Dakota to do the machining - set it up in their shop, and proceeded to rework all those valves.

And I think I've told the story of their 32' diameter vertical boring mill which was machining the nose-cone of Trident Submarines - and was the only machine in the shop actually built into the floor - and not made moveable. And overlooked by a bored US Marine who had his machine gun at the ready (to prevent a terrorist act.)

The new manufacturing world is moveable. And just as likely to move to China as it is to stay here.

Sad in a way. Its always nice to have the tools and capability on hand. There is job security in being next to where it happens But with the tax structure being defined by "locale," its better financially for companies to be "free spirits."

The old Spags of Shrewsbury, MA pioneered this business inventory free spirit mentality. In the 1960s Spag used Box Trailers to store his sales inventory and thus avoid the local property tax on inventory since the inventory while it was in the truck was still "in transit." Even today, Spags is gone (lost after the death of its principal in the 1990s) but the parking lot of the Building 19 that replaced it is surrounded by Box Trailers.

Maybe too bad you can't mount those machine tools on a flat-bed or box trailer and thereby gain the same advantage? But manufacturing assets are different from inventory in the tax world.

Joe in NH
 
Some absurd limits on who can bid at that auction

In fact I would wonder if they would even be legal under anti-discrimination laws.... They are discriminating against people because of who they are related to..

Winning Bidder must sign the Authority's Sales Agreement which states 'The Bidder warrants that he/she/it is not a current or former Authority employee, is not related to an Authority employee & did not bid on behalf of an authority employee. Bidder is aware that Authority employees and their family members are precluded from subsequently receiving, or acquiring, in whole or in part, by any manner including gift, sale, loan or lease, the personal property acquired by the bidder pursuant to this sale, The term 'related to' as used in this paragraph means the relationships of spouse, child, parent, sister, brother, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, stepchild, stepparent, stepsister, stepbrother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, daughter-in-law, or son-in-law. The Authority reserves the right to invoke any available legal or equitable remedy in the event of a breach by the Bidder of his or her warranty under this paragraph, including but not limited to, rescinding the sale and recovering the property sold and all costs associated with the sale and the rescission of said sale'.
 
RC-
NY (not to mention other states) used to be pretty corrupt and a lot of assets got "disposed" to cronies and family members whether they needed disbursed or not. The clause you cite, or similar, is not uncommon in gov't related (including say, university) dispersals. Often the collusion merely meant things were not advertised beyond the intended beneficiary pool. Obviously it does not really prevent abuse with cronies but does tend to compel somewhat wider advertisement, so there's your reasoning behind it.

smt
 
Yeah, a lot of state and local governments have something similar as required language in disposal contracts. And the "fine print" for radio station contests usually has a similar, less elaborate, prohibition on employees or household members of employees.
 
Joe,

I am pleased to inform you that Cardish Machine Works is the proud new owner of the Leblond lathe. Machines like this are few and far between. We are happy to have it and it will contiunue to work for a long , long time. Although we would have liked to pay a little less than we did, the fact that the machine is (somewhat) local to us, and of proven quality mean a lot.
 
Carter:

I am glad to learn the LeBlond Lathe is going to Cardish Machine Works. I have a great deal of respect for you and Cardish Machine Works. The lathe is going to the best home. I know the lathe will be put to good use, and will work well for you. We were doing fine work to close tolerances on that lathe. Of course, I regret that you could not get the great "inertia block" foundation with the lathe as well ! When we installed that lathe, we spared no expense. The lathe is on its own inertia block foundation, isolated from the surrounding building. I know we levelled the lathe using not only precision levels but had a laser levelling system used. It's a pity that the lathe could not be picked up, setting and all, and landed in your shop.

The truth is that we did not put the lathe to hard use. The previous owner was Louis-Allis, a manufacturer of electric motors in Milwaukee, WI. They were using the lathe on a US Navy contract to build large motors. When we inspected the lathe in L-A's plant, the plant had gone bankrupt and was dead. There was no one around to ask about the lathe, but we had all the time we needed to inspect it. We did get to run it under power. The L-A plant was an eerie situation. It was like they told everyone at the end of a shift to not come in again. Ashtrays with butts and ashes along with odd personal effects were still in place in the shop as was a lot of the machinery and tooling. The lathe was in as-left condition from its last use. There was no heavy chips or slop of cutting oil on it. It had some light chips in the pan, and no one had cleaned it. It looked like it had seen light use at L-A. We bought the lathe off L-A's floor and had it stored at a machinery dealer's warehouse in the Chicago area. There, we had the lathe cleaned, and I had the headstock top cover removed. The gears looked nearly new, with hardly a wear pattern on them.

The lathe was built ca 1957 and was delivered to Aerojet General, possibly in California. As I was to find out, this was all part of a response to the Soviet's launch of Sputnik. When the Soviet's launched Sputnik, and the Cold War era set in, the US suddenly came out from behind in the space race and got into a missile buildup program. Big Swing/long bed lathes were being ordered from all the major US builders. Most, including this LeBlond lathe, were delivered as hydraulic tracer lathes. The biggest lathe of this type we looked at when we were shopping for this lathe was an American, of about 96" swing, still set up as a tracer lathe from that same missile program buildup.

AJ sold the lathe, not sure to whom. It went from AJ's plant to a rebuilder in Kansas where it was converted to a manual engine lathe. Whether it went right from Kansas to Louis-Allis, or to someone else is something we never found out.

When we first got the lathe, it had a live center with a fixture plate in the tailstock. We took that out, and used a regular 60 degree live center for our work. We also put an Aloris toolpost on the lathe along with a new DRO and new AC motor and new programmable VFD. The original drive on the lathe was DC, and was, I believe a bit larger in HP rating. We had no problem holding to better than + .001/-0.000" when turning wicket gate journals.

I wish you, EJ, and Cardish Machine Works all good luck and every success with the LeBlond lathe. I know the old Niles in your back shop will probably be moved out to make a berth for the LeBlond. Hopefully, some use will be found for the old Niles to avoid its going to the razor blades.

I do not know if you bid on the planer mill. It was an equally sweet machine tool. I hope it goes to a good home, but it may prove to be something of a white elephant in today's world. There is also a pizza oven in the shop where the LeBlond is located. We used it for heating journal sleeves for shrink fits on the wicket gate stem journals. Not sure if the pizza oven went in the liquidation, but it might come in handy as well.

I am sure you will put the LeBlond to good use on paper mill and hydro turbine work, and I am really happy things worked out as they did.

All the best-
Joe Michaels
 
Here is a picture of the big LeBlond with the first (for us) job in it. The work is a 230" x Ø16 paper roll. We built six of these rolls from 2" wall tubing, with journals shrink fitted and welded in each end. After the journals are in we machine the face of the roll and the journals in one setup to assure concentricity. The first cut we took with this machine measured within 0.002-0.003 over the length of the machine. Pretty damn good for a machine of this size. This small amount of taper can easily be tweaked out with the leveling screws. It is a pleasure to run and is certainly the nicest lathe of this vintage and size I have ever seen.
 

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Joe Michaels

Re: Mr Robert Yancey

It was my good fortune to spend a day with Mr Yancey about 9 years ago.
At the time he was dialing in the one-off boring mill bound for Three Gorges Project.
Fanuc control on a menagerie of hardware of which he possessed legion.
In his shop on the Willamette he had at at least two dozen new asian lathes missing lead screws
and compound slides--otherwise complete. these were stacked like lincoln logs 18 ft high-- bought these
with anticipation of cnc retrofits.
we visited warehouses containing many hundreds of tons of machines--stacked in similar manner.

My heavy freight hauler at the time was also Bob Yancey's. In long term storage at freight yard were
T-slot surface plates up to 8 inches thick--an estimated 600 tons worth.

BTW--the Three Gorges machine was contracted thru GE Montreal--China at the time would not deal directly with
GE corporate in Conn. This boring mill shipped on 4 low-boys to GE Canada.

jh
 








 
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